JUDGMENT ON THE
HOUSE OF GOD
Published by Covenant Ministries Inc
ISBN 0 7316 1117 9
JUDGMENT ON THE HOUSE OF GOD
This book presents a prophetic warning of God’s judgment on the church. “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God” 1 Peter 4:17
For centuries the church has been subjected
to an overwhelming ass
The church must face the Lord’s judgment and be purged and refined. This is so that it might effectively receive the “latter rain” of revival and restoration.
God has revealed His purposes to “His servants the prophets” Amos 3:7, and has instructed them to warn His children. The burden of their message at this time is to “Come out of her, My people, (i.e. to come out of the apostasy in the church) lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4
CHAPTER 1. THE TWO WITNESSES
Revelation 11:1-13; The Book of Revelation; The Identity of the Two Witnesses; The Ministry of the Two Witness; The Preparation of the Two Witnesses; The Persecution of the Two Witnesses; Revelation of God’s Purposes; In Summary.
CHAPTER 2. ONE THOUSAND YEARS
Revelation 20:1-10; A Perfect and complete time; Satan is bound by Christ; Bound from Deceiving the Nations; Satan is Finally Released; The Overcomers; The Nations Oppose the Saints; The Outer Court of the Gentiles; Slaying the Nations; In Summary.
CHAPTER 3. THE SATANIC TRINITY
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; A Counterfeit Spiritual Structure; The Parable of the wheat and the Tares; The Deception of Antichrist; In Summary.
CHAPTER 4. SATAN
Revelation 12; Lucifer the Fallen Angel; The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon; The Church is Persecuted by Satan; In Summary.
CHAPTER 5. THE EMERGENCE OF ANTICHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM
Revelation 13:1-10; The Emergence of Antichrist; Evolution of Antichrist’s Kingdom Through Successive Empires; The Four Beasts of Daniel; The Fourth Beast of Daniel; The Little Horn of Daniel; Identification of Antichrist; The Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church; The Protestant Mutation; The Characteristics of Antichrist; In Summary.
CHAPTER 6. ANTICHRIST (ii) SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY AND REBELLION
Key Bible Readings; The basis of Spiritual Authority; The basis of Spiritual Headship; Differences between Spiritual and Worldly Leaders; Election of Spiritual leaders; Preparation of Spiritual Leaders; The Basis of Rebellion Against Spiritual Authority; In Summary.
CHAPTER 7. ANTICHRIST (iii) SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY IN THE FAMILY
Key Bile Readings; Structure of Authority in The Family; The Operation of a Chain of Authority; The Principle of Covering; Application of the Chain to the Family; The Complementary Positions of Men and Women; The Woman Jezebel; The Spirit of Witchcraft; The Judgment of Jezebel; In Summary.
CHAPTER 8. ANTICHRIST (iv) THE FLESH AND LAWLESSNESS
Key bible Readings; The Works of Christ; The Works of the Flesh; Fleshly Works are Lawless; God’s Judgment on Fleshly Works; Christ’s Warning to Charismatics; The works of Satan; Fleshly Worship; Entering into God’s Rest.
CHAPTER 9. THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST
Revelation 13:11-18; The Second Beast; A Climate of Lawlessness; The Image of the Beast; Worshiping the Image; The Mark of the Beast; The Mark is Universal; Victory over the Mark; The Number of the Beast’s Name; The Name of God; God’s Judgment is Announced; In Summary.
CHAPTER 10. THE
Revelation 17:1-7,9; Our Preparation to See the Vision; The Extent of the Woman’s Operation; Babylon the Great; The Mother of Harlots; Mystery; (The Mother of) the Abominations of the Earth; In Summary.
CHAPTER 11. THE FALL OF BAYLON
Revelation 18:1-8; The Twofold Judgment of God; 1. Judgment of the World’s Religion; The ten Kings as Instruments of God’s Judgment; The Drunken Stupor of the World; 2. Judgment of the worldly Church; God’s Assurance to the Faithful.
CHAPTER 12. THE JUDGMENT OF GOD
Revelation 19:1-9; The Holiness of God; Learning to Fear god; Cleansing the Sanctuary; God Will Judge All Unrighteousness; Our Response to God’s Judgments; The Nature of God’s Judgment; The Valley of Jehoshaphat; The Valley of Decision; Heaven and Earth are Shaken; In Summary.
CHAPTER 13. THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Matthew 24:1-31; The Disciples Ask Two Questions; The Abomination of Desolation; The Historical Record; The Curse of the Law; Daniels Seventy Week Prophecy; The Last Climactic Week; In Summary.
CHAPTER 14. THE LAST JUDGMENT (i)
A Spiritual Judgment; The First Trumpet-The First Plague; The Second Trumpet-The Second Plague; The Third Trumpet-The Third Plague; The Fourth Trumpet-The Fourth Plague.
CHAPTER 15. THE LAST JUDGMENT (ii)
The Fifth Trumpet-The Fifth Plague; Hordes of Demon Spirits; God’s Great Army; The Seal of God or the Mark of the Beast; The sixth Trumpet-the sixth Plague; The seventh Trumpet-The Seventh Plague.
CHAPTER 16. COME OUT MY PEOPLE
Revelation 18:1-4; A Polluted Church; Call to Repentance; Separation of the wheat and the Tares; Come out Of Her; The Hour of Decision; In Summary.
CHAPTER 17. THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
Key Bible Readings; The Relationship Between the Lamb and His Bride; The Preparation of the Bride; The Status of the Bride; The Holiness of the Bride; The Overcomers are Part of the Bride; The Invitation from the Spirit and the Bride; Restoration of All things; A Glorious Church in the darkness of the world; Our Response.
THE TWO WITNESSES
Rev 11:1-13 "Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And
the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and
those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple,
and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will
tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to
my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty
days, clothed in sackcloth.’ These are the two lampstands standing before
the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from
their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he
must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain
falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn
them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they
desire. Now when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of
the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which
spiritually is called
THE BOOK OF REVELATION
To understand the Key Bible Reading it is necessary to appreciate the nature of the Book of Revelation. It is book deliberately obscured so that those who are yielded to the world and to the powers of darkness are unable to unravel is mysteries. Nevertheless it is a book which is meant to be understood by true believers so that they might be prepared for what is to come. The apostle John writes that the book is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants - things which must shortly take place." Revelation 1:1
John declares that Jesus "sent and signified it (i.e. the Revelation) by His angel to His servant John." Revelation 1:1 The word ‘signified’ is translated from the original Greek word ‘semaino’, which means to indicate or express by the use of signs or symbols.
Throughout the book of Revelation the reader is confronted by a procession of apparently bizarre images. In chapter 12 we read of a dragon standing before a woman in labor, ready "to devour her child as soon as it was born." This is followed in chapter 13, by "a beast rising up out of the sea" and "another beast coming up out of the earth." In an even more dramatic vision in chapter 17, we read of a harlot riding a scarlet beast.
This figurative or symbolic language is used to disguise the real meaning of Christ’s Revelation from the idly curious or those with malevolent intent. However the key to unfolding the real meaning of this book for the believer is to race the source of the symbols. That source is the Old Testament, and all the clues to understanding are to be found within it by the diligent searcher.
The Book of Revelation consists of a series of visions which are placed side be side and not necessarily in chronological sequence. These visions reveal the progress of Christ’s invincible purpose in establishing His Kingdom through His church. The prophetic revelation contained with each vision can only be appreciated when we discover the meanings of the various symbols used. In addition, it is only as we abandon a complete reliance on our natural intellectual capacity, and open our hearts to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we are able to see each revelation in its proper place in time.
understanding of the nature of the book of Revelation, it is possible to
approach the subject of the "two witnesses" in the key Bible Reading.
THE IDENTITY OF THE TWO WITNESSES
The major clue to the identity of the two witnesses is contained in the symbolic reference to Moses and Elijah. The two witnesses are said to have "power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and thy have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire." Revelation 11:6.
The first phrase
of this verse is a reference to the prophet Elijah, who declared God’s judgment
of drought to King Ahab of
The latter phrase
is a reference to Moses dealing with the pharaoh of
The relevance of
the two witnesses being related to Moses and Elijah is brought our in the last
chapter of the last book in the Old Testament. "Remember the Law of
Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all
Moses was the
servant of God appointed to deliver the ‘law’ or the ‘word’ to the children of
When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, it was Moses and Elijah that appeared with Him. Later, when coming down the mountain with three of His disciples, Jesus prophesied that in the last days the spirit of Elijah would return to restore all things. "And His disciples asked Him, saying ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ then Jesus answered and Said to them, ‘Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist." Matthew 17:10-13.
Notice that Jesus used two tenses here. First he said, "Elijah truly is coming first and will restore all things" which is a statement concerning events to take place some time in the future. Then He said, "But I say to you that Elijah has come already" which is clearly a statement made in the past tense. The disciples understood that when Jesus said that "Elijah has come already", He was talking about John the Baptist, who had already come to "prepare the way of the Lord." (Isaiah 40:3). In fact, at the time Jesus made this statement, John had already been executed by Herod Antipas.
Jesus’ words are therefore a statement that Elijah’s spirit of prophecy was on John the Baptist. They are also a promise that the same spirit of prophecy would be manifested at some time in the future "and will restore all things". Just as the spirit of prophecy was in John the Baptist preparing the way for the Lord’s first coming, so also will the spirit of prophecy prepare the way for the Lord’s second coming.
This principle is
clarified by study of an incident at the end of the prophet Elijah’s life. "Elijah
said to Elisha, ‘Ask! What may I do for you before I am taken away from you?’
And Elisha said, ‘Please let a double portion of you spirit be upon me.’"
2 Kings 2:9. After Elijah was taken up into heaven on a chariot of fire, Elisha
took his mantle and used it to part the waters of the
A similar event
occurred in the life of Moses. He had complained to God that he was "not
able to bear all these people alone, bec
It is clear then that in awaiting the two witnesses, we are not to expect another Moses of another Elijah to arise as world acclaimed figures. Instead what is prophesied here is that the two witnesses will anoint God’s chosen servants. The two witnesses, the spirit of prophecy which rested on Elijah and the spirit of the living word of God which rested on Moses, will rest on God’s chosen servants. This anointing will equip those servants to walk as His instruments of restoration, wielding the prophetic word of God.
THE MINISTRY OF THE TWO WITNESSES
The ministry of the two witnesses is indicated early in the key bible Reading. They are likened to "the two olive trees and two lampstands standing before the God of the earth." Revelation 11:4. This imagery is taken from the vision of Zechariah in the Old Testament.
"I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. The two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left." Zechariah 4:2-3. The angel told Zechariah "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth." Zechariah 4:14.
The imagery from
Zechariah relates to the restoration of the Jewish temple, which had been
destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of
The source of the oil which brought restoration was the two olive trees. These two trees are another picture of the word of God and the spirit of prophecy. In this case the prophetic word expounded by Haggai and Zechariah, prepared the way for the restoration of the temple by Zerubbabel and Joshua.
This picture is also relevant to the restoration of the Christian church. Jesus used the candlestick as a clear symbol of the church when He told the apostle John that "the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." Revelation 1:20 (Authorized King James Version). In the New Testament context then, Zechariah’s vision is a picture of the two witnesses filling the Christian church with the Holy Spirit.
This picture indicates that the two witnesses come to life to minister directly to the church. The Spirit of prophecy and the power of the word of God are poured into the church as a preparation for the triumphant return of Christ. The ministry of the two witnesses is a ministry to "restore all things" to the body of Christ.
THE PREPARATION OF THE TWO WITNESSES
The preparation of the two witnesses is outlined in the tenth chapter of the book of Revelation, which immediately precedes the Key Bible reading. Here the apostle John is confronted by an angel clothed in the glory of God and holding "a little book open in his hand". Rev 10:2.
John is directed to take the book and eat it. "Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.’" Revelation 10:10-11.
relates to the commission of Ezekiel the prophet in the Old Testament. During
the Babylonian captivity a priest called Ezekiel was commanded by God to deliver
His word to the children of
Ezekiel was told
to "’eat what you find; eat this scroll and go, speak to the house of
"And you, son of man… do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them whether they hear of whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you." Ezekiel 2:6-8.
