"Daughter Of Babylon,
The True History of
The Worldwide Church of God"
by Bruce Renehan
Chapter 13 The Former and the Latter Rain
Years after the Church of Christ was founded by Gilbert Cranmer, the organizational name was changed to "Church of God." Headquarters was in Stanberry, Missouri. Later we would find maverick ministers who would loosely associate themselves with headquarters and teach a slightly modified version of the teachings of the General Conference. This brings us to the story of one such minister.
It had been several years after the Depression had ended. He had started his magazine on a shoestring budget, and even though he did not go out of his way to ask for contributions, his magazine had enjoyed a fair amount of success. In fact, he had even published this statement once:
...that this movement to bring the truth of God before the people will not be launched as another begging machine...We can say for the past years, God has in a most marvelous way opened the way for us to accomplish what we have in the printing of books, and also now begin the printing of this paper, thus far we have not seen it necessary to ask any one for means.
He prospered in spite of his rather unusual brand of Christianity. He taught that the whole law of Moses was never abolished. Even the holy days of ancient Israel were still to be observed. In fact, ancient Israel could be found in these modern times. This teaching was not entirely what the church leaders in Stanberry would have agreed upon. He taught about one true church and a false system called Babylon the Great in Revelation 17. This false system comprised the Roman Catholic Church and what he called "Protestantism".
Of all his teachings, prophecy seemed to be what he emphasized the most. He taught that the millennium was about to occur. At times he had gone so far as to set dates for the tribulation and return of Christ.
The Work was growing and now this minister looked for greener pastures.
There is a wide field and an open door in California for the message. We are thankful indeed for the success thus far. It now looks like capable help will be left to carry forward the work. Every day our vision of both the truth and the greatness of the work enlarges in our mind.
The work had started humbly among humble people, but now was growing. The editor of the fledgling magazine and leader of this independent Sabbath-keeping Church of God felt it was important to announce to his subscribers now that the work was "leaving the state." It would be going to Pasadena:
Through an invitation of Sister Drury we are now located in her home town, Pasadena. Elder Leland and wife assist us in the meetings here.
This particular magazine had carried the lead article entitled "Christ and the Passover." This article stated that Christians were to observe the Passover on the 14th day of the Jewish calendar and that,The manner of its observance is as follows:
"Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses:"
The second article simply asked,
IS THERE A TRUE CHURCH ORGANIZATION?
...How are we to determine who are the true Elijah? John was the man who fulfilled it in his day, for Christ said he did. But it is to be more fully fulfilled in our day all will admit...
...When you find a teacher who takes the whole Bible, leaving nothing to be abolished, one who has God's form of organization and church government. In short one who teaches Moses and the prophets in full as they taught and practiced, such a one will come much nearer filling the prophecy among present existing denominations, for it must be started by some individual and developed by some one individual, for that is God's way of doing. Next, that individual must have a sound doctrine in all their teaching and proclaim the whole council of God, regardless of any. Now look out for such a work; if it is not to be found, then Elijah has not yet come. The Jews did not know it when it was before their eyes. So it may be now.
Evidence Whereby to Judge the True Messenger.
First. Any one fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi as representative of Elijah must have some thing definite as already stated...John "spake as one having authority." A true messenger has some thing positive and knows whereof he speaks.
Second. The very character of the message is given us. Namely, it is based on repentance and an immediate preparation to meet the Lord...
Third. John was a prophet...
Fourth. It will not be given by any sect or denomination. John was free from them all.
Fifth. Malachi especially gives the law of Moses as a part of that message.
History does tend to repeat itself. The story above is a proof of that.
Yes, the Great Depression of the 19th century had ended in 1897. There would be another Great Depression 30 years later.
The date was June, 1919 and the maverick minister was a man by the name of G. G. Rupert. Rupert was an independent minister of the Church of God, (Seventh Day) who published his "Remnant of Israel" in Britton, Oklahoma. The above quotes were taken out of his magazine.
The first issue of "Remnant of Israel" appeared in April of 1915. In that issue Rupert's lead article began by establishing the identity of ancient Israel.
On page 3, he wrote of his doctrine of the "former and latter rain." This doctrinal stance is a careful weaving of the ministries of Christ and Moses together.
Turning first to the writings of Moses, where we find the foundation of all gospel truth, we read: "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass"...[Deut. 32:1-5] tells us plainly what the rain is, namely, the doctrine of the Lord or the fundamentals governing the Christian's life...
Christ pictured himself in a parable as a sower scattering seeds. According to Rupert, the plants that sprang from the seed were the people; the former rain was the ministry of John the Baptist and the latter rain was Rupert's own self-proclaimed ministry.
Rupert had noticed that there are also many scriptural references to harvests and blessings in the Old Testament. Rupert did not believe that there was a New Testament dispensation. He felt that what was delivered to Moses was to be observed by those to whom Christ later came to preach. Of Christ's reference to Moses, Rupert quoted from a book written by Rabbi L. Weiss, "Did Christianity supersede Judaism?"
"No matter how he condemned the conduct and dealings of the Pharisees, the law of Moses was still his ideal."
