THE BOOK OF REVELATION
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers
The Book of Revelation is the only book of prophecy of the New Testament. It is not to be taken literally, in many instances, as though it were a letter from one of the Apostles. Much of it is symbolic.
If my understanding is correct, the events portrayed are not in chronological order. Revelation is best understood, I believe, if we think of the various scenes as being many faces of one diamond that keeps revolving.
Table of Contents
THE BOOK OF REVELATION
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18,19)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, (Revelation 1:1)
The Father gave the Book of Revelation to His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ then gave the book to the Apostle John.
In the days in which we are living we are becoming more aware of the Father. The Lord Jesus said, "My Father is greater than I." I donít believe many theologians are comfortable with that statement.
The prevailing understanding of the Godhead seems to be that there is one God in three manifestations. I think most scholars come short of saying Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit; and yet if you think about it, saying there is one God in three manifestations is saying that Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit..
If there is only one God, and He may reveal Himself as Father, or Son, or Holy Spirit, then for Jesus to say "My Father is greater than I," does not admit to a simple interpretation. There must be a cumbersome theological explanation to prove that Jesus did not mean what He stated clearly.
There are numerous examples in the New Testament to demonstrate that there are three different Persons in the Godhead. The most graphic, perhaps, of these examples is the scene in Gethsemane where the Lord is crying out: "Not My will, but Yours be done."
I am not certain how theologians explain the fact that there are two wills and yet one person, but I feel confident that they have a persuasive argument. However, it will never really make sense to the average person. On the surface it sounds like Christ is calling out to someone whom He is obeying.
But how do we explain Christís comments when He said that He and the Father are One? They are one in Substance, love, and union. But they are not the same Person.
The Lord prayed that we would be one in the Father through the Son. We would be one in Them. Will our union with the members of the Godhead be of less quality than the union among the Members of the Godhead? I think not. There is no basis in Scripture to suggest that our oneness with Christ and the Father will be of a lesser quality than that which exists within the Godhead.
He who has seen Christ has seen the Father. Of course! The Son thinks along with the Father; speaks along with the Father; and acts along with the Father. He is the perfect Representation of the Father, and the Father has referred to the Son as God.
The Apostle Paul stated that he no longer is living but Christ is living in him. Thus Paul is thinking along with Christ; speaking along with Christ; and acting along with Christ.
We are to live by the body and blood of Christ as He lives by the Father.
Jesus Christ ascended to His God and our God; to His Father and our Father. This is scriptural.
Are we diminishing the Son by saying the Father is greater than He? No, we are not diminishing the Son. Rather we are stating what the Son stated.
All of us want to glorify the Lord Jesus. But we do not glorify Him when we "kick Him upstairs," so to speak. By making Christ a manifestation of the Father such that they are one Person, we are making Him unapproachable. One thing is certain: you and I are not the Father in another form. If Jesus Christ is the Father in another form, then how can we truly refer to Him as our brother, except in some virtually meaningless religious sense?
If I am not mistaken, I think the Lord Jesus Christ delights in the thought of being One of a company of brothers, all having the same Father. Then is Christ unique? Yes, in three major ways. First, He was with the Father from the beginning and through Him all things were created. Second, Christ, the Lamb of God, shed His blood for our sins. Third, the Father has declared Christ to be His Firstborn and has given Him all authority in Heaven and upon the earth.
You and I were not with the Father from the beginning nor were all things created through us. Our blood was not shed to make an atonement for sin. As for all authority in Heaven and upon the earth. Christ has chosen to share His authority with us; and while we are abiding in Him and He in us, He may decide at any time to express that fullness of authority through us.
"The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him." This alone shows that the Father is greater than the Son. The revelation originated in God. There was a time when the Father had the revelation but the Son did not.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36)
If there was a time when only the Father had the revelation, and if only the Father knows the hour of Christís return, then the Father and the Son are not the same Person.
Because of the tendency of modern scholarship to exalt the Son and not say too much about the Father, we are losing sight of Christís mission. Christ came to reconcile us to the Father; to bring us to God; to reveal God to us. "No one comes to the Father except through me."
But if we know Christ, donít we know the Father also? Yes, in that Christ perfectly represents the Father in every aspect. No, if we lose sight of the fact that there is a Father and He is a Person in His own right. In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ worships the Father and obeys Him. Christ learned obedience to the Father through the things He suffered here on earth.
He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." (Hebrews 2:12)
It is the Lordís good pleasure to introduce us to the Father.
All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
When you think about the above verse, doesnít it sound like the Father is a Person separate from the Son? It sounds like that to me, and I want to know the Father in a greater way. I want to be totally reconciled to God and dwell in His rest until I am thinking, speaking, and acting along with Him, just as the Lord Jesus does.
Who testifies to everything he sawóthat is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:2)
The Father gave the Word to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ sent His angel to John to testify to what the Word the Father gave Him. John in turn is bearing witness to us of what that angel showed him.
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Revelation 1:3)
I have heard it said that we ought not to study or teach the Book of Revelation because people become confused. Yet John said, by the Holy Spirit, the person who reads the Book of Revelation, and those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, are blessed.
As far as the time being near, we will have to accept the fact that our time is not the same as that of the spirit world. Some of the events portrayed in the Book of Revelation still have not come to pass, and the prophecy was written two thousand years ago.
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (Revelation 1:4,5)
The "province of Asia" refers to Asia Minor, or Turkey. The seven churches were fairly close together on the western side of Asia Minor, not far from the Aegean Sea.
"Him who is, and who was, and who is to come refers to the Father, apparently."
The Holy Spirit is shown as seven spirits Notice in the following verse the fullness of the Spirit with which Christ is anointed.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on himóthe Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORDó And he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; (Isaiah 11:1-3)
Notice how the Lord Jesus is presented. He is the "faithful witness." Christ always bears a true witness of God.
He is the "firstborn from the dead," the Beginning of the new creation as well as the Beginning of the old creation.
He is the "ruler of the kings of the earth." We just now, it appears, are beginning to realize that Christ is going to set up His Kingdom on the earth. We previously have regarded Heaven as our eternal home. It is not. Our eternal home is the earth, and it shall be governed by the Lord Jesus.
He has "freed us from our sins by his blood." Christ has done more than forgive our sins. He has freed us from the bondages of sin, and we shall see the fullness of this deliverance in the days to come. Christ was revealed for the purpose of destroying, not forgiving, the works of the devil.
And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Fatheróto him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:6)
A kingdom and priests. A great deal of thought should be given to this statement.
The emphasis of all branches of the Christian religion, as far as I know, is to get people "saved." I do not believe this has been the primary purpose of the Christian Era, although it has been included. "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved."
It appears to me that the bulk of the text of the New Testament has to do with sanctification, that is, with living a godly life. The reason for this is Godís emphasis at the present time to create a kingdom and a company of priests.
Being "saved" means we will not be destroyed but admitted to the new heaven and earth reign of Christ. Being made a member of the Kingdom means we will govern other people. Being made a priest means we will represent God to other people, and other people to God. Because this is our destiny, we are exhorted in the New Testament to compete for a crown, to overcome forces that are seeking to prevent us from obtaining that crown.
All to often, it seems, the Christian ministry ceases it efforts after a person has confessed Christ as his or her Savior and Lord. After that the push is to encourage them to attend church and try to get other people saved. This however is not the emphasis of the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul encouraged us to count everything as garbage that we might gain Christ; that we might lay hold on that for which we have been grasped. We donít hear this preached very often because the ministers seem to believe that to get people to make an initial profession of conversion is more important than pressing forward to the perfection that Paul describes.
It is not unusual for a pastor to preach the salvation message every Sunday to a congregation of Christians. His thought is, "Someone might have entered the church who is not saved. Meanwhile his listeners, some of whom received Christ thirty years ago, have never heard anything more nourishing than the message that we ought to receive Christ and be saved.
In order to understand why it is ineffective to keep emphasizing the basic salvation message and neglect the numerous passages that call us to righteous, holy, obedient behavior, we have to look at the situation from Godís point of view. If God's purpose were to encourage people to believe in Christ so they could be forgiven and go to Heaven when they die, then our present nearly exclusive emphasis on basic salvation would make sense. But if Godís purpose is to train rulers and priests, then our present emphasis is not fulfilling Godís intentions.
Beyond all doubt, those who are to govern with Christ, and who are to serve with Him as priests over nations of people, must be trained. It is ridiculous to suppose that an individual who has made an initial profession of Christ, and then has never grown spiritually, is capable of serving as a ruler and a priest.
After a number of years as a Christian and church member, he still is basically unchanged in personality. He understands very little of the Bible. He has not been conformed to the image of Christ. He has not attained to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
When he dies, will he go to Paradise to be with Christ? I am not positive, from the Scripture. But it is certain he is not prepared to govern nations with a rod of iron. While here on earth he has not overcome his anger, his lust, his jealousy. It could not be said of him that he had offered his body as a sacrifice to God.
The standard set by the New Testament is a new creation, changed into the moral image of Jesus Christ. The conquering Christian has been called to sit on the Throne with Christ. This being the case, it cannot be maintained that the main efforts of the religious institutions should be directed toward evangelism. The main efforts should be parallel with the emphasis of the New Testament, which is on bringing to maturity people prepared to govern with Jesus Christ and to bring Godís Person and will to other people.
I donít believe the Lord freed us from our sins so we can do nothing but wander around in the spirit world with nothing to do. If you stop to think about it, there are countless millions of people who have died without knowing Christ. Isnít that so? Are they alive before God in the spirit world? Of course they are, boys, girls, adults, the elderly, of all nationalities. Well, since they never heard about Jesus Christ, they need teachers, donít they? Are you and I prepared to teach them about Christ and God, or are we the same spiritual infant we were when we first received Christ?
A kingdom and priests. That's what the Christian Church is. After the Church has been brought to maturity it will spend eternity governing and ministering to the nations of saved people.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)
The above verse tells of the members of the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, serving as the Presence of God on the new earth. There shall be whole nations of people who have been saved but who need to be governed and assisted by Godís governing priests.
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
The "clouds" the Lord comes with may possibly be clouds of people.
Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? (Isaiah 60:8)
"Every eye will see him." Such is the historic return of Jesus Christ. There shall be no "secret rapture."
There is, however, a coming of Christ to His disciples that the world will not see. But it is not a coming to remove them from the earth to Heaven. Rather it is to bring them closer to Himself in preparation for His historic coming.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)
This prior coming is taking place today. But it is restricted to those who are keeping the commands given by Christ and His Apostles. Since most believers, at least in the United States, have been taught there is no need for them to keep the New Testament commandments because they are "saved by grace," they are going about their daily business unaware that the Lord has come to draw us closer to Himself. He is declaring war on His enemies who dwell in His people so we might be prepared for His historical coming.
Those who are walking with the Lord Jesus, living by Him as He lives by the Father, are moving past the Pentecostal experience into preparation for the final feast of Tabernacles. It is necessary we be reconciled to God in every area of our personality before the Father and the Son will make us Their permanent home. Anyone who desires to know the Lord in a greater way can turn from his or her business-as-usual daily life and press into Christ. He is close to us in these days.
As far as those who pierced Him seeing Him when He returns, this is speaking either of the descendants of those who pierced Him, or else it is true that in that day those who pierced Him, who today are in the spirit realm, will be able to see Christ for the first time, while they yet remain in the spirit world.
Can you imagine the consternation of the peoples alive on the earth when they see the Lord returning in tremendous power and glory? Their hearts will smite them when they realize they are guilty before God. They will be terrified at the thought of what is going to happen next. Some will be angry. Other will be grief stricken when they realize they have ignored the One who was crucified on their behalf.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)
It seems that the expression "who is, and who was, and who is to come" applies to the Father, as we study the context of verse four. But in the above verse (1:8) it appears to be speaking of Jesus Christ. In any case, the expression is true of both the Father and the Son. Both the Father and the Son are always present, but I think "Alpha and the Omega" would apply especially to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we become bored when we are living a disciplined Christian life and nothing exciting is taking place. We need to think back to the days when Christ was on the earth; for He shall be here on earth once again and we will be rejoicing if we have faithfully served Him during the long period of waiting. The almighty Christ is with us now as we serve Him; He was on the earth in time past. He shall be on the earth again in the future. There is no authority or power that can prevent His return.
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9)
Suffering, kingdom, and patient endurance.
Suffering is an important aspect of redemption. It helps us overcome sin, and also teaches us obedience to God if we accept it prayerfully
The New Testament, from Matthew through Revelation, teaches us about the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of the Kingdom has been obscured by the teaching that the goal of salvation is to bring us to Heaven.
Every experienced disciple knows of the patient endurance that is required if we are to come to the stature of the fullness of Christ. The believer who is walking the difficult path to eternal life faces many dangers, and some give up and turn back before completing the journey.
On the Lordís Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10)
There seems to be some agreement that the Lordís Day mentioned here was Sunday, the first day of the week, the day when Christians met to celebrate the resurrection. The Sabbath is Saturday, the seventh day of the week.
Which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea." (Revelation 1:11)
The seven churches mentioned here were located in Asia Minor. Some scholars have suggested that these refer to seven periods of the history of the Christian Church. I would not doubt this. But it also is true, as I see it, that the rewards assigned to the victorious saints apply to all of us, and are steps of attainment to the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of Godís kings and priests.
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, (Revelation 1:12)
No doubt these Lampstands were prefigured by the Lampstand in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, described in the Book of Exodus.
The Lampstands, being golden, can symbolize only Deity. Thus they speak of the churches, which are extensions of Christ. The Christian churches are not social gatherings drawn from the local community. The Christian churches are Godís prophets in the local community.
In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation we notice two Lampstands and two olive trees. My understanding is that one Lampstand symbolizes the Lord Jesus and the second Lampstand symbolizes the victorious saints, the members of His Body. The two olive trees speak of the double portion of the Spirit of God that will provide the fuel for the burning of the lamps. It will be an Elisha anointing resting on the saints as they, along with Christ who will be working with them, bear witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
And among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. (Revelation 1:13)
"Like a son of man." The expression "son of man" appears many times in the Book of Ezekiel. The Lord Jesus sometimes referred to Himself as the Son of God, but more often as the "Son of Man."
There has to be a reason for this. The Word became flesh. God sent Christ into the world to be born as a Man, to be the Firstborn among many brothers. It is we who stress that He is the Son of Godóand He indeed is! But He often refers to Himself as the Son of Man.
As I ponder the theological position that Christ and the Father are coequal Gods (which really is polytheism), it may be true that we desire He stay in Heaven as the exalted Expression of God; that He leave us alone. "Depart from us, we are sinful!" This sort of thing. Do you suppose this is why we prefer to speak of Christ as the Son of God rather than as the Son of Man:
Are we "kicking Him upstairs" so we can get on with the business of life?
It is the Father who saw to it that Christ became a flesh and blood man, a human being. Is Christ God? Yes, the Father, in the Book of Psalms, has referred to Him as God. But is Christ indeed Man? Yes. On numerous occasions He referred to Himself as the Son of Man, seeming to prefer this over Son of God.
Yesterday morning (Sunday, January seventeenth, 2004), as pastor of a church, I sought the Lord for the morning message. What came to my mind was the need to introduce Jesus Christ and the Father as two different Persons, with the Father being the greater. The New Testament is clear that Christ is the Servant of God, obeys God, and worships God. I think the prevailing doctrine of the Trinity leaves us with the feeling that the Godhead is an undifferentiated blob. It may be true that neither the Father nor the Son as Persons are as real to us as They ought to be.
Then I argued with myself about this, because I believed it would upset some of the people who had been taught the Trinity concept for so many years. I had just about decided to leave this controversial subject alone. Suddenly I felt the Presence of the Lord, and I knew He was saying to me that the time had come for the believers to understand that Christ is bringing us to the Father as to a Person whom we can know and love.
So I faithfully gave the subject both barrels, so to speak. When I was finished I felt the Lordís affirmation very strongly. I repeated and emphasized the topic Sunday evening providing additional scriptural support, of which there is an abundance).
Now I am writing on the following Monday morning, and the thought comes to me that we want Christ to stay in Heaven. We donít want Him down here interfering with our plans and programs. Could this be true? Could this be the reason why we want to emphasize He is very God of very God and do not stress He also is very Man of very Man?
The inerrant Word stresses that Jesus Christ is Son of Man. Does this fact somehow diminish Christ? I donít think so. Rather it reveals that it is Godís intention that Christ reign on the earth as a Human Being among brothers who also have been born of God and born of woman; who also are sons of God and sons of man.
When we come to Jesus Christ He is exalted as Godís Son, our Savior and Lord, and the Lamb who was slain as the atonement for our sins.
Then we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and we begin to understand that only as we walk in the Spirit can we overcome sin; only as we walk in the Spirit can we bear a successful witness of Christís atoning death and triumphant resurrection. "It is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord." This becomes our watchword.
Now we are facing the third Member of the Godheadóthe Father. Christ is bringing us to the Father. He is reconciling us to the Father. He is introducing us to our Father and His Father.
We have received Christ as Savior and Lord. We have received the Holy Spirit as our wisdom and strength. Now we are learning that there is a Father, that Christ obeys Him, and that we are to obey Him sternly, completely, perfectly. The Holy Spirit enables us to obey the Father.
We understand that Jesus Christ, the Word and Creator from the beginning, the Lord, the Anointed Deliverer, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, wants us to become like Him so He can become One of us. This is no light matter. For two thousand years the Christian Church (I speak generally; there no doubt have been exceptions) has not known Christ as One of us, as Son of Man (the name the Lord gave to Ezekiel).
But this is Godís whole purpose in sending Christ into the valley of the shadow of death in which we are attempting to survive. It is to increase the Fatherís family.
God has given the nations of the earth and the farthest reaches of the earth to Jesus Christ as His inheritance. We have been assigned as coheirs with Him. We have been appointed as a kingdom of priests that we might govern people on the earth.
All of this means that we will have fellowship with Jesus Christ as One of us. This is what the Father desires. This is what the Son desires. But is it what we desire? Are we willing to set aside our own desires and motivations that we may receive the desires and motivations of Jesus Christ? Do we want God to crucify our old nature that Christ might live in us? Or do we want to drive Him back into Heaven and worship Him afar off while we continue with business as usual?
For myself, I receive Jesus Christ as the Son of Man. As actually a Man, without in any manner diminishing His Divinity. I want to know Him as Brother. More than this, I want to live by His life so that my thoughts, words, and deeds are what He is doing. Do you want to receive Christ to this extent? No doubt He wants you to receive Him more than you want to receive Him.
I cannot tell you when Christ will return so that every eye sees Him. I know there are Christians today who teach He is coming soon. Two thousand years ago He said He was coming soon, so I am not holding my breath.
But I believe He is coming to His disciples today, to those who sincerely, diligently are keeping His commandments. He is taking us to be with Him where He is, that is, in the center of the Person and will of the Father. Moving from where we are now to the center of the Person and will of the Father means that every area of our personality must be reconciled to God.
We must, through Christ, gain total victory over our love of the world.
We must, through Christ, gain total victory over our bodily and soulish passions.
We must, through Christ, gain total victory over our self-will.
Is it possible to be totally delivered from the sinful nature? Absolutely! The One who is helping us guides the stars in their course. He is able to destroy our sinful nature. Furthermore, He is doing this for everyone who is opening their heart to Him in the present hour.
He is the Son of Man. You are a son of man. I am a son of man. He is our great elder Brother. He is a Human Being although He is the Son of God. You also are a human being, although you have been born of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (Revelation 1:5)
The term "Firstborn from the dead" signifies there shall be others who are born from the dead. When you and I assign our adamic nature to the cross, and Christ is born in us, then we have in truth been born from the dead.
So we see that the Lord Jesus Christ, in addition to being the One who created every element of the first creation, is now the Firstborn from the dead of a new creation. And if we are in Christ, actually living in Him from day to day, we also are a member of the new creation.
In the Old Testament, the priests renewed the oil in the Lampstand each day so it could burn throughout the night. Also, the wicks had to be trimmed. In like manner, the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, moves among the Lampstands, replenishing the oil and trimming the wicks.
If the wick is too high, the lamp will smoke. If the wick is too low, the light will be dim. Thus the Lord trims the believers who are too ambitious and pulls up the believers who are too withdrawn.
His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. (Revelation 1:14)
We donít usually picture the Lord Jesus like this. His white hair portrays Him as the "Ancient of Days." His eyes are like blazing fire because He can see through the cunning of people. Lies and hypocrisy are rapidly exposed in the Presence of the Lord.
His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (Revelation 1:15)
His feet of bronze indicate that wherever Christ goes, judgment follows. His voice is not that of an ordinary man but sounds like a mighty waterfall. He upholds the stars in their courses.
In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:16)
The seven stars are the angels, or spirits, of the seven churches. Each church has, in the spirit realm, a spirit that sums up the nature of that church.
The sharp double-edged sword is the Word of God, the sharpest, most powerful force in the universe.
The face of Christ shines like the sun because He is completely righteous. There is no darkness in Him.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. (Revelation 1:17)
The account does not tell us how large Christ was in this vision. But I rather suspect He was giganticólike a mountain in human form.
I think it is generally agreed that John, the writer, was the disciple whom Jesus loved and was specially close to Him. Perhaps he leaned on Jesus when they were eating. All the disciples had seen Christ after His resurrection and did not faint with fear. But seeing Christ as He actually is, is another matter.
I believe it would be a big help to the Christian churches, and to the world at large, if we could once see the Lord Jesus in the fullness of His majesty. However, God in His wisdom does not permit this.
John was afraid of Christ in this new form, more terrified than he was on the Mount of Transfiguration. Christ spoke peace to John, as He often did with people. I enjoy it when Christ speaks peace to me and tells me not to be afraid. Do you?
The expression "the First and the Last" means that what Christ begins He finishes, if we permit Him to. The Christian discipleship can prove to be a dangerous, painful, testing of our faith. There may be occasions when the waters are deep and the fires are hot. But if we just do not give up and turn back, we will find that what He began in us He is able to finish. He is in perfect control of the beginning. He is in perfect control of the ending. He is the First and the Last.
I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:18)
The Lord Jesus Christ was murdered and now is alive. This is the most important aspect of our faith. If Christ were not alive we would have nothing to support us.
I have heard college students asking questions about the existence of God, especially after they have heard a professor discuss evolution. They want to know how we can be sure there is a God and a Christ.
I tell them to go directly to Christ and ask Him if He exists. Jesus tells us to do His will, and then we shall know if He spoke from Himself or from God. This is what I did fifty-nine years ago. I started doing what I thought Jesus wanted me to do. Now I know He is the Son of God, what He said is the truth, and that He is alive. I hear from Him each day. I do not need additional proof that He is alive.
All other religions reverence a dead teacher or prophet. Our Teacher and Prophet is alive, and everyone is welcome to come to Him and find out from Him if He is alive. He is well able to communicate with the sincere seeker.
I believe the above verse (Revelation 1:18) is an important statement and needs to be emphasized more than it is. It is my point of view that we assign too much importance to Satan and the Antichrist. It is not Satan who holds the keys of death and Hades (Hell). It is not Antichrist who holds the keys of death and Hades. It is Jesus Christ who possesses these keys.
Ordinarily a person who holds the keys to a house is the owner of the house. He is the one who decides who is permitted to enter and who is forbidden to enter.
We use the expression, "a devilís Hell." Did you ever hear that said? It is not the devilís Hell. It is not Antichristís Hell, Death and Hell belong to Jesus Christ.
No individual enters death and no individual leaves death except with the permission of Christ. No person enters Hell and no person leaves Hell except with the permission of Jesus Christ. Satan and the feared Antichrist have no authority or power here.
Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. (Revelation 1:19)
How can God permit everyone to make his or her own decisions, and yet write the history of the world in advance? The answer is obvious: God knows in advance what we are going to do.
How can God know in advance what we are going to do if He is not controlling us? I believe the answer is that God is not bound by time. Perhaps we can picture time as a tapestry. God is able to sweep back and forth over this tapestry and continually make corrections, based on what He sees people doing. Thus He is able to predict the future.
I believe it is important for us to understand that you and I can affect the future. Far too often Christian people adopt a feeling of inevitability. They may commence their discipleship with great joy and high hopes for the future. Perhaps they picture themselves as an apostle who will go forth into the world and win millions to Christ.
But life has a way of beating us down, doesnít it? Most of us are not incurable optimists. After the years go by, and God does not do something exciting in our life, we begin to conclude that we will exist until we enter a nursing home, and nothing will change
The attitude of inevitability, that we are doomed to a mediocre existence in which no great work of Christ will be forthcoming, is a powerful enemy of faith. The truth is that many of us have to spend thirty or more years in ordinary work before we are seasoned and ready to be used by the Lord.
If you have been a Christian for a number of years, and nothing out of the ordinary has occurred in your life, why donít you go to the Lord right now and tell Him you want to be used in the ministry. There are so many needs in the worldójust in Africa aloneóthat ten thousand earnest Christians could not meet them all. There are literally millions of people in Africa who need all kinds of help. There are millions of orphans there whose parents have died from AIDs. Yet the orphanages are few and so the children roam the streets.
This is just one example of the needs of today.
I mentioned before the needs in the spirit world. If you prepare yourself to help with the needs of the Kingdom, you can be certain that God will put you where you can do the most good, in this present world and in the next.
But if you have been a Christian for many years, and now have adopted a spirit of inevitability, a feeling that God will never use you, He probably never will. You will live out your life as an animal, finally becoming physically helpless and eventually dying without having done much more during you life than eating, sleeping, playing, working, and reproducing. This will be your life, the life of a horse or a working dog.
And it is no oneís fault but your own, because the Lord told us if we keep on asking for the Holy Spirit so we can help other people, God will hear our prayer and provide all the resources we need. It didnít happen the first time we prayed, so we gave up and occupied ourselves with other interests.
The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20)
As I said, the seven stars are the angels, or spirits, of the seven churches and reflect in themselves the strengths and weaknesses of the particular church, or period of church history, or whatever else the seven churches may represent.
The Christian churches do not hold up Christ, Christ holds up the spirits of the churches in the right hand of His authority and power. Christ is not the servant of the churches but the Servant of God and the Lord of the churches.
The Christian churches are lampstands, that is, the revelation of Jesus Christ in the world. They have power and authority only to the extent they are separate from the world. Like Samson, once the "hair" of their separation is cut, they lose the power of the testimony.
When we bring in a multitude of people under the banner of "church growth" we dilute the testimony. It is the Holy Spiritís task to add members to the Body of Christ. We should be looking to the Spirit for guidance in bringing people into the churches. Otherwise, there is no lampstand, no testimony; only a social group that adheres to the practices and doctrines of the Christian religion.
The testimony of the Christian churches is that Jesus Christ died to make an atonement for our sins, and then rose from the dead in His body. Then He was brought up to Heaven, and will return in like manner. After speaking this testimony, the churches are to bear witness of Christ through their righteous behavior and the worship of God. When righteous behavior is lacking, the words of the church concerning Christ lose their power.
If we seek the Lord with a pure heart, and love abounds among us, the Lord will add to the church such as should be saved. But if the believers are not seeking the Lord with a pure heart but are involved in the world, and love does not abound among us, then the church is sick. It does not need more members, it needs to be healed.
It might help if we were being persecuted. Then we would have to look to the Lord more than we do in every aspect of our religious practices.
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: (Revelation 2:1)
Christ is telling the church in Ephesus (and all churches of all time) that He is Lord. He is present among us as the High Priest, inspecting the testimony that we are giving to the world.
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. (Revelation 2:2)
Today we are putting "faith" ahead of deeds. Christ judges our faith by our deeds. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil and to write the laws of righteousness in our heart and mind.
When we do not obey the laws of righteousness, as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount and in other passages of the New Testament, then our profession of faith is worse than no profession at all because it leave the impression Christ is endorsing unrighteous behavior.
Christ knows our hard work. Our labor in the Lord is not in vain but will result in a grand reward in the Day of Resurrection.
Christ knows our perseverance, as we plow ahead through the difficulties and dangers of our discipleship. When we stumble we get back on our feet, make restitution as the Lord leads, and fight forward. We never quit!
"I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false." The members of the church in Ephesus pleased the Lord by turning away from dishonest ministers of the Gospel.
We of today are remiss in this. We simply are remiss in this! Preachers continue to make outrageous claims concerning our giving money, and we do nothing about it. It is obvious they are not people of integrity, and yet we keep on throwing money at them. Sometimes the law steps in and puts them in prison. Still we do not learn.
I do not know what has happened to integrity. God has integrity. Christ has integrity. We are supposed to have integrity. Yet we see the Christian ministers making a joke of integrity.
I know the Christians are afraid to speak of the evil they see in the ministry, the foolishness, the covetousness, the dishonesty, sometimes the immorality. The world can see it and laughs at the joke Christianity is. But the Christians have been warned: "Do not touch My anointed and do My prophets no harm." And so they are afraid to express their dismay.
To a certain extent, old-fashioned integrity is often mocked in America, especially when money is involved. "It is a jungle out there and it is every man for himself." It appears this disdain of integrity sometimes affects the ministry and the church people, probably because of the overemphasis on "grace."
I know of an instance in a Christian college where the students did not do the work but expected the teachers to pass them on the basis of mercy and grace. The parents agreed with this along with the school administration, to the chagrin of the teachers, revealing why the students in later life have little strength of character.
Compared with some of the other nations of the earth, we in America have a relatively easy life. We tend to be indolent in matters of character. God is not indolent in terms of character. The victorious saints have a rod of iron created in them that will govern the world in righteousness when the Lord returns.
The foolish, spiritually lazy believers who have chuckled at the antics of the "evangelists" are not going to be "raptured" into Heaven. One day they are going to find themselves standing before Him whose eyes are flames of fire. Then their silly attitude toward God and Christ will be burned away and only utter terror will remain.
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. (Revelation 2:3)
The Christians in Ephesus (as well as many believers throughout the centuries) persevered in the face of problems, danger, and other difficulties and painful experiences, and endured hardships for the name of Jesus Christ. They did not grow weary and cease to press forward to total victory.
American parents often try to give their children every possible advantage in the world. They want their children to be socially active and accomplished in music, athletics, and other skills and disciplines one finds in our culture.
However, gross immorality is entering the media and the schools. Now the parents are faced with a dilemma: how can I tell my child that he or she cannot participate in the end of year festivities at school, because there will be drunkenness and other orgies taking place?
What is the parent to do when the soccer and baseball games, involving the youth, are held on Sunday, preventing church attendance?
It is at this point that the concerned Christian parent will have to face the child or young person with the fact that being a Christian means we have to endure hardships. As Christians we cannot enjoy every advantage in a culture that is spiraling down into satanic thinking, speaking, and behavior.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (Revelation 2:4)
When we first receive Christ we are enthusiastic about salvation. We are ready to do Godís will whatever it is. We love to pray, read our Bible, and gather with the saints.
But time goes on. Pretty soon we can see the weaknesses in other Christians, or in the pastor and elders, and we become critical. We settle back into the typical Christian posture of putting our material welfare first. We attend church but realize neither we nor the pastor are really serious about denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following the Lord Jesus every day.
The Lord is not pleased with people who settle back like this and holds it against them.
Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:5)
We can be established at the right hand of God in Christ, and then fall from this height as we neglect prayer, reading the Word, and assembling with fervent saints. We fall by becoming involved in the world; by yielding to our sinful nature; by following our own will instead of seeking the Lordís will in every issue. We have to maintain our place in Christ by constantly pressing forward in prayer and obedience.
"Repent and do the things you did at first." There is no question that in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, where the Lord tells the believers what steps are necessary if they are to be victorious saints, the emphasis is not on abstract faith but on faith that is revealed in works. "Do the things you did at first." Do those things. Express your faith in godly behavior. Turn away from your coldness and serve Christ fervently.