The apostle John’s
prophecy in the book of Revelation indicates that a similar reaction of
rebelliousness awaits the two witnessed at the end of the age. John was warned
that the little book would be sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. The
prophetic revelation of God’s purposes is sweet in the receiving bec
The preparation of
the two witnesses is necessary bec
The apostle John writes of the mighty angel who holds the little book, swearing "that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as he declared to His servants the prophets." Revelation 10:6-7. This verse declares that the revelation of the hidden purposes of God will be completed or fulfilled at the end time through His anointed prophets.
purposes have been revealed down through the ages, it is now necessary to
prophesy again. This is bec
THE PERSECUTION OF THE TWO WITNESSES
In the last days the power of the word of God that invested Moses, and the spirit of prophecy that invested Elijah, will be invested in God’s chosen servants. However it is clear that their ministry is violently opposed. "Now when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them." Revelation 11:7.
It is not
difficult to accept that this prophecy of the death of the two witnesses has
been fulfilled. This century has seen an unprecedented attack on the
Similarly the resurgence of the Holy Spirit in this century has been resisted and opposed by many denominations. The gifts of the Holy Spirit have been denounced as a once only phenomenon peculiar to the apostolic church. Many church goers have preferred the dry comfort of traditional doctrines and liturgies to the fresh revelations of Jesus Christ though His Spirit.
As a result of
this the present climate of immorality and humanism mocks the church. "And
their dead bodies will lie in the streets of the great city which spiritually
is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified….And those who
dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one
Initially we are told that the two witnesses "will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." Revelation 11:3. 1260 days, or 42 months, or 3½ years, or "time and times and half a time" are symbolic measures of the same period of time - a time of persecution and suffering. The sackcloth is a sign of mourning, and this description confirms that the two witnesses would preach repentance in a climate of disbelief and spiritual darkness.
After finishing their testimony through the long centuries since the demise of the early church, we are told that the two witnesses are overcome and killed. Their dead bodies lie exposed in the world for three and a half days, which is a further period of persecution, but this time cut short. Finally however, we are told that "after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them." Revelation 11:11.
In spite of all the opposition, God’s purposes cannot be prevented. In a miraculous resurrection the Spirit of God enters the two witnesses, and they stand on their feet. They begin to prophesy, and declare the revelation of the hidden purposes of God at this time.
REVELATION OF GOD’S PURPOSES
The word of God consistently promises further revelations at the close of the age. The prophet Daniel was told of a time of trouble and judgment. But then he was told to "shut up the word, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." Daniel 12:4. This suggests that some of the revelation of the end times have been withheld. It also suggests that at that time new knowledge will be revealed.
This ‘sealing’ of knowledge until the end time is repeated in John’s prophecy in the book of Revelation. "now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.’" Revelation 10:4. John is then told that at the time of the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet all would be revealed. "But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets." Revelation 10:7
This is the time that the two witnesses are standing on their feet. God is about to judge an unruly and unfaithful church. The ministry of the two witnesses is directed to the many devoted children of God who are imprisoned within the legalistic and barren walls of the apostate church. These believers have been unwittingly drawn into apostasy by the subtle deception of Antichrist.
Included in the revelation of the church corrupted by apostasy, there is a warning of God’s impending judgment, and a call to repentance. With this revelation comes a decision for us all. "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision." Joel 3:14. We are told to "Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." Revelation 18:4. The choice is clear. Either we repent and come out from the power of apostasy plaguing the church, or we face God’s judgment.
The two witnesses are the Lord God’s chosen vessels raised up to declare His revelations at the end of the age. God is anointing certain of His servants with the spirit of prophecy which rested on Elijah, and the spirit of the living word of God which rested on Moses.
The ministry of the two witnesses is to all who profess to be Christians, as a preparation for the triumphant return of Christ to his Body. The two witnesses have been prepared with instructions to eat (or absorb) new revelations they have been given, so that those revelations become part of them.
The two witnesses have faced persecution in the past from a rebellious and apostate church, but now the Lord is standing them on their feet again. Their ministry, like that of John the Baptist, is a call to repentance, preparing the way for the Lord’s return.
ONE THOUSAND YEARS
Rev 20:1-10 "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."
A PERFECT AND COMPLETE TIME
The word ‘millennium’ is used by theologians to describe the thousand year period referred to in the Key Bible Reading. In studying the millennium it is not our intention to analyze the various theories that abound in this area and then declare our choice. Rather it is our intention to take a fresh look at the relevant scriptures.
The most significant feature of the Key Bible Reading is its consistent reference to this thousand year period. It is both a period during which Satan is bound away from deceiving the, nations and a period when the saints are reigning with Christ. However it is not necessarily a literal measure of time.
In the earlier chapter on the two witnesses the principle of symbolic interpretation was established. Likewise in this chapter the key to unraveling the true meaning of these verses lies in abandoning a strictly literal or physical position. Symbolically one thousand years is a perfectly complete time.
This is illustrated in the apostle Peter’s reference to ‘a thousand years’. "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:8-9
Peter, the actual length of the period of time was not the priority, but rather
the purpose allotted to it. The "thousand years" was a full
and complete time for that particular purpose to be fulfilled. This
understanding is confirmed by the apostle P
We can now focus our attention on the specific purpose for the "thousand years" mentioned in the Key Bible Reading. Firstly it is apparent that Satan is bound from deceiving the nations during that time. Secondly there is the emergence of a group of people who have given up their own lives for the sake of Christ and the gospel. These people are said to be "priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Their purpose as "kings and priests" (Revelation 5:10) is to establish Christ’s kingdom on earth, and to bring lost souls into that kingdom.
The "thousand years" is the full and complete time required for all these things to take place. It is the full length of time designated by God to give mankind every opportunity to repent and receive salvation. It began with Christ’s great atoning work on the cross, which bound Satan. It ends when Satan is released at the close of the church age, as part of God’s judgment on "the house of God" (1Peter 4:17), and on the world.
SATAN IS BOUND BY CHRIST
Before establishing how Satan is bound during the age of salvation, it is important to establish who bound him. It is not difficult to identify the "angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in His hand." Revelation 20:1. This angel is our Lord Jesus Christ. Only Christ has the key to the bottomless pit. "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and death." Revelation 1:18.
Jesus came down from God specifically to bind and bring to naught the works of Satan. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8. Early in His ministry Jesus declared His purpose in binding Satan. "Or else how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house." Matthew 12:29.
Only Jesus had the
spiritual chain with which to bind Satan. The act which forged that chain was
the crucifixion at
The spiritual chain binding Satan is the saints’ knowledge and declaration that the cross cancels out all claims made against them. No matter how accurate Satan’s accusations are, there is now one infallible answer to them. ‘I know I am a sinner, but Jesus Christ has paid my debt in full, in one mighty atoning work on the cross.’ Satan has no answer to this. He is defeated by the knowledge of the cross of Jesus. He is bound and rendered powerless.
To ensure Satan’s
imprisonment Jesus "set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the
nations no more till the thousand years were finished." Revelation
20:3. This seal is a seal of
The seal Jesus set
on Satan is the power and
The use of the
name of Jesus was to have a profound effect on the
Later, when Jesus
was speaking to the disciples, He gave them, and subsequently the whole church,
the keys of
BOUND FROM DECEIVING THE NATIONS
The word ‘bound’
has as its basis the thought of being constrained. This is illustrated by
examining its use in other biblical passages. For example Jesus said, "So
ought not this woman, being a d
Rather than being physically incarcerated, Satan has, by the cross of Christ, had spiritual limits put on him. The saints, or the church, are empowered to declare those limits by the use of Jesus’ name. The extent to which Satan is bound therefore depends on the extent to which the church and its members testify to the power of the cross.
The agent of binding is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "I cast out devils by the Spirit of God." Matthew 12:28. Satan is actually bound now by the Holy Spirit. "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He (the Holy Spirit) who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way." 2 Thessalonians 2:7. The Holy Spirit operates in binding Satan as believers testify to the truth of the cross.
The Holy Spirit testifies to the word. "For there are three who bear witness in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." 1John 5:7. Before the Holy Spirit can testify to the word, we must speak the word, and walk in the light of the word.
Before the crucifixion of Christ, Satan is called "that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world." Revelation 12:9. Then Christ binds Satan "and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished." Revelation 20:3. The key concept here is Satan as the author of deception.
During the thousand years Satan is bound away from "deceiving the nations." He is not bound away and rendered inoperative. There is no ‘kingdom reign’ of bliss, free from all strife. Instead what is bound away is Satan’s unlimited power to deceive. The chain that binds away this power of deception is the truth of the cross revealed to mankind.
A major difficulty in accepting that this age is "the thousand years" lies in our failure to appreciate that "Satan is bound." It is a consistent ploy of Satan to deceive people into thinking that their spiritual inheritance in Jesus is either in the past or in the future. For example it is suggested that the gifts of the Spirit were only for the early church, or that our physical healing is to take place at some time in the future. It is therefore considered by many that Satan will be bound and that the saints will reign with Christ, but that this will take place at some time in the future.
The fact is that
Satan is bound NOW, and the saints who wield the
reality is that before the cross Satan was the undisputed "ruler of
this world." John 14:30. Every nation, other than a small remnant of
God’s people in
In the beginning God gave dominion or rulership of the earth and everything in it to mankind through Adam. "Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over everything that creeps on the earth.’" Genesis 1:26. However, when Adam rebelled against God’s law in the garden of Eden, he fell into Satan’s hands, and mankind’s dominion over the earth fell with him.
that Satan ruled the world when He was being tempted in the wilderness. Satan
made what seems an extravagant claim that all worldly
It is clear from these verses that since the fall of man in Adam, the whole world had been ruled by Satan. It was not until after Christ’s mighty redeeming work on the cross that this situation was overcome. With Jesus’ triumphant ascent from hell to His Father’s throne a dramatic event took place in heaven.
"And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’ ” Revelation 12:7-10.
The outcome of
this war in heaven was that the accuser was cast down, defeated by the
victorious cross of Christ. All of Satan’s claims against man were now
cancelled out by that one work of atonement at
Prior to the
cross, the whole world, apart from a small Jewish remnant, worshipped the devil
through pagan gods or demon spirits. Bec
SATAN IS FINALLY RELEASED
The beginning of the one thousand year period is identified as the cross of Christ, when Satan was bound by the truth. Similarly the Key Bible Reading identifies the end of the thousand years. "Now when the thousand years have expired , Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea." Revelation 20:7-8.
It has already been established that the thing that binds Satan for one thousand years is the truth of the gospel. In contrast, the withdrawing or obscuring of that truth is the things that looses him. A time of renewed deception is therefore prophesied at the end of the age.
This time of confusion and lies is a time of unrestrained attack on the truth. In the chapter on the ‘two witnesses,’ it has already been observed that both the spirit of prophecy and the word of God would be casualties. "Now when (the two witnesses) finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them." Revelation 11:7.
The bible consistently forecasts a time of gross spiritual darkness prior to the end of the age and final judgment. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord." Joel 2:31. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Matthew 24:29.
The sun, the moon,
and the stars are symbols of the glory of God revealed through the word and His
prophets. It is not so much a case of the truth being withdrawn, as the truth
being obscured and overwhelmed by thick clouds of deception. "And he
opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a
great furnace. And the sun and the air were darkened bec
Satan is using this time of darkness to gather together his armies of opposition to the saints. By this same process the church is also being brought into the valley of decision. "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision." Joel 3:14. As the difference between light and darkness becomes more appallingly apparent, we are being asked to choose between them.
Two processes are taking place simultaneously so that these issues are revealed. The light of revival on the one hand is burning bright in the true church as the power of Christ is being manifested. God promised, "I will pour out My Spirit in those days." Joel 2:29. Once again the saints are being filled with the power that quickened the early church.
On the other hand Satan’s kingdom of darkness is being let loose so that his evil might be magnified. The light is getting lighter and the dark is getting darker. The false or apostate church is becoming more blatantly apostate as it fails to confront evil or shepherd the flock. The light of truth and the darkness of apostasy are openly contrasted before the believer. There is no escaping the decision.