Rupert, himself, had written:
...The outpouring of the Holy spirit was a witness to their development and of the work that had been going on for four years in the falling of the early rain prior to the event. This work of teaching began with John the Baptist, and followed up by Christ and His disciples, was the former rain, and when that rain of doctrinal teaching had developed the growth of the individuals and prepared their minds to receive the witness of the Spirit, then God witnessed to it, and we lay down this principle now as an eternal truth unalterable, and it is useless to attempt to change it: namely, no such demonstration as on the Day of Pentecost can possibly take place as a genuine thing, in our day until the genuine doctrines of the Bible precedes the manifestation and develops a company of united believers.
Rupert felt that if the people would only return to the doctrines of Moses, they would be watered as tender plants. They would be receiving the latter rain.
Rupert did not stop with the ten commandments. He felt that it was wrong to put a break between the Old and New Testaments. To G. G. Rupert, it had not been the intent of God to do so. To him, the Bible was one complete package for mankind.
Hebrew holydays, clean and unclean meats, Sabbaths, and tithing were all in force for the followers of Rupert. Teaching these doctrines would be the latter rain and coincidentally, this teaching would be doing the work of Elijah, of whom John the Baptist was a type during the former rain period.
Rupert also had a particularly interesting view of prophecy. He believed that the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were none other than seven church "eras". The dates did not all correspond with those of the Worldwide Church of God. Sardis, he felt, began in 1798. Philadelphia was the period of William Miller: 1833 to 1844. Laodicea had begun in 1844 and would last until the end time.
As far as the nature of man, he taught that man did not have an immortal soul. Quoting Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 and Psalms 146:4, he used the same scriptures Armstrong cited in his ministry.
What did Rupert say of others who professed Christianity outside of his following?
The Bible says these denominations are Babylon and we do not hesitate to say they are not the legitimate churches of Jesus Christ. God's church and His creed are as different as day is from night.
Rupert died shortly before Herbert Armstrong was introduced to the Church of God, (Seventh-Day) but there is no doubt that Armstrong carefully studied all of the writings that Rupert had left behind. Rupert's literature had been discovered in Armstrong's home on various occasions by church employees, one of whom was Mike Hollman, ex-department head for Armstrong's data processing center, of whom we will read later.
In a sermon delivered to the Worldwide Church of God in August of 1992, Joseph Tkach Jr. was speaking about Herbert Armstrong's misunderstanding of the doctrine of being "born again." This is one of the many doctrines that the Tkach administration came to adamantly disagree with Armstrong on. In this sermon Joe Tkach Jr. referred to Armstrong's reliance on scholars for doctrinal understanding.Mr. Armstrong relied upon the scholars. His favorite Bible was the Scofield Bible. Why? Because Dr. C. I. Scofield was one of the scholars he respected. He relied upon that scholar's work more than other scholar's works.
Mr. Armstrong was a fan of others like Jamieson, Fausset and Brown; Charles Finney, the noted theologian of a previous century; of Rupert; of other names I could name to you. But, these are scholars. He relied upon them.
The problem with Rupert's doctrines was that he tried to synthesize a biblical dichotomy, Judaism and Christianity, by declaring that they were both the same religion. True to his Millerite leanings, he focused on prophecies in Revelation and Daniel.
True to Seventh-Day Adventist influences, he ascribed a mystical importance to the observance of the seventh day of the week. And it did have an importance, in that it was rooted in Moses and therefore, Judaism. For example, when he read where Paul had asked the Gentiles to "abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled and from blood," his comment was:
This last clause is repeated several times in the law of Moses; are these not all evidences that Christianity was never intended to be at variance with Judaism much less opposed.
In doing this he overlooked other passages in scripture (e.g., the circumcision controversy). Rupert's focus was on Moses being the central theme of scripture for the Christian. This is not Christianity as much as it is Judaism. Christ is the centrality of scripture for the Christian.
Rupert again referred to Rabbi Weiss:
It seems to us too bad that these who contend for the binding obligations of the ten commandments and the Sabbath of the fourth commandment are compelled to leave untouched so many scriptures some of which Mr. Weiss refers to which could be used to close the mouths of those who teach that the law was abolished and nailed to the cross, a doctrine which there is not a scriptural text to sustain.
Armstrong, too would use Rupert's claim that the "nailing the law to the cross" statement was not scriptural. The statement is false.
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (Col. 2:14)
This reference was clearly concerning the Mosaic law.Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days;
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (verses 16 and 17)
Paul made a separation of the Old and New Testaments and said that the Old was no longer binding; it was "abolished."And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament: which vail is done away in Christ. (II Cor. 3:13-14)
But like the first century Judaizers, these nineteenth century Millerites again wanted to make Jew and Gentile one by shifting their focus to Moses rather than Christ. As we had seen in an earlier chapter, Paul had condemned the practice of Judaizing--that is, the forcing of the observances of the law upon Gentiles.
The Pauline view, drawn from the New Testament, is that Mosaic covenants were nullified when gentiles were allowed to become Christians, pagan religion was not to be feared, and the Jews were now just another religion.
And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; (I Cor. 9:20)
This distinction between Judaism and Christianity has been understood by Christians throughout the Protestant reformation.
Go to the "Painful Truth" page.