The church that does not do this will lose the power of the testimony. This is true of numerous Christian churches of our day. They have a form of godliness but there is no power to move people to righteousness. Their lampstand has been removed from its place.
But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:6)
I have heard three explanations of the "practices of the Nicolaitans." One is that the Nicolaitans were differentiating between the clergy and the laity. They were establishing a priest-people hierarchy.
Another explanation is that the Nicolaitans wanted the church to be more involved in the local community, to conduct their services in such a manner that they would be understandable to unsaved people.
A third explanation is that the Nicolaitans were advancing the philosophy of the Antinomians, that is, that correct knowledge of spiritual facts is all that is required for salvation. Behavior is not relevant. (This sounds like modern teaching, doesnít it?)
The Holy Spirit understands we could not be certain concerning the practices of the Nicolaitans. So I think we are to derive a lesson from this exhortation that does not depend on what those practices actually were. The lesson would be that there are practices that take place in Christian churches that the Lord hates, and He wants us to hate them also.
I would think that ordaining and performing marriage ceremonies for homosexual people would be a practice we are to hate. We are not to be accepting of every idea that comes along even though we are charged with being discriminatory, or hateful, or narrow-minded. When a practice clearly is against what the Scripture teaches, then we are to hate it.
The true Christian is not a humanist. He is on Godís side, not on the side of people.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
The rewards to the overcomers are always addressed to the individual, never to a group. When we obey the Lord to the best of our ability, He gives us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. When we do not walk in the light we currently have, we eventually become blind and deaf to the Holy Spirit.
Eating from the tree of life is the first step toward the first resurrection, the resurrection of the members of the governing priesthood.
Eating from the Tree of Life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, introduces eternal Divine Life into our inward nature. If we pursue eternal life until we are filled with Divine Life, when the Lord Jesus appears that same eternal life will extend to our mortal body.
Access to the Tree of Life was lost because of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. The right to keep on eating of that tree is given only to those believers who keep on overcoming the world, Satan, and their own sinful nature and self-will. We are not given to eat of the Tree of Life on the basis of our faith, except as our faith leads us into the victorious life in Jesus Christ. Belief in theological facts, no matter how accurate, will not by themselves authorize us to eat from the Tree of Life. We must be living in victory over sin.
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. (Revelation 2:8)
Since the emphasis in Christís address to the church in Smyrna is on faithfulness in suffering, Christ presents Himself as the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. This is what suffering believers need to hear. They need to be assured that the severe crisis they are experiencing will come to a victorious end. They need to know that what Christ began in their life He is able to finish and shall finish.
I know your afflictions and your povertyóyet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)
Notice that the Lord did not say it is My will that you be rich in material wealth. He accepted their afflictions and their poverty, and pointed out that they were rich in faith and spiritual treasure.
The believers in Smyrna were being slandered. Whether they were being slandered by those who were Jews by race, or whether the Lord is referring to insincere Christians, we cannot be certain. In any case the slanderers were a synagogue of Satan, not of Christ.
Whoever departs from wickedness makes himself or herself a prey, an object of slander, particularly by those who claim to be followers of Christ. You can be certain that if you turn away from wickedness and begin to truly serve the Lord and lead a righteous life, there will be no lack of "Christians" who will slander you.
It is Satan in them who is accusing you. Because they are following their self-will instead of Godís will, there is a door in their personality through which Satan can enter and accuse the righteous, just as he did when he prompted the Pharisees to slander the Lord Jesus.
The prophets always are murdered by Israel. Satan always is active among religious people.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
In many instances the fear and dread of suffering are worse than the suffering itself.
Notice that the Lord permits Satan to put us in a prison, but the Lord controls the timeóten days. Satan is given permission to test us, but it always is under the Lordís strictest control
What are our "prisons" like? Usually they take one of two forms. Either we are denied for many years the most fervent desires of our heart, or else we are compelled to remain in unpleasant situations for long periods of time. It is in such prisons that the saints are made.
Jesus told Peter that Satan desired to sift him. Jesus did not prevent Satan from sifting Peter, rather He prayed that Peterís faith would not fail.
When we suffer we cease from sin, Peter tells us. In particular, suffering tends to remove our self-will. We donít ordinarily hear much preaching about self-will, but it is the original sin. As far as I can tell, all sin can be traced back to self-will. The essence of the Kingdom of God is the doing of Godís will instead of our own.
We can gain some victory over sin, exhibit gifts of the Spirit, be successful in ministry, and yet be filled with self-will. I think that it is important we set a time in our life when we come before the Lord and tell Him we do not want to do our own will but His will. Resolving to do Godís will at every point of decision is the key to dwelling in Godís rest.
The personal cross of the believer is God solution to our self-will. The cross is an engine of destruction. After years of suffering we finally accept that Godís will is the only way of love, joy, and peace. Of course, some believers run away from their prisons. If they are fortunate, God arrests them and gives them a longer sentence. If they are not as fortunate, God lets them go their way and will deal with their disobedience in the Day of Resurrection.
If we remain faithful in our imprisoning circumstances, putting our treasures in Heaven, resolving to remain in our miserable situation until the day we die, we are promised the crown of life. The crown of life is the authority and power to govern by the power of incorruptible, resurrection life. It is given only to those who remain faithful in their prison; who do not flee from their cross.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
The implication is that if the believer does not live in victory he can be hurt by the second death.
The wording is a bit unusual. We would expect it to say "He who overcomes will not be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The expression "will not be hurt at all by the second death" suggests some kind of immunity. "You can eat this spoiled meat and it wonít hurt you"óthis sort of thing. It reminds us of Paul shaking the viper from his hand and suffering no ill effects.
The second death, the Lake of Fire, has authority over eight sinful personalities. Even though we have received Christ, the Lake of Fire retains authority over those behaviors. The Father has given the Lake of Fire its authority.
The only manner in which we can keep from being hurt by the second death is to overcome each of those eight behaviors. If we do not overcome them, weóChristian or notócan be hurt by the second death.
The fourth chapter of First Peter describes how Christ is ready to judge the living and the dead; that the judgment consists of fiery trials; that suffering removes sin from us so we begin to live for the will of God; and that the righteous are saved with difficulty.
We are saved with difficulty because of the need for perseverance throughout the fiery tests to which we are exposed. The object is to free us from all behaviors over which the Lake of Fire retains authority. Then we cannot possibly be harmed by the Lake of Fire.
This points up what may be a common misperception. It is that the overcomers, the victorious saints, are super-Christians. They are not. They are the people who have profited from the redemption, the destruction of the works of the devil, that Christ has brought to us.
How about the rank and file of believers who have never succeeded in overcoming sin? I do not know. I only know the Scripture cannot be altered in any manner. Only those who overcome will be given the right to eat from the Tree of Life, from Christ. Only those who overcome will be given the crown of life.
Some are teaching today that the overcomers are those who have "accepted Christ," according to the current standards. If this were true, how then could the revelation given to the Lord Jesus Christ imply, in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, that the rewards shall be given to those of the churches who live victoriously in Christ?
To say we are an overcomer by virtue of the fact that we have made a profession of faith in Christ means every believer in every Christian church is automatically an overcomer, a victorious saint. If such is the case, then the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are giving a false impression.
The term "overcome" suggests that forces come against the churches that must be surmounted. There is no indication in these two chapters that everyone in the churches automatically is an overcomer.
I have noticed that all the errors that enter the Christian churches have one purpose in mind. That purpose is to prevent the one goal that God is pursuing, which is to transform people until they are living a righteous life. Whether the error is eternal security, or the "rapture," or "get rich by faith," or the definition of Divine "grace" as an alternative to the Kingdom laws of righteousness, or every believer is automatically an overcomer, they all tend to turn our attention away from the need for a change in our behavior.
The teachers who are informing the believers that they automatically qualify as overcomers because they have "accepted Christ," are removing the need for applying utmost diligence to gaining victory over the temptations we face every day.
I am hoping that in the near future there will be a reformation of Christian thinking, such that Godís goal in sending Christ to the earth will be understood. That goal is to transform people until they practice righteousness and can rule in righteousness. Jesus gave us the Kingdom laws of righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount.
To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. (Revelation 2:12)
Since the Lord Jesus is appearing to the angel of this church as Him who is holding the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, we would expect to find that the believers in Pergamum were being tempted by sin.
I know where you liveówhere Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your cityówhere Satan lives. (Revelation 2:13)
It appears there are some geographic areas where the presence of Satan is stronger than in other places. Pergamum was one such city. Hence the need for the sharp, double-edged sword.
The Lord Jesus compliments the worshipers in Pergamum because they remained true to His name during a season of persecution. Antipas (against all) was martyred in Pergamumóthe city in which Satan lived. May the Lord help each of us to be "against all" when such an attitude becomes necessary if we are to bear a true witness of Christ.
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. (Revelation 2:14)
When God would not permit Balaam to curse Israel, Balaam counseled Balak, the king of Moab, to send out dancing girls where the Israelite warriors could see them and thus be encouraged to engage in immoral practices.
While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, Who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the LORDís anger burned against them. (Numbers 25:1-3)
Riches are deceitful, and only the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, can expose the deceptions that come upon us when we love money.
Balaam was a powerful seer in his day. But he was seduced by his love of money, and eventually killed by the Israelite army.
He was not able to curse Israel, but he was crafty enough to understand that if the Israelites could be seduced into sinning, the protection of the Lord would lift from them. Then Balak would have a chance of conquering them. So Balaam finally earned his money.
Apparently there were believers in Pergamum who believed that Christians should be free to eat food sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Evidently these believers did not understand that the Presence of the Lord would leave the church if the people worshiped demons and behaved in an immoral manner. Or perhaps they did understand this; but why they would want to destroy the church I do not know.
Godís people may not realize this, but when they are watching the antics of the American idols on television, the lust, covetousness, drunkenness, partying, adultery, fornication, violence, they are eating food sacrificed to idols.
There are numerous Christian preachers and teachers who define grace as an alternative to righteous behavior. This leaves the people free to watch pornography and the other satanic presentations on television and the Internet. They do not define grace in this manner for the purpose of removing Godís Presence from the believers, but this is the result of their teaching.
Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. (Revelation 2:15)
I mentioned before that we are not certain concerning the teaching of the Nicolaitans, some Bible scholars stressing that the clergy-laity pattern is meant. Others point toward the efforts of Nicholas of Antioch to make the church acceptable and understandable to the local community. The third viewpoint is that Gnosticism is meant, the emphasis on salvation by specific knowledge and a disregard of behavior. The modern emphasis on "faith alone" has points in common with Gnosticism, I believe. We are saved and will go to Heaven on the basis of a statement of faith in Jesus Christ, independently of our behavior. It seems to me that this is close to the teaching of Gnosticism.
Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:16)
We are to turn away from the love of money, the problem that Balaam had and resulted in his destruction. We are to reject all of the American idols, including sexual immorality. If we do not, the Lord will fight against us with His Word. The result will be the loss of our testimony, and God will send a strong delusion upon us because we did not receive the love of the truth. I believe this already has taken place in America.
Idol worship and sexual immorality are not permitted in the Church of Jesus Christ, in the Kingdom of God.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
Only those who are praying and obeying the Lord have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches today. The Lord is calling us to move past the Pentecostal experience into the fullness of the indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Whoever in Pergamum is willing to obey the Lord, and through Him to gain victory over idol worship and sexual immorality, will be given some of the hidden manna. This includes us of today. The hidden manna is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is given to each believer as he or she chooses to turn away from the sinful nature and do what the Holy Spirit is commanding.
The white stone is a voting pebble. If we are willing to turn away from the love of money, from idol worship, and from sexual immorality, we will move from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen, just as Peter and the others did when they alone remained after the Lord spoke of His body and blood.
The new name speaks of our having a significant change of identity and ultimately of character after having been voted into the ranks of the chosen.
Ephesus has to do with keeping our love for Jesus fervent. The reward for this is the right to eat from the Tree of Life. This is the first step toward the first resurrection from the dead, as I understand it.
Smyrna speaks of faithfully remaining in the prison where we are placed. The reward is the crown of life and immunity to the harmful effects of the Lake of Fire. This is the second step toward the first resurrection.
Pergamum warns us against involvement with the demonic influences of the present age, including sexual immorality. We are to keep away from those who are driven by their love of money. They will invite us to sin so we will want to follow and support them. I think there are preachers today who do just that.
The hidden manna and the white stone with the new name are a third step toward the first resurrection.
To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. (Revelation 2:18)
Godís High Priest walks among the churches. He looks at the spirit of the church in Thyatira. He chooses to reveal Himself as the One "whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze."
In America we may picture the Good Shepherd as looking at us in a kindly manner. We say to someone "Jesus loves you." Many times this is not true. The Lord may be upset with that individual and he will be removed from the Lordís Presence if he does not repent. So why are we giving him the impression that Jesus is pleased with him? Tell him Jesus will love him if he repents and serves Christ with all his heart.
Eyes like blazing fire. We come into the world with a wounded heel such that we are not upright. As we grow up we learn to get our way by deceiving people. Much of the American marketing culture is based on deception. For example, we charge $399.99 for a chair and advertise it as being less than $400.00, Yes, it is less. It is one penny less. This sort of thing goes on all the time.
Banks, large corporations, medical services, all institutions you would assume are upright, often use deception to gain customers. The competition for dollars is so intense that every device is employed, lawful and unlawful, truthful and false, to gain advantage over the other organization.
We are becoming insensitive to this lack of integrity, sometimes even in church work. We are able to deceive one another and to make political moves. But then Jesus looks at us and the mask is burned away.
One time the Lord said to me, "If you make any decision based on political maneuvering I will not help you."
All Christ will accept is absolute integrity.
His feet are like burnished bronze. We may pray for the Presence of the Lord in our church or our personal circumstances. Then trouble comes upon us and we do not understand why. The reason is, the Lordís Presence came in answer to our prayer. But His feet are those of judgment. Bronze can withstand fire. Christ wants to burn up all in our life that is not fireproof so we can walk with Him wherever He goes and not be harmed.
When you pray to draw closer to the Lord, and trouble comes, be thankful for it. It is the answer to your prayer. However, always pray that God will help you profit from the trouble and then God will remove it. Do not take it for granted at any time that God wants you miserable. Ask God to remove the fear and dread from you and He will answer your prayers.
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. (Revelation 2:19)
Deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance, and, unlike Ephesus, doing better than at the first. It often is preached that God sees us only through Christ. When we lie, God sees the truthful Nature of Christ. When we fornicate, God sees only the moral Nature of Christ. When we express ourselves in murderous rage, God sees only the kindness and patience of Christ. We are complete in Him, it is quoted.
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation do not bear this out. Rather Christ knows exactly what we are doing.
He sees our deeds, whether they are good or evil.
He sees our love, and is pleased with this.
He sees our service, and rewards us for this.
He sees our perseverance, and furnishes us with resurrection life.
He sees we are pressing forward in Him, and rewards us with an increased ability to behave righteously, which is Godís goal for us.
The idea that if we will only accept Christ, our problem with sin is past; our judgment was completed on the cross; is totally unscriptural and prevents the work of redemption from taking place. The work of redemption transforms us into the image of Christ and requires our diligent participation every step of the way.
The other day I noticed a sign outside a church. It said, "Uncover your sins that God may cover them." This sort of misleading information is the result of the teaching that all we need do is accept Christ and then God no longer is aware of our behavior.
What does Paul say in Romans? Paul says that we shall live spiritually if, through the Spirit of God, we put to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
Two contrasting statements: God wants us to uncover our sins so He may cover them; God wants us to put to death through His Spirit our sinful acts. The first leaves us as a forgiven, unchanged creation. The second leaves us as a new creation, transformed into the image of Christ.
Can you see what I mean when I say the current teaching prevents the work of redemption from taking place?
It may have been true in time past that God wanted to put His people in kind of a holding pattern until He was ready to release them from the chains of sin. I cannot say for certain because I was not alive then. All I know is that today the Holy Spirit is ready to release us from the bondages of sin, so the old teaching no longer is marching along with the Lord.
Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. (Revelation 2:20)
Jezebel was teaching the same doctrine as Balaam. They both were inviting the saints to engage in sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. But probably for different reasons.
I think Balaamís motivation was money, the money he was to receive from Balak, the king of Moab. Jezebelís motivation probably was her love of the world. She wanted the church to be filled with the social programs that people enjoy. At the same time she was increasing her prominence by referring to herself as a prophetess.
My experience tells me that women in particular need to be careful about heralding themselves as prophetesses, although many women of today have received remarkable gifts from the Lord and are exercising them in a fruitful manner.
Jezebel stands for the spirit in the churches that stresses social activities. Every healthy church must have some social activities. These are a required part of our life. But the elders have to be careful that social activities do not get out of hand, because the natural tendency of many human beings is to want to have a party. The spiritual and the social must be kept in balance.
Whenever there are social activities where both men and women, boys and girls, are present, there always is the necessity to keep our sexual urges under careful control. These urges are healthy if they are kept under discipline.
I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. (Revelation 2:21)
This is so characteristic of the Jezebel spirit. It is stubborn and rebellious It has no intention of obeying the Lord or the elders of the assembly. Notice how patient the Lord is!
So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. (Revelation 2:22)
This is the Lordís way. She wants to spend her time in bed with her lovers. So the Lord says, "Fine. You want to be in bed. I will put you to bed, but you are not going to enjoy it." It is the Lordís way to give us what we lust after. First He reproves us and shows us a better way. If then we are unwilling to be taught, He give us what we have lusted for. He gives us quail until we are vomiting, and then sends leanness into our soul.
Those who followed the prophetess will suffer intensely unless they repent of her ways. When the Lord says "suffer intensely" he is speaking of an experience we do well to avoid.
I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23)
"I will strike her children dead." If I am not mistaken, this is an example of the New International Version trying to help us out. I use the NIV because it usually expresses the original texts in a clear, accurate manner. On occasion, however, it goes too far in trying to make the text understandable.
Notice the expression "I will strike her children dead." It should read, "I will kill her children with death."
This is an example of the jigsaw puzzle piece that almost fits. It is a temptation to say "I will strike her children dead," for that makes sense to us. But the text reads, "I will kill her children with death." It is not the same, is it?
The NIV does us a disservice when it changes the text to mean what the translators think it means. They would be more accurate if they just wrote what the inspired text states.
Killing the children of Jezebel with death is referring, I believe, to the spiritual death that always accompanies the actions of Jezebel. Jezebel symbolizes the spirit of the world, and the spirit of the world produces spiritual death. It is a special kind of death.
Some people who die physically are alive and shall continue to be alive in the spirit world. Some people who die physically are already dead, and will continue to be without spiritual life in the spirit world.
So you can kill people with a gun, or you can kill them with death. Stephen was killed with stones, but he was gloriously alive when he entered the spirit world.
Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satanís so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. (Revelation 2:24,25)
Not all the believers of the church in Thyatira had followed Jezebel. Notice the Lord speaks of Satanís "so-called deep secrets." Those who follow New Age teachings and take drugs are hoping to discover profound mysteries. But they always end up in fornication. Their profound mysteries are nothing more than sexual urges in disguise. Satan has no deep secrets to offer, only lying, murder, and lust.
Notice that the Lord does not keep on heaping burdens on us. After we surmount certain assigned difficulties He tells us to just maintain the position we have gained.
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nationsó "He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery" just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)
"And does my will to the end." It is not enough that we make a sudden attempt to gain victory, to carry our cross cheerfully. We must persevere in this way of living until we die. There is no going back, nor can we count on previous efforts to carry us through. Each day is a challenge that must be met and prayed through to victory.
Now we come to a declaration that alters our view of what it means to be a Christian. Authority over the nations. The believers sometimes say they will "rule and reign with Christ" (sic). At the same time they talk about the mansions in Heaven. This really does not make sense, does it?
I wonder how they picture themselves ruling the nations of the earth. Do they suppose they will be laying on a couch in their mansion, with a servant girl dropping grapes in their mouth, while they are issuing directives to the nations?
Beyond all doubt, governing a nation is a full-time business. We notice how the presidents of the United States age during their term of office.
And this is no gentle reign while we float about in a white sheet telling everyone Jesus loves them. This is a rule with an iron scepter. A golden scepter would symbolize Divinity. But an iron scepter speaks of a crushing, inflexible force.
Do we imagine the silly church people of today are prepared to crush the nations of the earth with inflexible force? Is this not a prospect ridiculous beyond all meaning of the term?
We cannot govern our own desire to gossip and backbite, to speak spitefully about other believers? And we are going to crush the rebellious peoples of the earth until they are forced to behave righteously?
The promise of governing the nations of the earth with an iron scepter should warn us that our present unscriptural, undemanding grace-rapture-Heaven gospel is a myth. It is as real as the land of Oz. It is marshmallow, not iron.
The rod of iron must be formed in us before we can govern the peoples of the earth. The rod of iron is speaking of our character, which must be of total integrity and obedience to God.
But isnít our Lord Jesus a gentle, loving Savior who would not harm a flea? Not always. The Bible says the Father has given Him the authority to dash the nations to pieces like pottery. And Christ has extended that authority to those who gain victory over sin and keep His will to the end.
The concept of the Christian people working alongside of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth is a different gospel from that of grace-rapture-Heaven. I wonder which is the more scriptural?
I will also give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:28)
The Morning Star is Jesus Christ. He rises in our heart. Apart from His being formed in us we are not qualified to govern the nations. We are not going to rule in our old adamic nature.
If Christ is to be formed in us we must read and obey what is written in the New Testament. If we do not keep His commandments, we are revealing that we do not love Him no matter what we say. Then the Father will not love us and Christ and the Father will not dwell in us.
We are to pray until we receive wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit so we can keep the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles. Then the Morning Star rises in us and we begin to do by nature the works of the Righteous One.
It is not a case of our wanting to be exalted rulers. Rather it is that God needs saints who can govern the world in righteousness. If we are called to rulership, and do not faithfully endure the rigors of the training given to all the members of the royal priesthood, we will be treated as a lazy disobedient servant. We cannot settle for a lesser place in the Kingdom.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:29)
How can we be sure we are hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches? Only by denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following the Lord Jesus every day.
Authority to govern the nations is a further step toward the first resurrection from the dead.
To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)
The Ephesians had left their original fervent love of Jesus.
The believers in Smyrna were urged to be patient in tribulation.
Those in Pergamum were to repent of any yielding to sin and reminded of the need to bear witness faithfully in the headquarters of Satan.
The church in Thyatira was being taught by those who loved the world and its lusts. They were warned of severe chastening of they succumbed to this deception.
It appears that the church in Sardis was popular. It was regarded as being "alive." but its life was that of fleshly enterprise. It was lacking the Spirit of God. Therefore Christ appears as the One who holds the seven Spirits of God
We always must keep in mind the watchword taken from the Book of Zechariah: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord Almighty." There is an unscriptural emphasis on "church growth" today. By church growth is meant an increase in the number of people who attend the services, not the spiritual growth of the believers.
When human talent is applied, and various programs that appeal to people are employed, it is not too difficult to increase the number of those who attend. Soon there is a large assembly that sponsors many activities of interest to people.
I do not say it is wrong to have a large assembly and many interesting activities. The problem is, if the assembly is run by the energies, talents, and wisdom of human beings, and not by the Holy Spirit, the church will have a reputation of being alive, but it will be dead in the sight of the Lord.
Are there any instances of this in the United States today? Whatever is not being directed by the Spirit of God produces nothing of eternal worth in the Kingdom of God.
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. (Revelation 3:2)
It appears from the text that the church in Sardis began in the Spirit of God. But as so often is the case, after two or three generations, churches (and denominations) that began in the Spirit lay their hands on the Ark, so to speak. The result is spiritual death. Then the Lord has to raise up another group.
The amazing fact is that this pattern of birth in the power of the Spirit, and then a gradual move away from the Holy Spirit, happens (as far as I know) to every church and every denomination. Yet those who are part of the second and third generations away from the fiery birthplace never say to themselves: "Why am I not praying and looking to Christ as did those who founded my church or my denomination."
No, the same pattern is followed consistently from the fire, to less fire, to even less fire, to formality and death. As nearly as I can tell, this is what is happening to the Pentecostal organizations. We have excellent administrators, knowledgeable people who would be at home in the highest centers of government and professional life. But tongues of fire are not resting on them.
"Wake up!" the Lord says. "Strengthen prayer. Strengthen looking to the Lord for His will. Strengthen reliance on the Holy Spirit. Repent and return to the founding fire. It is not your church but Mine. Keep your hands off the Ark.
"If you will cease from your own programs and seek My face, I will show you what I want you to do. Your deeds are not anointed by the Spirit, only by fleshly enthusiasm and talent. Therefore what you are doing will be burned up when it is tried by the fires of Divine judgment."
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:3)
Imagine! The church in Sardis had a reputation of being alive but it was sleeping the sleep of spiritual death. "Obey what I have told you. Wake up! Or I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." It is not enough to have a large assembly filled with busy people, even though we apply the name of Jesus once in a while. The Holy Spirit must be directing every activity if we are to be alive in the sight of Christ.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
Some might venture that this means there were a few people in Sardis who had accepted Christ. This is not what it means and this is not what it says. Christ states there were but a few people in Sardis who had not soiled their clothes, meaning they were Christians.
Each believer has a robe, a heavenly house or garment, that is being formed before the Throne of God. Our resurrected form will be clothed upon with that robe in the Day of Resurrection.
Our heavenly robe reflects in itself our deeds. If we are stalwart in the matter of turning aside from the sinful nature and choose to do what is righteous in Godís sight, then that righteousness of character is woven into our robe. In the Day of Resurrection we shall be clothed in our own deeds.
Let us say we have committed fornication. Then this stain immediately appears on our heavenly robe. If, upon realizing what we have done, we confess our sin, asking Godís help that we may never do this again, our robe is washed in the blood of the Lamb and our robe returns to its spotless condition. But if instead of confessing our sin and turning away from it we continue yielding to our sinful nature, then our robe is permanently soiled.
This is what Jesus Christ is referring to when He states that only a remnant of the believers in Sardis have not soiled their clothes. The remnant will walk with Christ as members of the royal priesthood, clothed in their own righteous deeds.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
"For they are worthy." Why are they worthy to be members of the royal priesthood? Because they have kept their robe spotlessly clean.
It often is said that only Christ is worthy, we are unworthy. Beyond all doubt Christ is worthy. It is true also that in several passages the New Testament warns us that we must live in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God.
All this is evidence that Godís judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:5)
He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:5)
The victorious saints have the guarantee in writing that they will not be harmed by the second death and that their name will never be blotted from the Book of Life.
Let us consider this promise for a moment. My guess would be that Satanís most strenuous efforts to affect Christian doctrine are directed toward the idea that a Christian can never be lost. In spite of the several clear warnings in the New Testament, we keep hearing "You shall not surely die."
Satan is telling us clearly that even though we do not serve the Lord Jesus, if we once have "accepted Him" we shall not surely die, in spite of what Christ and His Apostles have taught us. It may be true that this idea of "the security of the believer" has been the primary reason why American Christians are such infants in the matter of righteous behavior.
I believe it is time for godly scholars to search the New Testament and determine if there are verses that state clearly the believer faces spiritual corruption and death if he obeys his sinful nature. Once having found one of these, the scholars should come out boldly and throw off this yoke of humanism that has removed the fear of God from the Christian people.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)
I could quote several such clear statements. But the one above is enough to show the sincere student that if a believer in Christ lives according to his sinful nature, out from that nature he will reap destruction
But was Paul speaking to Christians? Of course! The text of the Book of Galatians reveals clearly that Paul is not writing to the secular society of Galatia but to the churches in Galatia.
The inference is plain. If the member of the church in Sardis does not choose to live a victorious life in Christ, he has no guarantee that his name will not be blotted from the Book of Life. He has no guarantee that his name will be acknowledged before the Father and His angels. He has not been found worthy to be a member of the royal priesthood.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:6)
It is so important that we keep open to the Holy Spirit. I suppose the difference between Christians who merely are members of a religion, and true Christians, is that of being able to hear the Holy Spirit.
I have no doubt that in the last days the Christians who merely are members of the Christian religion will become part of "Babylon the Great," which apparently is the joining of all religions into one great religion with its headquarters on the site of ancient Babylon. The Christian services will continue with the traditional hymns and liturgies. The Holy Spirit will not be present, but no one will know or care.
What is the Spirit saying to us today? He is telling all who are able to hear Him that we are to repent and put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. We are to be reconciled to God in our whole personality, and finally filled with the fullness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Also the Spirit is telling us about the worldwide revival that is at hand, the promised harvest rain, and we are to prepare ourselves for it by walking humbly with the Lord Jesus at all times. It will be a "sackcloth" revival. The time of the "big preachers" is coming to a close.
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. (Revelation 3:7)
If it is true that the seven churches of Asia represent seven periods of church history, it would be my opinion that we are in the age of Philadelphia with Laodicea on the horizon.
Notice that the Lord emphasizes holiness, truth, and the key of David, which is the key of the Kingdom of God. It is the authority to bind and to loose.
The word is first, holiness. We are unclean today. Every form of the deeds of the sinful nature can be found in the Christian churches, probably because of the overemphasis on "salvation by faith alone."
The current Christian message is filled with error, not truth. The common denominator of the errors is that salvation is a matter of a doctrinally correct confession of Jesus Christ, rather than what God intends, which is the moral transformation of people through the Lord Jesus Christ. How long shall it be before we leave these mythological traditions and return to the New Testament?
When we are walking in the Spirit of God, following the Lord Jesus Christ closely, He may exert through us the fullness of His authority over Heaven and earth. We then can forgive and retain sins, and otherwise admit and deny entrance to the Kingdom of God.
It is sometimes stated that in some nations the doors are closing to missionary activity. They may be closing to missionary activity that is organized and activated by fleshly enterprise; but no door is closed to the Lord Jesus Christ. When Christ decides He wants the Gospel preached somewhere, He chooses someone who is prepared and then opens every door and provides every resource needed.
Is God not able to open doors and provide resources? The problem today is not closed doors, it is holiness and truth on the part of the ministry.
I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8)
"I know your deeds." Christ must think it is important for the churches to understand that He knows our deeds, for He repeats this expression several times.
The churches of today have little moral or spiritual strength. Yet they have held forth the fact that Christ died for our sins, and then rose again and today is seated at the right hand of God. Also, the Christian churches have not denied His nameóthat He indeed is the Son of God.
There is an open door in the spirit realm today. The meaning of the Scriptures is being unveiled. We understand that there are not two major work of grace, but three: the forgiveness of our sins; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; the indwelling of the fullness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There are thrones in the spirit realm that are waiting for those who are willing to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus every day. I am not certain such authority in the Kingdom has always been available to Christians, but it is today. Perhaps this is what the Lord meant when He said many who are last shall be first.
No one can shut that door, can prevent us from attaining to the first resurrection from the dead. But our own unbelief and disobedience are able to close that door to us personally.
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liarsóI will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9)
I believe the "Jews" mentioned here are members of the Christian religion, not necessarily Jews by race. There are many such who are liars, who resist the Holy Spirit, who hate those who are pressing forward in the Lord. They slander them without mercy.
They will fall down at our feet and acknowledge that Christ has loved us. This is the Lordís doing, not ours. By this time we have forgotten their slanderous remarks and have left them in Godís hands. It is the Lord, not we ourselves, who wants them to acknowledge that He loves us. We would rather press forward into the wonders of the Kingdom and see "what eye has not seen" as yet.
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The "rapturists" translate this verse: "Whoever accepts Christ will be raptured into Heaven so he will not be here on earth during the Great Tribulation."
This is what can happen when our perception has been affected by a preconceived notion. We canít see what is in front of us.