The vision contained in the Key Bible Reading presents two distinct companies of people. The first group is made up of "those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God" and who "lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Revelation 20:4. The other group contains "the rest of the dead (who) did not live again until the thousand years were finished." Revelation 20:5.
The first company are clearly believers who have been martyred for their witness to Christ. It is important to recall at this stage that the Book of Revelation relies on scriptural symbols to both obscure and reveal its message. The picture us therefore one of spiritual martyrs rather than those who are physically put to death.
The central concept is one of people losing their lives for Christ. Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." Luke 9:32-24.
In order to have a
new life in Christ, the believer must give up his old life to death. The soul
life or self life of ego and self opinion has to be beheaded. The big ‘I’ has
to be consigned to the cross so that the believer can declare with the apostle
The first company are living in the power of Christ rather than in their own strength. They know with certainty that God ‘made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:5-6. The result of having died to self is that "they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Revelation 20:4.
These are the overcomers. They are a procession of saints down through the centuries who have learned to overcome the powers of darkness and reign with Christ. Their means of overcoming are quite specific. "Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." Revelation 12:10-11.
And they overcame him (1) "by the blood of the Lamb." The overcomers know the power of the cross of Jesus in canceling out all of Satan’s claims against them. (2) "(A)nd by the word of their testimony." The overcomers use the word of God in the power of Jesus’ name. (3) "(A)nd they did not love their lives to the death." The overcomers give up their lives for the sake of Christ and the gospel.
The raising of this first company to a position where they "sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" is called "the first resurrection." Revelation 20:5. "Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Revelation 20:6. The overcomers have adopted the spiritual position that "we have been united together in the likeness of His (Christ’s) death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection." Romans 6:5. Their first death was the death of their self life. The second death, which is that of their physical bodies, will have no power over them.
The second company of people are those who have not given up their lives for Christ’s sake, and therefore have no part in the first resurrection. They "did not live again until the thousand years were finished," which is the time of the resurrection of everyone at the close of the age. Revelation 20:5.
THE NATIONS OPPOSE THE SAINTS
The nations are a group quite distinct from the overcomers. It is the nations who are deceived by Satan and gathered together to battle. The word ‘nation’ is translated from the Greek word ‘ethnos,’ and generally means a multitude of people of a similar kind. Common uses of the word relate to people of the dame racial origin or who share the same political boundaries.
The use of the word varies throughout the bible, and its meaning in each case is determined by the context in which it is given. In the Book of Revelation the concept of nations is mainly a general rather than specific one. The nations are ‘everything else,’ as opposed to the saints who are selected out of the midst of the nations. An example of this is contained in the following verse praising Christ. "For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Revelation 5:9.
In the Key Bible Reading the word nation is used to describe all those apart from the true church, or all those who are used to oppose the true church. This principle of the nations being used to oppose God’s purposes in not new. "Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers of the earth take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed." Psalm 2:1-2.
THE OUTER COURT OF THE GENTILES
The nations do not only include worldly people opposed to the Christian church. The nations include all who oppose the spiritual reign of Christ in their circumstances. This definition includes the apostate church.
In his vision of the two witnesses, the apostle John "was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty two months.’" Revelation 11:1-2.
To understand the
significance of this reading, it is helpful to explore the Greek roots of two
of the words used. The word ‘temple’ is translated from the Greek word ‘naos,’
which means the central sanctuary or dwelling place of God, and was the word
used consistently for the church. The temple mentioned here is therefore not
the temple in
The word ‘gentiles’ is translated from the Greek word ‘ethnos,’ which is translated as ‘nations’ in other parts of the New Testament. In this reading the outer court "has been given to the Gentiles," but it could have been just as correctly translated as "given to the nations." The outer court of the Gentiles (or nations) is not to be taken as the physical addition to the Jewish temple made by Herod. It is instead a symbolic picture of the apostate church. It is appropriately represented by something man-made which is tacked on at a later date to God’s already perfect and finished work. The outward appearance of the court suggests that it is part of the temple, but the angel tells John to leave it out.
The apostate church is attached to the true church and professes to be the true church. However it is in fact the preserve of the nations, and under the power of Satan. The angel warns John that the nations "will tread the holy city underfoot for forty two months." Revelation 11:2. It is not the people of the world who have impeded the progress of the true church, so much as those ‘within’ who have stifled the Spirit.
SLAYING THE NATIONS
The last part of the Key Bible Reading describes the gathering together of the nations to oppose the true followers of Christ. "Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them." Revelation. 20:7-9..
To understand this prophecy it is necessary to open our hearts to the sovereign power and glory of God. It was the Lord who bound Satan with the truth of the gospel. It is now God’s sovereign will that the powers of deception and darkness are released to deceive the nations, so that they are gathered together to face their final judgment.
God’s purpose in
exposing His children to the attacks of the enemy is twofold. Firstly He is
purging the church of all that is initiated by man so that "the things
which cannot be shaken may remain." Hebrews 12:27. Secondly God is
bringing all those who have rejected Him into final judgment. A precedent for
this occurred when "the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king
God’s purpose is the same in this last judgment at the end of the age. Those opposing His will as it is performed by His saints are brought into final judgment. "And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them." Revelation 20:9.
There is a prophecy in the Book of Revelation that Satan will be bound for a symbolic period of one thousand years. This period is the age of salvation and began at the cross of Christ, It is prophesied to finish with the release of Satan in a time of spiritual darkness and deception.
The prophecy involves two opposing groups of people. There are the ‘overcomers’ who have put their self-lives to death and learnt to walk in obedience to the will of Christ. At the end of the age this group is surrounded by a group called the ‘nations,’ who include the apostate church.
The central point to understanding the prophecy is that Satan is ‘bound’ by the truth of Christ’s complete atoning work on the cross. When this truth is obscured, and the church no longer walks in the knowledge of the truth, then Satan is no longer bound.
The next chapter will expose Satan’s strategy in obscuring the truth of the cross, and introduce the mechanisms of counterfeit.
THE SATANIC TRINITY
36-43 "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The
kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men
slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But
when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.
So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good
seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy
has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather
them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot
the wheat with them. 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time
of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and
bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'…
"Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His
disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of
the field." He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed
is the Son of
A COUNTERFEIT SPIRITUAL STRUCTURE
The last chapters
concluded that the finished work of Christ on the cross binds the power of
Satan’s accusations and deceptions. The knowledge of this perfect and complete
The truth of what Christ did for mankind on the cross is the thing that binds Satan. Therefore Satan’s efforts to counteract the effect of his imprisonment have been directed at confusing and destroying the truth of the cross. The method that he has employed has been the introduction of a subtle substitute for the truth. He has established a counterfeit church with a counterfeit christ and a counterfeit doctrine.
The Holy Trinity has been substituted by a Satanic trinity.
GOD has been counterfeited by SATAN.
CHRIST has been counterfeited by ANTICHRIST
THE HOLY SPIRIT has been counterfeited by THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST.
God’s purpose has been to establish the church - a body of believers to whom He can impart His very life, His power, and His glory. In the Book of Revelation, this perfected church is called THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.
Satan’s purpose has been to establish a false ‘church.’ This is a body of people who are deceived into directly or indirectly worshipping and obeying Satan rather than God. In the Book of Revelation, this false church is called THE HARLOT.
THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND THE TARES
Christ foresaw the emergence of the false church and its accompanying false doctrine, and so He warned His followers of this in the parable of the wheat and the tares. "Another parable He put forth to them saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.’" Matthew 13:24. He who sowed the wheat in his field is Christ. The fact that He sowed good seed indicates that the truth of His finished work on the cross is perfect.
while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his
way." Matthew 13:25. The phrase, "while
men slept" is significant bec
Jesus calls the tares "the children of the wicked one" that have been sown in amongst "the children of the kingdom." Matthew 13:38. (Authorised King James Version). In the same field there are the wheat and the tares, and in the same church there are the children of God and the children of Satan. In both cases they look so much alike that it is almost impossible to tell the difference.
THE DECEPTION OF ANTICHRIST
The apostle John warns the church to be in its guard. "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us." 1 John 2:18-19.
John concludes the warning with the statement that those in the church to whom he was writing had an anointing from the Holy Spirit, and this would enable them to see the difference. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things." 1 John 2:20. We too have to have our spiritual eyes opened in order to see the deception of antichrist operating in those around us and in our own spiritual lives.
Antichrist is a
subtle deception by its very nature, and so does not necessarily present itself
in clear direct opposition to Jesus Christ. In the original Greek, the prefix
‘anti’ in antichrist has two possible meanings. The first is ‘against,’
suggesting direct opposition. The second is ‘instead of,’ which implies
replacing with a substitute. Combining these, we see that antichrist opposes
Christ by substituting a false or apostate church for the true spiritual
These counterfeits are so subtle that Jesus warned that even the elect might be deceived by them. "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Mark 13:22. The result of the work of antichrist is the manifestation of an alternative religion within the church itself. The alternative looks so much like the real thing that is has deceived even true believers.
The deception of antichrist aims to divert, deflect, distort and deny the truth. It operates within the Christian church and claims allegiance to Christ; however its aim is to create a false church and sidetrack the children of God off into spiritual wastelands.
It is useful at this point to summarize the work of Satan following the cross of Christ. At that time Satan was cast out of heaven and bound from deceiving the nations by the truth of the cross. He has since attempted to counteract the truth that has bound him by engineering a counterfeit religious system. This alternative system looks so like the real church that it is only through the anointing of the Holy Spirit that man can see the difference.
Satan’s aim is to divert worship from God to himself, either directly or indirectly. To this end he has propagated many false christs or antichrists, in an effort to divert worship and obedience from Christ, the true head of the church. The agent or spiritual power that Satan uses to establish his deceptive alternative is the spirit of antichrist, who is called ‘the second beast, or ‘the false prophet’ in the Book of Revelation.
The result of this deception has been the formation of a false or apostate church which operates alongside and within then true church. Satan’s attack has been very subtle. There are many children of God who have been unwittingly drawn off their true spiritual path. They have been contaminated by the spirit of antichrist and deceived into false worship. Through the deception of antichrist their allegiance has been misdirected to Satan rather than God.
The aim of the following group of chapters is to expose Satan’s work through antichrist, and the nature of the false religion he has created. The Satanic trinity will be analysed in more detail, beginning with the identity and motives of Satan himself. The development and work of antichrist will then be studied, and the spirit of antichrist exposed. Finally the false church will be unveiled.
12:1-17. "Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the
sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And
another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven
heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of
the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before
the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was
born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And
her Child was c
LUICIFER THE FALLEN ANGEL
The Key Bible
reading concerns the spiritual war between God and Satan. The origins of this
warfare are found in Satan’s fall from his exalted position as a favoured and
mighty angel who walked in God’s very presence. In the beginning Satan held a
special place in heaven as an angelic being who was created perfect by God. "You
were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in be
God clearly loved
and honoured him. "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established
you; you were on the holy
Part of the
perfection of Satan’s creation was a free will. This meant that he could choose
his own way. Satan envied God and chose to rebel against His
The words of the prophet Isaiah expose the motives behind Satan’s fall from favour.
"How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of morning!
For you have said in your heart:
'I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High." Isaiah 14:12,13,14.
God’s judgment on Satan is prophesied in the subsequent verse. "Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit." Isaiah 14:15. This declaration of God’s judgment signals the beginning of all out warfare between God and Satan. The Key Bible reading describes the progress of that war from the time of Christ’s birth to the present age. It describes both the spiritual reality in heaven, and the physical working out of that reality on earth.
THE WOMAN, THE CHILD, AND THE DRAGON
The Key Bible
reading describes a woman who is about to give birth to a child. The woman wore
"on her head a garland of twelve stars," which is a symbol of
This is therefore
a picture of Satan preparing to destroy Christ as He is brought forth from the
The Key Bible
Reading describes how the woman "bore a male child" and that "her
child was c
At this stage the
Key Bible Reading changes focus to the scene taking place in the heavenly
realm, and records the spiritual consequences of Jesus’ act. "And war
broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the
dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found
for them any longer." Revelation 12:7-8. Satan and his angels are
expelled. This is bec
THE CHURCH IS PERSECUTED BY SATAN
The focus of the
Key Bible reading then returns to the scene on earth. Unable to hold Jesus in
the prison house of hell, Satan turns his attention to the woman. "Now
when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman
who gave birth to the male child." Revelation 12:13. The dragon is
still a symbol of Satan, but now with "great wrath, bec
The woman however,
no longer represents the nation of
"But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place." Revelation 12:14. History records the dispersal of the early church throughout the surrounding nations to escape persecution. There she is "nourished for a time and times and half a time" which is the symbolic 3.5 year period of persecution.
