need some help on the Linearization tool in MATLAB

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According to the documentation for linearize, a linear approximation of a nonlinear plant is returned at the specific operating point. I think the word operating point is somewhat confusing, and is it correct for me to interpret this as a snapshot of the behavior of the system at a specific time?
For example, if I linearize a plant for the inverted pendulum at a specific operating point and specified the input as the disturbance force and the output as the pendulum angle theta, then how is the linearized approxiamtion useful to me? Do I simply know what theta is given the input force at this current snapshot (operating point)?

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