First of all, the verse is not addressing those who have merely "accepted Christ" but those who have been careful to guard His command to endure patiently. They make certain that they do not turn away from Christ when they have difficulties.
These are the people being addressed, arenít they? Numerous people "accept Christ" and then turn away when they face problems.
Because you have guarded My command to endure patiently, I will also guard you."
The word is the same in the Greek. The word translated "kept," or "keep," means "guarded" or "guard."
Whatever we do to Christís command to endure patiently, that is what Christ will do to us. If we carefully observe Christís command, making certain that it comes to no harm, then Christ will carefully observe us, making certain that we come to no harm.
In fact, the same writer, John, in his Gospel, says, "I pray not that you should take them out of the world but that you protect (same Greek term) them from the evil one."
Protect them from what? "From the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." My personal thought is that the "hour of trial" is not referring to the Great Tribulation but to the prevalence and availability of sin. "Because sin shall abound the love of the majority will grow cold," the Bible says.
We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God. Tribulation creates patience and makes strong saints. It is our necessary chastening. We do not need to be protected from chastening but from the deceptions presented by Satan. Isnít that so?
The key is patient endurance. If we are willing to endure patiently in the present hour, then when sin fills the earth (and it surely is going to do that) the Lord will protect us from falling.
It is my opinion that we are in days of preparation. We are learning to overcome our sinful nature by calling on the Lord for help.
I believe if we do not take advantage of the present instruction, in the days to come sin will become so powerful, so beguiling, the temptations so fiery, so intense, that even though we want to resist them we will not be able. We may call on the Lord; but He will remember that we did not take advantage of todayís opportunity to be reinforced and He will not hear us.
If I understand the Book of Daniel correctly, in the future God is going to permit Antichrist to ascend in the spirit realm to a place where he can interfere with the prayers of those who have not served Christ diligently. They will cry to the Lord but Antichrist will be able to deceive them.
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7)
To maintain that these are Jewish saints is ridiculous. When the New Testament speaks of saints (holy ones), it is speaking of those who are part of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile by race. The above verse is saying that in the last days Antichrist will be able to make war against the Christians and to conquer them.
Even today numerous Christians in America, including some members of the ministry, are falling from the right hand of God because of the fiery sexual lusts that have attracted them. God has given us a powerful sexual urge that dominates most of life. To those who use this gift only in the will of God will be given the true riches. They will rule with Christ throughout the ages to come.
Today there are people who love the Lord and want to serve Him, but are pulled so strongly by lust they cannot resist. They have not put on the whole armor of God. There are weak places in their personality and they have fallen. This can happen to you or me if we do not immediately turn to the Lord and ask Him to help us put to death every deed of our sinful nature.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
What does the word "crown" mean to you? No governmental leader in America wears a crown, far as I know. There are girls who are crowned as Miss California or Miss New Zealand. But I donít think it is speaking of this kind of crown.
I know that in England the queen used to say, "The Crown wants this"; or "The Crown authorizes that." I do not know if that terminology is used any longer.
The idea is, the crown represents the authority to launch armies and navies; to tax and to spend what is taken in. In time past the crown could include dreadful authority, under which a suspected criminal could be put to death without a trial.
I believe this kind of crown is meantóthe authority to rule over large groups of people.
Now, anyone who is familiar with Christian church people know that, as a whole, they are decent, clean, intelligent people whose morals are usually closer to the Bible standard than is true of secular society. The majority of them probably would be classified politically as conservative in that they abhor abortion and homosexual behavior.
But many of them are not nearly prepared to govern nations with an iron scepter.
My experience with church people tells me that most of them view salvation as Godís provision for admitting them to Heaven when they die. They believe Heaven will be a place of peace and joy and they will have no more fears or worries. They do not think past this, ordinarily. What they will do for eternity does not seem to be clear to them, or even interest them at this timeóother than the fact that there will no sorrow, sickness, death, or anything like that.
In fact, I donít believe the prospect or returning to earth and smashing rebellious people with an iron scepter would be their first choice. Possessing a fine mansion and visiting with their neighbors probably would be more appealing. Kind of an endless Saturday night get-together. Maybe they have barbecues in Heaven! It is said that the Muslims are hoping for dancing girls.
So what are we saying? Is the Bible unreal?
A sociologist, given the facts, and assuming the Bible is true, would look for unusual people among the believers, who were having unusual experiences, and who were unusually disciplined. This agrees with my observation of the overcomers, the remnant who one day will be separated from the remaining church people.
Also, it agrees with the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, particularly "you have a few names in Sardis."
I understand that all Christians are told they are going to "rule and reign with Christ" (sic). But this is not at all realistic. They would not want to return with Christ and install the Kingdom of God on the earth and they are not disciplined enough to do so.
By the way, let me say that in the Kingdom of God we either are a ruler or we are ruled. When we say we do not care about ruling we must understand this means we will be ruled. There is no one in the Kingdom of God who is not under strict supervision by those who are living by the Life of Christ.
My opinion is that when people have no desire to rule it is because they are not called to do so. We need have no fear that God is going to require of us something we do not want to do and are not prepared to do.
So when Revelation says "Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown," it is addressing those who have been chosen to rule. Crowns are desirable items. There are people who would like to have your crown and will take it if you prove yourself unable to hold on to it.
Do you remember in the parable that the talent given to the lazy servant was removed from him and given to another who was more diligent? Perhaps we need to be reminded that the Lord Jesus is not the good-natured fellow we Americans seem to imagine He is.
Although you might not think so after visiting an average American assembly, we are in a vicious warfare in which the winners take all. God will give Christ a portion with the great and He will divide the spoil with the strong.
Donít let anyone take your crown from you, not a relative, not a person who doesnít believe as you do, not a professor of theology who might seek to convince you. Look to Jesus Christ in every instance. He is Godís Conqueror and He will help you conquer all that comes against you.
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)
The above is one of the mightiest of the promises of the New Testament. It is a giant step toward participation in the first resurrection from the dead.
The eternal temple of God is the new Jerusalem, the Church of Christ. To be made a pillar in this house is to become an inseparable part of the structureóa part that cannot be removed without affecting the entire building.
The victorious saint will never leave the temple of God just as Jesus Christ never leaves the Father. He will have the power of multiple presence, just as Jesus does.
Christ will write the name of God him because He belongs to God and always does the will of God. He represents God wherever he is, just as Jesus does.
Christ will write the name of the new Jerusalem on him, because this is what he has become. He is a pillar in the living city. Wherever he goes, that is where the city goes.
Christ will write His new name on him. What is that new name? In the rewards to the victorious saint of the church of Pergamum, a new name was mentioned which no one knows except the person receiving it. Being given a new name indicates a change in the person or a new relationship. The new creation is given a new name.
Now we find that God has given Christ a new name, and Christ will write that name on us showing that we represent Him in all things. Christ reveals God the Father and we reveal Christ. This is the Kingdom of God.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:13)
The Spirit always is telling us to turn away from sin and to press forward in the Lord Jesus.
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of Godís creation. (Revelation 3:14)
The Lord Jesus says "Amen" to everything God declares. We are to do the same. The reason there is so much error in todayís Christian teaching is that the preachers are taking a few favorite verses and drawing conclusions from them, meanwhile ignoring the remainder of the New Testament. Instead they need to read again and again the text of the New Testament, saying "Amen" to every passage, including the Book of Hebrews and the Book of James. Then we would have truth being preached.
I think the period of Laodicea will be one in which the welfare of man is held to be of more importance than Godís will and purpose for us. The Lord Jesus is saying here that what is important is faithfulness and truth. Christ has borne a faithful and true witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God. He now is the Firstfruits and Ruler of all that God has created. All the philosophies and scientific findings that the world so trusts in and adores are not and never can be truth. Truth is a Person. His name is Jesus Christ.
As far as faithfulness is concerned, one may notice that this virtue it not high in importance on the modern scale of values. But in Godís opinion, faithfulness is at the very top of what God considers to be valuable.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarmóneither hot nor coldóI am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15,16)
Again, "I know your deeds." The Lord certainly places more emphasis on our actions than is true of current teaching.
We canít imagine the Lord preferring that someone be cold rather than lukewarm. Once we begin to hear from the Lord, however, we can see why this is so.
God can do something with a fervent, hot Christian. When God issues one of His treasures, the hot Christian will go after it and obtain it no matter what it costs him.
The lukewarm Christian is casual. He is undecided. He does not want to have too much of Christ or too much of Satan. The truth is, his heart is in the present world. He doesnít want to be inconvenienced by the demands of Christ; neither does he want to be filled with Satan and wickedness. He is of no use in the Kingdom of God.
Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. (Revelation 22:11)
The Lord wants his way made straight. The high must come down; the low must be brought up; the crooked must be made straight; the rough places must be made smooth.
We have to get on the side of righteousness or the side of wickedness. We Americans do not desire this. We want to be casual, careless, and lukewarm, in numerous instances. Therefore the events of the future will force us to get out of the valley of indecision and choose Christ or Satan.
But we donít want Christ or Satan! We want to be left alone. This is not possible. The forces of righteousness and the forces of wickedness are two colossal spiritual forces facing each other. A human being is only intelligent dust and cannot compete in this arena. To not plunge wholly into Christ is to come under the influence of Satan.
If we continue in our nominal, casual state, attending church on Sunday and living in the world the rest of the week, not praying intensely each day, not reading our Bible, we will be spit out of the Lordís mouth. Evidently He is holding the churches in His mouth as well as walking in their midst.
I cannot understand how preachers can insist once we receive Christ we can never be lost, when Christ speaks of spitting the casual Christians out of His mouth. As far as I can see, most of the church members in the United States, perhaps in the world, are lukewarm. I know what the response will be: "Yes, Christ will spit them out of His mouth, but they are saved by grace. They still will go to their mansion in Heaven when they die."
And then we wonder why the believers do not take the warnings of the Apostles seriously!
You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)
You know, the Lord does not have one good thing to say about the church in Laodicea. Imagine referring to His lampstand as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Can you picture Christ saying this about Christian people?
I know when we come to this sort of issue, the Bible commentators say such people never were saved in the first place. If they were saved, they would not be spit out of the Lordís mouth.
This is a weak argument. According to this explanation, how would any of us know if we were saved? The commentators might suggest that we would know we were true Christians because we were not lukewarm. Thus they would be telling over half of the Christians in America that they are not true Christians.
Why would the church say it was rich and did not need a thing? You will never in your life hear a pastor or church say this. It must be because they were being supported by the government, or else they had learned how to get rich by faith.
I believe in the last days the government of the United States will have a religious council that will enlist the help of the Christian churches with the problem of caring for the needs of the impoverished peoples of the world. Many Christian churches will join this governmental effort. It sounds so "Christian"!
But they will not ask the Holy Spirit if this program is of God. They will see this as another opportunity for "church growth." Their history of using their own plans to spread the Gospel instead of listening for the voice of the Spirit will catch up with them. They will be led right into the camp of Antichrist without realizing it.
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:18)
Gold refined in the fire is faith that is tested in difficult situations. White clothes to wear refers to righteous behavior. Salve to put on our eyes so we can see has to do also with righteous behavior. When we add to our refined faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, our eyes begin to open so we can see the way, the truth and the life.
When we walk righteously, speak what is right, reject gain from extortion, keep our hand from accepting bribes, stop our ears against plots of murder, and shut our eyes against contemplating evil, our eyes will see the King in His beauty and view a land that stretches afar.
The Laodicean believers may have been rich in material goods but they were impoverished because they did not have the true riches.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
The rebukes and disciplines of the Lord are hard on the flesh. But if we do not experience these it is because He does not love us. When we are rebuked and disciplined, whether by illness or other sorts of pains and pressures, it is so we will change what we are doing. We need to be earnest about this, quick to learn from the Lord. We are never, never to blame people or circumstances for our pain. We are to go to the Lord and settle the matter with Him.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
I may be incorrect but it seems to me that this promise to the humanistic believers in Laodicea is in special force today. Even though the expression is not found in the Book of Acts, the evangelist of today cries "Let Jesus into your heart." The Apostles preached repentance and faith in Christ; they did not preach "Let Jesus into your heart."
To tell you the truth, I donít believe the expression is found in the New Testament, although we hear it all the time. I am suspicious when we repeatedly are using expressions not found in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, in the twenty-fourth Psalm, we find the exhortation to "Lift up your heads, O you gates, that the King of glory may come in." Personally I believe this is referring to Christ asking for admittance to our heart. The twenty-fourth Psalm without doubt is a Psalm for the last days.
It may be noted that this invitation is not to the world, to the unsaved, but to the members of the church in Laodicea. Is it true that a person can be a Christian and not have Christ in his or her heart? It certainly is true that numerous church members do not act as though Christ is in their heart.
I think we are in a special period. I believe Christ is coming in fulfillment of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets, the ceremony that comes ten days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
In line with the twenty-fourth Psalm, I picture the Lord Jesus coming as the Lord, strong and mighty in battle, and standing before each believer. He wants to enter and drive out His enemies. We certainly cannot return with Him and help with the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth if the enemy is in us!
He says we will eat with Him and He with us. Of what food do we partake? We partake of His body and blood and learn to live by His body and blood as He lives by the Father.
Of what food does He partake? He partakes of our obedience and worship.
For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. (John 6:55)
He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)
What does the High Priest want to do with His churches today? He wants us to open our personality so He can enter us and drive His enemies from us. Then He wants us to partake of His Substance and Nature, and continually obey and worship Him. This is the necessary preparation for our becoming the eternal dwelling place of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If my understanding is correct, we are approaching the greatest revival of all time. The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to every nation for a witness, and then the end of the Church Age shall be here.
As soon as the Father has been satisfied that His Word has been completely fulfilled, there shall come on the earth an unprecedented time of spiritual darkness. The Christian testimony shall be driven from the major cities of the earth. Numerous Christians shall be deceived and shall become part of Babylon the Great.
It no longer will be possible for people in the cities to repent and receive Christ or to receive the Holy Spirit. A remnant of believers will leave the cities and find refuge in remote areas of the earth, according to my understanding. A remnant of Jews shall join them. Then the Throne of God shall be established in them. As I said, it will not be possible to receive Christ in the Antichrist-dominated cities. But in the remnant there shall be salvation and deliverance.
Many shall join themselves to them insincerely, but all shall be tried by fire. Some of the truly righteous shall fall in order to perfect them.
No Christian of today will be able to stand in the dark hour that shall follow the worldwide revival unless he has Christ established in his personality and is living by the body and blood of Christ. No man shall work in that hour except for those in whom Christ is working. Blessed are those who die in the Lord from that time forth so it is no longer they who are living but Christ who is living in them. They shall be as a city of refuge during the age of physical and moral horrors.
When God has purified the firstfruits of His saints, the Glory of God shall come upon them. This shall take place at the darkest hour. Then all the nations shall know that it is the Father who has sent Christ, and that the Father loves the saints as He loves Christ. They shall come to the Glory of God that they see abiding on the saints, just as the Jews from every nation saw the Glory of God abiding on the 120 disciples on the first Pentecost.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
Does any other religion have such a promise? Because it is so incredible it is not preached very much. At least, I have not heard it preached. Have you?
I will tell you what I think the verse means, and then you can decide if you agree. I believe the Lord means that His own heart is the Fatherís Throne. The Father and Christ sit on the Throne of Christís heart.
Now it is our turn. We are to allow Christ and the Father to sit on the throne of our personality. As soon as Christ and the Father have been assured that we are going to be perfectly, completely obedient, they will invite us to sit with them on the throne of our own personality.
Do you remember that I said when the faithful remnant of believers have been driven from the major cities of the earth, and the remnant of Jews from Israel have been joined with them, the Throne of God shall be established in them?
Where is the Throne of God today? In Heaven? Yes. Our Father who is in Heaven. But more than this, Heaven is Godís throne, according to Isaiah.
The New Testament informs us that God is building a house for Himself. That house is the Christian Church. We read that the Throne of God and of the Lamb are in the new Jerusalem. Since the new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church, and the Throne of God and of the Lamb are in it, then we are saying the Throne of God and of the Lamb will then be established for eternity in the Christian Church.
And if the Throne of God and of the Lamb are to be established for eternity in the Christian Church, and the Christian Church is made up of the saints, then we can state authoritatively from the Scriptures that each saint is to be the Throne of God and of the Lamb. This is why there shall be deliverance in the remnant, even in the darkest of earthís hours.
You and I first must invite Christ (and the Father of necessity, since He dwells in Christ) to sit on the throne of our personality. We get off that throne so They can have Their unhindered way in us. After our strict obedience has been assured, They will invite us to sit with Them on the throne of our own personality.
Then the Scripture will be fulfilled, "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne."
Now we can see how utterly important it is that we gain victory over the world, the lusts of our flesh, and especially our self-will. If one of these three areas of sin is allowed to prevail in our personality, it is not possible for us to become the Throne of God and of the Lamb. How utterly foolish! How utterly miserable are we if we cling to the unprofitable elements of the present world and thus lose our opportunity to rule throughout the ages with the Father and the Son.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:22)
When we see an expression repeated again and again we realize it is of unusual importance. "I know your deeds" is one such expression. Another is, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
We understand, therefore, that our deeds are of great importance to the Lord. We understand also that we must keep ourselves close to Jesus so we can hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. Otherwise we keep on going around the mountain of our dead religious experience while the Glory of God is moving toward the land of promise.
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." (Revelation 4:1)
According to the unscriptural "rapture" teaching, this is the carrying of the believers to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. The thought is that this agrees with the passage in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians that speaks of the coming of the Lord.
Obviously, the verse above is not speaking of the coming of the Lord with the saints of history, or of the resurrection of the dead.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
Notice that John does not speak of being caught up with other believers in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. So Revelation 4:1 does not fit the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians.
Rather, John was caught up to Heaven so He would be able to see the future.
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. (Revelation 4:2)
As I have stated previously, it is the Throne of God that is the issue. The first resurrection has to do with thrones.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
In the beginning Satan challenged the Throne. Godís response to the rebellion of the angels has been to create a new race of creaturesóman. To man has been given the authority to govern the works of Godís hands. But before this is possible, man must be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, both internally and externally, and brought into perfect rest in the center of Godís Person and will.
The destiny of the victorious saints is to rule with Jesus Christ over the works of Godís hands. They shall inherit all things. God shall be their God. They shall be Godís sons.
This throne is so high, so exalted, that we are in no manner able to conceive of the majesty of it.
"With someone sitting on it." Who is sitting on this throne. It is the Throne of the Father. Is anyone else there, according to the Scriptures? Yes. Who might that be? The Lord Jesus Christ. He has sat down with the Father on the Fatherís throne.
Who else is on that throne? Perhaps at this point no one else. But by the Word of God, the day will come when every victorious saint will be seated with Christ on that highest of all thrones. I did not say everyone who calls himself a Christian will be on that throne, I said every victorious saint, every overcomer, every conqueror, will be on that throne with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the destiny of man.
Notice carefully what the Spirit has said:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, Which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:17-23)
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)
Where are we? We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.
Where is Christ? Seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms.
Then where are we? Seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
What is the tense of the verb? Past! "And God raised us up with Christ." Past tense.
Is it true? If it isnít, the Bible is the word of man, not the Word of God.
But I said we have to be a victorious saint to sit on the highest Throne, and not all believers are victorious saints.
This is true. God has appointed us to this high place, to this crown. Our struggle then is not to attain such heights in Christ but to maintain what we have; to keep someone from taking our crown. And this is not easy!
We find the Apostle Paul toward the end of his life striving to lay hold on that for which he had been grasped by the Lord. God has done His part. But all of redemption depends on our doing our part. Attaining to the Throne of Glory, to the first resurrection from the dead, depends fully on the working of God and fully on the working of man. God will not do our part and we cannot do Godís part.
Satan uses all of his wisdom (which is considerable) to seduce us down from our high place in God. He does not want man to be governing the earth. Yet Satan is an alien creature and has no right here. To tell you the truth, if Satan had his way the entire Christian Church would be carried up to Heaven to stay there forever so Satan could inherit the earth. I would not be surprised if many Christians would agree with Satan.
But the earth is the Lordís along with all its inhabitants and its resources. It is the gift of the Father to Him.
And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:3)
The Throne of God is beautiful. This is what Jesus Christ left when He obeyed the Father by coming to the cesspool we call life on the earth. I do not know of any passage that says Christ wanted to come to the earth. Do you? Perhaps there is one and I have overlooked it. Christ came to the earth to do the will of the Father. This much we can be sure of.
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalms 27:4)
Beauty that is pure and wholesome is to be enjoyed. But beauty never, never is to be worshiped.
Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. (Revelation 4:4)
The white garments signify righteousness of personality. The crowns of gold symbolize God-given authority.
I had a friend who said he knew who these elders are. My friend has died since then so perhaps he can be certain now.
Since twelve is the number of Godís elect, perhaps there are twelve elders from the Old Testament and twelve from the new. Whoever they are, these twenty-four elders certainly have been called to a high place in God!
But if we are on the Throne with Jesus Christ, how then can twenty-four saints be on thrones surrounding the Throne? If we are to gain insight into the Kingdom of God we are going to have to forget about our present dimensions of space and time. In the spirit world, people can be in two or a hundred places at once with no problem.
Isnít it true that the Lord Jesus is in Heaven at the right hand of God, and yet at every place on the earth where two or three people are gathered in His name? I refer to this phenomenon as the power of multiple presence.
From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. (Revelation 4:5)
The flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder speak of power. Consider: the entire universe is upheld and guided from this Throne! We are in no manner capable of comprehending such power.
I believe the seven Spirits of God are wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, the fear of the Lord, and delight in the fear of the Lord. The Scripture states that each member of the Body of Christ is given a gift or gifts by which the Body can be built up. These are important and are to be coveted earnestly.
I feel confident that Christ wants us, as we grow to maturity, to be filled with all the fullness of the Spirit so that as the need arises we can minister wisdom, understanding, counsel and so forth.
Perhaps the greatest of all the gifts and revelations of the Spirit is delight in the fear of the Lord. It is one thing to fear the Lord. It is quite another matter to delight in the fear of the Lord. The demons fear God but they do not delight in that fear. Christ delights in fearing God and doing His will, and such delight is greatly to be coveted.
Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. (Revelation 4:6)
I think the sea of glass, clear as crystal, speaks of the clarity and transparency that God desires. We know from the Law of Moses that God does not accept mixtures. God wants us be able to see and understand every relationship, circumstance, and thing.
The new Jerusalem is made of pure gold, as pure as glass. The great street of the new Jerusalem is of pure gold, like transparent glass.
God wants everything clear: black or white; hot or cold. Satan much prefers everything muddled: gray and lukewarm. Much of our redemption consists of moving from that which is complex to that which is simple. Sin always brings complexity. Righteousness brings simplicity.
Before perfect simplicity can be perfected in us we must be baptized with Divine fire. It is not enough to be clear and innocent. We must be clear and at the same time able to judge between good and evil. We must be innocent and yet mixed with fireóharmless as a dove and cunning as a serpent.
And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God (Revelation 15:2)
The four living creatures around the Throne, covered with eyes in front and in back, are the cherubim. The cherubim are like an outward expression of Godóas though He could take His Personality and present it as a Creature outside of Himself.
It may be true also of us someday that our personality may take a visible form and stand beside us. Wouldnít that be a horrible fate for someone who has been prominent in the Christian religion but inwardly was a mass of lies?
The multitude of eyes in front and in back tell us that God can see everything. Nothing is hidden from Him.
We are to be the same way, for we are being made in the image of God. It takes a great deal of Christian experience before we can "see" as we ought. Many times we have been deceived because we were blind to the deceptions of Satan. Have you found this to be true?
But as we add righteous virtue to our refined faith we become increasingly able to "see" what we are being exposed to. There is the gift of discerning of spirits. There also is the wisdom we gain as we grow older, the understanding of people. Then as we keep pursuing Godís righteous ways, obeying Him strictly and sternly in every detail, we become full of eyes in front and in back. We can understand what happened in the past and we can understand what we are confronting in the present and shall confront in the future.
Sin produces spiritual blindness. As we gain victory over the sin that tempts us we gain sight. We can judge between good and evil; between what is of God and what is not of God. Spiritual sight is a faculty much to be desired.
The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. (Revelation 4:7)
The lion, the ox, the man, the eagle. These four characteristics must be fully developed in us before we are in the image of God.
The lion is the conqueror. God is a conqueror. If we are to inherit the Kingdom of God we must be a conqueror. The timid are to be confined in the Lake of Fire, because timidity brings confusion, an inability to trust God and do His will confidently. The timid are double-minded and cannot obey the Lord.
The ox is the burden bearer. The Lord carries our load when we ask Him to, and He does so willingly and cheerfully. Christ wants us to be like this. There are loads He would like to assign to us, but we must grow up first. Immature Christians are not very successful in bearing spiritual responsibility.
Sometimes we could wish that our load would lighten. It is best, however, that we bear it willingly and cheerfully. We become strong this way, and in due time we will be relieved.
The face like a man is the highest form of Godís image. The "man" includes intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, the ability to make moral judgments, and the ability to have loving relationships. I know there are angels that excel in wisdom and knowledge, but I donít believe they have the ability to make moral judgments or to have loving relationships. So these abilities are probably the possession of man alone.
God has given us a soul, as well as a spirit and a body. Angels are ministering spirits. But there is no record they have a soul, and they certainly do not have a body like ours. The Bible says God has a soul. The soul may be our ability to make moral judgments and have loving relationships.
My interpretation of the Book of Ezekiel is that the first chapter reveals what we shall look like when we have been glorified fully; and the description of the temple, in later chapters, is a symbolic way of telling about what must be created in our inward man if we are to be the eternal temple of God.
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. (Ezekiel 1:26)
The figure was like that of a man, not of a lion, ox, or eagle.
So the highest representation of God shows Him in the form of man. If we are willing to serve Christ to the point of gaining victory over the evil that comes against us, the time shall arrive when we are fully in the internal and external image of the Lord Jesus Christ, though He always shall be our Lord and we His servants.
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." (Revelation 4:8)
The Lord tells us to be holy as He is holy. One of the emphases to the church in Philadelphia is holiness.
To be holy is to be separated to God for His special purposes. Holiness is a calling. Everyone is commanded to be righteous. There are not degrees of righteousness. An action is righteous or it is unrighteous.
This is not true of holiness. There are some who are chosen to be closer to God than is true of other people. We see this in the various levels of holiness that were true of the priests, Levites, and Israelites. The Tabernacle of the Congregation was holy, whereas a building can never be righteous.
God today is calling for a firstfruits of the Church who will be very close to Him throughout eternity. If this call is on us we have to turn our attention to the Holy Spirit so we can be certain that every moment of our time is devoted to the LordóHis will and His purposes in Christ.
The Lord Jesus wants us to be with Him for eternity where He isóin the center of the Person and will of God. This is the holiest place of all.
The Apostle Paul commanded us to cleanses ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating eviló (Isaiah 33:14,15)
In the early days of the Pentecostal movement of the last century there was an emphasis on outward holiness. The believers could not attend the theater, attend dances, wear makeup, play cards, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, skirts had to be a certain length, hair in a bun, and so forth. After a while there came a reaction against the outward holiness until today anything is accepted, it seems. Sometimes Christians attend X-rated media presentations, supposing that Christ is accepting this.
Holiness is the absence of unclean spirits. Thus an individual may refrain from wearing makeup and wear a head-covering in church, but be a gossip. She may regard herself as holy. I do not wish to comment on wearing makeup or a head-covering in church. That judgment must be made by local elders. But gossip proceeds from an unclean spirit and is not holy regardless of the local church culture.
Holiness is an attitude of the heart. If our heart is right before God, and we are seeking Him night and day, I believe our outward appearance will come into line and be modest and godly.
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty." What does this mean? What are the cherubim saying about God? Why is it repeated continually. Why holy, holy, holy, and not faithful, faithful, faithful, or truthful, truthful, truthful? What is holiness and why is it the essence of Godís character?
One time I had the briefest of visions concerning what I think was a garden of aborted fetuses. But it was so "holy" no one could cope with it emotionally. What caused that emotional reaction? Was it the utter purity of that area? Was it Godís Presence and love combined with utter purity? I am not certain.
So perhaps we can sense holiness and talk about it without truly understanding it.
However, we do know of spirits that are not holy and are not accepted in Godís Presence. For example, none of the personalities confined to the Lake of Fire is holy. They are not clean. They are not pure.
The spirit of cowardice is not holy. It is not clean. It is not allowed in Godís Presence.
The spirit of unbelief is unclean. It is not found in God.
A vile spirit would be one that brutalizes children or animals, for example. This spirit is not holy and not allowed in Godís Presence.
No form of murder, that is, harming someone for our own advantage, is permitted in Godís Presence.
No kind of sexual immorality or perversion is accepted in Godís Presence. Adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, and all of the weird sexual practices that take place in the United States are unclean. They are not holy. They shall never be admitted to the Kingdom of God. Lust toward children is not holy.
No form of sorcery, of seeking to use spirit forces to get what we want, is holy. Imaging, attempting to obtain what we want by faith and by positive thinking, are unclean spirits. They are not permitted in Godís Presence.
No idol worship is accepted. We must love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Nothing else, no relationship, no circumstance, no thing must compete with God for our love and adoration. We can bring no one and nothing else with us when we come to God. We come alone with a pure heart, single in its intentions.
The lying spirits are of Satan. There is no lie in God. That which is of God is transparent, like the new Jerusalem; like the sea of glass clear as crystal.
No aspect of the Antichrist world spirit can stand in Godís Presence.
No bodily or soulish passions or lusts are allowed within the gates of the new Jerusalem. All are barred from entering.
Our self-will, self-love, self-seeking, self-centeredness, pride, striving for personal preeminence, cannot dwell with the Consuming Fire of Israel. This is all unclean.
So the four living creature, with the six wings and the numerous eyes, never cease crying "holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
Since the cherubim represent the image of God, the image to which we are being conformed, we also in our soul are to be crying "holy, holy, holy." We continually are to be craving to be more holy, asking the Holy Spirit to bring the Divine fire on every aspect of our personality. We always are to be pressing into the center of Godís Person and will, for this shall be our home for eternity.
The continuing declaration "holy, holy, holy" is telling us of the inward nature of God just as the four faces portray how God behaves.
"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Revelation 4:9-11)
The four living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the Lord God of Heaven. Let us along with them always be giving glory, honor, and thanks to God.
The twenty-four elders, no doubt personages of enormous authority and power, are continually laying their crowns before the Throne. This tells us that no matter how God should choose to use us in His Kingdom, we are to keep on giving glory to God, always refusing to accept praise as though we of ourselves had accomplished anything at all!
There is a tendency today to try to use Christ to get whatever we want. We must cease doing this. It is not proper. All things were created by the Lord Jesus Christ and by His will they were created and have their being. They exist for His pleasure and purposes, not our pleasure and purposes. We have become altogether too man-centered. We need to be more God-centered, Christ-centered, for that is how the personages in the Throne room of Heaven are.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1)
I believe the scroll is the human heart. There is "writing" on the outside that people can see, and "writing" on the inside that people cannot see.
The human heart is sealed with seven seals until the seven great acts of redemption take place:
Our receiving by faith forgiveness through the blood atonement.
Our willingness to take our place on the cross with Christ.
Our new resurrection life in Christ.
Our being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Our opening our personality to the Lord of Hosts.
Our confessing and turning away from the deeds of our sinful nature.
Our being filled with the fullness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the redemption of our body.
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. (Revelation 5:2,3)
Who is able to understand the human heart? Kings, philosophers, and religious leaders have attempted to understand the human heart and govern it. "What is man that God is mindful of Him?" "Do not awake My love until she pleases." The Communists (and others) have attempted to control behavior through having meetings in which people confess, confess, confess their thoughts, hoping that this technique would bring the desired visibility and control. But only God can deal successfully with the human heart.