At this point
Satan realises he cannot succeed in physically destroying the church, and so
resorts to another stratagem. "So the serpent spewed water out of his
mouth like a flood after the woman, that
he might c
"But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth." Revelation 12:16. The earth is a symbol of the peoples of the world who have an enormous capacity to "swallow up" strange new doctrines. These new lies and false doctrines are lost amongst the overwhelming confusion of worldly philosophies that already exist.
The Key Bible reading ends with a revelation of Satan’s concentrated attack on a specific part of the church. "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Revelation 12:17.
This special group
is the overcomers who have forsaken their own lives to be totally consecrated
to the Lord. They have submitted themselves to the refining power of the Holy
Spirit so that they might be completely obedient to His will. They are Christ’s
battle warriors to whom he has entrusted the main burden of preparing His
Satan has been defeated by the cross of Christ. All his cunning and fury is now devoted to preventing the truth of the cross being appropriated by Christ’s body of believers. The next chapter will expose the rise and development of the main mechanism used by Satan in his attack on the church. That mechanism is the power of antichrist, and it is the fundamental element in his counterfeit spiritual structure.
THE EMERGENCE OF
ANTICHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM
"Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of
the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on
his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his
feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The
dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great
THE EMERGENCE OF ANTICHRIST
Despite his defeat by the cross, Satan remains committed to his original aim of seducing mankind into worshipping him rather the God. Satan has therefore set up an elaborate counterfeit of the Holy Trinity, and the body of Christ, or church. Likewise the kingdom of heaven, through which the power and glory of Jesus Christ is expressed, has been duplicated by a kingdom of antichrist. This is an organised functional realm through which the power of antichrist operates.
The rise and development of the kingdom of antichrist is prophesied in the visions of the apostle John in the Book of Revelation (Chapters 13 &17), and the prophet Daniel in the Book of Daniel (Chapters 2&7). It is the story of Satan’s instrument of humanistic government being formed through a succession of worldly empires into its penultimate expression in the Papacy of the Catholic Church. This then became the springboard from which the antichrist infiltrated all denominational churches.
The emergence of
the major power in this kingdom is depicted in the Key Bible Reading with a
vision of "a beast rising up put of the sea." Revelation 13:1.
The sea is a symbol of the nations of the world. This symbol is illustrated in
a vision of the prophet Daniel, where he describes how "the four winds
of heaven were stirring up the
The beast is
portrayed as "having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten
crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name." Revelation 13;1 The
horns are symbols of power and the crowns are symbols of worldly
EVOLUTION OF ANTICHRIST’S KINGDOM THROUGH SUCCESSIVE EMPIRES
"Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion." Revelation 13:2. The significance of these animals lies in their symbolic reference to the great empires of the past. These symbols identify each one of the empires through which Antichrist and his kingdom was developed, and whose attributes he acquired. This symbolism can be understood by referring to the Book of Daniel and the prophet’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
"But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters all things; and like iron crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others." Daniel 2:39-40. It is not difficult to accept that Daniel was talking about four great empires of the ancient world that dated from the time of his prophecies in the sixth century BC - first the Babylonian, then the Medo- Persian, then the Greek, and ultimately the greatest of all - the Roman Empire.
THE FOUR BEASTS OF DANIEL
above is supported by studying the symbols used in a dream which Daniel himself
had in the later reign of King Belshazzar of
spoke saying, ‘I saw in my vision my night, and behold, the four winds of
heaven were stirring up the
These animals symbolised human rulers and their kingdoms, and imply men challenging God by building great empires in their own strength. These empires were not restricted to dominating men’s lives in a temporal sense. Their emperors frequently declared themselves to be gods, and demanded that their subjects worship them. All these emperors were proud and blasphemous.
The lion in Daniel’s vision represents the Babylonian Empire, and corresponds to the golden head of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The winged lions were common statues forming an ‘avenue of protection’ along major roads of the empire.
The animal "like a bear" represents the Medo-Persian Empire, and is portrayed as a ferocious flesh eater. This is appropriate for an empire that stretched from Macedonia to the Indus River, and which was ruled by such conquerors as Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, and Xerxes
The third animal "like
a leopard" is a symbol of the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great,
which dismembered the
THE FOURTH BEAST OF DANIEL
Daniel reports "a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns." Daniel 7:7.
The difference of
this empire is emphasised by the fact that it is not likened to any animal. Its
ten horns suggest complete power and supremacy. The
THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL
horn denotes power. The little horn represents a position of great power and
To unravel the mystery of the identity of the little horn, it is necessary to turn back to the visions of the apostle John in the Book of Revelation. The first beast was introduced as "a beat rising out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns." In Chapter 17, John reports another vision of the beast, with further symbols to mark his development. He is now described as "a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns," and carrying on his back a great harlot (the symbol of the apostate church).
As we study this later vision, it will become apparent that the little horn of Daniel 7, and the beast of Revelation 13 and 17, are symbols for the one thing - Antichrist and his kingdom.
An obvious point
of similarity is that they share a common foundation in
Likewise the first
beast is clearly identified with
It is reasonable
to conclude from these verses that the little horn and the first beast (i.e.
the antichrist) had their foundations in the
IDENTIFICATION OF ANTICHRIST
Firstly Antichrist is described as a man. The apostle John was told, "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is." Revelation 17:8.
The reading declares that he "was," which means that he was a person who once lived on the earth, "and is not," which indicates that he subsequently died. The reading goes on to declare that he "will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition." This means that his spirit will ascend out of hell to rest on the antichrist, but that the inevitable end of his spirit must be final damnation.
There has been
much speculation concerning the identity of this person. It is generally considered
that it is the spirit of a man who was the epitome of Godlessness and
lawlessness. A common suggestion is the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, who
Secondly, the antichrist is referred to as a kingdom. This is also reasonable, as it is difficult to divorce Antichrist himself from the realm in which his power operates.
"There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. And the beast that was, and is not, is himself the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition." Revelation 17:10-11.
also seven kings. Five have fallen." At the
time John wrote down his prophecy, (which was toward the end of the first
century AD), five mighty empires had come into power and then fallen. They were
the ancient empires of
is yet to come." This refers to the Holy Roman
Empire which rose out of the ruins of the
beast that was, and is not, is himself is also the eighth, and is of the seven,
and is going to perdition." The eighth king is
the antichrist. He and his kingdom have been developed and refined through a
progression of worldly empires. He is "of the seven" in that
he had his roots in the seven, but is far more sinister than previous emperors.
This is bec
THE PAPACY OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The office of Pope
was the perfect position for the power of antichrist to be established. The
papacy declared itself to be the head of the Christian world, and eventually
became head of the
In his "Explanatory Notes on the New Testament," John Wesley writes the following of Pope Gregory:
"Hildebrand or Gregory VII., is the proper founder of the papal kingdom. All the patrons of the papacy allow that he made many considerable additions to it: and this very thing constitutes the beast, by completing the spiritual kingdom; the new maxims, and the new actions of Gregory, all proclaim this. Some of his maxims are,
1. That the bishop of
2. That he alone can depose bishops, or receive them again.
3. That he alone had power to make new laws in the Church.
4. That he alone ought to use the ensigns of royalty.
5. That all princes ought to kiss his foot.
6. That the name of Pope is the only name under heaven; and that his name alone should be recited in the Churches.
7. That he has the power to depose emperors.
8. That no general synod can be convened but by him.
9. That no book is canonical without his
10. That none upon the earth can repeal his sentence, but he alone can repeal any sentence.
11. That he is subject to no human judgment.
12. That no power dare to pass sentence on one who appeals to the pope.
13. That all weighty matters every where ought to be referred to him.
14. That the Roman Church never did, nor ever can err.
15. That the Roman bishop, canonically ordained, is immediately made holy, by the merits of St Peter.
16. That he can absolve subjects from their allegiance.
"These the most eminent Roman writers own to be his genuine sayings. And his actions agree with his words. Hitherto the popes had been subject to the emperors, though often unwillingly. But now the pope began himself, under a spiritual pretext, to act the emperor of the whole Christian world."
"Thus did the pope claim to himself the whole
The prophet Daniel describes the little horn as "that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows." Daniel 7:20. The apostle John declared that the first beast "was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies." Revelation 13:05. Here then is the little horn of Daniel 7 and the first beast of Revelation 13, having reached their penultimate expression in the office of Pope in the papal kingdom.
THE PROTESTANT MUTATION
The position of
Pope of the Roman Catholic Church was the perfect pseudo-spiritual climate for
Satan to propagate his alternative church. That alternative is the false or
apostate church, which is called ‘the harlot’ in the Book of Revelation.
Chapter 17 declares that the harlot was carried by the first beast, and that
she sat on the
However the papacy of the Catholic Church is certainly not the only manifestation of the antichrist and his kingdom. Rather it is the prototype of all Christian apostasy. The office of Pope was the culmination of Antichrist’s evolution through a series of empires, resulting in the first ‘religious’ form of worldly government. The antichrist has since multiplied throughout all church denominations - including the Protestants.
was strong opposition to the various Popes’ assertions of political
received a "deadly wound" when many people and whole nations
followed Martin Luther’s example, and protested against the papacy and the
Roman Catholic Church. The fact that its numerical strength has revived, and
that much of its power and influence has been restored to it, has c
papacy is not the clearly discernable citadel of power it once was. This may
lead the unwary to assume that the first beast is no longer a threat to the
church. This is not the case, bec
The first beast is
as content working in a congregational committee as he is in an episcopal
hierarchy. Democracy is an appealing alternative to dictatorship, but any form
of government which rules without reference to God has the power of antichrist
at its roots. The antichrist is the fundamental power behind all forms of
worldly and humanistic government. This is the case whether that government be
conducted by the Politburo in
significance of the workings of antichrist for all Christians is contained in
Daniel’s prophecy of the little horn. "I was watching; and the same
horn was making war with the saints, and prevailing against them….Then the
saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time."
Daniel 7:21,25. This was confirmed by the apostle John, who reported that the
first beast "was given
The attack on the
true church by Antichrist has clearly been successful, and the saints given
over into his power for the symbolic three and a half years of tribulation.
This period is not a literal time, but includes the whole church age during
which the wheat and the tares have been growing side by side. It is the period
when the Two Witnesses testify in sackcloth bec
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF ANTICHRIST
It is useful to review the characteristics that the antichrist has acquired during his development. This will enable us to recognise the "mark" of Satan’s mechanism of antichrist in our own lives and fellowships. The first and fundamental characteristic is his lawlessness.
The antichrist is called "the lawless one" in the bible. "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception." 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10.
terms, to be lawless is to be opposed to the spiritual
The second characteristic of the antichrist is his promotion of humanism. He promotes the idea that God expects man to perfect the world by his own endeavours. Humanism encourages community improvements through education, science and technology, social programs, and large financial appeals. It reinforces the blasphemy that man is dependant on man to meet his needs, rather than God.
The third characteristic of the antichrist is deception. These deceptions are so subtle that Jesus warned that even the elect may be deceived. "For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Matthew 24:24.
The first beast of the Key Bible Reading is the antichrist and his kingdom. It is the power of worldly and humanistic government which evolved through the great empires of the ancient world. The penultimate product of this process was the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, which is the prototype of all Christian apostasy and lawlessness.
The popes of
In the next three
chapters the intention is to study the main ways in which the antichrist
operates. In keeping with its fundamentally lawless nature, the main thrust of
Antichrist’s attack is against spiritual
SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY AND REBELLION
Eph 1:19-23 "according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."
John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."
John 7:16 "Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me."
John 5:19 "Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."
