As one who spent thousands of hours with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong over a period of some 36 years, I noticed that one of the outstanding qualities that made him a truly great servant of God was his remarkable trust in Almighty God. Mr. Armstrong—coming into the Truth after a career in business— had a most unusual background as he came into the "Sardis" Church of God. Many of the less educated ministers with whom he was working did not in any way see the "Big Picture," and most were unwilling to grow in new knowledge as well. So Mr. Armstrong stood virtually alone in restoring the full Truth of the Bible in God's Church—and in having the vision, the zeal and the perseverance to build an effective worldwide organization to proclaim Christ's message to the nations of this world. As he stood virtually alone, with only the help of his dedicated wife, he learned to trust in God, quietly, in a way that many of us who worked with him in those years found most inspiring and encouraging.
Abraham, the "father of the faithful," also exemplified this quality to a remarkable degree. For Abraham was willing to leave his home—and his entire nation—and go to a land he had never seen before. He had to trust God—again and again—to see him through, and to protect him, lead him and guide him in the way that he should go. The life of Abraham does not seem as exciting as that of Moses or David, who seemed to perform great exploits far beyond what Abraham did. But when you carefully read of Abraham's life, you will notice how he "pioneered" the approach of total faith in God—no matter what. He left his home, lived in tents for decades, wandered in a foreign nation, was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac—and time after time proved to God that he was humble enough and faithful enough to put full trust in his Creator.
Notice how God inspired the Apostle Paul to describe Abraham: "For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness'" (Romans 4:3). And: "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (v. 13).
Abraham never turned aside. Abraham never wavered from full trust in his Creator. "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore 'it was accounted to him for righteousness'" (vv. 20–22). This approach of deep love, constant communication and profound trust in God was exemplified by Abraham perhaps more than any other human being apart from Jesus Christ. It set him apart, and we recognize him as the "father of the faithful."
As we in the Living Church of God lose dear friends and loved ones to apostasy, confusion or even death, it is important that we focus on the reality of our heavenly Father, and learn to build the kind of faithful relationship that Abraham built. In the persecutions, and in the enormous trials and tests that will come upon us over the next few years, we must realize that we can only survive spiritually through the type of deep and abiding trust in God that Abraham had.
As the Apostle Paul wrote: "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 'For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:35–39).
More than ever, we must realize that it is only a little while until Jesus Christ will, in fact, return to this earth! So we must live by faith in the traumatic years just ahead! We must not "draw back to perdition," as so many have done; we must truly believe in God and believe what He says.
Notice this biblical passage revealing how God looks at things: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:7–8). It is very revealing that God equates the "cowardly" and the "unbelieving" even with murderers and others who commit truly enormous sins! If we cannot learn to trust fully in the God who created us—who gives us life and breath and is constantly revealing Himself through powerfully intervening in world affairs as His Word describes—then that great God will not have us as His children, to bear His name, to live forever in His Kingdom! Each of us must quietly think through the implications of this. We must study, learn to put our full trust in Almighty God and truly "cry out" to God to give us increased faith! For, as we saw in Hebrews 10, "the just shall live by faith."
Because of his strong warnings about God's coming judgment and the sins of Israel (Jeremiah 38:1–13), Jeremiah was let down into a dungeon where there was no water—there was mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire (38:6). But God guided a faithful black man, "Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs who was in the king's house" (v. 7). This dedicated and courageous man went to the king to warn him of Jeremiah's serious condition. The king gave Ebed-Melech permission and, trying to keep this secret from the princes who wanted to kill Jeremiah, faithful Ebed-Melech and others "took from there old clothes and old rags, and let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah" (v. 11). So they brought him up from that terrible and dangerous situation—probably saving his life— and "Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison" until the king called on him for more advice later on.
Soon, as Jeremiah had warned, the Babylonians stormed into Jerusalem, conquered the city and killed most of the leaders. Then God gave some encouraging words: "Meanwhile the word of the Lord had come to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, 'Go and speak to Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will bring My words upon this city for adversity and not for good, and they shall be performed in that day before you. But I will deliver you in that day,' says the Lord, 'and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,' says the Lord"'" (Jeremiah 39:15–18).
As we go through our coming trials and tests, brethren, we must learn to put our trust in God just as Ebed-Melech did! We need to look to God continually, as all His faithful servants have done throughout the ages—from Abraham, to Moses, to David, to Peter and Paul—and, of course, Jesus Christ Himself. This attitude of complete trust in God as our Father makes us very special in God's sight. We must pray for it, study for it, cultivate it, build it and use it in every way. We must truly learn to "walk by faith" in the months and years ahead. Please do this, and never forget this lesson!