Notice the three domains: Heaven; on earth; under the earth. We do not know much about what takes place under the earth, but it must be a significant area of activity. Perhaps it is saying that death itself cannot disclose what is in the human heart.
I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. (Revelation 5:4)
God is very particular about who will inherit the hearts of people. The dictators of history have employed every possible means to coerce obedience and control. They have succeeded to a certain extent in gaining control over the conduct of people, but they do not have the hearts of their subjects. Thus they have nothing of true value.
Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (Revelation 5:5)
The Lord Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, has triumphed. He has been found worthy.
Why has God found Christ worthy to open the hearts of people? I think it is because Christ sacrificed Himself on their behalf. I may be mistaken but I believe the truest mark of a noble character is the willingness to suffer loss so that someone else might receive gain. This is an action the person who lacks integrity will never take.
The kings and presidents of the earth make tremendous speeches in which they tell how they are going to improve the welfare of people. But all they are doing is scheming to gain power over people. I doubt if there is one of them who would sacrifice something of great value to himself in order to improve the welfare of the people he wants to control, especially if no one would ever know of his sacrifice. (But God would know!)
Jesus Christ seldom is portrayed as the conquering Lion. Why as a lion at this point? Because every possible force in the world is determined to discover the mystery of the human heart and to control it. But God would not permit this until Someone with Godís conquering Nature was able to overcome all these forces and sacrifice what was dearest to Him on behalf of his hoped-for inheritance.
I shouldnít even say "hoped-for." We may have an incorrect understanding of why the Word of God came to the earth. Our assumption is that He wanted to; or He loved us so much His love compelled Him; or for some other reason so dear to the religious heart.
What if it were true that He did not wish to leave the splendor of the heavenly palaces, much less be exposed to the filth of the satanic realm? What if He came in strict obedience to the will of the Father?
We know, from the second Psalm, that the Father invited Him to pray for the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. Of course, the obedient Word would do what the Father suggested.
Maybe the Word took it all by faith, thinking that if the Father invited Him to pray for the nations they might somehow be desirable. I wouldnít doubt this at all.
Sometimes God brings us into a situation concerning which we have reservations. But then we find out it is a Song of Solomon situation. We discover that what God had directed us to do, although lacking in appeal in the beginning, proved to be wonderfulósomething fulfilling and greatly to be desired.
So the Lion conquers all obstacles to arrive at the human heart, and then finds He must become a slain Lamb if He is to obtain what He suddenly desires.. So it is with us sometimes, I think. Oh the wisdom of God!
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6)
The Word, Christ, the Savior, the Lord, the Lion, the Lamb. It is the slain Lamb who stands in the center of the Throne. He is the Center. The Authority of Heaven is arranged around Him. He is the One who consented to suffer that Godís will might be done, and that others might benefit.
You see, the Lord Jesus, in Gethsemane, was tormented with the idea that once He assumed the filthy darkness of the sin of the world He might never recover. He might never again see the heavenly palaces. He might never again know the Presence of the Father. He might never be seen again, and no one would ever know the sacrifice He had made on behalf of Peter, James, John, Mary, you, me, and many others.
How could He be certain? Only by faith in Godís faithfulness. This is all He had to count on. This is all we have to count on.
The slain Lamb is now in the center of Authority and Power. He has the fullness of power and the fullness of wisdom and understanding. He has the Spirit of God without measure. And all this authority and power, now in the center of the Throne of God, has been sent out into all the earth.
Our eyes are on Heaven. The eyes of Heaven are on the earth.
He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. (Revelation 5:7)
Because of His willingness to experience loss on behalf of God and on behalf of the nations of the earth, the Father gives the hearts of men to the slain Lamb.
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8)
We were not there to see it happen, but when the Father gave the Lamb the authority and power required to reveal what God had put in the mystery named "man," there was a grand uproar in the Court of Heaven. The four living creatures, the cherubim, fell down to worship the Lamb. The twenty-four elders fell down to worship the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and a golden bowl full of incense. These are the prayers of the saints ascending to the Lamb, and through Him to the Father.
The Father has given all authority and power to the slain Lamb, and the authorities of Heaven acknowledge this with joy and worship
And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)
The four cherubim and the twenty-four elders, inspired by the Spirit of God, sing to the slain Lamb. They tell how He is worthy to receive the hearts of men for His inheritance, and to disclose their secrets, because He was slain. We will not receive the fullness of our inheritance either, until we are willing to be "slain."
The blood of the Lamb paid the mortgage in full, the mortgage held by Satan. However Satan, being lawless, will not honor the payment but seeks to hold mankind in bondage, hoping somehow to gain their hearts.
"From every tribe and language and people and nation." John, the Jew, is speaking by revelation. Christ did not die for the Jews alone but for the sins of the whole world.
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, And not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. (John 11:51,52)
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:10)
If Godís goal were only to forgive people and bring them to Heaven, then it would be enough for us to acknowledge Christ as our Savior and Lord. But because Godís goal is to create rulers and priests, our discipleship is rigorous, making total demands on our love, our attention, our time, our strength.
Emphasis is to be placed on "they will reign on the earth." Who will reign on the earth? Men from every tribe and language and people and nation will reign on the earth.
The above statement is in the Bible. I have never heard any Christian question that the Book of Revelation is the inspired Word of God.
If Christ has purchased with His blood men from every nation, and if they are going to reign on the earth, then why are the Christian churches teaching that our eternal destiny is a mansion in Heaven? Does this make sense? I would assume the men who are going to rule are the victorious saints, for the promise to them is that they will govern the nations. Are they going to reign on the earth from their mansions?
It seems to me that preachers who believe the Bible is the Word of God, after considering Revelation 5:10, ought to announce that there is more to being saved than going to Heaven to sit in a mansion. If we are called to reign as kings on the earth, then it is likely we will experience the dealings of the Lord in preparation for such an awesome role.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:11,12)
Power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, praise. Can you imagine what it would be like to see the Son of Man on the highest Throne of all, surrounded by the living creatures and the elders, and they surrounded by thousands of thousands of angels, all attributing every imaginable blessing to the Son of Man? What a contrast to the carpenterís Son hanging in agony on the cross! I would love to be there to see such pageantry and hear such anthems, wouldnít you? Perhaps we shall when Christ is crowned King on the Throne of David on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. I hope you and I will be there at that time.
It is entirely proper that the greatest King of all should receive such worship. He indeed is worthy.
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13)
How could the Apostle John hear every creature singing praise to the Lamb? Is this a prophecy of the future? Or is it what actually is happening as the world goes about its sordid business? Is all of the world and all of nature worshiping Christ in spite of itself? I wouldnít doubt it!
The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:14)
I also say "Amen." Do you?
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" (Revelation 6:1)
Remember, it is the scroll, the hearts of men, that has been sealed. So the following is a record of what people have experienced throughout the Christian Era.
I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (Revelation 6:2)
From my point of view, the rider on the white horse represents the Lord Jesus. From the first century the Lord Jesus has become the personal Lord of multitudes of people.
Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the kingís enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet. (Psalms 45:3-5)
In spite of all the efforts of Satan and his followers, the Lord Jesus has captured the hearts of untold multitudes.
When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. (Revelation 6:3,4)
The fiery red horse represents the spirit of war, as I see it. In spite of the obvious harm done to most of the involved people, men throughout the centuries have been seduced into going to war. Even today there are nations that are arming themselves with the expensive weaponry of modern war while many of their citizens are starving. It appear that nations cannot cease from attacking each other, like dogs.
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a dayís wages, and three quarts of barley for a dayís wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" (Revelation 6:5,6)
The black horse speaks of commerce, the emphasis on money. The Antichrist world system is based on money. The centers of civilization when they are not absorbed with war are occupied with buying and selling. I do not believe in the new world of righteousness that is coming there will be buying and selling. At least I hope not, because money seems to be at the heart of the problems in the world.
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7,8)
Death and Hell (Hades). Sword, famine, plague, wild beasts. People have been subjected to these since man has been on the earth, it seems. Hell follows closely behind Death because so many of the people that have been killed have been wicked and are brought into torment after they die.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. (Revelation 6:9-11)
These are the martyrs. They are not in mansions but kept close to God, under His altar. They are calling for vengeance.
We have been commanded not to avenge ourselves. But this does not mean there will be no vengeance. All wickedness shall be avenged, but by the Lord, not by us. We are to keep our hearts free from malice and unforgiveness. I know this is true.
So the fact that these souls, resting in the most holy place, should be calling out in a loud voice for vengeance, is not clear. Perhaps it is as in the case of the blood of Abel. It was not Abel himself calling for vengeance, it was the justice of God that was crying for vengeance. It may have been the justice of God that was insisting that the blood of the martyred souls be avenged.
Each of them was given a white robe. The white robe is the covering we are given in the Day of Resurrection, the robe that reflects our behavior while on the earth. It seems the martyrs receive their white robes in advance of the Day of Resurrection.
It may be noted that there is a specific number of people who are to be martyredóso closely are events controlled and monitored by the Lord Jesus.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, And the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Revelation 6:12-14)
These events shall take place in the future. They are the inevitable outcomes of the wickedness that comes out of the heart of man. Nature goes on a rampage.
There shall be a massive earthquake, perhaps without precedent in history.
The sun turns black. Can you imagine the freezing darkness when this takes place?
The moon turns blood red. Given the space race of today, it is not unlikely that nations shall go to war over the possession of the moon; and the battle itself may take place on the moon.
We know the stars in the sky will not literally fall to the earth because the stars are many times larger than the earth. So God must mean that the lords of darkness will be expelled from their vantage points when God shakes the heavens.
When the sky recedes like a scroll, people will be able to see God and His Christ. Can you imagine their terror when they realize how successfully Satan has deluded them?
Remember, the events described in the Book of Revelation are not in chronological order. Rather they are setting forth the substance of what will take place in the future, not necessarily in sequence.
Every mountain and island shall be removed from its place. All that people view as stable shall be removed from them
To the Lamb it is given to remove the seals from the hearts of men and reveal what will take place in the world.
First, the Gospel goes forth and multitudes receive their true Savior and Lord.
Second, there shall be wars and rumors of wars.
Third, commerce and financial transactions shall occupy mankind.
Fourth, there shall be forces on the earth that kill people.
Fifth, the voice of the martyrs is heard in Heaven.
Sixth, God expresses His power until people can see that the heavens do rule.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)
Every person on the earth, the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the poor, suddenly realize that there is a God in Heaven and He shall demand that every person give an accounting to God of his behavior while living on the earth.
The motive behind the unproven hypothesis of evolution is the hope that there is no God to whom we shall have to give an account. It is interesting that in this morningís paper we read that scholars have determined Neanderthal man is not related to human beings.
The motive behind the millions of dollars devoted to the investigation of Mars is the hope that there has been life elsewhere in the planetary systems. Again, the idea being that the Bible is incorrect, and man will not have to give an account of his behavior.
It is as simple as this.
All such effort is vain and destructive. Every human being at some point or another shall account for his or her behavior. This is true also of Christians. No one is exempt.
Can you imagine how horrified they were that they would hide in caves and among the rocks of the mountains, and call to the mountains and the rocks to bury them?
What did they want to be hidden from? The Face of God and the wrath of the Lamb. The wrath of a lion we can understand. But can you picture an angry lamb?
This is the Day of Godís wrath and the Lambís wrath. It is coming. It shall surely come! The demons understand this and realize they shall be tormented. And there is nothing they or anyone else can do about itóexcept that human beings can prepare for it.
Who can stand? Who shall be able to stand in that hour? Only those who have served God with a pure heart.
Too often the impression is given that if we once profess Christ as our Lord and Savior we never again need fear Godís wrath. This is not the case. If we have been chosen by the Father to hear the Son, and have been given the gift of repentance, then Godís demands on us for obedience to Him and godly behavior are far stricter than His demands on those whom He has not brought to the Son and who have not been given the gift of repentance.
To whom much is given, of him shall much be required.
There is coming a Day of Wrath. We either will be able to stand before God in that day or not be able to stand. We need to pray always that we shall be able to stand before Christ in the Day of the Lord.
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 34:34-36)
Notice the factors that will prevent us from being able to stand in the Day of Wrath: dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life. As it was in the days of Noah, and the days of Lot, so shall it be in the Day of the Son of Man.
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. (Revelation 7:1)
Can you imagine the power of these angels, that they can restrain the winds? We need never worry about the power of Satan. The power of God is supreme, and God has given all authority and power to His Son. Rather the issue is truth and righteousness. Satan is able to harm us only when we depart from truth and righteousness. He cannot injure us otherwise.
Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." (Revelation 7:2,3)
Notice that those who are to be protected from the plagues ready to fall on the earth are "the servants of our God." If we want to be under the protection of the ninety-first Psalm, then we need to be serving the Lord.
It is not enough to call ourselves Christians. It is not enough to have "accepted Christ." We must be serving God. Anyone can choose to serve God, it is a decision we make. It is not a secret "rapture" that will keep us from being harmed in the time of judgment, it is the "sealing" described here.
How can we know if we have been protected with the Divine seal? If we are serving the Lord to the best of our knowledge, then we are protected. If we are not serving the Lord to the best of our knowledge, then we are not protected no matter what Statement of Faith we subscribe to.
Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. (Revelation 7:4)
It may be true that all the servants of God will be sealed, including numerous believers who are Jewish by race.
Is this a literal number? I do not know, but probably not. Are these the same people described in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation? I do not know. I have gone back and forth on this question. But probably not.
Are these physical Jews? I do not know this either. Since Gentiles are not mentioned, and we suppose Gentiles who have received Christ and are serving the Lord would be included in the protection, then Gentiles would be included under the tribe of Joseph through Ephraim.
But Ephraim is not mentioned, and it is the descendants of Ephraim who are the group of nations. So we cannot say with certainty that Gentiles are included here.
However, as I implied before, there may be many Gentiles sealed in addition to the Jews set forth in the following description.
From my point of view, the tribes that are sealed cannot be literal, physical Jews because the tribe of Dan is not listed. Yet there is a gate of Dan listed in Ezekiel, when describing the new Jerusalem.
How do we account for the omission of the tribe of Dan? The only possible explanation from my point of view is that "Dan" means judgment, and these people have already been judged as being servants of God and worthy to escape the wrath of God
So the omission of Dan, the division of Joseph into Joseph and Manasseh instead of Ephraim and Manasseh (peculiar), and the use of the number 12,000, which is a symbolic number, causes me to lean to the interpretation of the sealed tribes as being symbolic, representing a full number of those (Jews?) who are serving God, and most likely Christians.
We cannot ignore the emphasis on the tribes of Israel as such. So it may be true that by the time God is ready to exercise His judgments on the earth, a great many physical Jews have received Christ and are serving Him. They shall be protected from the coming trouble, while the other Jews are not.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, From the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, From the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, From the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. (Revelation 7:5-8)
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)
Now we have a great multitude of people "standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They are wearing white robes, signifying they are righteous people, both by imputation and also by transformation of character. They are holding palm branches, meaning they are worshiping the Lamb.
And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Revelation 7:10)
"Salvation belongs to our God." A peculiar expression, isnít it. One would think they would be crying out "Salvation belongs to us." Yet the longer I live the more I realize how much salvation is of the Lord and belongs to Him.
We may be a diligent, conscientious Christian. But the devices of Satan are far to cunning for us to cope with. It is only the goodness of God that we are not overthrown and destroyed spiritually. In fact, our very diligence and conscientiousness are gifts that God has given us.
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, Saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" (Revelation 7:11,12)
I believe that every time the saints cry their praises to God in a loud voice, the angels who apparently are surrounding them fall on their faces and worship God. What a scene that must be in Heaven! And I believe it is happening now as we worship God on the earth.
Notice the tense of the verb in the following verse:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (Hebrews 12:22)
"Have come." We already have come to Mount Zion and the thousands upon thousands of angels.
Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robesówho are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the Great Tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:13-17)
So far we have had three groups of people: the rulers of the earth, purchased with the blood of the Lamb from every tribe and language and people and nation; the sealed members of the tribes of Israel; and now a great multitude, also from every nation, tribe, people, and language.
It is interesting that immediately following the sealing of the tribes of Israel the emphasis is on many different races, on Gentiles, in other words. I do not pretend to understand the differences among these groups.
It is clear that all these people are "saved." Perhaps the difference between the great multitude standing before the Throne, and the rulers of the earth who have been purchased with the blood of the Lamb, is that God deals more strictly with those destined to rule. Governing nations is not quite the same as standing before the Throne of God and serving Him day and night in His Temple. The rulers have to be prepared to govern rebellious people, and this means they must have been successful in conquering what comes against them in the present world.
As far as the sealed 144,000 are concerned, it is not clear, to me at least, who they are and how they differ from other groups mentioned in the Book of Revelation. One truth stands out: if we are willing to set aside our own life and serve God in the present world, we will be protected from the wrath of God when it is poured out.
Now we come to the great multitude. What do we know about them?
First, they have come out of the Great Tribulation. We canít come out of something unless we have been in it, so I would suspect these are members of Godís elect who were purified by the fires of the Great Tribulation. Tribulation is Godís chastening to make us partakers of His holiness.
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This means whenever they sinned they confessed their sin and turned away from it, receiving forgiveness and cleansing through the blood.
Their reward is to be before the Throne of God and to serve Him day and night in His Temple. Our reward for patiently enduring tribulation and being faithful to keep our robe clean will be to be close to God, to serve Him continually.
We cannot appreciate the value of this reward at the present time. But when we die, instead of wandering around in the spirit world with the multitudes of people, we will be permitted to enter the Temple of God in Heaven and stand before the Throne of God. How marvelous this privilege will be can scarcely be imagined in the present hour, as we trudge onward, bearing our cross after Christ.
God will spread His tent over us. This reminds me of Boaz spreading his covering over Ruth. Godís tent is our protection from thirst, from the sun, from scorching heat. Apparently these were some of their sufferings during the Great Tribulation.
The Lamb becomes the Shepherd, leading them to springs of living water. This tells me that if we are faithful in guarding the eternal life we were given when we first came to Christ, when we die and are with the Lord we will drink as much as we want of eternal, incorruptible resurrection life. Again, this hardly can be imagined!
God will wipe away the tears occasioned by the suffering they experienced during the Great Tribulation.
The current teaching is that the saints will not be on the earth during the Great Tribulation. I believe this teaching to be incorrect. Rather, the purpose of the Great Tribulation will be to perfect the results of the preceding harvest revival.
First will come the harvest, spring rain. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to every nation for a witness. This will bring all sorts of people into the Kingdom. Then will come the burning sun of the Great Tribulation to remove the chaff and to bring the heads of wheat to maturity, so to speak.
It is not the Great Tribulation that is to be feared We enter the Kingdom through tribulation. It is the hour of temptation, the ready availability of sin that is to be feared, and the Day of Wrath that will follow.
He who has suffered has ceased from sin that he might do the will of God, Peter tells us. "Before I was afflicted I went astray," confessed King David. So it is that the testing of our faith purifies our faith and is more precious than gold.
No, we do not fear tribulation or seek to avoid it. We give thanks to God for all things, pray He will bring us through safely, and then patiently endure the cross given to us. If we remain faithful in our prison we will be given the crown of life.
The present world is under the Divine curse. When we try to make Paradise out of the present world, seeking to be always happy, we become subject to deception. It is our personal cross that will deliver us from deception if we will bear it conscientiously.
When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)
We have just come through a time when there was tremendous praise and worship around the Throne of God. Suddenly there is a period of silence!
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. (Revelation 8:2)
I donít recall that these seven angels have been mentioned previously. Do you? Unless they are the angels of the churches, which I tend to doubt.
It is important to remember, when reading the Book of Revelation, that much of what is stated is symbolic. As I mentioned previously, literal stars cannot fall to the earth for stars are many times larger than the earth.
The word translated "angel" means messenger. There are people-angels and there are spirit-angels. So these seven angels who stand before God could be deceased human beings. In fact, the angel sounding his trumpet could refer to a preacher on the earth (even though standing before God) proclaiming Godís message. We have to keep ourselves aware of this symbolism or we miss what the Spirit of God is telling us.
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angelís hand. (Revelation 8:3,4)
Are there actually golden censers in Heaven? I tend to think there are. Is there actually incense burned in Godís Presence? I tend to think there is. Moses, when making these things, was commanded to copy what he had seen while on the mountain. There probably is a golden altar of incense before the Throne in Heaven, of which the golden altar of incense on the earth was a replica.
The prayers of the saints come up before God mingled with the aroma of the burning incense. It reminds us of the activities within the Tabernacle of the Congregation, doesnít it?
Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:5)
Notice that the same fire that burned the incense, causing the prayers of the saints to come before God as a pleasing smell, when cast into the earth produced the portent of Divine wrath.
How often it is that Divine blessing and Divine wrath work side by side. The angel of the Lord brought darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites. The waters of the flood that destroyed life on the earth buoyed up Noah and his family. And, I believe, the same Divine fire that is a destructive torment to sinners purifies the righteous.
Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:6,7)
Destructive wrath on nature, on our environment. Notice this is not tribulation, it is wrath! Tribulation purifies us. Wrath is only destructive. This sounds like what would happen if the elements of the atmosphere that protect us from the sun were removed.
The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8,9)
Destructive wrath on the oceans and seas, on commerce. This is what would happen if a large meteor fell into the ocean.
The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of wateró The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. (Revelation 8:10,11)
Destructive wrath on our sources of water, on our source of life. This could result from a radioactive bomb. The waters were gathered together and dry ground appeared on the third day of creation.
The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. (Revelation 8:12)
Destructive wrath on the sky above, on our source of light. Some kind of giant eclipse, perhaps. The sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day.
As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!" (Revelation 8:13)
It is my point of view that these calamities will fall on the earth the moment the first resurrection takes place and the victorious saints are caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air.
The victorious saints are not caught up prior to the blowing of the trumpets in order to escape the troubles that are going to fall on the earth, the oceans, the sources of water, and the sky. This is not the reason for their being caught up. It is true rather that once these conquerors are resurrected there is nothing that can harm them in any manner. Death no longer has power over them.
Rather they are caught up so they can be with the Lord in the air while He assigns them to the thrones that govern the earth. In fact, these resurrected saints will administer the wrath of God.
May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:6-9)
There will be numerous members of Godís elect who will not participate in the first resurrection. I know this is not commonly taught, but I believe it to be the truth. Only the overcomers are qualified by the Scripture to be raised in the first resurrection.
Most of Godís people, as anyone can observe who has been around Christians very much, are not victorious saints. But they are Godís people and God will take care of them. They will be on the earth during this period of wrath, as far as I can tell, but they have been sealed against harm if they are serving the Lord.
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
As soon as the Divine wrath has been satisfied, the Lord Jesus Christ and His victorious saints will descend from Heaven and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. (Revelation 9:1)
Obviously the star that had fallen from the sky to the earth was not the kind of star we think of. The star was given a key, letting us know that the star is some type of personage.
When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. (Revelation 9:2)
Since the Abyss apparently is not a physical chasm in the earthís surface, it may be that the smoke also is spiritual, So whether the sun and sky are darkened spiritually or spiritually and physically remains to be see. When Isaiah declares that "darkness shall cover the earth" (Chapter Sixty) we understand this to be spiritual darkness. When our "light comes," we interpret this as spiritual light.
And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. (Revelation 9:3)
I tend to believe that these locusts will not be visible to us. Many Christians believe that at least some of our physical ailments are caused by spirits. Certainly the Lord Jesus while on earth went about casting out demons and healing the sick. He healed the woman with the "spirit of infirmity."
How much of AIDs, cancer, blindness, deafness, dementia is caused by spirits we do not know. Even though x-rays show observable physical impairments, and these impairments may respond to medication, this does not preclude the possibility that these illnesses are the work of spirits.
One time we had a person in our house who was troubled with dementia. I was standing at the top of the stairs on one occasion and was thinking how this individual had almost no memory of family or friends.
Suddenly I became aware that an amoeba-like black mass was slowly making its way upstairs. It came up to where I was standing and passed through me. For a moment my mind went blank. I could not remember anything. Then I understood how someone could not recognize his or her family members.
So the locusts might be invisible to the physical eye, and yet cause physical disability and pain.
They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. (Revelation 9:4,5)
We see from this that the sealed servants of God are on the earth during the time of Godís wrath, but they are protected from harm. There may be professing Christians on the earth at this time who are not serving God. Also, there will be the Jews who are not included among Godís servants. Then there is the remainder of mankind.
But I think the Lord has raised and caught up His priesthood before the trumpets are blown.
The Great Tribulation will be a period of distress. Probably widespread famine, wars, persecution of Christian and Jews, earthquakes, floods, eruption of volcanoes.
Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until nowóand never to be equaled again. (Matthew 24:20,21)
But it seems to me that the judgments represented by the blowing of the trumpets is different in kind. I may be mistaken in this, for it is difficult to distinguish between Divinely ordained tribulation and Divine wrath.
Yet, there is a difference. The Apostles of Christ experienced every kind of tribulation, but not Divine wrath. We read of the tribulations of the Apostle Paul and they were numerous.
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (II Corinthians 11:23-28)
In addition to this, God sent a messenger of Satan that apparently was some kind of eye disease so that Paul would not be ministering in his own strength but in the strength of Christ. But at no time was Paul being tortured by Godís wrath.
When a father punishes his child it is not an expression of wrath but of love and concern. When someone is put to death by the court it is an expression of wrath, not of love and concern. The one is to correct. The other is to exact vengeance.
As far as we are concerned, when we are suffering we may not be able to detect the difference. But there is a difference from Godís standpoint. Tribulation is sent to bring us further into Christ. Wrath torments and destroys.
So we see that the locusts tortured people for five months. This is not the loving hand of a father correcting his son but the retribution handed down from a court of justice.
I donít believe the Bible bears out our humanistic view of God.
During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. (Revelation 9:6)
This is a punishment so terrible as to be beyond belief. God in His mercy has made it possible for us to be unconscious or to die so we do not suffer unbearable pain. But what if we could not die? This is a foretaste what it will be like to be punished in the spirit world, where we cannot escape pain by fainting or dying.
The torment produced by the locusts will be intense, and there will be no escape from it.
The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like womenís hair, and their teeth were like lionsí teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (Revelation 9:7-11)
I do not understand the significance of the "five months." It is mentioned twice. It shows that Christ maintains control over these demonic creatures.
Will we be able to see them? I donít know. I do know that the sexual lusts, murderous rages, and worship of money that people experience are prompted by demons. If we could once see the slobbering ghoulish demons of lust I donít believe we would be so ready to yield to temptation.
Perhaps some of the major afflictions of today are demonic in origin. We experience the effects of the demon but cannot see the spirit itself. I believe Jesus could see the spirits that produced the afflictions He encountered. It would be a big help to us if God would open our eyes to the spirit world that we might minister more effectively. May God grant this sight to us in the days to come.
The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come. (Revelation 9:12)
The first woe seems to be the locusts. The second woe occurs at the release of the four angels who are bound at the Euphrates, and then at the resurrection and ascension of the witness followed by the severe earthquake. As far as I can tell, the third woe is the outpouring of the vials of wrath (Revelation, Chapter Sixteen).
The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. (Revelation 9:13)
This is the Altar of Incense. It had four horns, like the four horns on the great Altar of Burnt Offering. In the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the Altar of Incense was the last furnishing to be encountered before one passed through the Veil into the Holy of Holies.
At the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, Christ will return and establish His Kingdom on the earth.
It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. (Revelation 9:14-16)
It appears the four angels were somehow empowered to summon demonic troops. It is interesting that angels can be kept bound at a geographical location on the earth. They "had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year," showing the extent to which Godís foreknowledge operates. Even though we have opportunities to express our will, God knows how it is all going to work out, doesnít he?
The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury. (Revelation 9:17-19)
Some have pictured these two hundred million mounted troops riding the destroying horses as warplanes. I believe they are incorrect. I believe the troops are warriors from the spirit realm, probably invisible to us most of the time.
A third of mankind will be killed, in the order of two or three billion people. It is said that AIDs has the potential to kill millions of Africans if no vaccine is developed. But this passage is saying the people are killed by fire, smoke, and sulfur.
This sounds more like volcanoes erupting than anything else, if we are looking for a natural counterpart. Or it may be true that fire, smoke, and sulfur will suddenly appear, emerging from no known source.
The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and woodóidols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20,21)
There is no repentance here, which suggests that these plagues are expressions of Divine wrath. The ability to repent is a gift of God, and this gift is not given at this point. We noticed that some who were suffering in the Great Tribulation washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They had repented.
But the people we are examining now did not repent of the work of their hand; they did not stop worshiping demons; they did not repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.
It is a horrible state of affairs when God sends judgment upon people, judgment that causes intense suffering; but no matter how much they suffer, they will not cease their wicked behavior. May this never be the case with you or me!
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. (Revelation 10:1)
As far as I can tell, this powerful angel is a messenger from God who prepares the way for the seventh angel, the angel who will sound the last trumpet. He was robed in a cloud, the sign of the Lordís return. The rainbow above his head tells us he is coming by the authority of the Throne of God. His face like the sun speaks of righteousness. His fiery legs portray Divine judgment.
He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, (Revelation 10:2)
The little scroll contains the prophecy that will be given in the last days, the prophecy announcing the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
"His right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land" signifies the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to every nation for a witness, before the end of the Church Era.
And he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. (Revelation 10:3)
Those who bear the end-time witness will have the God-given strength to overcome wickedness and present the Kingdom of God (the roar of a lion). The seven thunders portray the fullness of Godís power.
And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down." (Revelation 10:4)
The fullness of Godís power will not be able to speak until God raises up people who do not take the glory to themselves. Many ministers are praying for power today. Sometimes when power is given the minister takes the glory to himself and has to be set aside by the Lord. God is looking for an attitude of repentance and humility today, not for "Godís men of faith and power."
I believe if the Lord could find someone who simply would obey him and not try to capitalize on his or her gifts, God could do mighty things in the earth. It must grieve the Lord to see men and women strutting about when it actually is Christ doing the work. The mouse and the elephant work side by side, but it is the elephant who does the work. It is not seemly for the mouse to pretend to be a great power.
Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, "There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets." (Revelation 10:5-7)
The seventh trumpet is the last trumpet, to which the Apostle Paul refers ("at the last trumpet"). Apparently marvelous events shall transpire on the earth during the period when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet.
God has finally spoken. There shall be no more delay. Those who patiently have been carrying their cross are rejoicing.
The mystery of God is Christ in us. It remains a mystery to the present hour. The Christian churches by and large are occupied with the external Christ, not with the internal development of Christ. But it is the internal development of Christ that is the heart of the eternal Temple of God, the new Jerusalem. The angel is telling us that the house of God is nearing completion.
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: "Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land." (Revelation 10:8)
The scroll is, as I said, the end-time prophecy, the last witness before the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. We have to go and take it, it will not be handed to us. It always is true that every aspect of redemption requires the effort of God and the effort of people.
So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, "Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey." (Revelation 10:9)
It is a little scroll. We are to not despise the day of small beginnings. God starts in a small way, in a manger so to speak. Those who are praying and waiting on the Lord know when God moves. The believers who are living in their fleshly impulses tend not to recognize the move of God until it involves multitudes of people.
When God tells us of the great things He is going to do we become excited and joyous. Things finally are going to change! But the working out of it is a sword in our inward parts.
I took the little scroll from the angelís hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. (Revelation 10:10)
Ordinarily scrolls are to be read. Godís scrolls are to be eaten. Sometimes believers have only a head knowledge of God. The Word of God does not profit us until it reaches into our inward nature and reveals the holy demands of the Lord.
Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings." (Revelation 10:11)
This is the witness that shall be given to the nations of the earth in the last days. It is to prepare the world for the coming of Christ in His Kingdom. If my understanding is correct, the majority of the people on the earth at that time shall be converted to belief in Jesus Christ.
But before the Lord actually returns, the Great Tribulation shall occur. This fiery trial shall purify the work of the revival. Then shall the great multitude wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Finally the Lord and His army shall descend to earth and destroy the armies of wickedness. After this the sons of God shall go throughout the earth, enforcing the laws of God and governing with the scepter of iron.
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there." (Revelation 11:1)
Actually the tenth and eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation should be one chapter, because Chapter Eleven continues the account of the period of time prior to the blowing of the seventh and last trumpet, and then the blowing itself.
John has eaten the scroll containing the final witness. John represents the Christian churches. Now the churches must be judged and made ready for the last witness, a prophecy of unprecedented power.
"Measuring" means judging. When we say that God judges, this does not mean He punishes. "Judging" refers to examine someone or something in order to understand its condition.
The "temple of God" is the Christian Church. The "altar" is the Altar of Incense. The worshipers at the Altar of Incense are those closest to the Lord. They are in front of the Veil, so to speak, waiting for the Lord to appear.
They are crying "Not my will but Yours be done." It is their prayers that God hears as He is charging the seven angels to blow their trumpets.
But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. (Revelation 11:2)
If I am correct, the "outer court" refers to those members of Godís elect who are not as close to the Lord as they could be if they would apply themselves. God is not judging them at this time. Rather He is intent on preparing those who are worshiping Him for the great prophecy, the last-day testimony of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." (Revelation 11:3)
Notice the inference that the two witnesses are already present, they just need to be authorized to speak. As I see it, the reference is to the worshipers who have been judged and made ready for such authority and power.
It is my opinion, based on the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, that the two witnesses are Christ and His Body. There is one lampstand in the fourth chapter, and now there are two lampstands because the one lampstand, Jesus Christ, has a counterpart.
The 1,260 days are the three and one-half years, the time, times, and half a time mentioned in the Book of Daniel. It is the first half of the prophetic week. This first half shall be devoted to unprecedented revival. The second half of the prophetic week will be the period of the Great Tribulation, as I understand it.
They are clothed in the sackcloth of humility and repentance. How refreshing this will be after the unseemly parade of ministers who call attention to themselves.
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (Revelation 11:4)
The two olive trees are found in the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah. The olive trees empty directly into the Lampstand so that the lamps do not have to be filled every day.
This tells us there shall be a double portion of the Holy Spirit on the witnesses of the closing days of the Church Age. "Elijah" announced the first coming of Christ. "Elisha," the prophet with the double portion of the Spirit, will announce the second coming of Christ. It sounds as though the saints will have the Spirit without measure, as is true of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. (Revelation 11:5)
This reminds us of Paul striking Elymas with blindness, and the incident of Peter, and Ananias and Sapphira.
Those who seek to harm the saints bearing the end-time testimony will not die a natural death but by Divine judgment.
These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. (Revelation 11:6)
God has never before given this kind of power on a worldwide scale. This is why it is so utterly necessary the witnesses be judged beforehand. All traces of immorality must be burned from them. All traces of the love of money must be burned from them. There must not be one trace of presumption or self-seeking in them.
God has given miracle-working power to some preachers in time past. But there has been a temptation to regard themselves as someone specially favored. Sometimes their health has been damaged or their family life disrupted needlessly because they did not know how to exercise properly that which had been given to them. Or ambitious men have urged them to use their gifts apart from the manner in which the Lord instructed them to serve.
Indeed, the saints will have to be judged, disciplined, and instructed before God can safely trust them with the power of the seven thunders.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
I have said that the two witnesses of the last days are Christ and His Body. You might ask: "How can Antichrist overpower and kill Christ?"
Do you remember the Lord said that He was in prison and we came to visit Him; He was sick and we looked after Him? Was Christ in prison or sick? No, and yes. He personally was not sick or in prison; but when His brothers are sick or in prison, He is there with them.
It will help us to understand that it is the witness that is overpowered and killed, not necessarily every saint.
Can Antichrist actually overpower and "kill" the witnessing saints? It has happened many times in the last few years. Believers, including ministers, have been overcome by the demons of lust that are so prevalent in the United States. These believers at one time had been seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Now they have been torn down to the ground because they could not overcome the demons of lust.
During the second half of the week, God shall withdraw the special anointing that had been on the saints. Both the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation speak of the time when the saints are overcome, the power of the saints shattered. This shall occur before the Lord returns.
As I said, not every Christian shall fall away from the Lord. But the majority shall.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12)
Those who stand firm shall be saved. Those who do know their God shall be strong and do exploits of faith. But the witness of the Kingdom shall be driven from the cities of the earth. The remnant of saints will have to seek safety in remote areas of the earth, according to my understanding.
Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)
Sodom means the witness was destroyed by sexual lust.
Egypt means the witness was destroyed by involvement with the world system.
The Lord was crucified in Jerusalem, meaning the witness was destroyed by envious people.
Sexual lust, worldliness, including the love of money, and envy and the desire for preeminence are the three murderers of the Divine testimony.
For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. (Revelation 11:9)
The Christian institutions will remain but the Life of the Spirit of God will not be present in them. We see this today in the large Christian cathedrals, churches, and schools that once were alive with the Spirit of God but now are occupied with dead formalities. Satan is not interested in removing the Christian religion, just the Spirit of God.
The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. (Revelation 11:10)
The ministry of torment. Today so many churches are standing on their head, so to speak, to induce people to come. They have various interesting programs, magicians, famous athletes, movie stars, and anything else that will amuse visitors.
I believe a Christian assembly should not do weird things to drive people away. On the other hand, the Christian assembly is the Divine lampstand, the prophet of God in the local area. As such the word that is preached must condemn the evil in the world as well as build up in Christ those in attendance. If the only words are heard are those of comfort, then Christ is not speaking.
The nations of the earth will celebrate when the testimony of the Spirit is silenced. The true Christian testimony is a rebuke to the values and practices of the Antichrist world system. When it is not it is because a spirit of attempting to please people has entered the preaching.
This is what troubles me about the current emphasis on church growth. It will cause the word that is preached to contain only how we benefit by receiving Christ. It will not include the Lordís demand for patient, cross-carrying obedience to Christ. If we are trying to attract people we will keep on telling them what they want to hear, not what they donít want to hear,
But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. (Revelation 11:11)
At the end of the prophetic week the power of God will come upon the remnant of saints. They stood on their feet, meaning they were filled with resurrection life. The sinners will see this and be terrified.
My point of view that this passage is identical to the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians. The Lord Jesus will come with the witnesses of history. The witnesses will be raised from the dead and stand beside their graves. The witnesses alive on the earth at that time will suddenly be transformed from physical life to the Life of the Holy Spirit. The nations of the earth will see this Divine intervention take place, but there will be nothing whatever they can do about it.
Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (Revelation 11:12)
There is no Greek term for sky, apparently. So whenever the word ordinarily translated "heaven" is found, we have to think whether the spirit Heaven where God is, is meant, or whether the sky is meant. I believe this is true of the Hebrew language also.
For example, in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation we are told the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. I rather doubt this means the spirit Heaven where God and the angels are had passed away, but rather the first sky and the first earth had passed away.
Notice in Genesis 1:8 that the NASB says, "and God called the expanse heaven." But the NIV says, "and God called the expanse sky."
First Thessalonians says the witnesses were caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
The Apostle John would see, in his vision, the saints being caught up in a cloud into the sky, apparently, and so he used the Greek term that may be translated either heaven or sky.
Anyway, this is my thought on the matter. If I am correct that the two witnesses are Christ and His Body, then the account in Revelation of their being called up to heaven in a cloud could not be different from the resurrection of Godís victorious saints, His witnesses, at the last trumpet.
At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. (Revelation 11:13,14)
The third woe, as I mentioned earlier, may be the vials of wrath described in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
We have to keep in mind that the scenes presented in the Book of Revelation are not in chronological order. They are a series events that shall take place in the future, but not necessarily in the order they are presented in Revelation.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)
The original Gospel was "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." Both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus preached the soon coming of the Kingdom of God, the doing of Godís will in the earth. The Apostles also preached the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The Lord Jesus gave us many parables of the Kingdom of God. From them we can understand that the Kingdom is a Seed planted in us that grows until it transforms us. Also, the Lord told us of His coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. So we see that there is both an internal and an external Kingdom of God.
In any case, the Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a government. And the understanding of this affects us in a practical manner. For the idea of going to Heaven by grace makes few demands on us. But entering a government of which the Lord Jesus Christ is King makes total demands on us
The Book of Isaiah emphasizes that when the Lord returns He will establish justice on the earth. It seems to me this is a better hope than that of fleeing from the earth that we might live in the spirit world for eternity.
Somehow in the early days of the Christian Era the original Gospel was changed to "Receive Christ and you will go to Heaven when you die." Then, due to a misunderstanding of the English word "mansions," the new gospel became "Receive Christ and you will go to a mansion in Heaven when you die."
If you think about it, the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Heaven are totally different messages. The vision of the original Gospel is that God is coming to the earth to judge the nations, set the captives free, and enforce His the doing of His will on the earth. The vision of the new gospel is that if we receive Christ our sins will be eternally forgiven and when we die we will go to Paradise to make our eternal home in the spirit world.
Does it make any difference which vision of the future we hold? I think it does. The "heaven" vision does not require a transformation of our character. We are forgiven. We go to Paradise. We will never again have to worry about sin or pain or death.
The "Kingdom" vision does require a transformation of our character. This vision tells us we are going to be raised from the dead and rewarded according to what we have done. Then we are going to be assigned an appropriate place in the Kingdom of God.
We are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then whatever we need will be added to us. By "His righteousness" is meant that we cannot gain righteousness by the Law of Moses or any other code of good works. Godís righteousness first is imputed to us so we might have a clear conscience. Then it is worked out in our personality until we are obeying the laws of the Kingdom of God.
God the Father is seeking righteous behavior throughout His creation.
The first Person to satisfy the Fatherís standard of righteous behavior is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Next in line will be the victorious saints.
Then the remainder of the elect will be taught until they behave righteously.
Finally the laws of the Kingdom of God, the laws set forth in the Sermon on the Mount, will be enforced throughout the creation of God.
So we see that when the seventh and last angel sounds his trumpet, the declaration comes from heaven (the sky?):"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."
The Holy Spirit is among us now, preparing those who will listen so they may be ready for His return. Those who have prepared themselves, as the Spirit directs, will be raised from the dead, be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and then will descend with Him to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
As far as I can tell, no one else will be raised from the dead until the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been concluded. This will provide the needed period of time for the remainder of the elect, those who were not ready to meet the Lord at the beginning of the Kingdom Age, to be made ready for their appearance as part of the new Jerusalem.
And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, Saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and greatóand for destroying those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:16-18)
God sets aside His power until He is ready to use it. Then He takes it up and begins to reign.
We know that Jesus Christ has had to wait until the Father makes His enemies His footstool. I rather suspect that the One to whom thanks is being given at this point is the Father.
The nations are angry. Why? They should be beside themselves with joy. The reason they are angry is they do not want Christ to rule over them. After a thousand years of the rule of Christ and His saints, at the end of the Kingdom Age, Satan still can persuade them to rebel against God and His rulers. This is how deeply rebellion is ingrained in the hearts of men.
Godís wrath has come. The Divine wrath has been stored up since Satan originally set His will against the will of the Father. It has been building over the centuries. When it is released it will be a horror beyond all horrors. Only the blood of Christ can protect us in that hour.
The time has come for judging the dead. Every person will be judged fairly according to what he or she has done. Those who have known the Gospel will be judged by the Gospel. Those who have never heard the Gospel will be judged according to their conscience.
Each individual will enter eternity according to his deeds on the earth. Accepting Christ does not change this. Accepting Christ forgives us and gives us a new start in life. But it is not an excuse for sin. The grace of God in Christ does not do away with the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. We all shall receive what we have done.
Satan attacks this principle with all his forces. He has been quite successful. The preaching of today tells us we shall not surely die. Even though we have not served Christ as we should have, there is no problem. We still shall be richly rewarded by the Lord.
This is a lie and it has just about destroyed the moral strength of the Christian churches. Instead of being filled with people of iron righteousness, zealous of good works, the churches in many instances are made up of a mixed multitude, many of whom are silly, sensual, self-centered people who do not know the Lord. I think the days that are coming will contain forces that will help purify the churches.
"For rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great." Sometimes it is taught that no one shall be rewarded above another because we all are saved by grace. This is the opposite of the Bible teaching. Each one of us shall be rewarded according to his or her works.
I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23)
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
"And for destroying those who destroy the earth." I have often thought of this statement. Sinners destroy the earth. The march of civilization is a march of destruction, as far as nature is concerned. I myself am ready for a new earth that has not been touched even once with sin.
Then Godís temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:19)
I think the appearing of the "ark of his covenant" is significant. The Ark disappeared at the time of the Babylonian captivity and has not been seen since.
If you recall, there was a time when the Ark was in Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem, while the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was in Gibeon, a city north of Jerusalem. This separation continued throughout the reign of King David.
One of Solomonís first acts upon becoming king was to restore the Ark to the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
You may note that I have stressed the first resurrection as the time when Christ shall appear with His victorious saints, not with all the members of His Church. They are the Lordís "mighty men," so to speak. They are overcomers and shall govern the nations with Him.
If we think along this line, the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium) is a Davidic reign, a time of the rule of the scepter of iron. This is quite different, isnít it, from the rule of the Lamb over the new heaven and earth. They are both rules of Christ. But the thousand years might be thought of as a Davidic reign while the new heaven and earth rule would be a Solomonic, peaceful era.
So we see that the Ark is emphasized at the beginning of the Kingdom Age, while the "tabernacle of God is presented at the beginning of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ. The Ark, representing the conquering saints, will then have become one with the remainder of the Wife of the Lamb.
The Ark represents the Day of Atonement, the time when God deals with the sins of mankind. Therefore when the Ark is displayed, there are flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. As we personally pass through the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, which is the reconciling to God of every aspect of our personality, we may experience just such a commotion.
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Revelation 12:1)
If I am not mistaken, the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation tells of the last great revival of the Christian Era. The twelfth chapter describes something that is taking place within those who bear the final testimony: Christ, the Ruler of the nations, is being formed in them.
That which is being formed in us is not for the Church Age. It will not be revealed until the Lord comes.
The woman is a sign in Heaven. The woman clothed with the sun is the Church. The moon under her feet means that all the works of Godís hands are finally to be subject to the Church. The crown of twelve star on her head refers to the outstanding saints of all ages from whom we gain our bearings; who are examples to usóguides throughout the night of our discipleship.
She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. (Revelation 12:2)
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you," Paul cried. Our ministry in the world is important. Even more important is what is being formed in us. We always must keep in mind that what is being formed in us is of eternal significance; so we should never sacrifice our personal relationship with Christ in order to "minister" or for any other reason.
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. (Revelation 12:3)
The Church is a sign in the heaven. Satan also is a sign in the heaven. The age-old confrontation of good and evil. Both good and evil have their source in the heaven.
The seven heads denote perfect wisdom. The ten horns symbolize perfect power in the world. The seven crowns speak of the authority God has given Satan so that Godís purpose in Christ may be brought to completion.
His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:4)
I tend to believe that the stars swept out of the sky refer to angels who followed Satan. However, there is a passage in Daniel that suggests in the last days Antichrist will be able to reach into the heavens and tear down some of the saints.
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:9-12)
We might not be aware that God is going to permit Satan to have so much authority and power, but He is. A massive rebellion occurred in the spirit world at some time past. God is determined to drive all rebellion from His Presence, even when it is in His saints.
We might think that after a person has received Christ, been born again, and has ascended in Christ to the right hand of the Father, that he or she is safe for eternity. This is not so. We have seen in our own lifetime Christians who have been seduced away from God. Many believers, perhaps the majority of Christians, have never settled the question of rebellion in their own heart.
If you donít think this is so, ask any Christian you know if he or she is doing Godís perfect will. The only acceptable answer is, "Of course I am doing Godís perfect will. All of Godís children do their Fatherís will. It is a joy and delight to do His will."
This is not what you will hear. You may hear (as I heard so often when I became a Christian), "No one can do Godís perfect will." Or, "Sometimes I do Godís will but not all the time." You will get an assortment of confusing responses.
This ought never to be the case, but it usually is. Anyone who is not doing Godís will at all times is in rebellion against God, and that rebellion must be dealt with.
How can we know Godís perfect will? By presenting our body a living sacrifice. But most believers, it appears, are not willing to do this. Therefore they do not really understand Godís will for their life.
So we have a spirit world in rebellion against the Father, and we have the entire race of mankind (with few exceptions) in rebellion against the Father.
How about you? Are you willing to do Godís perfect, complete will? If your answer is "Yes," then tell Him so right this minute. God always will guide you in His will and give you grace for every circumstance.
But if you have any wavering in this matter, then confess you are in rebellion against God. If you are not ready and willing to do Godís perfect, complete will in every area and circumstance in your life, you are in rebellion against God.
God is ready to shake not only the earth but the heavens also. When He does, all that is in rebellion against His will shall be removed from His Presence. Only the Lord Jesus Christ, the obedient One, and that which is of Christ, shall remain.
The only acceptable person in the universe of God is he or she who does Godís will joyously. Every other person is to be brought into that will, or else incarcerated in a prison of some sort. Any individual who is not joyously obeying the Father through Jesus Christ will bring destruction and torment into the creation. All disobedience must go!
God will permit Satan to reach into the heavens and tear down to the ground all who are not obedient to God.
"Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it."
The third of the stars may refer to angels, or people, or both.
"The dragon stands in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born."
We Christians are fond of our Statement of Faith and our church activities. Satan could not care less about these. He is afraid Christ will be born in us. Satan fears the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He does not fear religious Christianity. It is little more than an annoyance. In fact, Satan is able to use religion for his own purposes.
There are two overlapping operations. There is the Christian religion with its activities. Then there is the forming of Christ in individual believers. It is the second that is the Kingdom of God. This is why we cannot see or enter the Kingdom until we are born again.
Isaiah indicates there shall come a time when the travailing woman brings forth. This is prophesied also in Micah. We read in the tenth chapter of Revelation that there shall be no more delay but the mystery of God (Christ in us) will be accomplished
We are in the time now when Christ is to be brought forth in the saints. Subjectively, we experience this as a pressing forward in prayer until we break through in victory. Satan will seek to prevent our doing this, because that which is formed in us will one day govern the world.
It is a matter of overcoming, overcoming, overcoming, until we break through into the light. Then the struggle is to maintain the high place in God we have entered. This warfare may continue for many years, but the crucial battle has been won.
As I said previously, the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter portray our ministry in the world. The twelfth chapter describes what is taking place inside of us while we are ministering. It is the bringing forth of Christ in us that we are to guard, and this inner development must never take second place to our outward gifts and ministries.
Satan wants to devour the child the moment He comes forth. He wants to swallow the child with all kinds of pressures and concerns. It is our responsibility to see that this does not happen. We are to pray faithfully every day, read our Bible every day, and patiently bear our cross as we follow Christ in every situation. If we will do this we will not be deceived and the child will be born.
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)
That which is being formed in us is not to be revealed during the Church Age. Our gifts and ministries are for the Church Age, and they shall continue to operate and hopefully to be strengthened. I say this because when the believers become conscious of the fact that Christ is being formed in us they think this is going to give them power.
The forming of Christ in us does not give us power; rather it transforms our personality so we behave righteously. If we desire a powerful ministry, then that is what we should pray for. But to know God is more important than this.
The Ruler of the nations is being formed in us, and His scepter is that of righteousness. If we are to govern with Him, then He, the Morning Star, must be formed in us. Otherwise we would govern in unrighteousness
See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. (Isaiah 32:1)
Godís goal is that all individuals in His creation will behave righteously.
He who is born in us will govern the nations with the scepter of iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
I spoke before of the subjective experience of Christ being formed in usóof the initial breakthrough we experience. I believe the initial breakthrough is the point at which Christ is snatched up to God and to His Throne. But remember, this position must be maintained by watchful prayer and stern obedience.
Of course Christ can never be harmed. Neither can we if we carefully guard the Word of His patience. But we can be seduced away from our high place in God, and this has happened to some believers of our day.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you donít fall! (I Corinthians 10:12)
The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6)
Whether this means the church will be forced to flee to a remote area of the earth, or it has some spiritual meaning, I am not certain. The point is, Satan is going to be given great power in the last days and the Christian churches will be driven from the centers of civilization. However, God has prepared a place for the churches and they will be taken care of for a specific period of time. (three and one-half years, the second half of the prophetic week, as I understand it).
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled downóthat ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
We see in the above passage that the time will come when Satan is hurled down to the earth, and his angels with him. These are the spirit-rulers we Christians wrestle against, who are doing all in their power to lead us and the rest of the world astray.
The fact that Michael and his angels were not strong enough to drive out Satan and his angels in the past tells us that something has changed in the spirit world, or perhaps on the earth.
God the Father has always retained the authority and power to enable Michael to be victorious. But for some reason the Father has not seen fit to grant this power previously.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. (Revelation 12:10)
Now has come the salvation of our God.
Now has come the power of our God.
Now has come the kingdom of our God.
Now has come the authority of His Christ.
I find it remarkable that these four aspects of redemption have been withheld until Michael and his angels were able to prevail against Satan and hurl him to the earth. The wrestling match has come to an end. The adversary has been defeated.
The loud voice in Heaven announcing these marvels comes from people; for they refer to Satan as "the accuser of our brothers."
Why does Satan accuse the saints before God day and night? He must have a reason to exert himself in this manner. Why did Satan accuse Job? Why does anyone accuse someone else of anything?
It is to find us guilty. Guilty of what? Guilty of disobeying God, for this is what Satan did.
The question is, why does Satan want to find us guilty of disobeying God?
God is righteous and He dispenses justice. Satan has been barred from his position as a guardian cherub. He no longer is permitted to be near the Throne of God. He no longer can enjoy the Divine Glory. He has been cast out in disgrace. We do not realize how highly Satan was placed in Heaven, and what a catastrophe his dismissal has been for him personally.
Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. (Isaiah 28:16)
I suppose Satanís accuses us because he envies us for finding favor with God. Satan cannot find favor with God and he doesnít want us to either. So if he can find some reason why God should not bless us he will remind God of that.
As far as I can determine, Satan has become the incarnation of sexual lust, of murderous rage, and of lying. But envy is a terrible bondage. The priests and teachers of Israel crucified Christ for no reason other than they envied His ability to draw people to himself. They wanted to be able to draw people but they were unable to do so.
We see that same envy working as the Jews followed Paul from city to city, seeking to have him killed. They could not tolerate the fact that the Gentiles came flocking to hear Paul.
So Satan accuses us before the Throne of God day and night because he does not want us to have what he cannot haveóthe favor and Glory of God.
Satan can always be found in Christian services, especially in the more fervent, because the favor and Glory of God will be present among us and he cannot tolerate that. He will do what he can to bring dissension so the favor and Glory of God will depart.
I have no idea what will be true when Satan and his angels are confined to the earth. But I certainly hope to be filled with Christ in that hour, because I donít believe anyone will be able to stand without being established firmly in Christ.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
It seems obvious to me that Michael and his angels cannot prevail against Satan until there are saints who overcome Satan. Here are two armies working side by side. The army of saints conquer in their arena and Michael and his angels conquer in their arena.
But how do we overcome Satan? By the blood of the Lamb; by the word of our testimony; and by loving not our life to the death. The war is not won by power alone but by righteousness and truth.
When we trust in the blood of the Lamb, Satan cannot condemn us. The blood answers Godís insistence on righteousness.
If we are to overcome Satan we must be giving a true witness of Godís Person, of His will, of His ways, and of His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.
We bear witness by what we say and by what we do, by what we are in personality.
We bear witness by the gifts and ministries God gives to us, as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit..
We cannot bear a conquering witness unless our personality and behavior correspond with the written Word of God. It is vain to preach Christ if we ourselves are sinning. It is one matter to preach. It is another matter to bear a true witness of God.
God makes witnesses of Himself, and sometimes many years of stern obedience to Christ and His commandments are required before we are bearing a true witness of God.
We overcome the accuser by loving not our life to the death. As long as there is some area of our life that we are clinging to, that we will not give over to the death of the cross, Satan can overcome us. Only that which is dead and risen in Christ can overcome Satan.
I think loving not our life to the death is the main issue of today. Can God find people who trust in the blood of the Lamb; whose testimony is true and faithful; and who have assigned their entire life to the cross with Christ? Only these can overcome the accuser of the brothers.
We see from the verse we are examining that God does find such people. Abandoning their own life that Christ might be served has resulted in the hurling down of Satan and the bringing in of salvation, power, the Kingdom, and the authority of Christ. We have sacrificed our own life that blessing might be brought to others. This is integrity and it is acceptable to God.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. (Revelation 12:12)
Notice that the people who profit from the overthrow of Satan are those in the heavens. But we do not know how the fact that an angry cherub has been driven from the heavens will affect our life on the earth.
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. (Revelation 12:13)
Undoubtedly the woman represents the Christian churches. Satan will pursue the churches with deception, and also with physical violence I believe, because Christ has been formed in the members.
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time (the last half of the prophetic week), out of the serpentís reach. (Revelation 12:14)
The true saints will be taken care of by the Lord during this period, although some will die for the faith. The saints shall be driven from civilization by force. Many however will be deceived and will continue to attend the spiritually dead churches in the cities.
Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. (Revelation 12:15,16)
I believe the "water like a river" is speaking of an enormous wave of persecution. The earth helping the woman refers to people who have come to the aid of the Christians. It is these people who will be the "sheep" because they have assisted the Lordís "brothers."
Whoever helps the persecuted Christians will inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Whoever does not help the persecuted Christians will be sent into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. This is a principle of the Kingdom of God.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspringóthose who obey Godís commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
Apparently there are believers in Christ who are not counted among those who brought forth Christ, and now these are subject to persecution. They are the offspring of the woman, but perhaps not as spiritually mature.
We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? (Song of Solomon 8:8)
Also, we might note that it was the Lordís "brothers" who were or were not assisted. Paul told us in the Book of Romans that some are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ that they might be His brothers.
The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)
Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. (Micah 5:3)
It seems evident that those in whom Christ has been formed are the first to be viciously persecuted, and after that those who were not at that spiritual level but did keep Godís commandments and hold to the testimony of the Lord Jesus.
Perhaps it is these who form the outer court who were permitted to be trampled on by the Gentiles
But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months (three and one-half years). (Revelation 11:2)
Also, these may be the multitude who came out of the Great Tribulation.
And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. (Revelation 13:1)
The "sea" often refers to the people of the nations, who are driven here and there by the winds that come from the mouths of demagogues.
The beast, Antichrist, will come out from the sea of people. Antichrist has the ten horns and seven heads of Satan. But Antichrist has ten crowns (instead of seven), perhaps referring to ten nations that will be under his rule. Antichrist is the incarnation of Satan. I have no doubt he (or she) will be a charming, charismatic leader, accepted readily by influential people.
The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. (Revelation 13:2)
Perhaps a leopard for grace and beauty, a bear for strength, and a lion for the ability to conquer.
Satan will give Antichrist, a human being, Satanís power and authority. Satan is a cherub and cannot serve as a visible king over people.
It will be dreadful indeed to have a man governing on the earth who is filled with the fullness of Satan just as Jesus on earth was filled with the fullness of God. Christians who are not fervent disciples of the Lord Jesus will not be able by any means to withstand the devices of the Antichrist. In fact, I believe he will be able to block their prayers in the spirit realm.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven" [week] In the middle of the "seven" he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
I think the expression "put an end to sacrifice and offering" means the people in the Antichrist-governed cities will not be able to receive Christ or the Holy Spirit.
Christ when placed on the wing of the temple overcame the temptation to be presumptuous. A statute of Antichrist will be placed on that same location to present himself as God; and inside, in the Holy of Holies of the rebuilt Temple, Antichrist will be sitting on the Ark of the Covenant to show that he is the living God and there is no other. This is the full expression of man being his own god that already is being pursued in Western civilization.
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. (Revelation 13:3)
The power of the Antichrist world system is money. When the World Trade Center was demolished, this verse came to my mind. It is not that America is the Antichrist, it is that the worship of money is identified with Antichrist.
It may be that the terrorists are not finished with America, or England, or France, or Germany but in the future will cause enormous destruction, perhaps by blowing up nuclear installations, by poisoning water, or by some other means. This would seem to give capitalism a fatal wound; but that wound is destined to be healed.
There is little doubt in my mind that capitalism and democracy shall prevail ultimately in the world, because people seek comfort, not righteousness.
We in America are dedicated to the pursuit of happiness, not to the pursuit of righteousness. In the present hour the Muslims, although the terrorists do wicked things, put us to shame with their dedication to Allahís will. What would it be like in America if all the professing Christians were that dedicated to Godís will?
Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (Revelation 13:4)
Men worshiped Satan and Satanís Antichrist. We may claim we would never worship Satan or the Antichrist.
But when we worship money we are worshiping Satan and Antichrist.
When we worship sexual lust we are worshiping Satan and Antichrist.
When we worship violence we are worshiping Satan and Antichrist.
When we worship entertainment we are worshiping Satan and Antichrist.
When we worship education and knowledge we are worshiping Satan and Antichrist.
When we engage in metaphysical practices, such as horoscopes and yoga, we are worshiping Satan and Antichrist.
When we worship our own bodies we are worshiping Satan and Antichrist.
While we are watching the Hollywood antics on television and other communication devices we are eating food offered to idols.
For the above reasons the Divine judgment is resting on America. We may endure for a season, but the handwriting is on the wall.
Who can make war against the beast? Who can resist the downward slide of mankind into the worship of pleasure and sexual lust? Who can throw off the corruption that smothers us under its filthy oppression?
The Lord Jesus Christ can. All who call on Him night and day will be able to stand in victory through the darkest hours of the age of physical and moral horrors that is near at hand. But the lukewarm church attenders will succumb to the social and spiritual pressures, and finally to the violence, that Antichrist will exert.
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. (Revelation 13:5)
Notice that Antichrist was given these things. We know that Satan will give Antichrist Satanís power, throne and great authority. But it is God who gave Satan his power, throne, and great authority.
So actually it is God who gives Antichrist authority, and confines it to a certain length of time (three and one-half years, perhaps literally but probably symbolically). We do not understand why God would tolerate evil in this manner, but He does because it is necessary in order to create a Kingdom of people who have learned to resist evil.
This is why we are not to fret because of the evil in the world. God knows what He is doing. Our task is to delight ourselves in the Lord and obey Him.
He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. (Revelation 13:6)
Antichrist slanders God, Godís dwelling place, and those who live in Heaven. He slanders everything that is holy in Godís sight. When we hear believers slander, accuse, and gossip about other believers we know the spirit of Antichrist is in them
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7)
This raises a profound question, doesnít it? It is difficult to picture God giving Antichrist power to conquer the saints.
Perhaps we might think that Satan has enough power to conquer the saints. We know this is not true. He cannot conquer anyone without Godís permission, and he cannot give Antichrist that which he does not himself possess.
I believe we need a greater vision of the power and authority of God. At the same time we need to diminish the emphasis we currently are placing on the power of Satan and the Antichrist. It is true that Satan is exceedingly skillful at deceiving us; but God has given the Lord Jesus Christ all authority in Heaven and upon the earth. Christ alone holds the keys of Hell and death.
Why, then, would the Lord Jesus Christ give Antichrist power to conquer the saints? To the natural man this makes no sense. But after we have walked with the Lord for a season we come closer to understanding this seeming contradiction.