John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
Eph 4:4-8, 11-12 (Authorised King James Version) "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore He saith, when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men…And He gave some, apostles, and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the4 body of Christ."
Hebrews 13:17 "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."
THE BASIS OF SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY
The last chapter
established that Satan’s kingdom of antichrist is founded on the principle of
replacing the spiritual
In contrast, the
basis of spiritual
Our Father in
heaven is the source of all
In like manner
Christ’s prepared and anointed vessels are to be totally dependant on Him. They
see what He wants them to do through the Holy Spirit showing them. In obeying
that leading they are to rely on Jesus to do the work, "for without Me
you can do nothing." John 15:5. The basis of spiritual
Christ’s prepared and anointed vessels are completely obedient to His will, and do nothing in their own right. Consequently to be obedient to Christ’s anointed vessels is to be obedient to Christ Himself, Similarly, to rebel against Christ’s anointed leaders is to rebel against Christ Himself.
THE BASIS OF SPIRITUAL HEADSHIP
The basis of all
spiritual headship is exemplified in the role of Jesus as head of the church.
He explained His position in terms of a servant. "You know that the
rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise
The person who has been entrusted with spiritual headship is required to give up his life for those under him, and to become their servant. He is also required to bear responsibility for them and to give account of them before the Lord. "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account." Hebrews 13:17.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SPIRITUAL AND WORLDLY LEADERS
There are clear differences between those leaders chosen and prepared by the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit, and those leaders elected by worldly processes. Reference to Christ’s provision of leaders to the church is found in Ephesian 4. This text requires careful study to appreciate its true meaning.
Christ, as head of the church, is directing gifts to the church as a whole. "But unto everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." Ephesian 4:7 (Authorised King James Version). It is not correct to assume that this "gift of Christ" is a reference to the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ listed by the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12. Instead, a close look at the reading reveals that "the gift of Christ" to the church is that of leaders.
Christ "gave gifts unto men…And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelist; and some, pastors and teachers." Ephesians 4:7,11. (Authorised King James Version). These people were given to minister to the church and build it up. The gift of anointed leaders was "for the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Ephesians 4:12. (Authorised King James Version).
It is Christ, as
head of the church, who prepares leaders and then presents them to His body.
Everyone in the church is blessed by the gift of such leaders "according
to the measure of Christ’s gift." When a church fellowship believes
the word and acknowledges spiritual
In contrast, the
influence of Antichrist on church fellowships has been to replace spiritual
leaders with worldly leaders. The effect of this has been to destroy Christ’s
Secondly, the idea is promoted that a church leader should have academic qualifications to be legitimate. For example, a church ‘minister’ must have a degree or diploma in divinity from a ‘reputable’ bible college to be acceptable to the modern congregation. This results in church leaders being appointed on the basis of their worldly qualifications, rather than according to their preparation by Christ.
One man is therefore employed as head of the local fellowship, and he is expected to personally direct each department or activity of the ‘church.’ The possibility of Christ presenting His gift of leaders to each church is never seriously entertained.
The third idea
promoted by the spirit of antichrist is that the church leaders should be
democratically elected by the congregation. The assumption is that God’s will
can be more reliably established by the Holy Spirit through a large gathering
of church members. This assumption is incorrect bec
The Holy Spirit never violates a person’s free will. He is literally unable to override the decision of a person’s heart and impose another view. In any one congregation there is a mixture of wheat and tares. In addition to believers matured in Christ and obedient to His Spirit, there are nominal Christians, carnal Christians, backsliders, and those under the power of Antichrist. In these circumstances it is unrealistic to expect that the Holy Spirit will succeed in steering all (or even most) of the individual wills in the congregation to the will of Christ.
The fourth idea
promoted by the spirit of antichrist is that the eldership is a figurehead or
honorary position. Elders are not seen as shepherds or overseers of the flock,
and are denied the
ELECTION OF SPIRITUAL LEADERS
Leaders in the
apostate church are elected by worldly processes and with reference to worldly
qualifications. However, the pattern set in the early church is that spiritual
leaders were first prepared by the Lord. They were recognised by the existing
elders, who duly elected them and anointed them for service. The apostle P
The New Testament
pattern is one of ministers emerging from within the fellowship, and being
recognised and anointed by the existing elders. The physician Luke records this
process taking place in the new churches in
THE PREPARATION OF SPIRITUAL LEADERS
Jesus said that he did only what He saw His Father doing and that He said only the words His Father gave Him to say. This perfect obedience requires a complete separation from the power of the flesh. Before a person can meet such a high standard of obedience, all his attachment to self and self works must be removed. "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work." 2 Timothy 2:21 (Authorised King James Version).
Before a man can be a "vessel unto honour," he must undergo a careful preparation at the hands of the Lord. All genuine spiritual leaders are first selected by Christ, and then required to submit to the disciplining of the Holy Spirit until their flesh has been dealt with. This is a long and often painful process, but absolutely necessary before a vessel is "meet" (or fit) for the master’s use."
A model of this
preparation can be seen in the life of Moses. It is important to note the state
of Moses’ heart before he was prepared by God. Moses had every worldly reason
to be confident of his own ability. He had enjoyed a privileged upbringing as
the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s d
he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the
Even then Moses
knew that he was God’s chosen vessel to deliver the children of
Moses spent the
next forty years in exile in the wilderness, where he tended his
father-in-law’s sheep. During this time God was able to deal with the once
learned and eloquent prince of
God appeared to
Moses from the midst of a burning bush, and said to him, "Come now,
therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the
Despite God’s assurances, and the demonstration of miraculous signs, Moses remained a reluctant vessel. "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice: suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you’… O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue," Exodus 4:1,10. This was clearly a changed man from the one who had struck down an Egyptian guard forty years before.
The model of Moses indicates that the preparation of a spiritual leader is in direct contrast to the preparation of worldly leaders. The preparation of worldly leaders involves equipping the prospective executive with intellectual skills and self assurance. The Lord’s preparation of His vessels removes all the self assurance or dependence on self, so that there is a total reliance on Him. The prepared vessel is constantly turning to the Lord and constantly seeking His will. He does nothing by his own initiation or in his own power.
THE BASIS OF REBELLION AGAINST AUTHORITY
The opposition of
the world to spiritual
"Now Korah…..with Dathan and Abiram…… took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?" Numbers 16:1-3.
The attitudes that
‘we are all equal,’ that ‘no one is more spiritual than anyone else,’ and that
‘they take too much on themselves,’ are all incited by the spirit of
antichrist. They are used to promote rebellion against the Lord’s anointed
leaders, and therefore rebellion against the Lord Himself. There is no doubt
that in the true church all the congregation are holy, and that the Lord is
among them. But that does not remove the congregation’s obligation to obey the
Lord by obeying the delegated
"Then Moses said: "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD." Numbers 16:28-30.
Moses did not say
that Korah and his followers had rejected him. He said that "these men
have rejected the Lord." Disobedience and rebellion against the
God is the head of
Where there is
obedience to Christ’s delegated
The role of the
antichrist is to replace spiritual
The next chapter
will uncover the work of the antichrist in undermining spiritual
SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY IN THE FAMILY
Eph 5:22-27 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."
Eph 6:1-4 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."
"Now when Jesus had entered
STRUCTURE OF AUTHORITY IN THE FAMILY
The bible is
consistent in its instruction concerning the structure of
The bible presents
a clear chain of
The basis for this headship is the same as for all spiritual headship. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it." The one assuming the role of head is in fact assuming the role of a servant. He is to serve and be responsible for those under his headship.
THE OPERATION OF A CHAIN OF AUTHORITY
A model for the
operation of a chain of
acknowledged Christ’s position in a chain of
The thing that
makes a chain of
THE PRINCIPLE OF COVERING
The principle of
spiritual covering is revealed by further study of 1 Corinthian 11. The apostle
praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every
woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head……For a
man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God;
but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man.
Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the
woman ought to have a symbol of
The question here
is not whether a woman should wear a hat in church. The veil or head covering
was traditionally worn by women at that time as a recognised symbol of
marriage. It was a visible sign of a woman’s submission to the
This then is P
involved here are both the angels of God who are charged to protect us, and the
fallen angels of Satan. Demon spirits are always poised to take advantage of
any disobedience to Christ’s delegated
APPLICATION OF THE CHAIN TO THE FAMILY
There are two
conditions which must be fulfilled for the chain of
The second condition is that there must be an acceptance of the responsibility of headship. The husband must accept that he is responsible for the spiritual well being of his family, and exercise his headship. "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church." Ephesians 5:23. In the same way that Christ is head of the church, (i.e. With the same responsibility for oversight and protection), so the husband is head of his wife. Likewise parents must accept and exercise their responsibility as head of their children. Where there is no spirit of headship, there is no position for the Lord to uphold, and He cannot provide the required wisdom to rule well.
Where there is
proper headship and submission, the Lord upholds the whole family. This
particularly applies to protecting children from the wiles of Satan. The devil
seeks to draw them to their complete moral and physical destruction. Headship,
and submission to it, are vital elements in the protection of the family and
its spiritual well being. Bec
His attack has been directed at two main areas. One area concerns children and their ‘rights’ under the law. Proper legal protection is appropriate in preventing physical abuse and economic exploitation of children. However, parents and teachers are now being placed under increasing restraints, limiting their proper functions of oversight and discipline.
There has been a worldwide program to ‘protect children’s rights.’ The word ‘protect’ really means to promote in this context, and ‘rights’ extends to children being encouraged to make 'major life decisions’ on their own. The excessive freedom (or lawlessness) created by these ‘reforms’ has been initiated by the spirit of antichrist. It is a direct attack aimed at removing Christ’s headship and protection of the family unit.
The other area of
attack has been against the spiritual position of women outlined in the bible.
This century has witnessed an unprecedented ass
state of lawlessness is described by the prophet Isaiah. "As for My
people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. My people!
Those who lead you c
THE COMPLEMENTARY POSITIONS OF MEN AND WOMEN
The fact is that
women occupy a different position relative to men, both in the home and in the
church. However the deception propagated by the spirit of antichrist is that
women are therefore inferior to men. It is a mistake to assume from the Key
Bible Readings that the husband is better than the wife, or to dismiss the
It was the same P
The principle of
headship is not designed to manoeuvre the male sex into a position of
advantage. Rather, it is God’s way to ensure that the family is functioning
properly, and that it has the protective covering of Christ. P
There is a great
deal of confusion concerning this issue. So many men have abdicated their role
of spiritual headship in the home and in the church that many women have felt
obliged to ‘step up into the breach.’ This is an understandable reaction, but
it is fr
THAT WOMAN JEZEBEL
In the letter to
The book of
Revelation is a book of symbols, and so it is necessary to examine the
scriptures to understand what "that woman Jezebel" represents.
Certainly this reading is not referring to an actual woman called Jezebel who
was seducing the men of the congregation. Instead, it is a reference to Queen
Jezebel of the Old Testament, who was the wife of King Ahab of
She corrupted her husband’s kingdom by introducing her native pagan religions of Baal and Asharah. She also persecuted the Jewish prophets, with particular animosity towards Elijah for his faithfulness to God. However it is Jezebel'’ behaviour towards her husband that is most relevant. It is useful to read the story of the seizure of Naboth’s vineyard in full in order to appreciate the extent to which Jezebel dominated her husband.
came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which
was in Jezreel, next to the
It is apparent
from this reading that Jezebel usurped the
THE SPIRIT OF WITCHCRAFT
At this point it is necessary to open our hearts to accept new truth. We need to open our eyes to see what is really happening to the church and our families. Remember that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12.
All the powers of
darkness at Satan’s command are at the disposal of Antichrist. In this
particular case, the spirit of antichrist is directing the power of witchcraft
in an out ass
The spirit of witchcraft is closely associated with rebellion, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." 1 Samuel 15:23. This spirit directs its power at women and accuses them of inferiority and worthlessness. The result is discontent and resentment at their circumstances, which in turn incites a demand for ‘equality’ with men. The spirit of witchcraft is based on the deception that women are inferior. This deception is at the root of all feminist demands, no matter how reasonable those demands might appear on the surface.