When the Lord permits Satan, or Antichrist, to overcome us, whether by the sword or by deception, it produces a struggle in us. If we faithfully persevere until we get back on our spiritual feet, we know the Lord in a greater way and are wiser and stronger than before. We have been through the fire and have emerged victorious.
Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. (Daniel 11:35)
I present this concept with misgivings, for some may see in it an excuse to sin. Godís victorious saints will not see in it an excuse to sin but will be ready always to fight until they press through to total victory in Christ.
Antichrist is given authority over all people. It is Christ who gives him this authority, because God has given Christ all authority over people.
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (John 17:2)
In order for there to be a full revelation of the folly of Satanís rebellion against the Father, Antichrist must be permitted to work among the nations as he will.
I trust the reader will understand, from the previous paragraphs, that the creation of the Kingdom of God is a far more complex operation than the simplistic "accept Christ and go to Heaven when you die to live forever in a mansion."
God has determined to pierce to the heart of all rebellion everywhere in His creation. Not the tiniest bit of spiritual darkness will be permitted to exist. In order to do this God must permit evil to flourish for a season.
We might think of evil as a boil on the face of the creation. We do not want to suppress the boil. We put hot compresses on it so it will come to a head. When all the poison has accumulated in the boil, then it can be drawn out and all the poison with it. So it is that God does not suppress evil but brings it to a head that it finally may be removed in its entirety.
This is why in spite of all our prayers, Christ sometimes permits us to be deceived. He wants to bring out the "kings" in our personality so we may be aware of them and renounce them once and for all.
The nations will wander about in spiritual darkness. Some will join the armies of Antichrist and be destroyed when the Lord Jesus returns with His saints. Others will be set apart by the Lord, so when the final Glory descends on the saints, those of the nations who have been set apart may be able to come to the Light of God in the saints and be saved. These then will be the nations whom the saints will govern with the scepter of iron righteousness.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beastóall whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
The more I read the Bible the more I understand that some people belong to God in a special wayóeven before they accept Christ. Notice carefully the following:
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.
We know the Lord said that no one could come to Him unless the Father drew that person.
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
I am not able to explain why and how God has appointed some people for eternal life. But I must teach what the Bible states.
Perhaps it is true that God right at this time is developing a governing priesthood, and not everyone is appointed for that.
When people die and pass into the spirit world they wander about waiting for the Day of Resurrection, unless, like the rich man, they are so wicked they are sent straight to Hell. In the Day of Resurrection each person will be judged according to his works. I do not believe everyone will be thrown into the Lake of Fire on that occasion. If such were the case, the members of the royal priesthood would have no one to serve, no inheritance of people.
The inerrant Word says those whose name have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb will worship Antichrist. We understand also that there are terrible punishments awaiting those who worship Antichrist. These facts we know from the Bible.
How this all fits together I do not know. We have to accept that it all is true and God will give us understanding in His time.
He who has an ear, let him hear. (Revelation 13:9)
We are reminded again that we must keep ourselves in a position to hear the Spirit of God. We are so busy in America that it is difficult to set aside the time necessary for hearing from God. But if we do not keep in touch with the Lord we are going to come to harm in the days ahead.
If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. (Revelation 13:10)
It appears that God has the future laid out in detail. Every believer in Christ, every saint, must arm himself or herself with a mind to faithfully and patiently endure all that comes to pass on the earth.
Remember the promise: "If we guard the Word of His patience, He will guard us during the hour of temptation."
We Christians, like everyone else, enjoy excitement once in a while. But saints are not made in excitement but in the day by day enduring of the many tests that are sent their way. Our character is being formed so we can serve God throughout the endless ages of eternity. Character formation takes place under heat and pressure over a period of time.
"He who endures to the end shall be saved."
Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. (Revelation 13:11)
This is the False Prophet, the one who supports Antichrist. The False Prophet does not come out from the sea of people but out from the earth, that is, out from the soul of man. He exercises the power (horns) of the Lamb, but he speaks with the voice of the dragon. This means, he speaks of his own will not of Godís will.
As I understand it, Antichrist represents self-will in the political world and the False Prophet represents self-will in the religious world.
I believe the False Prophet, who exercises the power of the Lamb, is made up of Christian people who are not willing to carry their cross of self-denial. They want the Name of Christ, the power of Christ, but they want to think, speak, and act according to their own will.
It is my point of view that the Charismatic movement is at this point of decision. It seems to me that the majority of worshipers will seek the power and Glory of Christ, but they will never accept the suffering of the cross. They envision the Christian religion as a happy time led by outstanding ministers who have the gifts of the Spirit. The concept of the lowly Christ, of humility, of repentance, is unknown to them.
Today (11/25/2004) as I am editing the present booklet a distinguished editorialist, Andrew Strom, has announced his withdrawal from a well-known Charismatic group. Mister Strom has denounced the spiritual delusion, the occult manifestations which are characterizing some of the prominent ministries.
I believe there will be a minority of believers who will patiently walk the Calvary road. But the majority will shun the way of suffering and denial as being negative.
The church at Sardis had a name that it was alive, but in the Lordís eyes it was dead. I think it was growing rapidlyóan exciting place to go on Sunday morning. But the service was the product of intelligent, talented people who knew how to attract a large congregation.
The way of Christ is the way of the cross. Whenever we seek to make Christianity a popular, fun-filled social event, drawing in crowds of people, we may miss Jesus. He may be standing by the side of the road, marveling at our willingness to attempt to build the Kingdom without hearing from Him.
He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. (Revelation 13:12)
If I am not mistaken, we have here the self-seeking Christians supporting the self-seeking government.
The self-seeking Christians, the False Prophet as I understand it, will be able to work miracles in support of the Antichrist government. I believe the Antichrist will have a cabinet consisting of religious leaders who will advise him concerning humanitarian efforts in the world. While the members of the False Prophet may follow all the accepted practices of the Christian religion, the Spirit of God will not be present among them.
I can picture this even now. Prominent Christian leaders have strongly criticized the Muslim religion (which they have no business doing). Our government is pressing for democracy in the Muslim countries. But there is a conflict in the Muslim countries because they desire a Muslim government, not a democratic government. They want religion to have first place in the lives of people, unlike the United States where the pressure is to remove every Christian influence from the government.
The union of miracle-working Christianity and democracy will prove irresistible to the nations of the earth. This union will give people everything they want. Even the Muslim leadership finally will be forced to yield to the liberal elements in their population. We see this happening today (February, 2004) in Iran. Once people get a taste of a government under which they can do as they please, with material goods becoming increasingly abundant, the several Muslim nations will be forced to yield to public pressure.
True Christians can prosper under any kind of government. Christianity came into being in an empire. The self-willed, self-seeking Christians of today could not survive under a harsh, dictatorial government. They would not be willing to suffer or be martyred for their faith. They are accustomed to an exciting, fun-filled church. They would not want to go to prison for their faith.
Self-willed Christians thrive in a humanistic democracy. The self-willed Christians and the self-willed government are birds of a feather.
The Muslims can prosper under a religious government. It is not clear as yet whether democracy can survive in predominantly Muslim countries while there are Muslim clerics who demand obedience to their rules concerning clothing, the place of women in society, and so forth.
So I expect to see collaboration between self-serving Christians and democratic governments. Their social programs will seem so "Christian," and indeed they may sponsor a number of humanitarian efforts. Antichrist will enjoy the support of the Christians. But in the end Antichrist will turn against the Christians because he will not permit anyone to be exalted except himself.
I am making quite a distinction between true Christians and self-willed Christians. The true Christian denies himself, takes up his personal cross, his imprisonment, and follow the Lord Jesus every day. The Holy Spirit continually is pointing out sin and idols in his life. He keeps confessing the areas of darkness, renouncing them, and pressing onward toward the first resurrection from the dead.
We are much more familiar with the self-centered Christian. He views his salvation as a means of bettering his lot in life. He seeks spiritual solutions for his marriage, his health, and his income. He is quick to accept the prosperity and faith teachings because these fit with his understanding that being saved is a means of providing a happy life.
If God permits a cross to be placed before him he will find a way to avoid it. He has been taught that God wants him to be happy. He will find a way around the Divine prisons and still pursue his religious activities.
Because he has not loved the truth, because he is not willing to lose his life for Christís sake and the Gospelís, God will send a powerful delusion on him. He may become a worker of miracles, or otherwise prominent in the Gospel. He and those around him will not be aware that he is not a true disciple of the Lord.
How many of todayís Charismatic people understand that a true Christian is one who denies himself, takes up his personal cross, and follows Jesus? Nothing else is acceptable. Our frothy Christian services do not threaten Satanís kingdom. Satan will use them for his own purposes.
And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. (Revelation 13:13)
Power will be given to the self-seeking Christians in the future. Because they believe everyone on earth ought to live under a democratic form of government, they will use their power to support the democratic way of life, even though experience shows that a democratic government will not enforce moralityóthe one task for which God holds all government responsible.
Our American government in the present hour permits music and games to be sold to young people that glorify violence and crime. Even though research has shown a connection between violent games and subsequent violent behavior, the "freedom of expression" doctrine prevails. I predict that in the future the most evil kinds of behavior will be practiced in America, all in the name of "the rights of people." The line is being held somewhat in the present hour, but it is giving way little by little.
So the self-willed Christians, who are railing against the Muslims, are ready to force them to accept a form of government that will lead to the moral corruption we have in America.
Is this not a case of the False Prophet aiding Antichrist? Think about it. The Western influence on third world countries promotes personal freedom and also immorality, or so it seems to me.
Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (Revelation 13:14)
The Bible tells of an image that was set up, and everyone was to worship it. The image was made of gold. The power of Antichrist is money. I could conceive of the self-willed Christians promoting capitalism. In the Western nations people already are worshiping the image of gold (money), including Christian believers and their ministers.
During the past several years there has been an emphasis in the Charismatic movement on gaining money, with some saying in the last days all the money in the world will be given to Christian people to demonstrate that they have the true religion. It is difficult to imagine such an error, but the last I heard there still are preachers who are preaching the gospel of money.
We must understand that capitalism is not a Christian economic system. There is no Christian economic system. Christians are not to be promoting one economic system over another. There is no more powerful source of evil in the world today than the pursuit of money. When Christians promote capitalism they are supporting Antichrist.
He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 1(Revelation 13:15)
I believe the expression "power to give breath to the image of the first beast" means that miracle-working, self-promoting Christians will make the seeking of money attractive and a spiritual matter, just as they are doing today. How many hundreds of thousands of Charismatic people have played the game of "give the preacher money and you will be rich"? We are trying to make God an investment company. We need to repent quickly if we ever have been involved in some kind of spiritual exercise to get money.
How many believers are involved in a business that mixes money and Christianity? This is Balaamism. Flee from it!
Following my line of thought I am saying that self-seeking Christian people will cause those who refused to worship the Christian-capitalistic-democratic way of life to be killed. "To be killed" may mean to be made incompetent in some mannerósuch as being driven from the major cities where commerce predominant. However actual physical killing may be meant.
In the past, self-driven Christians have murdered people who did not agree with them. There are many examples of this in history
The future will reveal if I am correct.
He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, So that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16,17)
Remember, we are speaking about self-serving Christians. Would self-willed Christianís ever force people to receive a mark permitting them to buy and sell? Does this sound impossible? History reveals that the Catholic Church through interdiction, excommunication, and political activities brought great pressure to bear on individuals who displeased them. This pressure included torture and murder in many instances.
"But," we respond, "the Catholics were not true Christians." No? They thought they were just as we think we are. The Catholics in South America murdered Protestants until the middle of the twentieth century, according to my understanding.
The Catholics were self-driven and deluded just as todayís self-driven Evangelicals are deluded. We may despise the Catholics and they may despise the Protestants. Yet both groups regard themselves as Christians. Which group is correct? Neither! No self-driven person is a true Christian, for he is not bearing his cross after the Lord. His motivation is his personal ambition. He is capable of murder, as were the self-driven Pharisees!
The Catholic Church had enormous political power in past time, and I believe the Book of Revelation is telling us that Christian institutions will exert enormous political power in the future. We Christians need to beware of becoming involved in politics or money. Our Kingdom is not of this present world system. The present world spirit is of Antichrist.
This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is manís number. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:18)
"Six" is the number of man. "Three" is the number of God. 666 is man making himself God.
There probably will be some kind of implanted chip in the right hand or forehead that gives access to the marketplace. But the chip is not the issue. The person who acts and thinks primarily in terms of money already has the mark of Antichrist on his hand or forehead. He belongs to the Antichrist system. Thus while the preachers are warning us about the dreadful Antichrist to come, he already is worshiped in the churches in America.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Fatherís name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
The followers of Antichrist have Antichristís mark on their forehead; the followers of the Lamb have His name and His Fatherís name written on their forehead.
The two names written on their forehead means they belong to God and do Godís will at all times.
Mount Zion sometimes is employed synonymously with Jerusalem, but may refer to the warlike remnant of saints who enforce Godís will.
I believe the number 144,000 is symbolic, suggesting a full representation of Israel. I do not think it is the same group as the sealed tribes mentioned previously.
The "Lamb" seems to be Godís favorite name for Christ, probably because God esteems meekness
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:2,3)
We have to become accustomed to there being various ranks and roles in the Kingdom of God. It is not a democratic organization. I have the impression that God assigns the ranks and roles, and then we have to fight to maintain that which has been given to us. "Let no one take your crown."
The "new song" that only these believers could learn means they are close to the heart of the Lord.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)
Defiling themselves with women refers to being spiritually "married" to some person, thing, or circumstance other than God. Conventional marriage is honorable and blessed by God. He who finds a wife finds a good thing."
"They kept themselves pure" means they did not permit anything to come between them and God. The moment God called for something in their life they gave it quickly and as cheerfully as they could. No other god stands between them and the Lord.
Wherever the Lamb goes, there they are.
They are a firstfruits to God and the Lamb. My personal opinion is that anyone can be part of the firstfruits to God and the Lamb. But whoever would aspire to this eternal position must turn over his or her life completely to Christ. There can be no holding back of anyone or anything. How many Christian believers are willing to go this far with Christ? Are you? Am I? It is my determination to do so and I hope it is yours.
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. ((Revelation 14:5)
To have no lie in oneís mouth is to be blameless. One of our basic problems as human beings is that we are liars by nature. Our natural tendency is to deceive in order to press our own advantage. Only the forming of Christ in us can destroy the lie from our personality. This is part of the image of God.
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earthóto every nation, tribe, language and people. (Revelation 14:6)
This is what the two witnesses will preachóthe eternal Gospel of the Kingdom of God. He is "flying in midair," signifying the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. This witness shall be given to every nation on earth before the Church Age comes to an end.
The Gospel of the Kingdom has been lost for two thousand years. Today it is being restored. Now we understand that the plan of God is not to bring us to Heaven to live forever but to install His Kingdom, His rule, on the earth.
He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (Revelation 14:7)
The end-time preaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth will warn earthís peoples of the destruction that is coming. It is Godís love that will provide this last notice of what people are facing in the near future. Those who are wise will "fear God and give Him glory." The Day of Wrath is upon us.
A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." (Revelation 14:8)
Babylon the Great refers to the religious institutions of the world. While there are Christian organizations that still are attempting to serve Christ, it appears that most Christian institutions drift into such man-centeredness that they become the enemies of Jesus Christ. What was born in the fire of prayer becomes, after several generations, a dead monument, a house of relics
It is my opinion that in the last days the religions of the world, including Christianity, will unite under one head and establish their center at the site of ancient Babylon. This will be a monumental organization that Antichrist will tolerate for a while.
The spirit of Babylon is that of manís attempt to glorify God by means of huge edifices and vast programs. Babylon eventually will be destroyed and only the Body of Christ will remain.
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, He, too, will drink of the wine of Godís fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-11)
The first angelóthe preaching of the eternal Gospel.
The second angelóthe end of the religious institutions.
The third angelóthe penalty for worshiping the Antichrist world system.
Here we have the three great powers in the world. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Institutionalized religion. The Antichrist world system.
The punishment for becoming involved in the world system is severe. The penalty is to be tormented forever with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. The people, including Christians, who look to the world for survival and security will have no rest day or night. This is a fate horrible beyond belief!
But those who place their trust in the Lord Jesus for survival and security shall lie down in perfect peace in green pastures.
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey Godís commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
Patient endurance appears to be emphasized in the Book of Revelation. This tells us that the last days will contain many pressures and problems, requiring patient endurance on the part of the Lordís disciples. He who endures to the end shall be saved.
Notice the expression "who keep Godís commandments and remain faithful to Jesus."
The destructive teaching of our day is that we do not have to keep the commandments found in the New Testament because we have been saved by grace. Being saved by grace does not mean we do not have to do what we have been commanded by Jesus and His Apostles. Being saved by grace means we do not have to keep the statutes of the Law of Moses. This is what Paul meant, as an examination of his writings will reveal.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)
To "die in the Lord" is to place our first personality on the cross with the Lord Jesus and to walk henceforth as part of His resurrection life.
Dying in the Lord is not preached nearly enough. It is the only true Christian life.
We have made Christianity a religion in which people can make a profession of belief and then go about their business, hoping to go to Heaven when they die. This is not the Christian redemption, it is only another religion that has borrowed the name of the Lord Jesus.
In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, "We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!" (Isaiah 4:1)
We will follow our own will and work our own works but let us be called by the name of Christ.
A true Christian is someone who counts his first life as dead and who now is seeking to live by the thinking, speaking, and doing of Christ. This is how Christ is related to the Father and how we are supposed to be related to Him.
My guess is there is not as much as one percent of todayís believers who are genuine Christians. They do not understand that Christ did not come to save what they are but to crucify what they are that they might live. Only those who lose their life in Christ can save their life. Those who seek to save their life will lose it, because the entire adamic race died on the cross.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead of the new creation. Until we have been crucified and born again from the dead we are not part of the new creation.
Here we have the great worldwide religion, but it is only Babylon. It consists of the adamic race seeking to please God by observing certain Christian or other religious professions and rituals. It is all dead. It is not part of the Kingdom of God. It will not stand during the shakings of the last days.
The Spirit is telling us nowótodayó"blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Our works shall follow us because they are not the works of Adam but the works of Jesus Christ.
The Lord told us the darkness is coming when no man can work. It is here! What is accomplished by self-driven people will not stand. It will succeed only in fighting what Christ is doing. Only what is accomplished by Christ working through faithful disciples will stand from now on. This is the Kingdom of God.
Those who do not love their life to the point of death will save their life for eternity. Moreover, they will overcome the accuser of the brothers.
This is the rest in which God will enable the weary to rest. The purpose of speaking in tongues is to bring us into the rest of God so that we no longer are working but Christ is working in us.
Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, To whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"óbut they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11,12)
I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. (Revelation 14:14-16)
We are approaching the end of the Church Age. Apparently the following months and years will be filled with climactic events, including the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom; the rise of the great Babylon; and the conquest of the earth by Antichrist.
It is a time of harvest. The harvest of the earth, both righteousness and wickedness, will be brought to maturity by the spring rain. Then the burning sun of tribulation will prepare the crops for the sickle.
I think the passage above speaks of the harvest of people whom God regards as righteous, for the one who swung the sickle is Jesus Christ..
Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earthís vine, because its grapes are ripe." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of Godís wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horsesí bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia [180 miles]. (Revelation 14:18-20)
The above seems to be the harvest of the wicked of the earth, the weeds that the enemy planted.
Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn. (Matthew 13:30)
A river of blood as high as a horseís bridle 180 miles in length.
This is the Day of Wrath. Godís wrath began when Satan rebelled and has been building ever since. When finally it is unleashed, Godís opinion of Satan and his works in the earth will be revealed for all to see.
Let me repeat: no human can maintain his strength and wisdom during the coming days. Only those who are living by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ will be able to survive the Divine wrath and shaking of the earth and the heavens.
Today is a period of preparation for the age of physical and moral horrors that is on the horizon. We prepare ourselves by giving our life wholly to Jesus that He may enter us and live, move, and have His Being within us. Then we are in Godís rest. Then we can stand before Christ during all shakings and pressures.
I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plaguesólast, because with them Godís wrath is completed. (Revelation 15:1)
I believe the seven last plagues are the "third woe" that was mentioned previously. Once these plagues fall on the peoples of the earth, Godís wrath has finally been satisfied.
And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God (Revelation 15:2)
Victorious over the Antichrist (involvement in the world spirit); over the image of gold (the worship of money); and over the number of his name (man making himself God).
The sea of glass before the Throne of God, previously as clear as crystal, is now mixed with fire. This means God has judged His creatures. What was innocent has now become militantly righteous.
When saints who have confessed and turned away from their sins sing worship and praise to the Lord, even while on the earth, Revelation 15:2 is fulfilled.
And sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. (Revelation 15:3)
The song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. It is only one song.
One of the greatest hindrances to understanding the Bible and the plan of salvation is the philosophy termed "Dispensationalism." Dispensationalism informs us that after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, God changed His ways. We now are in a "dispensation of grace" whereby we are saved by professing belief in Jesus Christ. We no longer need worry about keeping Godís commandments.
There hardly could be a more destructive concept. The song always is the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. The difference between the Law of Moses and the new covenant is that through Divine grace we are released from the ceremonial statutes of the Law of Moses, such as the regulations regarding food and animal sacrifice.
However, the moral law of God never changes. How could it? It is of the Nature of God. The Ten Commandments are an abridged version of the eternal moral law of God. The law of the Spirit of Life, which is the law of the new covenant, is infinitely stricter than the Law of Moses. But the moral foundation is identical.
Grace is not an alternative to righteous behavior or to the holiness and obedience that God always requires. Rather it is true that Divine grace furnishes us with much more Divine assistance, such as the Holy Spirit and the body and blood of Christ, than has been true under any previous covenant.
God made certain demands upon the physical Jew. Under the new covenant, God demands that we assign our entire first personality, the good and the bad of it, to the cross. The new covenant permits no compromise whatever with our sinful nature. It forgives what we did in the past and now demands that we put the deeds of our sinful nature to death.
The Jew under the Law of Moses never was a new creation. We are new creations, having been born again from the dead like the Lord Jesus.
But is it necessary that we keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles? Read the Gospel accounts and see how many times the Lord Jesus spoke of keeping His Word, His commandments. It is impossible to live under the new covenant without keeping the commandments of the Lord.
We are not in a new dispensation. We are in one part of a single work of redemption that began when God called Abraham from Ur. Abraham is the father of all who believe. All who are part of Jesus Christ are the one Seed of Abraham.
How long will it be before Godís preachers denounce the destructive philosophy of Dispensationalism and inform Godís people of the demands of Christ under the new covenant?
Moses and the Lamb sing the same song, not two different songs!
And what do Moses and the Lamb sing?
Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15:4)
The song does not change from the old covenant to the new covenant.
Moses, the Lamb, and all who are part of the Lamb, sing about the fear of the Lord. They desire to bring glory to the name of the Lord. They recognize that God alone is holy. They prophesy that all nations on the earth will come and worship before God, because He has revealed His righteous acts.
There is no difference whatever. The Law of Moses was Godís way of controlling sin until the Seed should come to whom the promises were made. It is all one tapestry, one Israel, one family of God, one elect, one new Jerusalem.
The only difference is, we have a better Sacrifice, and more Divine assistance in keeping the eternal moral law of God.
After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. (Revelation 15:5)
Apparently the Tabernacle of the Congregation that was constructed under the direction of Moses is a replica of what is true in the spirit world. It is opened at this point because of the wrath of God that is to fall on the earth.
Some might object that God is too severe. But the events recorded in todayís newspaper (February 3, 2004) show the shameful descent into sexual lust that is happening in our country.
There are at least two primary reasons for this disgraceful condition: the willingness of the American people to worship their own bodies; and the First Amendment provision for freedom of speech and of the press.
Had the Christian churches not emphasized that grace is a substitute for godly behavior, it is possible there would have been sufficient moral pressure to counteract our national moral decline. But as it is, there are pastors and worshipers who go home after church and watch pornography on the Internet. Why? Because God does not see their behavior because of grace, they believe.
As of now there are reactions in America against some of the more disgusting exhibitions of lust. But I see no reason why in five years times there will not be an increase in unrestrained sexual exhibitions and perversions until God is compelled to put a stop to it. How God will stop this moral filth I do not know. But I believe the calamities will be frightful.
Then people will curse God and complain about what is happening to them. But it is their own fault. They knew better than to behave in such a morally filthy manner and to murder their own offspring.
Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. (Revelation 15:6)
The clean, shining linen represents militant righteousness. The golden sashes around their chests speak of their being supported by the strength of God. In fact, they are representing God at this point.
There are spirit-angels and there are people-angels. Since the Bible tells us it is the saints who will exercise judgment, my opinion is that these seven angels (messengers) are people-angels.
It may be difficult for us to imagine human beings pouring out the bowls of Godís wrath on other people. This is because in America at this time we are people-centered. This is the influence of the philosophy of Humanism. It is not realistic but a veneer that soon vanishes when people come face to face with God.
Would we have the world continue as it is, with the young people committing suicide? Children being molested? Women being raped? Multitudes starving to death because of the selfishness of those who have food? Young girls being sold into prostitution in Southeast Asia? Babies being murdered before they are brought forth into the world?
It is time to stop all this, and God is going to stop it!
Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. (Revelation 15:7,8)
The above passage describes an epoch in the history of mankind. Mankind began in a delightful garden enjoying every possible blessing. This is Godís will for man.
Satan intervened, and God decided to expose man to spiritual villainy so Heaven and earth could see the folly of self-will.
Now God is building a kingdomórulers who have overcome Satan and sin while living on the earth. They will govern the works of Godís hands so sin never again will be permitted to flourish. Paradise will be restored to the earth.
Before the Kingdom of God can be established on the earth, Divine wrath must fall. Many will die. But there will be people who will survive and come to the saints for help at the time of the Lordís return.
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of Godís wrath on the earth." (Revelation 16:1)
This is not the great tribulation. This is the wrath of God. Mankind has brought this destruction upon itself by being willing to worship Satan.
The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. (Revelation 16:2)
These must be some kind of cancerous lesions, or boils, perhaps not treatable
The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died. (Revelation 16:3)
If this means all the seas of the world it would disrupt transportation. Also, there would be no more fish to eat. In any case, it would make the world unlivable. Perhaps just the Mediterranean Sea is meant.
The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. (Revelation 16:4)
A similar plague fell on Egypt. The Nile turned to blood along with the ponds and reservoirs. The Egyptians had to dig along the Nile to get drinking water.
Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: "You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; For they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve." (Revelation 16:5,6)
This is the way of the Lord. You want blood? He gives you blood. You want quail? He gives you quail. You want to follow your self-will? He binds you in your self-will until you no longer can find Godís will. I think this has happened to Satan.
This seems harsh, but it is the way the Lord is.
We in America are so proud! We hear of believers who become angry with God because something does not please them. This attitude is absurd. They are sitting in judgment on God, trying to decide whether or not He is too harsh; whether or not His judgments are righteous.
Such do not stop to consider that apart from God they would not exist. On what basis do they believe they can compete in the realm of righteousness with their Creator?
The Lord Jesus advised us to fear Him who has the power to cast us into Hell. At least one teacher holds that this is Satan. What nonsense! God alone has power to cast people into Hell. To not fear God is to be a fool. The demons tremble at the thought of God.
Yet here we are, formed from the dust of the ground, trying to decide whether or not God is righteous! This is not appropriate, to say the least.
We cannot reason our way to an understanding of God. We just have to decide whether or not we want to serve God. If we make up our mind to serve God, we hold our nose, close our eyes, and jump off the diving board. After that we pray and obey without wondering if God is righteous.
Will we experience suffering, frustration, bewilderment, confusion, pressures of various kinds, persecution, the denial of our fervent desires? Of course we will. We are dealing with God, not with a philosopher or a formula. There is no way you or I can understand God. God is God and He will do whatever pleases Him.
Were God not faithful, loving, merciful, compassionate, righteous, it would be best we never had been born.
So let us come to our senses, abandon ourselves to Godís will, and patiently endure whatever the Lord sends our way. In due time we will break forth into the light, for God does not chasten us foreveróonly long enough to drive our foolishness from us..
And I heard the altar respond: "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments." (Revelation 16:7)
Heaven knows that God is true and just. Sometimes people on the earth cannot wake up to the fact that God alone is true and just and every man is a liar.
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. (Revelation 16:8,9)
There could be few things worse than heat that cannot be escaped. The air conditioning mechanisms would fail. Refrigeration would cease. There would be no way to cool off. It would be like being thrown into Hell. Man with his breaking of Godís laws has made the earth Hell, so he now is forced to live in unbearable heat.
You would think that people would repent. We cannot fight God! But the hardness of heart, the unbelief, the rebellion that has accumulated throughout history has now reached the point that human beings are unable to repent and glorify God.
The ability to repent is a gift!
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony And cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. (Revelation 16:10,11)
Can you picture people stumbling around in the darkness in heat that cannot be escaped, gnawing their tongues because they are covered with boils and cancerous lesions? Men loved darkness rather than light, and so an abundance of darkness has been given to them.
Still they will not repent! They no longer are able to praise God. The gift of praise has been taken from them. Faith, also a gift, has been taken from them. The gift of repentance has been taken from them. The ability to choose Godís will has been taken from them. The ability to curse is all that is left to them. God has given them a mind void of judgment. This is the fate of those who do not choose to serve God joyfully.
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (Revelation 16:12)
In my opinion, the Lord intends to use the bed of the Euphrates as a staging ground for His cavalry. The East represents the dawning of the Day of the Lord. The Lordís armies will come on the white war stallions, form up on the bed of the Euphrates, and then with a direct charge and a flanking movement crush the forces of Antichrist where they are located on the plain of Armageddon. Antichristís retreat has been cut off because the Mediterranean Sea has been turned to blood.
Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16:13,14)
The demons, by performing miracles, will call up the armies of the wicked in preparation for the coming of Christ with His armies. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will be slain along with the wicked whom they control. But many people around the world will be kept safe while Christ confronts His enemies.
Can you understand now why Satan has introduced the idea into Christian thinking that our destiny is to have fun for eternity in our mansion in Heaven? He does not want the saints to be prepared for the conflict of the ages.
Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed. (Revelation 16:15)
Those who do not keep their spiritual robes clean by repenting and turning away from the works of the sinful nature will be exposed in the Day of Christ. We have been able to attend church and treat our religion casually. But in that Day our spiritual nakedness will be revealed. We now are in a period of preparation for the awesome events that are at hand. Let us take full advantage of it.
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16)
Har-magedon is a plain north of Jerusalem. Many battles have been fought there.
The place of the battle has been foretold, and the outcome of the battle has been foretold.
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!" Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. (Revelation 16:17-21)
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air.
God speaks from His Throne: "It is done," meaning Divine judgment has been exercised fully.
Flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and an earthquake of unprecedented power.
"The great city" split into three parts. This may mean that the cities of the nations were linked by telecommunications to one large center of finance and education.
The cities of the nations collapsed.
God gave the huge religious institution that had committed adultery with the rulers of the earth the cup of His wrath to drink.
The islands of the sea and the mountains were moved from their place. You can imagine the enormity of an earthquake that would result in such chaos.
Hailstones weighing a hundred pounds each. These have been reserved for the day of battle.
As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. (Joshua 10:11)
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, Which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? (Job 38:22,23)
Have you ever lifted a hundred pound sack of cement? Can you imagine what it would be like to have a hundred pound piece of ice fall from the sky?
Still people cursed God and did not repent. I do not know if this is commonly understood, but it is not possible to repent or worship God until God gives us the ability to do so. During the of the plagues, people are not given these gifts.