A family under the power of a spirit of witchcraft displays quite recognisable symptoms, many of which are only too familiar in the church today. Basically the wife ‘wears the pants,’ and has her own way in most things, through domination or more subtler manipulation. There are excessive reactions to decisions which do not go her way, and the family is wary of opposing her will.
In this family the wife has usurped the spiritual headship of the household, and the husband is reduced to seeking his fulfillment through worldly pursuits. The children are dominated by their mother, who attempts to mould them into a predetermined image. The inevitable result in the children is repression, frustration, resentment, and finally rebellion. As a consequence of this they are often drawn into lawlessness and immorality.
takes place bec
THE JUDGMENT OF JEZEBEL
consequence of the lack of spiritual covering is that there is often a lot of
sickness in the household. Many Christian families are prevented from receiving
their inheritance of health and healing in Jesus Christ "by whose
stripes you were healed." 1 Peter 2:24. This is bec
The Lord has declared His judgment on the woman Jezebel and her admirers. "Indeed I will cast her into a sick-bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds." This is a clear warning that sickness and distress will afflict all those who submit to the power of witchcraft. "And I will kill her children with death." Revelation 2:23.
Both men and women are held accountable in this area. God’s judgment was not only pronounced on Queen Jezebel. The prophet Elijah declared to King Ahab, "Thus says the Lord, ‘In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours.’ And concerning Jezebel the Lord also spoke, saying, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’" 1 Kings 21:19,23.
falls equally on men and women. It falls on women who usurp the role of
headship and invite in a spirit of witchcraft. It also falls on men who fail to
take up their proper position of headship in the family or the church, and so
allow themselves to be dominated or manipulated. God condemned "Ahab
who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, bec
ordained structure of
The next chapter will examine Antichrist’s attempts to exploit the lawlessness of our flesh.
THE FLESH AND LAWLESSNESS
1 Cor 3:11-15. "For
no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious
stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will
declare it, bec
Heb 4:9-11. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."
THE WORKS OF CHRIST
There are three basic types of works performed by those who profess to be Christians. Each type is determined by the source of its power or motivation. There are the works of Christ, the works of the flesh, and the works of Satan. These categories are not always clear cut as there is often a mixture of these in each individual work. There may be some of Christ and some of the flesh, or there may be some of the flesh and some of Satan.
Jesus said, "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit." Matthew 12:33. In other words, in order to make the fruit good, all corrupting influence of the flesh has to be removed, so that the work is completely of Christ.
The works of
Christ are initiated by Him and done in the power of the Holy Spirit. They are
performed without the intrusion of the flesh, and bear good and lasting fruit
which will stand in the day of testing. On that day, "each one’s work
will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, bec
THE WORKS OF THE FLESH
The works of the flesh are those performed out of the power of the natural man, through his own physical and intellectual skills. They are performed without the initiation of the Holy Spirit. They are born out of pride, self assurance and independence, and have at their basis a desire to glorify self. Church leaders chosen on the basis of their own natural skills and abilities are more prone to initiate fleshly works and programs than those who are spiritually prepared and anointed.
Jesus said that He did only what He saw His Father doing. If He didn’t see His father working in a situation, He didn’t involve Himself. He didn’t work independently from God, and did only that which His Father initiated.
In contrast, the dead works of the flesh are a consequence of a restless heart which is not prepared to be still and wait on God for His will to become apparent. Typical statements introducing fleshly works are, ‘We can’t just sit here - We have to do something.’ Or ‘I am just going to step out in faith.’
The self behind fleshly works is often involved in a restless search for ‘the empowering’ to perform the miraculous. This may appear to be legitimate, but in reality it is the flesh which is seeking to project itself forward. The person who is engaged in the works of Christ has had his flesh dealt with, and is content to see Christ glorified. God said, "I will not give My glory to another." Isaiah 48:11.
Works of the flesh may have the appearance of fruitfulness. They may seem to be a good idea at the time, or even meeting a genuine need. The fact remains however that they are not Christ’s works, and they are not performed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They will therefore not stand on the day of testing. Christ said that "without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5.
FLESHLY WORKS ARE LAWLESS
Our Lord Jesus
Christ is the head of the church and the builder of the Body. He is the "cornerstone"
and the "foundation," and He gives us the apostles, prophets,
evangelists, and pastors and teachers. This is so that we "may grow up
in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body,
joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the
effective working by which every part does its share, c
Prepared and anointed leaders are required to direct and order Christ’s ministry to His body. Fleshly works are individual works which are performed independently from spiritual leading and oversight. The zealous works of the flesh ignore headship, replacing it with the lawless enthusiasm of men.
The simple fact is that men in their own strength are not competent or equipped to build or protect the body. "Unless the Lord builds the house, They labour in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain." Psalm 127:1.
The works of the flesh (no matter how well meaning), rarely strike at the heart of the matter, and often cut right across the path of Christ’s genuine ministry. At best they are a hindrance to Christ’s work, and at worst they can turn a person away from the truth completely. It is small wonder that the works of the flesh are condemned as lawless.
GOD’S JUDGMENT ON FLESHLY WORKS
The apostle P
There are two types of building on this foundation. "Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it." 1 Corinthians 3:12-13.
The "gold, silver, precious stones" are symbols of the true works of Christ done in the power of the Holy Spirit. The "wood, hay, straw" are symbols of the combustible works of the flesh which will not stand the test of fire.
The "Day" is the day of testing. Satan is allowed this time to challenge any believer’s works that might threaten his kingdom of darkness. God permits this trial by Satan so that all the works of Christ are tempered and strengthened, whilst all that is of the flesh is consumed by the fire.
Ministers of the
life of Christ can be comforted by this bec
CHRIST’S WARNING TO CHARISMATICS
It is not correct to assume that the power of the flesh, (and subsequent denial of Christ’s headship) is restricted to the traditional denominations. Some Pentecostal and Charismatic fellowships are no more enlightened in this respect, despite their baptism in the Spirit, and involvement in the gifts of the Spirit. In fact the baptism in the Spirit and use of the gifts of the Spirit opens the door to even more attack than would otherwise be the case.
Charismatic congregations are more vulnerable to lawlessness rather than less. The sudden influx of spiritual power is exhilarating, and without proper oversight can result in spiritual pride and lawless works of the flesh. Jesus addressed those who misuse the gifts of the Spirit. "Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?" Matthew 7:22.
The works listed
here are associated with some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are
outlined by P
It is commonly assumed in charismatic circles that any sign of the miraculous being manifested is a certain indication of the working of the Holy Spirit. However it has already been noted in previous chapters that Jesus warned us that it is possible for even the elect to be deceived. In fact Satan has no difficulty in duplicating the miraculous.
illustrated when Moses and Aaron went before the Pharaoh of Egypt, and were
called to "Show a miracle for yourselves,'…. And Aaron cast down his
rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. But
Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of
Satan can just as easily duplicate the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the immature and undisciplined believer, who is not under the headship of Christ’s anointed shepherds. The severity of Christ’s judgment on lawless charismatics precludes the possibility of their ‘prophesying’, ‘deliverance,’ and ‘miracles,’ having been performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, Christ was declaring that many charismatic ‘signs and wonders’ are really duplicates of Satan, and performed in the power of the spirit of antichrist.
Many of the ‘healings,’ prophesyings,’ deliverances,’ and ‘slayings in the spirit’ are not of the Lord. Instead they are initiated in the flesh and subsequently empowered by Satan through his demon spirits. While having the initial appearance of blessing and benefit, the ‘fruit’ does not last. The gulled recipients of such wonders are often left disillusioned, and with their faith in tatters.
THE WORKS OF SATAN
The works of Satan vary from blatant occultist practices to manipulation of the works of the flesh. When Jesus urged that the tree be made good or bad, He was inferring that the most dangerous works were those which were a mixture of fleshly zeal, and Satanic influence. Most of us can recognise and avoid the occultist works of Satan., but few can discern the subtlety of the fleshly mixture. For this reason it would be better if the tree was all bad.
Satan’s entry into the church is often through the flesh of well meaning and zealous Christian workers. Even the workers in the Key Bible Reading were deceived, and Jesus foretold of their pained bewilderment on the day of final judgment, when they will be confronted with their lawlessness.
The subtlety of the works of Satan through the flesh of believers, highlights the need for the covering of protection that Christ has provided for His body. This requires submission of the church to the headship and oversight of His appointed elders, who should carefully monitor the use of the gifts of the Spirit. In addition, all works should be tested. "Test all things; hold fast to what is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
When speaking to
the woman of
of the extravagant and undisciplined worship in charismatic circles is inspired
by the flesh rather than the Spirit. It springs from the misconception that
true spiritual worship should be accompanied by some physical or verbal
display. The extravagance of this display quite often becomes the g
"Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified."' So Aaron held his peace." Leviticus 10:1-3.
In learning to "worship
the Father in spirit and truth", we are not to take our lead from
others. Instead we are to learn to be obedient to the leadings placed on our
own spirits, which will
ENTERING INTO GOD’S REST
The most pressing requirement for the believer today is to learn to differentiate between the works of Christ, and the works of the flesh or Satan. In order to do this we must in turn learn to be still, and wait on God, that we might enter into His rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His." Hebrews 4:9-10.
To enter into God’s rest is to enter into a state of trust and belief in His love and faithfulness towards us. This position allows us to cease from all fretful striving in the flesh, and to trust in His absolute control over our circumstances. It is to know the Lord Jesus Christ as the head and builder of the body, and our own head and covering. This knowledge enables us to wait on Him, and not move until we are sure of His direction.
It is not sufficient to pray for God’s direction and anointing, only to wrest the initiative back from Him again, and proceed in our own strength. We have to deliberately let go of the burden and then resist all temptation to pick it back up again. To be in God’s rest is to accept that nothing we can do of ourselves will survive the fire of testing.
To be in God’s rest does not mean to cease from all activity. Instead it means to cease from all striving in the flesh. It means to be still when the Lord is still, and to move only when He moves. It means to walk in harmony with the power of the Holy Spirit, and to cooperate with that power in the production of lasting fruit.
THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST
13:11-18. "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he
had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the
THE SECOND BEAST
The previous four
chapters have studied the first beast (or Antichrist) of Revelation 13. The
study began with the rise of Antichrist and the evolution of his kingdom, until
it reached its penultimate expression in the papacy of the Roman Catholic
Church. From this springboard the influence of the antichrist spread throughout
all denominations in a subtle and effective attack on the headship and
This chapter concerns the second beast of Revelation 13. "Then I saw another beast." The first beast was pictured "rising up out of the sea," which symbolises its emergence from out of the nations. In contrast, the second beast is pictured "coming up out of the earth," symbolizing its religious character. It is actually called "the false prophet" in Revelation 16 and Revelation 20.
A more accurate name for the second beast however is the spirit of antichrist. The apostle John wrote, "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." 1John 4:2-3.
Just as the first
beast is a counterfeit of Christ, so the second beast is a counterfeit of the
Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit testifies to Christ by performing the work required
to manifest His kingdom. Similarly, the spirit of antichrist is working to
glorify and expand the
The second beast, or spirit of antichrist, "had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon." This beast is clearly not what it appears. On the outside it seems gentle and harmless, but its inner nature belies this impression. Outwardly it claims to represent Christ and promotes a caring and compassionate image. It takes strong moral positions on social issues like abortion and divorce, and it abhors military aggression and economic injustice.
Inwardly however, it opposes the headship of Christ. This subtle but profound undermining work has stripped the church of its spiritual power. The gospel of Christ has been replaced by a social gospel of good works, which, although addressing legitimate concerns, ignores the power of Christ in dealing with man’s problems. This is a powerless and vulnerable version of Christianity. The spirit of antichrist is a beguiling deception which is always eager to preach:"’Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace’." Jeremiah 6:14.
There is a striking unanimity between this picture of the second beast with "horns like a lamb and (speech) like a dragon," and Christ’s warning of wolves in sheep’s clothing. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." Matthew 7:15.
A CLIMATE OF LAWLESSNESS
It is important to
understand that the spirit of antichrist works in a climate of lawlessness. The
Key Bible Reading indicates that the second beast "exercises all the
The spirit of
antichrist can only be effective in its work where there is a climate of
THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST
Jesus Christ is the image of God. "He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation." Colossians 1:15. Similarly the true church is the image of Christ. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18.