I suppose we assume that any time we wish to we can decide to serve God. This is not true. The Spirit of God invites us gently to come to the Lord. If we refuse the invitation often enough it will be withdrawn. God is loving and patient but He will not be mocked.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. (Revelation 17:1)
As I said previously, the angels who have the seven bowels may be people-angels, at one time having been human beings living on the earth.
The great prostitute is Babylon. According to my understanding, Babylon represents man-driven religious institutions.
It appears that most if not all Christian institutions were born in the fires of prayer and revival. Each following generation becomes more man-driven. Finally what remains is an organization operated by the wisdom, energy, and talents of human beings. The Holy Spirit, if present at all, is in minimal amounts.
Since church history is clear that this pattern repeats itself, one would think we could learn from this, and each succeeding generation would return to its first works of prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But if this has ever happened I have not heard of it.
With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries. (Revelation 17:2)
The most glaring example of this is the Catholic Church. Historically here has been much interaction between the Catholic Church and secular rulers. However, the same principle is present whenever a denomination or local church becomes involved with the political forces. The Christian institutions are adulterers whenever they look to people rather than to the Lord for their guidance, success, and security.
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:3)
Babylon certainly is a spiritual desert!
The description of Babylon the Great is reminiscent of the Catholic Church. We of today do not realize the extent to which the Catholic Church influenced history from the early centuries of the Church Era. The daughters of Babylon are the Protestant institutions.
The problem today includes the problems of institutionalized Christianity of the past, but the emphasis now is on the rise of man making himself God. A study of the history of Western civilization will reveal that the concept of man being his own god has been growing for the last three hundred years. If I am correct, it was not as much in evidence worldwide prior to that time.
When we think about the past two thousand years we see first, the rise of Babylon the Great (the Catholic Church). After that, the rise of Antichrist (man-centeredness; humanism). Perhaps the emphasis in the future will be on self-willed Christians working miracles and supporting the Antichrist world system.
I think "scarlet," as it is used here, speaks of worldly magnificence. It reminds us of the art treasures in the Vatican, and the pageantry that occurs during special occasions in Saint Peterís Church. I doubt if any other religious celebration equals in splendor that which takes place in Saint Peterís.
I know there are many fine Catholics. But the Church itself, as it pretends to carry on the Divinely ordained apostleship of Peter, is blasphemous at its heart. The structures and operations of the Catholic Church is as far removed from the Apostle Peter as it possible to get. To pretend that the Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God or has the authority of the Kingdom of God is blasphemous.
Many atrocities have been committed by the Catholic Church in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit of God is nowhere to be found in this house of pretension.
It is unscriptural to have a class of Christians who are priests over other Christians.
It is unscriptural to call someone our spiritual father.
It is unscriptural to forbid to marry.
It is unscriptural to venerate the Virgin Mary or the Holy Family.
The Apostle Peter would never hold up his fingers in a special manner as though this would impart a spiritual blessing. The Apostle Peter would, however, lay hands on people and they would receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues.
A priest cannot bless the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The effectiveness of the Communion service depends entirely on the relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Church does not have the authority or power to bind and loose spiritually, to forgive or retain sins. Only believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit and acting in the Holy Spirit can bind and loose spiritually, can forgive or retain sins.
The Catholic Church has assumed the mantle of the authority and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. But this is blasphemy. It represents only itself, its organization, its material wealth, its talents. It is completely man-driven.
"The Church," meaning the universal Body of Christ, is not an organization on the earth. It is composed of all believers who by virtue of their denying themselves and patiently carrying their cross, following Christ every moment of every day and night, have become an integral part of Christ. I feel certain there are numerous Catholic people who are true saints, true members of the Body of Christ. But their denomination is not what it believes itself to be.
I do not believe the Catholic Church is willfully corrupting the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. My thought is it does so in ignorance.
The seven heads and ten horns are interpreted in verses nine through twelve.
The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. (Revelation 17:4
The woman was dressed in purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls. This may be reflecting the material wealth of the Catholic storehouses.
The golden cup makes us think of the Mass. The abomination is that what is supposed to be a living experience with Jesus, the eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood, has become a religious ceremony and obligation..
The Catholic Church is adulterous because it is based on interaction with people rather than interaction with the Lord Jesus.
My words are not intended to be a criticism of the Catholic churches. I know from reading and from personal experience that there indeed are devout Catholics, some of whom would put us to shame with their dedication to Christ.
But since I am writing a brief commentary on the Book of Revelation, I am including what I have seen in Catholicism and what I have read about this largest of denominations. The concepts concerning Babylon the Great are readily applicable to the Catholic Church. My ideas are descriptive only. They are not intended to be judgmental.
This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5)
The Protestant institutions are the daughters of Babylon.
We do not today see the Catholic Church committing abominations, other than pretending to have the authority of Christ; but looking back through history we can read of the wicked acts of some of the popes.
Recently there have been widespread revelation of priests who have molested children. I do not criticize the Catholic Church as a whole for this. There have been far more doers of charitable deeds among Catholic people, such as Mother Theresa, than there have been molesters of children. That priests would molest children could have been predicted, when these unfortunates were forbidden to marry and placed in a sexually immoral Western nation.
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. (Revelation 17:6)
When we read of the Universal Inquisition and the other deeds of the Catholic Church up to the middle of the twentieth century we see that she indeed is drunk with the blood of those who truly were bearing testimony to the Lord Jesus. When the Apostle John saw this persecution of believers taking place by those who claimed to be representing the Apostle Peter he indeed must have been greatly astonished.
We of the twenty-first century need to read about the Middle Ages, about the persecution of the Albigenses, for example, if we would gain more of an understanding of Johnís vision.
Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. (Revelation 17:7,8)
The Beast who comes up out of the Abyss, with the seven heads and ten horns, appears to be the same spirit who overpowers and kills the two witnesses of Chapter Eleven. Yet it is written of the Antichrist that he comes out of the sea. It is possible that the spirit of Antichrist comes from the abyss while the man (or woman) himself is a human being.
If this is the case, since the woman is riding on the beast, then we would say that institutional Christianity is supported by the concept that man is making himself his own god, which certainly becomes true after a religious institution has matured.
The main problem of Christian institutions is that they do not listen to and follow the Spirit of God. They follow their own spirit. The result is, while they pretend to and perhaps want to glorify God through Jesus Christ, they succeed in glorifying themselves. The great cathedrals of the world are examples of this.
The central aspect of true Christianity is that of listening to and following the Holy Spirit. "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear the Spirit." However, people find this extremely difficult. It is so easy to become enthusiastic about an endeavor in which we are involved that we cease waiting on the Lord for His directions. We move ahead, supposing we are doing the work of Christ. We forget the Lord said He would build His Church.
Christian work is "delicious," and people enjoy being occupied with it. There are ministers who ought not to be in the pulpit. They enjoy being ministers. But they always will succeed in destroying the Kingdom when they are not hearing from the Master Builder.
It is difficult to wait for the Spirit of God! There seem to be so few who are willing to do this. But the Holy Spirit is the only One who bears a true testimony of Jesus Christ. All else, from Saint Peterís Church in Rome to the smallest holiness group meeting in a home, if the Spirit of God is not leading, is part of Babylon, the mother of prostitutes.
This may seem harsh, but it is the truth.
This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. (Revelation 17:9-11)
The passage above emphasizes the extent to which institutionalized, man-driven religion is involved in worldly politics. If five kings already have fallen at the time of Johnís vision, then he may be speaking of the pre-Christian era. In this case we are speaking of institutionalized religion prior to Christianity.
Some have said that Rome has seven hills. Perhaps the Bible scholars have established this fact and know who the eight kings are. What I derive from this is that God knows history in advance. Also, that religion often is deeply involved with civil government. We see this, for example, in the interactions between the pharaohs and the priests of Egypt. This is true today in Iran as we note the pressure placed on the government by the Muslim leaders.
The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kingsóand with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:12-14)
It appears we are looking forward to a warfare between good and evil, between righteousness and wickedness. We must be prepared for this conflict. The present teaching of grace-rapture-Heaven is silly compared with the true understanding of the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We must be called out from the spirit of the world by the Holy Spirit.
We must cleave to the Lord until we pass into the ranks of the chosen.
After we have been chosen we must follow the Lamb faithfully and patiently through every conceivable test and pressure.
Called, chosen, and faithful. Many are called but few are chosen. The few who are chosen have to be tested rigorously.
When we think of the honor and glory of being with the Lord Jesus Christ as He establishes His Kingdom we can understand why the standard has been set so high. It is Godís will that every person repent and be saved. But out from the ranks of the saved will be drawn the warriors, the rulers, the priests of God. Their training is severe. There will be some believers who will meet the challenge. They will ride with Christ in the day of battle.
Whoever will choose to do so may set out to establish a place for himself or herself among the Lordís "mighty men." Then he or she must ready and willing to endure every hardship in order to attain to his or her goal. The goal is so desirable it is a marvel that more believers do not reach toward it.
Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. (Revelation 17:15)
Man-driven religion with its obligations can be found wherever there are people, from the village witch doctors to the highest prelates of the Christian religion. The salvation that is in Jesus is different in that it is not man-driven. It is a relationship between a human being and the living Jesus.
The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until Godís words are fulfilled. (Revelation 17:16,17)
Up to this point the peoples of the earth have had two sets of rulers: the political and the ecclesiastical. Before the Day of Wrath comes, the political rulers will destroy all ecclesiastical authority until the Antichrist emerges as the supreme ruler of the world.
There always has been tension between the political and the ecclesiastical leaders. We see this today as the United States government permits abortion and the Catholic Church resists it. It is happening in Mexico where the government is allowing birth-control pills and the Catholic Church is fighting against them
At the present time, the political powers appear to be prevailing, except perhaps in some Muslim countries. In China the political government appears to be in full control.
The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:18)
The great city may be Rome, which exercised great authority during the Middle Ages. But I believe the name "Babylon" applies to all religion that is man-sponsored, from the time of the original attempt to build a tower that reached to the heavens to the present endeavors to preach Christianity apart from the specific guidance of the Spirit of God.
Let me quote from another of my writings: The Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the Image.
"While writing the present essay I sat down to eat a sandwich and read the newspaper. There was an article that began on the front page titled 'Members of U. S. media greeted by John Paul.' The story described a religion and media conference in Rome. The contents of the article portray rather clearly the gathering together of the religions of the world to improve the lot of mankind.
"Let me quote from African Cardinal Francis Arinze, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican.
"'There isn't only one religion in the world, . . . .í 'As we get set to step into the third millennium, the followers of the various religions have no choice but to come closer to one another, to listen to one another, to try to understand one another better and to try to collaborate more for a better world.í
"Arinze announced that the Catholic Church would host a four-day meeting in Rome in October 1999 dealing with world religions. (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Thursday, June 25, 1998, page A-14, by Sandi Dolbee.)
"Cardinal Arinze went on to express his hope that representatives from faiths ranging from Hinduism to Native American traditions would discuss Ďhow we behaved in this century,í the idea being to Ďto make the world a better place for all.
Here we see the foundation being laid for Babylon the Great."
Although its headquarters are in Rome now, we think it will be moved to the site of ancient Babylon.
Sensing the historic significance of the attempts at a worldwide union of religions, one editor (same citation as above) coined the phrase "the greatest story seldom told."
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. (Revelation 18:1,2)
It would be something if this angel was a people-angelóperhaps one of the saints who had been tortured and killed during the Inquisition. Wouldnít that be justice?
It is my point of view that the religions of the world will be combined into one massive organization with its site in Iraq, at the location of the original Tower of Babel.
"Where are they taking the basket?" I asked the angel who was speaking to me. He replied, "To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place." (Zechariah 5:10,11)
You can find unclean spirits in a small Christian assembly. What would the situation be like if all the religions of the world joined together into one monstrous organization?
At the present time such a combining of the religions may seem impossible. But to those who dream of one world in which peace is universal, one religion and one government are seen as essential. It is when people cry "Peace and safety" that the Lord suddenly shall appear and the rule of man shall be finished.
It is Godís will that His saints think, speak, and act in the Spirit of God at all times. This is the Kingdom of God, the only government that God will accept.
For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. (Revelation 18:3)
When a local assembly of Christians begins to reach out to find favor with the people of the community, or with the political leadership of the city or town, this is the adultery spoken of here. The role of the local assembly is that of the prophet of God among people.
This does not mean we are to be hostile or standoffish. We always are to be gentle and welcoming toward visitors. But we never are to seek to gain favor with unsaved people in order to increase our influence. This is spiritual adultery. The Lord wants to keep us close to Himself. The strength of Samson depended on his separation from the world. So does the strength of the local church.
"The merchants of the earth grew rich." It is a fact that the merchants of America depend on Christmas shopping to remain solvent. What would happen in America if during the Christmas season Christians got together and had joyous fellowship but purchased no gifts?
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes." (Revelation 18:4,5)
Zealous believers, recognizing the unscriptural aspects of the Christian denominations, may urge people to leave their churches and meet in home groups. Such efforts sometimes produce little babylons; for the spirit of Babylon is that of taking action apart from the specific guidance of the Holy Spirit.
God will continue to work within the major institutions until He is ready to call together the members of the Body of Christ into the Divine Oneness. When that hour comes, the Spirit will show us what to do.
Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, "I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn." (Revelation 18:6,7
It sounds as though it is the people who come out of Babylon who are charged with giving her torture and grief. We Christians have been taught not to fight back, to overcome evil with good. But there shall come a day when the saints execute vengeance on the wicked.
Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:5-9)
We might find it difficult to believe that inflicting vengeance and punishments on peoples would be the glory of the saints. But it is.
Today in America there is a pseudo-Christian "compassion" that pervades the criminal justice system. People commit the most heinous crimes. Oftentimes the punishment is far less than the crime deserves.
The relatives of victims sit in the courtroom hoping for revenge. But sometimes a person who has grievously damaged a family is let off with a light sentence because we do not wish to be harsh toward the criminal. But how about the victim?
Recently a man who has murdered members of a family is complaining because his sentence of being injected with a fatal drug is "cruel and unusual punishment." But his action in murdering people was cruel and unusual. I do not believe God approves of our unwillingness to respond to diabolical acts with what we believe to be compassion. It is not true compassion. It is a perversion of the teachings of Christ.
When Christ spoke of overcoming evil with good He was referring to our personal relationships with people, not with the criminal justice system of the nation.
My personal belief is that Satan is behind the unwillingness to punish criminal acts appropriately. Satan hopes that somehow we will put pressure on God so Satan will not be sent into the Lake of Fire. There are those who teach that God is too good to put anyone in the Lake of Fire.
Their thinking is not clear. They do not call to mind the wicked, depraved actions that the criminals have performed. They do not realize that when such people are released they repeat their crimes. More people suffer terribly. Also, other persons intent on criminal activity understand that they will be treated with kid gloves.
Satan has turned Paradise into a nightmarish scene of murder, rape, the molesting of children, greed, violence, and then the consequent darkness, unbearable heat, and painful tumors. When he is released from the abyss at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age he immediately sets about to lead the nations against the camp of the saints.
Yet, there are people who think Satan should not be allowed to suffer very much. The criminal who has raped a young woman should not be allowed to suffer very much. The murderer who has killed his wife and children should not be allowed to suffer very much. The kidnapper who has caused unimaginable grief to a mother and father should not be permitted to suffer very much. There must be no "cruel and unusual punishment" no matter how cruel and unusual the crime is.
Hanging a young child for stealing a loaf of bread when he is hungry is a cruel and unusual punishment. It no longer is permitted in England. But putting a murderer to death, if his guilt has been proven beyond all doubt, is not a cruel and unusual punishment.
It is the saints who will execute the judgment of God against Babylon, in fact against all wicked people. The Father judges no one. He has assigned all authority of judgment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ will execute the sentences of judgment through the members of His Body.
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:6-10)
"I sit as a queen; I am not a widow," Babylon exclaims. She believes she is married to God. However she is not married to God and she is not a queen. She is a prison of unclean spirits. She will mourn when the time comes for her to be destroyed.
The Bride of the Lamb is not His queen, she is His Body.
A queen can exercise her will against the king. The Bride of the Lamb is part of the Lamb. She is made one with Him by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. She cannot possibly set her will against His because she is the manifestation of His will.
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:9)
It seems as though Babylon will be destroyed both by the secular governments and by the saints as well. She did not serve God and she did not serve man. She shall be cast out as worthless and thrown into some sort of fire that will consume her. Institutional, man-driven religion will never again be seen in the creation of God.
When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: "Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!" (Revelation 18:9,10)
As I remarked earlier, I envision a huge ecclesiastical organization with its headquarters at the site of ancient Babylon. She will be deeply involved with the political powers of the earth. It seems that the nations (at least the rulers) will be dismayed and terrified at what happens to Babylon, even though some of the rulers have been involved in her destruction.
Babylon was a major power in the earth; but she will be destroyed so that the Antichrist government can have unhindered authority and power.
The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any moreó Cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; Cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men. ((Revelation 18:11-13)
"And souls of men." There is no question but that buying and selling have captured the bodies and souls of men. This is true today in the Western nations. The most important fact of life has become the accumulation of wealth. Money is worshiped in America. We may not realize it, but this is a fact.
Apparently Babylon will be wealthy and a major purchaser of all sorts of merchandise.
They will say, "The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered." The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn And cry out: "Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! (Revelation 18:14-16)
The picture arising from these passages in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation is a huge religious complex involving millions of people with member churches throughout the world.
How could the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other sects join together in one mammoth religion? Perhaps it would not be as difficult as we might think. If the emphasis is placed on there being one God, and all the sects worship the one God in different ways, it is not inconceivable that skilled administrators could find a way of accommodating the beliefs of the various groups.
There has been an effort during the past years to bring together the Catholics and some of the Protestant groups. Even though the Catholics will never let go of their veneration of the Virgin Mary, and a true Protestant will never accept the veneration of Mary, there are some who believe a union of the two is possible. If all the Christian churches agreed to come together as one organization, letting each member church pursue its own liturgies and statements of faith, it would be a tremendous political power in the earth.
If a way then was found to accommodate the other religions, an organization of the size and wealth described in this chapter would come into existence. It seems to me that its power would certainly make the Antichrist nervous!
In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin! Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, "Was there ever a city like this great city?" They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: "Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!" (Revelation 18:17-19
Only a vast religious organization such as I have described could occasion such a reaction from the merchants. Babylon is shown as possessing great material wealth. Perhaps the false prophets of our day who are telling us that God wants all the money in the world to be given to the Christians are prophesying about the Babylon that is to be established in the last days.
Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you. (Revelation 18:20)
We Christians have been commanded by our Savior to not fight evil with evil. We are to feed our enemy and give him a drink if he is thirsty. We are to overcome evil with good. We are never to avenge ourselves!
But there is a day of vengeance coming. If we are willing to let go of our desire for revenge and give it to the Lord, He will make certain that we are avenged for the wrongs done to us. We do not have to concern ourselves with this issue.
Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again." (Revelation 18:21)
When we think of how the saints have suffered at the hands of religious leaders, we are glad that man-sponsored religion has been removed from the earth forever.
The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the worldís great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. (Revelation 18:22,23)
Music has always played a large part in Christian organizations. Sometimes the music is anointed by the Holy Spirit and accomplishes much good as we are led to worship God.
However, more often than not, music is a substitute for the moving of the Holy Spirit. One can hear beautiful Christian music that does not have one drop of the anointing of the Holy Spirit on it. Only those who are walking close to the Lord Jesus can tell the difference.
Music lifts up the soul of man, but that is not the anointing of the Spirit.
The "millstone" probably refers to commerce. Commerce will not again be practiced in a religious setting. The absence of "the light of a lamp" may mean that man-operated religion will never again have any spiritual light.
At the present time the voice of the Bridegroom (the Lamb) and the Bride can be heard in religious organizations. But never again. All true saints will be drawn into total union with the Father and the Son. They no longer will be part of a religious organization.
We read earlier how in the last days the False Prophet, which consists of self-willed Christians, Christians who are not carrying their cross, worked mighty miracles in the name of Jesus Christ (two horns of the lamb). Perhaps this is the meaning of "By your magic spell all the nations were led astray." It seems evident to me that in the last days we are going to see far more supernatural manifestation than we have been accustomed to.
In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth. (Revelation 18:24)
The above verse states that Babylon is responsible for everyone who has been killed on the earth. Perhaps religion has played a greater role than we know in the conflicts that have taken so many lives. Certainly today the situation in the Middle East is a religious issue. The terrorism that takes place in other countries is often a religious issue.
Sometimes when the Bible uses the word "all" it is referring to the scope indicated by the context. For example: "Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you" (Deuteronomy 28:10). We understand this to mean that anyone who sees the Jews will know they are called by the name of the Lord, not that everyone on the earth will see them.
Likewise, the above verse may mean all who have been killed for religious reasons, or something like this.
Or, it may be literally true that God is going to lay the blame for all blood shed from the beginning of the world at the feet of man-driven religion.
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, For true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." And again they shouted: "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever." (Revelation 19:1-3)
It is amazing, isnít it, how much attention is paid in the Book of Revelation to the Antichrist and especially to Babylon the Great. Since we only have twenty-two chapters of the one book of prophecy in the entire New Testament, it must be that Antichrist and Babylon are critically important.
Notice the response in Heaven. I get the feeling that the inhabitants of Heaven are closely watching what is going on in the earth and have a vested interest in the major events.
Although I am less than the least of all Godís people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, And to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, According to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:8-11)
I am of the opinion that the revelation of God comes forth only through the saints on the earth. The inhabitants of Heaven surround us as a cloud of witnesses in order to find out Godís thinking.
At the present time we are moving from the revelation of the meaning of the Jewish feast of Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. The people in the spirit world will gain understanding from what we are teaching, just as we have learned from their efforts in the past.
Furthermore I believe that when people pass into the spirit world they do not automatically gain understanding. The believers who have put their faith in the unscriptural "rapture" teaching will not learn differently just because they have died physically. In fact, while there will be teachers ready to help them, they may be quite unwilling to learn.
I think many of the "suicide bombers" over in Palestine will find when they blow themselves up that there are no dancing girls, no garden of delights. If they are wicked people they will be placed in Hell, like the selfish rich man. If on the other hand they were deluded young people, when they find out they have been misled they may willingly present themselves to be taught what God and Christ are like.
Heaven is watching earth. Heaven is watching you and me. We are giving the saints cause to rejoice or to mourn, depending on our decisions.
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: "Amen, Hallelujah!" (Revelation 19:4)
Everyone around the Throne of God is rejoicing because manmade religion has been abolished from the earth.
Then a voice came from the throne, saying: "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!" (Revelation 19:5)
Men have attempted to build a tower to reach to Heaven, so to speak, but they have ignored the Spirit of God, preferring to rely on their own wisdom and abilities. Now God is revealing that He alone will tell us how He can be reached and served. The flesh of man no more shall be exalted.
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. (Revelation 19:6)
God has brought the works of religious man to an end, for it is time for God to exalt Himself and His Christ, His chosen One. All of Heaven is rejoicing and praising God, for they have waited thousands of years for the Judge of the bench of Heaven to give relief to the righteous, to those who wait patiently for His decisions.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
There appear to be two presentations of the Bride of the Lamb. This is the first. The second occurs at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age when the new Jerusalem descends from Heaven to be installed for eternity on the new earth.
In this first instance the Bride makes herself ready. In the second instance it appears that she has been made ready, perhaps by others.
It may be true that the purpose of the thousand-year Kingdom Age is for the stronger saints to prepare the weaker so that when the time comes for the glorified Church to descend to the new earth, all have been prepared from the strongest to the weakest member.
This fulfills the command of the Apostle Paul that the stronger saints assist the weaker.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:8)
Perhaps this first appearance of the Bride has to do with the victorious saints. They have made themselves ready by growing in righteous behavior. They shall be clothed, at the coming of the Lord, with their own righteous acts.
Then the angel said to me, "Write: ĎBlessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!í" And he added, "These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19:9)
Apparently there will be people who are invited to the wedding supper who are not the Bride. It doesnít seem reasonable that the Bride would be invited to her own wedding supper. Perhaps these are individuals who have assisted the saints during their pilgrimage on the earth.
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:11)
"I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus." Perhaps this mighty angel was a people-angel, having at one time been a saint on the earth.
"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." All Christians who are filled with the Spirit of God can prophesy, for their very testimony is the spirit of prophecy. If you have never prophesied, ask the Lord to make this possible for you.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. (Revelation 19:11)
When Jesus returns it will be as the Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty in battle. The current tradition holds that Jesus is coming to take His Church to Heaven. This idea is without any foundation in Scripture whatever. The Lord is not going to return to take His Church to Heaven but to establish His Kingdom on the earth. "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven."
The white horse is a war stallion.
At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, "Aha!" He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. (Job 39:25)
Compare this picture with the unscriptural sneaking away of the believers so they wonít be hurt by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.
The Lord Jesus Christ is faithful. What He promises He always shall perform. He does not change, as so many do today.
The Lord Jesus Christ is true. Our culture is one huge lie. Everything about it is a lie. Truth is a Person. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ is coming to establish justice on the earth. He has redeemed mankind with His blood. Now He shall redeem mankind by judging and making war against Satan and all who are of Satan.
There is much injustice in the world today. Those in power preserve their luxuries with lies. It has been so throughout history. Only the coming of Christ can establish justice among the nations. This is the purpose for the second coming of Christ. He came first to pay the mortgage held by Satan. He is coming again to possess that which He has purchased with His blood.
His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. (Revelation 19:12)
How many of todayís believers are prepared to stand before the fiery eyes of the Lamb of God? They will say "We are saved by grace." He will respond, "I know your works." Will our works stand the test?
He has a name that only He knows. It is a side of His personality we have not known as yet. We may think we know Christ. Paul was seeking to know Him. I believe it may be a long while yet before we truly know Christ.
"On His head are many crowns." God has given Him all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth. There is no other name as great as His. At His name, every knee shall bow, including those who have rebelled against Him. Rebellious angels and rebellious people will bow before Jesus Christ and confess that He and He alone is Lord.
He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13)
This could mean that His robe has been splattered with the blood of warfare. However it is my opinion that His robe is dipped in His atoning blood. The wrath of God will be so great at this time that the atoning blood must always be present to turn aside the storm of destruction that will proceed from the Throne.
He is the Word made flesh. He is the very Word of God. God wants each of us to become the word of God. He wants us to think, speak, and act in His Spirit until what we are and do is the expression of God Himself. This is a high calling and we must pray every day that we will succeed in laying hold on it. Nothing less than such union with God will suffice for the members of the royal priesthood.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
There is the army of saints, who are judges. There is the army of angels, who are warriors and carry out the sentence of judgment. Both armies have to participate in the battle if victory is to be gained. This is Mahanaim, the dance of the double camp.
There was Joshua, and then there was the commander of the army of the Lord, as you may recall. Two armies.
Will the army of angels be riding on white horses? Apparently so.
The fine linen, white and clean, represents absolute righteousness and holiness. The battles of the Lord are not won by force but by righteousness and truth.
Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:15)
The sharp sword is the Word of God.
He holds the scepter of righteousness, and it is iron. Iron righteousness.
The saint must behave righteously at all times. Sometimes behaving righteously brings us immediate joy. On other occasions behaving righteously costs us dearly, at least at that point. It makes no difference. God is to be obeyed.
We are going to govern the nations with the rod of iron. That rod must be formed in our character. There can be no area of compromise in us whatever. Compassion, yes. Understanding, yes. Mercy, yes. But compromise?ónone whatever. When we know what is right we are to do it without fail. This attitude is not fashionable in todayís humanism in America. "I know what I should do, but..."
We may not like the idea of smashing the nations to pieces. It does not matter what we approve of or do not approve of. All that matters is Godís Word. If we obey it the time will come when we understand the reason for it and approve of it.
Christ tramples the grapes of wrath. He has made an atonement by the sacrifice of Himself. Now God has given Him the right to execute vengeance on all who oppose Him.
Perhaps many nations do not approve of one person possessing such dreadful authority. The spirit of rebellion has been rising in mankind over the past four hundred or so years. It will be resurrected at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. It does not matter. God has given everything to Jesus Christ, and no oneóno one whatever!ócan resist almighty God!
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16)
The robe displays His authority. His thigh displays His power, His strength. He is KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. All the authority and power of the emperors and kings of history were as nothing and less than nothing compared with the glory that the Father has given to His Son, Jesus Christ. The day is coming when the power of Jesus Christ shall be revealed to the world.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, So that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great." (Revelation 19:17,18)
Kings, generals, mighty men, horses, their riders, all people free and slave, small and greatóall shall be slain. Again the term "all" is limited to the scope of the context. The idea is that all who oppose the coming of the Lord shall be slain so that the scavengers can feed on their flesh. This will be a horrible spectacle to say the least! There shall be people left on the earth who, when they have seen the oneness of the saints with Christ, will believe that God has sent Christ and that God loves the saints as He loves Christ.
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. (Revelation 19:19)
The Antichrist, the kings of the earth and their armies. Can you imagine the rebellious desperation of these people, thinking they actually can drive Christ and His armies back into Heaven? The wicked are cunning but stupid. Have you notice that? God gives them wisdom and power for a season to accomplish His purposes in Christ. But then He withdraws their wisdom and power and they are destroyed.
Letís think for a moment about Antichrist and the wicked kings and their armies trying to resist the return of Christ to the earth.
John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles preached the soon coming of the Kingdom of God. "It is at hand," they announced.
At some point in the early centuries the Gospel message changed to "Accept Christ so you will be saved and go to Heaven to live forever. "Christ is returning to take His Church to Heaven." Who is behind this doctrine if it is not Satan who wants the Church removed from the earth?
Why does Satan want the Church to go to Heaven? So he and his demons can gorge themselves on human flesh. They no longer have access to Heaven and the Glory of God, so they derive their pleasure from human flesh.
But Antichrist and the armies of the earth cannot stand against the kings from the East when they commence the attack, riding the war stallions. The power of the Father is with them. Resistance is futile. The enemy shall be crushed to powder.
But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (Revelation 19:20)
The spirit of Antichrist is in every person, Christian or not, who acts as his own god. But man making himself God will be summed up in one individualóthe Antichrist.
The same may be true of the False Prophet. As I have stated, the spirit of the False Prophet is in every Christian who refuses to take up his cross and follow Jesus; who attempts to work miracles in order to further his own plans. Perhaps the crossless Christian also will be summed up in one individual, referred to as the False Prophet.
The Antichrist and the False Prophet are captured. They both were thrown alive in the Lake of Fire. "Thrown alive" means in their bodies. At this point the physical and spirit world come together in that a physical body is thrown into a spiritual fire. I believe that when the Lord Jesus returns there will be many examples of an intersection of the physical world and the spirit world.
The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. (Revelation 19:21)
The remainder of the wicked will be killed by the Word of God, just as Ananias and Sapphire were slain by the word spoken by the Apostle Peter.
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. (Revelation 20:1)
Notice that only one angel is assigned to bind Satan. The struggle between good and evil is not one of power or strength, as I stated previously, but of truth and righteousness. Once a firstfruits of the Christian Church overcomes Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their life to the death, one angel can manage Satan quite nicely.
He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:2,3)
Can you see how completely God is in control? We do not know much about the Abyss. We know that the legion of demons begged the Lord Jesus repeatedly not to send them into the Abyss.
When the "star" that fell from the sky opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it as from a gigantic furnace. The destroying locusts came out of the smoke and settled on the earth.
The name of the angel of the Abyss in Hebrew is Abaddon.
The beast that attacks and overcomes Godís witnesses comes up out of the Abyss.
I do not read of any human ever being cast into the Abyss. It evidently is a horrid prison of unclean spirits.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
I believe it is significant that the moment Satan is thrown into the Abyss we immediately see thrones. The concept of kings and other rulers is emphasized in the Bible. In fact, the Divine plan of salvation and the training of a royal priesthood is a reaction against the rebellion of the angels. God is creating a kingdom that will guarantee there will be no more rebellions.