The Holy Spirit has the task of transforming the church into the image of Christ by filling it with His presence. Similarly, the spirit of antichrist has been given the task of corrupting the church into the image of the antichrist. The "image of the beast" is the apostate church which reflects the lawlessness and worldliness of the first beast.
The Key Bible
Reading records that the task of the second beast was to tell "those
who dwell on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the
sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast,
that the image of the beast should both speak and c
The penultimate historical fulfillment of the image of the beast was the Roman Catholic Church. The identity of the image of the beast is indicated by repeated reference to "the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed." In Revelation 13. (Verses 3,12,and 14). This reference to a wound symbolises the devastating blow which the Catholic Church suffered at the time of the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther was
instrumental in inflicting great damage to the papacy when he nailed his
proclamation of ‘Justification by Faith’ to the door of the castle church at
Wittenburg in 1517. The subsequent upheaval threatened to decimate the Catholic
Church, and certainly destroyed its complete hold over Christianity in
flowed into Church coffers following the discovery of the New World by the
Catholic nations of the
At the height of
its power, the papacy had absolute
WORSHIPPING THE IMAGE
While the Catholic Church is clearly the penultimate expression or prototype of the image of the beast, it is by no means the final edition. The spirit of antichrist has established an image to the beast in every denomination of every generation. Worshipping the image of the beast occurs whenever undue respect is paid to the man-made elements. The church buildings and the denominational doctrines and traditions, become more important that the Lord Himself.
Jesus said to the Pharisees, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition…making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down." Mark 7:9,13.
The subtlety of worshipping the image of the beast prevents many from detecting its presence within their own fellowships. It is often exposed when a congregations are confronted with spiritual revelation. Such a challenge provokes statements like, ‘This is OUR church! or ‘We’ve never done that in our church’, or ‘We have our traditions to maintain.' The attitude behind these statements is one of worshipping the beast.
THE MARK OF THE BEAST
Note: The words "one
who" have been added to the verb ‘ekho’ ‘to have.’. A better translation
is "except having the mark". There are many and varied
interpretations of the mark of the beast. One of the most common is that the
mark is an invisible tattoo which is imprinted on our hands and foreheads. The
belief is that this mark will have to be presented to a detecting devise at all
shopping outlets before any purchase can be made by the consumer. The fear
generated by this sort of interpretation has c
In order to
understand the real meaning of the mark of the beast, it is necessary to turn
to the first mention made in the bible to a mark placed on the hands and
foreheads of men. The ‘first mention’ of any topic in the bible often holds the
key to understanding later references on the same topic. The appropriate
reading in this case concerns Moses instituting a ceremony of remembrance for
the deliverance of the children of
days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a
feast to the LORD….."And you shall tell your son in that day, saying,
'This is done bec
The mark of the beast is also an invisible "sign" or "memorial" which is ‘engraved’ on our hands and our foreheads (i.e. on everything we do and in everything we think). It is incurred through the everyday ’ceremony’ of buying and selling. This common ‘ritual’ is used by the spirit of antichrist to condition all of mankind into believing that the source of their provision is their own effort.
Antichrist’s aim is to so condition all people through the process of buying and selling that no one might buy or sell "except having" his "mark" of bondage, or his "name" or character, or "the number of his name" (which is a symbol for humanism). The mark of the beast has been very successful in turning us away from dependence on God as He who provides for all our needs. It operates as a perpetual reminder that our financial security and our economic success are determined by our own individual industry and intellect. Once accepted, this blasphemy is imbued into men’s actions and thoughts, including those in the church. A statement like ‘He has done well’ is not likely to be a reference to a fellow church member’s spiritual growth. It is more likely to be a reference to his successful career and his numerous material possessions.
THE MARK IS UNIVERSAL
It is important to
acknowledge that everyone has to some degree received the mark of the beast. "And
"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." Ephesians 2:1-3.
Before salvation all men are unredeemed and fallen before God, and in this state all of us were invested with the mark of the beast. We were all impregnated with the mark of independence from God that declares ‘I have earned this,’ or "This is the product of my efforts." However it is not necessary for is to remain in this position once our life is renewed in Christ.
VICTORY OVER THE MARK
It is clearly possible to gain victory over the mark of the beast. "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having harps of God." Revelation 15:2. (Authorised King James Version)
standing on the sea of glass had not escaped receiving the mark of the beast,
but rather they had "gotten the victory over" it. They had received
it in the same way as everyone else bec
It is futile to try to avoid the mark of the beast by fleeing to a rural retreat. In fact these actions reveal the already implanted mark at work. It is the mark of the beast which generates fear about our provision, and it is this fear which is expressed in attempts to become self sufficient. Victory over the mark of the beast is expressed when we indicate by our actions and thoughts that we have placed our trust in God for our provision.
THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST’S NAME
(N)o one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666." Revelation 13:17-18. The number of his name" is declared to be 666, which is also said to be the "number of a man." It could have been just as correctly translated as "the number of man," and in fact this translation gives a clearer insight into the real meaning of the number.
Symbolically, the number 6 is the number of man, and 666 represents the sum total of man’s efforts. The number 666 is therefore the number of humanism. The philosophy of humanism is the belief that man is capable of achieving fulfillment in all things without reference to God. It is a blasphemous attitude that asserts man’s independence from God through reliance on human effort rather than divine power.
There is ample evidence of the number of the beast, or 666, being engraved in the hands and foreheads of mankind. The world wide New Age Movement, which has its basis in humanism, promotes the concept of a ‘New World Order’ which will arise through mankind untapping the vast reservoirs of ‘human potential’ within each of us. They believe that the problems of an ailing world can be solved through advances in science, education, and technology. The mark of the beast also promotes an attitude of humanistic philanthropy that generates involvement in world wide community welfare programs.
The number 666 is not restricted to the world. It is present in the denominational church too, with frantic efforts to ‘keep the ship afloat’. It is expressed in never ending cake stalls, garage sales, and building appeals. Behind this atmosphere of anxious activity is the erroneous belief that the church’s provision is our responsibility.
THE NAME OF GOD
In the ancient
Hebrew language, names held a far greater significance than their modern day
use would suggest. The name of God was used to indicate all of His attributes,
and so it embraced the whole of His divine character. God acquired His name
before men by His mighty acts of deliverance and provision as He brought the
Israelites out from their bondage in
is like Your people
God sent ravens to feed the prophet Elijah by the Brook Cherith. "The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook." 1 Kings 17:6. God miraculously sustained a widow’s meager reserves of flour and oil for Elijah’s benefit. "(A)nd she and he and her household ate for many days. The Bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry."1 Kings 17:15-16.
Jesus said, "I have manifested Your name," meaning that He had manifested all of the attributes of God. Jesus manifested His Father’s name Jehovah Jireh, when He fed the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. "So they ate and were filled." Mark 6:42. Again Jesus manifested His Father’s name Jehovah Jireh by feeding four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. "So they ate and were filled." Mark 8:8.
Jesus was teaching His servants to cease from all fretful activity directed at providing for themselves. Instead they were to rest in God’s name of Jehovah Jireh - "the Lord will Provide.’ God would have us rest in His provision for us.
beast (i.e. cattle) goes down into the valley, And the Spirit of the Lord c
In contrast, the number of the name of the beast represents complete independence from God. It maintains that created man can do very well without the help of God the Creator. As a result, the spirit of antichrist leads man into a frenzy of activity, aimed at meeting all of his needs, and solving all of his problems in his own strength.
GOD’S JUDGMENT IS ANNOUNCED
"If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." Revelation 14:9-11.
We should carefully consider this warning of God’s judgment on those who continue to receive the mark of the beast. We have all received the mark in our unredeemed state prior to salvation. Now that we are saved however, we have the knowledge to make a clear choice. We can choose to reject and discard the mark of the beast, or we can continue to receive its influence, and face God’s judgment.
The judgment on
those wearing the mark of the beast is not damnation in hell, bec
As long as we feel
responsible for our own provision, God has no alternative but to withdraw and
wait for us to exh
The second beast, or spirit of antichrist, acts as a counterfeit to the Holy Spirit, and it requires a climate of spiritual lawlessness in order to operate. It has the task of glorifying the antichrist by making an image to him in the form of the false or apostate church. This image is worshipped whenever man-made elements such as buildings or traditions, become more important than our Lord Jesus Christ.
In addition, the work of the spirit of antichrist involves conditioning man with a mark of economic and humanistic independence from God. The effect of this mark is to steal away man’s rest in God’s provision for him. We are required renounce both the image of the beast and the mark of the beast, or to face the judgmental wrath of God.
The apostate church is called the Woman Babylon, or the Harlot, in the Book of Revelation. The next two chapters will examine the alternative religion promoted by this power of darkness, and its ultimate judgment by God.
Revelation 17:1-7,9. "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns…"Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.’"
OUR PREPARATION TO SEE THE VISION
The Key Bible Reading presents a vision of an opulently attired woman astride a scarlet beast. The significance of this rather bizarre picture is difficult to grasp without a certain amount of preparation to open our spiritual eyes. It is therefore useful to study the apostle John’s preparation to receive the vision.
Firstly, John had
to be shown the meaning of the vision bec
Thirdly, John was taken "into the wilderness" to see the woman. Revelation 17:3 The wilderness is a symbol of spiritual dryness and deadness. In order to recognise the apostate church, we must look beyond the misleading physical appearance. We must ignore the magnificent buildings, the international membership, and the multitude of programs. "The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls." Revelation 17:4. In reality the spiritual climate surrounding the apostate church is dry and dead.
THE EXTENT OF THE WOMAN’S OPERATION
The key figure in the vision is the woman. "And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast." Revelation 17:3. It has already been established in earlier chapters that the woman, who is called the harlot, is the apostate church. Similarly, the beast has already been identified as the first beast of Revelation 13, or the antichrist.
The vision depicts
the harlot riding on the back of the beast. This indicates the closely
dependent relationship between the apostate church and the antichrist who
The last chapter exposed the work of the spirit of antichrist in making an image or model of spiritual apostasy in the form of the Roman Catholic Church. The replacement of the true worship of God with and alternative and false religion is a basic function of the harlot. This alternative religion aggresses directly on the church. Note John’s description of the "woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Revelation 17:6.
influence of the harlot is not limited to the
The area of the harlot’s operation extends to every major aspect of man’s existence, including the political and economic. Not only "the kings of the earth….will weep and lament for her" but also "the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her." Revelation 18:9, 11. In conclusion therefore, the area of her operation includes both the church and the world, and extends over the whole earth.
This understanding of the all-pervasive influence of the alternative religion of the harlot is confirmed by studying each of her titles. "And on her forehead a name was written:
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS,
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH."
The last chapter indicated the importance of names in describing the attributes and overall character of someone. The balance of this chapter will go on to explore the nature of the harlot as it is revealed in each of her names.
Throughout the Old
Testament, the city of
10:8,10-12. Nimrod was described as "the mighty hunter before the
Lord." Genesis 10:9, and is the first character in the bible to assume
earthly imperial power. His foundational role is implicit in the words of the
prophet Micah, who recorded
Nimrod is recorded in ancient history not only as a proud man, but also the first one to be deified and worshipped. He was known as "the liberator" and "the deliverer" from the fear of God, and he led his people to seek their fulfillment in sensual pursuits. He was the original type of Antichrist, who promoted man’s rebellion from God by glorifying his own achievements, and revelling in material luxury.
However, it is
necessary to turn to Nimrod’s be
This mother and
infant son image provided the foundation for similar idolatrous worship in
later pagan religions. The image was worshipped as Isis and Horus in
The worship of Semiramis and her child evolved into the worship of Semiramis alone, reigning as ‘the queen of heaven.’ The prophet Jeremiah specifically prohibited the Jewish people from "burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her." Jeremiah 44:18. The worship of ‘the queen of heaven’ was the worship of everything that Semiramis represented. It was the abandoning of all moral restraints to pursue fulfillment in the gratification of physical desires.