The thrones that govern the activities on the earth are located in the air above us. This is why Satan is called "the ruler of the kingdom of the air." After the saints have been resurrected (or transformed) they will be caught up into the air (not into Heaven), for these thrones now are empty and must be occupied by the royal priesthood.
"Those who had been given authority to judge" refers to the victorious saints. Christ told His disciples that they would sit on thrones judging the tribes of Israel. We may not be pleased with the idea of sitting on thrones and judging Godís creatures. It does not matter whether or not we are pleased. All that matters is that God has a need for kings, priests, and judges, and He is preparing us for these roles.
The idea is not that we are to be puffed up about the idea of being a king or judge. There are roles in the Kingdom that must be filled. If God has called us to one of these roles, then we shall be judged accordingly. If we are diligent, following the Lord every moment, then we shall be blessed. But if we are careless or rebellious, we will suffer a tremendous loss of inheritance.
It does not matter what we think. It matters only what God wants.
Then there is another group of people. They had been "beheaded" because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God. This may be referring to physical decapitation, but I rather doubt it. I think it means they have forsaken their own reasoning that they might have the mind of Christ. Intellectuals have a battle ceasing their reasoning and just accepting Godís will and wisdom.
These had not worshiped the beast or his image, or received his mark on their foreheads of their hands. The Book of Revelation has much to say about the Antichrist world spirit. If we expect to be raised from the dead when Christ next appears, we must have gotten victory over the spirit of the worldónot trusting it for our survival or security. This includes total victory over trust in money.
"They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
There are two resurrections from the dead. This is the first, taking place at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The second resurrection is the general resurrection of the dead, which will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
Just about everyone ever born on the earth will be raised during the second resurrection. The only exceptions are Godís victorious saints of every age.
Those who are raised in the first resurrection have already passed through the Judgment Seat of Christ during their life on the earth. They have confessed and renounced their sins, turning away from them by the power of Christ.
Those who are raised in the second resurrection will be judged according to their works. Those whose names are found written in the Book of Life will be brought over to eternal life on the new earth. Those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Those who come back to life at the coming of the Lord will rule with Christ over the nations of people who were not destroyed at the Battle of Armageddon. They will govern on this present earth.
It seems to me from the writings of the Apostles, particularly Peter, that they did not understand there would be two resurrections; although the Apostle Paul spoke of seeking to attain to the resurrection from the dead, as though it were a special out-resurrection.
I am not referring to the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, for that is one resurrection and it will take place at the termination of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Rather I am speaking of a special resurrection of victorious saints that will take place when the Lord returns.
I think the common understanding is that the first resurrection is for the saved and the second resurrection is for the unsaved. From my point of view, this does fit the text.
(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5)
As I see it, the purpose of the thousand-year period is to serve as a buffer between our present crude state and the incredibly glorified state of the new heaven and earth reign of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps two major works will be accomplished during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. First, those who reign with Christ for a thousand years, governing rebellious people, will grow spiritually. There is nothing like ministry to cause us to come to know the Lord, if we truly are serving Him.
Second, it is my point of view that some of those who were raised in the first resurrection will be assigned to the members of the elect who were not sufficiently mature to participate in the first resurrection. They will teach them so they will be prepared to descend to the new earth as the new Jerusalem.
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
Do you see what I mean when I say the current understanding that everyone who accepts Christ will be raised in the first resurrection is not scriptural? Does the above verse sound as though it is referring to every Christian believer? Or does it sound like those who have lived victorious lives?
The expression "the second death has no power over them" signifies they have gained victory over all the behaviors over which the second death, the Lake of Fire, has authority.
These who have part in the first resurrection are not the rank and file of Christian believers. They are the blessed and holy members of the royal priesthood. I think this is why the Apostle Paul, toward the end of his life, was striving with all his might to attain to the resurrection (lit. out-resurrection) from the dead. All people shall be raised, Jesus told us, so it would make no sense to say Paul was seeking merely to be resurrected.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison (Revelation 20:7)
If there were no other passage in the Bible that told of Godís complete control over Satan, the one above would remove all doubt. God knows exactly what He is doing with Satan. When God wants Satan inactive, Satan is inactive. When God wants Satan active, Satan is active.
And will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earthóGog and Magogóto gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. (Revelation 20:8)
Sometimes people have advanced the idea that all individuals eventually will be saved, or even that Satan eventually will be saved. But we see that after a thousand years in the Abyss, Satan has not changed one iota. The same would be the case with truly wicked people. God knows what He is doing!
They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of Godís people, the city he loves. (Revelation 20:9)
Can you imagine this? After a thousand years of rule by Christ and His saints, being shown perfect justice, the nations still are ready to revolt against God. This is how deeply rebellion has been established in mankind. We can understand from this why people have to be governed with the rod of iron.
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Psalms 2:7-9)
But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Revelation 20:9)
This is not another Armageddon in which Christ and His armies fight against the wicked of the earth. God the Father intervenes and devours Satan and the rebellious people with fire, as in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. This episode marks the end of rebellion among the peoples of the earth. It no longer will be tolerated.
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)
Now three personages are in the Lake of Fire: Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Satan himself. This is an area we would do well to avoid.
They shall be confined there for eternity, for if they ever were released they would set about to bring agony into the new world of righteousness.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)
The throne mentioned here often is referred to as though it were a special throne that appears here for the first time. I see no reason why this is so. The great white throne is the Judgment Seat of Christ. There will be many judges on this throne. The chief Judge will be the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition the victorious saints also will be seated here administering justice.
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
The earth and sky have fled. They are needed no longer. So the people who are to be judged will be standing before the Throne of God in Heaven. Christ and the saints will be sitting on that great white throne. It is white because perfect righteousness is being administered.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12)
It is commonly believed that all who stand before this throne are lost, that all who are saved were raised at the first resurrection. The wording simply does not support this conclusion, as I see it.
What would be the sense of judging them if they already were lost? A person does not go to court if he already is guilty; already sentenced to be executed!
Each was judged according to what he or she had done. If the individual had known the Gospel, then he was judged on the basis of the Gospel. If he had not known the Gospel, then he is judged according to whatever kind of light he did have, especially his conscience. People know the difference between right and wrong who have never heard the Gospel!
Each was judged according to what he or she had done. If the individual had known the Gospel, then he was judged on the basis of the Gospel. If he had not known the Gospel, then he is judged according to whatever kind of light he did have, especially his conscience. People know the difference between right and wrong who have never heard the Gospel! In fact, there are unsaved people who know more clearly what is right and what is wrong than is true of the Christian people.
Whether or not he has accepted Christ makes no difference at this point. He will be judged according to his works. There are people who have accepted Christ and then have practiced wickedness, robbing widows of their saving, for example; or committing adultery with the women of the church; or molesting their own little daughters. Let not that person think that because he has made a profession of Christ his conduct is excused. This is the modern understanding of the Divine salvation but it is incorrect. Are God and His Christ our substitute for righteous behavior?
The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. (Revelation 20:13)
I think the "sea" represents the people who are neither close to Christ nor are they wicked. This probably represents the great majority of people who have lived on the earth. I picture them wandering about in the spirit world, conversing with one another, waiting for the resurrection so they can resume their life on the earth.
I think "death" represents people who have killed their spiritual life with their lust for material wealth.
I believe "Hades" speaks of wicked people, such as the selfish rich man.
The expression "what they had done," or "what he had done," is repeated twice. When the Bible repeats a statement it is for the purpose of emphasis. The final judgment is based on what people actually have done, not on what they have believed or on how they picture themselves to be.
It is believed currently that Christians cannot appear here because they are not judged according to what they have done. This is an error. Every person, Christians included, shall be judged according to what he has done.
It is believed currently that no person can be saved at the final judgment because we are saved not by works we have done but by our faith in Christ. This is a misunderstanding of how the Gospel operates. It is true that we cannot save ourselves by the works of the Law of Moses after we have heard the Gospel. But all people, even the royal priesthood of the first resurrection, are judged according to their works, whether they are good or bad. This is the Word of God and it cannot be abrogated.
Our assignment in the Kingdom, whether to the royal priesthood, or to membership in the new Jerusalem, or to citizenship in the new world of righteousness, depends on the sentence of Christ after He reviews our works. This is why the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation stress "I know your works."
The difference with the royal priesthood is that these people pass through the Judgment Seat of Christ before He returns so that they can be raised from the dead and rule with Him. It is not possible to be raised, glorified, and then stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The resurrection and glorification are our sentence. We have been sentenced to be close to Jesus Christ as one of His coheirs.
But all are judged according to what each has done. This is the Word of God and it cannot be broken in the slightest manner.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (Revelation 20:14)
It is my point of view that this does not mean everyone in death and Hades (Hell) were thrown into the Lake of Fire. If this was what was meant, then this is what would have been stated.
Rather, it may be true that death and Hades are personages. It is traditional for us to regard death as a personage when we speak of the "grim reaper." We have a sense that death is a spirit. The same may be true of Hell. I am not certain of this, but I am certain that death itself and Hell itself shall be thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is what is stated and I do not wish to go beyond it.
If anyoneís name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
I wonder if we ever stop and think about what a horror the Lake of Fire is. It is the eternal abode of Satan and his angels and was prepared for them. Can you imagine what it would be like to be imprisoned with the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, and the wickedest people who have lived on the earth? To be in a lake that is burning sulfur? Have you ever smelled burning sulfur? Can you picture being in such a place for eternity?
God has written that those not found written in the Book of Life shall be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The worst part of this fate is that never again will it be possible to pray, to feel the Presence of God, to love or be loved. We are lost to God forever.
We would never again see innocent children playing in the meadows of Heaven or on the new earth. We would hear nothing day and night except cursing and moral filth. We have desired Satan and Satan has been given to us. This is Godís wayóto give us the desires of our heart.
God has warned us plainly. If we do not take heed we indeed are foolish and reckless.
If the thought of eternal confinement in the Lake of Fire does not make us tremble we do not have good sense!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)
The Bible has come full circle, hasnít it. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth."
It seems to me that this does not mean a new spirit Heaven, the residence of God and the angels. I think it means a new sky.
I believe the "sea" speaks of the mass of people who can be swayed by demagogues. Each individual will be known to God and will have a portion of God and Christ dwelling in him.
The new earth would certainly be lacking if there were no literal sea with fish in it.
The new earth will have to be many times larger than our present earth if it is to support a city of gold, a cube 1,400 miles on a side.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the perfected, glorified Church, the bride without spot or wrinkle. She is perfected in Heaven until she is ready to come down to be established forever on the new earth.
We mentioned previously that in the case of the first appearance of the Bride, in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, she made herself ready. Ordinarily the bride of a king would be dressed by others.
Notice that the new Jerusalem is prepared for her Husband, the Lamb of God. This means she must be perfect in every detail, probably being made so with the help of those who were raised in the first resurrection.
We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)
The Church, the Wife of the Lamb, is the eternal dwelling place of God.
The eternal dwelling place of God is to come down from Heaven and be among the saved peoples of the earth. They will be Godís people and God will be their God.
I believe it is only recently that we have come to understand there shall be two groups of saved people on the new earth. The one group is the elect, God chosen priesthood, the new Jerusalem. The other group, by far the majority of people, compose the nations of the saved. They are the inheritance of Christ and His Body, His Church.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Sometimes we have said that God will wipe away our tears. However, this expression is not speaking of the elect. This is speaking of the saved peoples of the nations, those who will be ruled and served by the governing priesthood.
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:5)
God is not making all new things but all things new. All of the first creation that is worthy must be brought down to death and then raised again in Christ. The entire creation is to reveal Christ in every aspect. Christ is the First and the Last and everything in the middle.
These words are "trustworthy and true." How Satan and self-seeking people would love to deny that God is willing or even able to make all things new in Christ. But God is able and He has promised to do just this. Therefore we are looking forward to a glorious future.
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. (Revelation 21:6)
God grant us a thirst for the Holy Spirit, for eternal resurrection life. God must give the thirst, and then only God can satisfy that thirst. As Jesus said, "Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst."
We humans hunger and thirst after so many things. We are never fulfilled it seems. But whoever drinks of Godís water will never thirst for it will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life..
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
He who overcomes will inherit all that God is making new in Christ. God will be his God. He will be Godís son.
From my point of view, not enough emphasis is being placed on overcoming. The preaching of today leaves the impression that if we once make a profess of faith in Christ we will "rule and reign with Christ," as the saying goes.
Nothing could be further from the truth. If we are to inherit the Kingdom of God, if God is to be our God, if we are to be Godís son, then we have to overcome.
What is it that we must overcome?
We must overcome the spirit of the world, the dependence on material wealth.
We must overcome the demon-inflamed lusts, passions, and appetites of our spirit, soul, and body.
We must overcome our self-will, our desire to conduct our life without total dependence on the Lord for all that we think, say, and do.
We can and we must overcome these three forces if we are to receive the rewards we normally associate with being a Christian. Jesus Christ will enable us to overcome if we keep praying to Him.
I do not say if we do not overcome we will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Rather if we do not overcome, do not live the victorious Christian life, we will not sit in the throne with Christ and inherit all that God makes new.
This is the Word of God, and all of our soft, humanistic, man-pleasing sentiments and motives will not alter the Word in the tiniest particle.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liarsótheir place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
The sexually immoral.
Those who practice magic arts.
This is a sort of checklist, isnít it? We need to check ourselves against each item. If we are found with one or more of these behaviors, then we need to come to the Lord diligently and ask His help that we might overcome such conduct.
The attitude today is that we do not need to worry.
If we are cowardly but accept Christ we need not worry. It is just that we are a cowardly Christian.
If we are unbelieving but accept Christ there is no danger. It is just that we are an unbelieving Christian.
If we are vile but accept Christ the second death has no authority over us. It is just that we are a vile Christian, or a murderous Christian, or an adulterous Christian, or a lying Christian.
And so forth.
We simply do not understand the work of redemption. Jesus Christ did not come to excuse us or to provide an alternative to Godís word in the Book of Revelation. Jesus Christ came to redeem us. This means:
If we are cowardly He makes us courageous so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
If we are unbelieving He give us faith so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
If we are vile He makes us righteous so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
If we are a murderer He makes us loving and forgiving so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
If we are sexually immoral He makes us holy so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
If we practice magic arts He causes us to renounce all dabbling in the metaphysical realm so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
If we are an idolater He causes us to worship God alone so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
If we are a liar He makes us totally truthful so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.
This is how Christ redeems us from the authority of the Lake of Fire: not by waiving the requirements but by delivering us from the condemned behaviors.
I know how the above comments will be received by todayís theologians: "Yes, you are correct. But we receive all these virtues by imputation."
This viewpoint is incorrect. The truth is, we receive all these virtues by moral transformation, by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit as He changes us.
Of all the understandings that need to be restored to the Christian churches of our day, the fact that Christ is not the God-given alternative to righteous behavior but the means of obtaining righteous behavior may be the most important.
The above eight behaviors belong in the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire has authority over them whether we profess Christ or not. The authority is suspended provided we have received Christ and are following the Spirit of God in putting to death these behaviors. In this case we cannot be harmed by the Lake of Fire.
But whoever, Christian or not, refuses to be redeemed from these behaviors will be thrown into the fire. These are the behaviors that destroy the creation of God; that cause wars and agony. Every evil on the earth can be traced to the eight behaviors, and God no longer will permit them to exist among people. Whoever persists in them must be imprisoned in order to prevent his ruining the new world of righteousness.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:9,10)
"The bride, the wife of the Lamb."
The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the Bride of the Lamb, His counterpart. It is the glorified Christian Church. For whatever reason the current impression seems to be that the Christian Church is a Gentile creation. The Church never has been Gentile. It always has been of Israel. The glorified Church, the Church without spot or wrinkle, is the new Jerusalem. Jerusalem! Not New York or London or Paris or Moscow.
It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:11)
By this time the Church is perfect and complete in every detail. Every member knows the Lord. Every member is filled with iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God. This perfection is, I believe, the result of the work of redemption performed during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Revelation 21:12)
Emphasis is placed on the wall. It is great and high, signifying that never again will sin be permitted in the Presence of God or His saints.
There are twelve entrances to the city, indicating that every type of personality can have access to God.
The names of the twelve tribes of Israel remind us that Godís covenants, old and new, are always made with Israel, never with a Gentile. We become Israel when we become part of Jesus Christ. These twelve sons of Jacob were far from perfect in their behavior; but the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. (Revelation 21:13)
People can come to God from the four corners of the new earth. All are welcome to come to eat from the Tree of Life and to drink the water of eternal Life.
The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)
The foundations of the wall against sin. In my opinion, the twelfth apostle was Paul.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. (Revelation 21:15)
"Measuring" is symbolic of judging. "Gold," of course, speaks of Divinity. The angel, or messenger, is insuring that the gates and the walls meet the Divine standard.
The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia [1,400 miles] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits [200 feet] thick [probably high], by manís measurement, which the angel was using. (Revelation 21:16,17)
The city is a cube, 1,400 miles on a side. The Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle of the Congregation also was a cube, ten cubits on a side. The present earth could not support a golden city 1,400 miles high. The wall was too thick or high to permit entrance.
The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. (Revelation 21:18)
Jasper is a colorful variety of quartz.
The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, The fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. (Revelation 21:19,20)
Abraham was looking for a city that has foundations. In this case it is the wall that has foundationsótwelve of them. All of these are precious stones of a variety of colors, green, blue, brown, red, yellow and so forth. Imagine looking at a city, 1,400 miles on a side, that was pure gold, and surrounded by a wall 200 feet high (or thick) of jasper with a number of precious and semiprecious stones in its foundation. This indeed would be a spectacular sight.
Precious and semiprecious stones are formed by heat and pressure. The minerals that form the wall and its foundations reflect the character developed in the saints as they patiently bear their cross after Christ.
The wall and its twelve foundations are telling us that sin will never enter the city of God because the character formed in the saints will always renounce and reject every kind of spiritual darkness, all forms of sin and rebellion against God.
"Get behind me, Satan!"
The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. (Revelation 21:21)
Whereas the semiprecious stones of the foundations of the wall are minerals, formed by heat and pressure, the gates are pearls, developed from oystersófrom the irritations experienced by a living creature.
Each of Godís servants must have a character hardened against all sin and rebellion. Sin and rebellion against Godís will simply shall not be tolerated in the new world of righteousness.
However, the gates are of pearl. They reveal the understanding wrought in each gatekeeper as he or she has experienced the numerous irritations of life. Permission to enter or the denial of entrance is based on a full appreciation and comprehension of the life of the person seeking admittance to the Glory of God.
We see this Spirit of understanding in Jesus Christ as He counseled compassion in the case of the woman caught in adultery.
We see the lack of understanding, often found in religious people, in the Pharisees who were angry because an afflicted person had been healed on the Sabbath.
There is in God an iron hardness when it comes to unrighteousness, but compassion and mercy that take into consideration the reason why a person behaves unrighteously. That same Spirit of understanding is to be in us.
The "great street of the city" Obviously this is symbolic, for there certainly would be more than one street in a city of this size.
The street is pure gold, like transparent glass. This tells me that all who walk the street of the new Jerusalem have been made new in Christ until there is no deceit in them; no darkness in them; no sin or rebellion in them. They are transparent because they are pure.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22)
There is no church building in the new Jerusalemónothing to conceal God from His elect. The entire city is the Churchóthose called out from the world to serve God as a governing priesthood. They all have become an integral part of God and the Lamb.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:23)
This reminds us of the first three days of creation where there was light before the sun, moon, and stars were created. It reminds us also of the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, in which there was no light except for the Glory of God.
Imagine a city with no sunlight, only the Glory of God!
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)
There shall be nations of saved people on the new earth. They are not members of the royal priesthood. They are the inheritance of Jesus Christ and the coheirs, who will bring God to them.
Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nationsótheir kings led in triumphal procession. For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:11,12)
On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. (Revelation 21:25)
God wants us to be like this today. He wants us always ready to help those who come to us seeking God. There should be no time in our daily life when we are not prepared and joyously willing to assist those who want help from the Lord.
The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:26)
God deals night and day with those whom He has called out from the world. We always are being prodded and tested to see how ready we are to serve mankind. There is to be no unrighteousness in us, nothing that is not of the holiness of God.
God often permits people to irritate us in some manner. We have a choice. We can become angry with the person who has offended us, or we can go to the Lord and find out why we are angry; what there is in us that reacted in anger.
When we become angry it may be because we are clutching something and donít want to let it go. It is an idol. We cannot serve mankind when there are idols in us.
God is preparing a kingdom of people who will bring His Presence to the people of the saved nations. We can bring His Presence to people today. But the larger view is that we are being prepared to serve God on the new earth as members of the new Jerusalem.
Our training is long and rigorous so we will effectively reveal His Person, way, and will to all people everywhere..
And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lambís book of life. (Revelation 21:27)
Inside the city are the Tree of Life and the Spirit of Life. No person who behaves in a shameful or deceitful manner will have access to eternal life. This includes people who make a profession of Christ.
After we make a profession of Christ we are to follow the Holy Spirit so that the shamefulness and deceit will be removed from us; so that we become a new creation of righteous behavior.
In no manner, however, is belief in Christ an acceptable alternative to moral transformation. If, after having professed Christ, we choose to continue to serve our sinful nature, we will not have access to the Tree of Life or the Spirit of Life.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1)
The River of Life is the Holy Spirit. The River of Life always flows from the Throne of God and of the Lamb, from nowhere else.
First the Lord pours out the Spirit of God on all flesh. This is the Pentecostal "rain."
Then the Lord creates His Throne within us. Thus we become a well of water from which people who need Godís Life can drink.
Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
The River of Life flows down the middle of the street. This tell me that we are to think, speak, and act in the Spirit of God at all times, not just when we are in church.
There are only two ways in which a person can think, speak, and act. One way is by means of his physical abilities. The other way is by the Holy Spirit of God. Our prayer must be that every aspect of our thinking, every aspect of our speaking, and every aspect of our doing will be of and by the Spirit of God.
I believe that God wants every saved individual, whether a member of the priesthood or a member of the nations of the saved to think, speak, and act in the Holy Spirit of God. We who are members of the Church are a firstfruits of mankind in this respect. We live in the Holy Spirit before the rest of the saved people do.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:18)
The Tree of Life stands on each side of the River of the Spirit. This means there are many trees growing out of the roots of the one Tree.
It is Godís will that each member of His elect become a life-giving spirit, a tree of life. We are to yield the fruit of Godís Life continually. The members of the nations who need any aspect of the Life of God for their healing can come to us and receive eternal Lifeóthe Life that comes from the body and blood of Christ by which we live.
This will we true of us today if we walk with the Lord Jesus!
Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." (Ezekiel 47:12)
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:38)
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being" the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:3)
Are you a lover of nature? I am. Just think! The world we enjoy so much is cursed. It is dead spiritually. Can you imagine what the earth will be like when the curse has been lifted? If it is wonderful now, what will it be like then?
"The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him." This may be the most important statement in the entire Book of Revelation.
We know Heaven is the Throne of God. This is what the Bible says. If the Throne of God and of the Lamb is now in the Church, then God has moved His Throne from Heaven to the hearts of His elect. Or maybe it is true that Heaven has moved to the hearts of the elect.
This really is why God created man. There was a rebellion in the spirit Heaven. Godís answer is to move His Throne to Christ, and then to the personalities of those who through Christ overcome the obstacles set before them.
This is the meaning of "In my Fatherís house there are many abiding places, many places in which God and Christ can find rest." Jesus Christ is the great House of God, and we are being made an integral part of that House.
Godís elect, the member of His Church, will serve Him throughout His creation, bringing His Presence and will wherever there is a need. The new Jerusalem is a living city. This means while the city no doubt will have a permanent location, the city also is wherever the saints, the holy ones are. The name of the new Jerusalem is written on them for they are the city.
We are being made Godís Presence, Godís Throne, in His creation. This is how we serve Him.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:4)
No person can see Godís face and live. This means we have been completely transformed, made new in body, soul, and spirit. We have become a transcendent humanity.
But it always was Godís plan that His sons, His image, should see His face. What kind of father would never allow his sons to see His face?
So we see the reason for the thousand-year Kingdom Age. We need that time to be changed from the gross creation that we are into Divinely created personalities who can enjoy our Fatherís face and not die as a consequence.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
Such a state of glory can hardly be imagined. That there will be no more night means there will be no need for sleep. In our adamic form we need sleep to renew our physical body and also our mind, nerves, and emotions. When we are deprived of sleep we quickly become disabled. So having no need of sleep means we always are being renewed with Divine Life.
The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place." (Revelation 22:6)
The expression "These words are trustworthy and true" is found also in the preceding chapter. In addition, there is a blessing invoked on those who pay attention to the Book of Revelation, and a curse on those who remove or add anything to it. This is because the world is becoming one huge lie. Since people and institutions are motivated by the desire for money, they say anything that will accomplish their goal. We are fortunate to have a book that is absolutely trustworthy and true. And that is the way God wants us to be.
Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." (Revelation 22:7)
When the Lord returns we want to be among those who keep the words of the Book of Revelation.
The Lord is coming soonóspoken two thousand years ago. As far as I can tell, time and space operate differently in the spirit world. They can be collapsed or stretched out. A day can become a thousand years. God can be far off or near at hand, depending on our behavior.
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" (Revelation 22:8,9)
We humans have a tendency to worship the messenger rather than listen to the message, donít we? Ministers of the Gospel are worshiped in our day and it is an abomination to God.
The angel (messenger) may have been a people-angel or a spirit-angel. It is difficult to tell. In any case, he regarded himself as a fellow servant And he turns our worship toward God.
Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near." (Revelation 22:10)
Unlike the Book of Daniel which told of events in the distant future, the occurrences described in the Book of Revelation began to come to pass immediately.
The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future. (Daniel 8:26)
Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. (Revelation 22:11)
The above indeed is a remarkable verse. For the first time in the Bible, as far as I know, God is instructing people not to repent. If you are doing wrong, keep on doing so. If you are vile, remain that way. If you are doing right, continue to do so. If you are holy, remain that way.
Why is the Lord making such uncharacteristic remarks? It is for the same reason He wants us to be cold or hot. The Lord Jesus wants His way made straight. He wants everything to be black or white. Satan always works in the gray area, in the realm of confusion.
The demons love to reason. There is an opinion about this; an opinion about that. Actually the only One whose opinion matters is God. God is clear, concise, and does not change. Satan would love to have us undecided, casual, careless, neglectful of our salvation. God wants everything to have a name. Satan wants matters left unnamed so we cannot tell what we should do.
What can the Lord do if you do what is right one minute and wrong the next?
What can He do if you are pure one moment and vile the next?
The Lord is saying, "Make up your mind. Choose whom you are going to serve. If you are unwilling to do this I will come and make up your mind for you, and you will not enjoy My decision!"
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
What a difference it would make in todayís preaching if all the ministers would read this verse, believe it means what it says, and preach it with all their might. It would revolutionize the Christian churches.
But we donít preach it. Are we not then guilty of taking away from the words of the Book of Revelation?
Recently there was an article about very large churches in America. Several comments were made, but one stood out to me. The large churches sometimes do not mention sin.
The idea is American people come to church on Sunday morning exhausted from the pressures of the week. They have problems at work, problems at home, they are concerned about their employment, they are worried about their bills, they are apprehensive concerning their children and young people, they are nervous about war and terrorism.
They arrive in church on Sunday morning carrying all this baggage. They are carrying it because they are not walking close to Jesus.
Now, what do you preach? Do you preach about sin and add to their burdens? No, you do not. You try to give them something uplifting so they will feel better. Then they will want to come back to church.
This is Satanís reasoning. It is effective because we have been taught that the goal of the pastor is to build a large congregation.
The truth is, you do not really help people until you make them aware of their sin and call them to the altar so they can have help in dealing with it. If they will do this the Lord will forgive them and help them turn away from their sin. The Lord will strengthen them so they can forgive those who have hurt them. He will give them assurance that their request will be answered.
If all they are told is comforting promises they will leave the church feeling better because their problems have been set aside for one day. But the problems will return on Monday.
If they are confronted with their sins, with the need to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus every day, and they respond with repentance and prayer for help, they will leave the church with some of their problems having been solved. They are on their way to healing.
American people come home from work exhausted and flop in front of the television in order to get some rest. There is no rest from watching the television. There is only a postponement of problems. Time spent in a fervent church or in prayer and Bible reading will give the needed health and strength for the battles we encounter every day.
The Bible is about sin and righteousness. It is Godís answer to the rebellion that took place in the spirit realm eons ago. The preacher who speaks only that which is positive is seeking his own glory. The preacher who speaks only that which is negative has an emotional problem of some kind. The Bible is part negative, part positive. If it is not preached this way, a false witness is being borne.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:13)
The Lord Jesus began the first creation and ended it on the cross. The Lord Jesus began the new creation when He rose from the dead. Thus He is Alpha and Omega of both creations.
The first creation was finished on the cross. Our adamic nature was finished on the cross. The entire adamic creation was finished on the cross. The present sky and earth were finished on the cross. All sin and rebellion against God were finished on the cross. The rule of Satan and his angels was finished on the cross. "It is finished!"
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
How do we wash our robes? We do so by confessing our sins and turning away from them, as the Holy Spirit guides and enables us. The normal Christian life is that of confessing and turning away from all sin and rebellion.
When we do this we are authorized to eat from the Tree of Life and to pass through the gates into the new Jerusalem.
Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:15)
Satan is a liar and the father of lies. The Ten Commandments do not include "You shall not lie." I think the reason is, all sin is a form of lying. God does not lie and none of His children are to lie
No person who sins will be permitted to enter the new Jerusalem and partake of the Tree of Life and the River of Life. These are denied to them for eternity.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." (Revelation 22:16)
The Book of Revelation is the only book of the New Testament that claims to be a vision from the Lord Jesus. Therefore we are to pay special attention to it. It is the truth in the midst of the lie that is our culture.
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
The Spirit and the Bride together invite whoever wishes to do so to come and receive eternal life. The Spirit gives the life through the members of the Church, the royal priesthood.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18,19)
A fearful warning! No other book of the Bible includes such a warning. Therefore we should be specially careful when we are teaching from the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation is so stern that God knew in our age of humanistic reasoning we would be tempted to modify what is stated. And indeed we have, by denying that is impossible for God to blot out the name of a professing Christian from the Book of Life; by stating that Christ will not reward Christians according to their works, whether good or bad; by developing a mythical salvation in which the saved go to the spirit Heaven to live forever, and will rule with Christ even though they have not overcome sin.
We preach grace, rapture, Heaven when the Book of Revelation emphasizes righteous deeds, resurrection, the coming of the Kingdom to rest upon the earth.
As far as I can tell, much Christian preaching and teaching of today is far removed from the Book of Revelation.
He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)
We want Jesus to come soon. But I am afraid we are not ready to meet Him whose eyes are as flames of fire.
My personal opinion is that the entire Christian Church is nowhere near ready for His appearing. There is a remnant of saints today who are hearing what the Spirit is saying to the church. They are not ready either, but they are making every effort to prepare themselves, to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb
I cannot see how Christ can return within twenty-five years. If He does, praise the Lord. But first there must come the harvest rain, and after that the Great Tribulation period. According to the Book of Daniel, there will be considerable political activity involving Antichrist and the nations of the earth.
To teach that no Christian will be on the earth during this time cannot be supported by the Scriptures, as I see it. In fact, the purpose of the Great Tribulation is to prepare us for His return.
We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with Godís people. Amen. (Revelation 22:21)
Notice that the term "grace," as it is employed here, is not a synonym of forgiveness but refers to the Presence of God in Christ, enabling us to joyously perform all that God would have us do.