Semiramis was renowned for her glamorous lifestyle, being surrounded by the
luxuries of the ancient world, and waited on by flattering courtiers. She was a
sexually immoral woman and used her be
The origins of
Things like food, clothes, houses, cars, and appliances, assume such a degree of importance in the world that they compete directly with man’s commitment to God. These objects are idolized to the extent that they provide the focal point of an alternative religion. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15. This alternative religion glorifies man and his achievements, and it entices him to seek fulfillment through the flesh rather than the spirit.
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
The next title of
the woman relates to the Old Testament use of the term ‘harlot’ as a symbol of
From out of the
At the time of the
early church, the capital of Roman government in the province of
To the leaders of
the early church, the corruption of
This a is a
symbolic reference to
Celibate priests and dedicated virgins.
Spiritual knowledge restricted to an elite priesthood.
Mary the mother of Jesus deified. The mother and infant son image worshipped as the ‘Madonna and child.’
The doctrine of purgatorial purification.
The use of ‘holy water.’
In addition, the College of Cardinals with the pope at its head can trace its ancestry back through the Roman college of pontiffs to the Babylonian college of pontiffs.
The title "mother
of harlots" originally applied to
The most significant form of apostasy is the counterfeit of the divine precepts of God with those initiated by men. Jesus condemned the Pharisees, saying, "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’" Matthew 15:7—9.
An example of the introduction of a man-made precept to replace the truth of the gospel concerns the doctrine of Jesus Christ as our high priest. This spiritual doctrine informs the believer that his approach to God is through Jesus, on the basis that His blood has made us worthy. However the man-made precept declares that man is too unworthy to approach even Jesus directly, and so must rely on the intercession of Mary or the ‘saints.’
The man-made precept replaces the redeeming blood of Jesus,(and His office as our high priest), with the worship of Mary, who was a created being. Jesus specifically warned His disciples not to exalt the members of His family. On one occasion He was told that His mother and His brothers were waiting outside to speak to Him. He replied, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother." Matthew 12:49-50.
Man-made precepts abound in the apostate church, and they all serve to divert true worship away from Christ. Believers are deflected by idolatrous reverence towards statues and relics, or by legalistic adherence to religious custom such as celibacy and abstinence from meals. False doctrines such as priestly absolution and papal infallibility all undermine the finished work of Christ on the cross.
However it would be a mistake to level the whole weight of the charge of apostasy solely on the Roman Catholic Church. The title is the "mother of harlots," and this ‘mother’ has spawned many ‘children.’ The tares of apostasy have found their way into every denomination. The exaltation of the man-made in magnificent buildings or ‘high liturgy’ or religious traditions, all proclaim the presence of the harlot.
The prophet Isaiah paints a vivid picture of the apostate church as a degenerate city. "How the faithful city has become a harlot. It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now murders. Your silver (our redeemed life in Christ) has become dross. Your wine (our joy in the Spirit) mixed with water." Isaiah 1:21-22.
The next title of the harlot is "Mystery", which is an appropriate shroud for the apostate church. Frequently mystery is mistaken for spirituality. However in this case is a device which the spirit of antichrist uses to seduce carnal Christians into submitting to Satan.
Once a person
submits blindly to things he does not understand, he is in effect submitting
himself to those who claim to understand them. Bec
The origin of the use of mystery as a source of occultist power over others is to be found in the religious rites of Babylon. All pagan religions have a similarity which exposes their common origin in Nimrod and Semiramis. As a result of this common origin, all pagan religions share an atmosphere of secretiveness. They invariably involve secret rites and hidden mysteries entrusted to an elite priesthood. Entry into the religion is restricted to those prepared to submit blindly to peculiar initiation rites, the details of which are jealously guarded.
An atmosphere of
mystery was promoted by the remotely situated pagan altars of Old Testament
Israel., "They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images
on every high hill and under every green tree." 2 Kings 17:10. The
isolation of mountain sides and forest groves enhanced the secret and forbidden
nature of these cults, and enticed the children of
Later on, the power of the harlot fell on the craft guilds and trade unions of ancient society. The same pattern of secret initiation rites and practices, and the worship of a pagan goddess, welded an occultist bondage between members. This bondage was so strong that threats to the prosperity or viability of such a league were often met with rage and violence.
On one occasion P
It was out of the great mediaeval craft guilds and trade unions that the various lodges and secret societies of our own times emerged. These lodges have a respectable image based on their apparent concern for their members’ welfare. However their pagan origins and use of secret ceremonies and mystical symbols impose an occultist bondage on their members.
This requirement of blind obedience to an order of priests soon infiltrated Christianity. In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches it manifested itself in an intricate liturgy, and restriction of all spiritual knowledge to the clergy. The sacred mysteries of the early church were allegedly entrusted into the hands of a spiritually elite priesthood. The true meaning of the sacraments soon became remote to the majority of believers, who were held captive in a thrall of mystery.
This effect is illustrated by two examples from the Roman Catholic Church. For most of the Church’s history the liturgy (the Mass) was said in Latin, which rendered it incomprehensible to the ordinary believer. Furthermore, bibles were literally chained to the pulpit, with access to them restricted to the clergy. In this atmosphere of mystery and ignorance, the spirit of antichrist has little difficulty in deceiving believers into idolatrous worship. The created religious trappings and rites became the objects of worship, rather than the Creator Himself.
The church was diverted from its divine course with Jesus at the head of His working body of saints. Instead, the extravagantly decorated building became ‘the Church,’ and its religious artifacts became objects of worship. Access to the kingdom of heaven became a matter of compliance to the mysterious doctrines and practices of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, rather than salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
The use of mystery and ignorance was not entirely eradicated by the Protestant reformers. There has been a trend over the past decades to restore ‘mystery’ in worship, by reverting to ‘high’ liturgy and practices. The spirit of antichrist has duped many into believing that he ‘higher’ the worship, the more spiritual it is. The pressure to submit to the antichrist in this way has become more intense in our own generation.
(THE MOTHER OF) THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH
The harlot is called "the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth" in the Key Bible Reading. The word ‘abominations’ is used here to describe what is highly esteemed by men, but reviled by God. It is a word constantly associated with idolatry in the Old Testament, and suggests that what men esteem can easily become an idol in their hearts.
The alternative religion of the harlot or the Woman Babylon is the religion of the world. It is a seductive combination of success and sensual gratification. The Woman Babylon says that if it feels good then do it! She encourages man to cast off all moral restraint and to pursue the instant gratification of his fleshly desires. A flick of the television dial is sufficient to confirm that the whole world is under the power of the Woman Babylon.
An angel told the apostle John that "the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury." Revelation 18:3. Later, in the same vision, the angel told John that "the kings of the earth….committed fornication and lives luxuriously with her." Revelation 18:9. It is clear that the leaders of both the political and the commercial worlds are tainted by the harlot, but this corruption also extends over the rest of mankind. The apostle John was told that "the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Revelation 17:2.
This is an all inclusive statement, and reinforces the charge laid against the Woman Babylon that "by your sorcery all the nations were deceived." Revelation 18:23.
All of us have been overawed by the extravagance of the Woman Babylon. All of us have partaken of her sickly sweet perfume, and tasted her "golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication." Revelation 17:4. The harlot is the goddess of profit and intrigue, and is worshipped in all the respectable financial institutions and commercial corporations. She is also goddess of the sexual indulgence and occultist violence that is worshipped as legitimate artistic expression on stage and screen. The harlot has infiltrated medicine, education, media, science, and even the church. She has corrupted all that she has touched in her indiscriminate seduction of anyone and everything.
It is important in a situation as comprehensively devastating as this to be absolutely obedient to our Father in heaven. When we listen to God in our spirits we do not in all honesty hear exhortations to political action. We are not commanded to reform our society with civic protest or legislative programs. Instead we are simply told the get out.
It is not our
position to destroy the Woman Babylon bec
Her end will not come through the frantic efforts of the saints, but by a sovereign act of God. "For in one hour your judgment has come," and again, "For in one hour such great riches came to nothing." Revelation 18:10,17. God promises her complete destruction. "Therefore her plagues will come in one day – death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her." Revelation 18:8. God’s instructions to His children are equally clear. "Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." Revelation 18:4.
working of the spirit of antichrist, the power of apostasy which had its origin
The attack of the harlot, or Woman Babylon, has been twofold in seducing both those in the world and those in the church. She has manufactured a counterfeit ‘church’ to delude the saints, and she has developed a worldly religion which seduces all and sundry away from seeking God. The harlot transfers the attention of man away from the spiritual towards the fleshly and physical.
It is important to recognise that God is not asking us to reform the harlot. Instead, He is commanding us to "Come out of her" so that we escape His judgment on her. The next chapter will study this judgment of the Woman Babylon and her consequent destruction.
Revelation 18:1-8 "After these things I saw another angel coming
down from heaven, having great
THE TWOFOLD JUDGMENT OF GOD
The last chapter
established that the harlot, or the Woman Babylon, is an alternative religion
which had its origin in ancient
In the church, the
The twofold judgment of the harlot by God is prophesied in the Book of Revelation. Firstly there is the judgment of the apostate church, which involves anyone who "worships the beast and his image…he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation." Revelation 14:9,10. The second part of God’s judgment on the Woman Babylon is directed at her worldly religion. It is pronounced against the idolatrous system of worshipping "the world or the things in the world." 1 John 2:15. Included in this judgment is anyone who submits to "the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Revelation 13:17.
1. JUDGMENT OF THE WORLD’S RELIGION
"The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.' And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. And the fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! 'For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.' Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What is like this great city?' They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.'" Revelation 18:9-19.
This reading prophesies the final and complete destruction of the Woman Babylon. It prophesies an end to the alternative religion of the world which idolises man-made objects. The great system of international trade and commerce, and the worship of affluence and luxury are judged here. Items like gold, precious stones, citron wood, and fragrant oil, symbolise affluence and luxury.
Items like oil, wheat, cattle and sheep, symbolise trade and commerce. Items like "horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men," symbolise the power which this alternative religion has over mankind.
God pronounces His judgment against the harlot and all the objects she has used to seduce His children into idolatrous worship. "And the fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all." Revelation 18:14.
THE TEN KINGS INSTRUMENTS OF GOD’S JUDGMENT
The destruction of the Woman Babylon is not our responsibility. "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!" Revelation 18:20. The Lord God of all creation has righteously judged her, and He will bring about her destruction. The instruments He will use are the ten kings of Revelation 17.
ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet,
but they receive
It is useful at
this point to recall that the Book of Revelation is a book of symbols. In this
reading the "ten kings" are not actual monarchs, but
representative of great positions of power and
kings" are the great economic heads of power: the giant international
corporations and financial institutions, whose boardroom decisions determine
prosperity or poverty for the rest of the world. As they "give their
The instruments that God will use to destroy the Woman Babylon are the same forces that were instrumental in her formation. They are the leaders of trade and commerce, the "merchants" and "shipowners," who now occupy the seats of economic power in the world. God has put it into their hearts to cooperate with Antichrist in the absolute destruction of all they have created. The sovereign power and glory of God is demonstrated as he bends the powers of darkness to perform His will.
This process has
already occurred during partial fulfillments of the prophecy. During the
1890's, and again in the 1930’s, the world’s economy plummeted towards
bankruptcy and destitution. Man’s greed had fuelled the flames of speculation
and inflation, until a crisis in confidence finally c
depressions and recessions have been God’s warning signs, in an effort to c
There now remains one final and conclusive judgment of the Woman Babylon. She is to be completely destroyed, never to rise again. "Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found any more.’" Revelation 18:21.
THE DRUNKEN STUPOR OF THE WORLD
The apostle John was told that "the inhabitants of the earth were made drink with the wine of her fornication." Revelation 17:2. The harlot has intoxicated us with her mystery, and overwhelmed us with her opulence. We have been seduced by her comforting and undemanding doctrine, and so we are declared to be drunk, or blind to the truth.
In the general euphoria of the years immediately after the Second World War, it seemed as if man had finally overcome Adam’s curse of sweat and toil. "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat from it all the days of your life." Genesis 3:17. With intellectual theories and technological advances, man seemed destined to overcome the law of want and replace it with the law of plenty.
The Keynesian revolution promised the economies of the world unlimited, and equitably distributed material wealth. All governments had to do was borrow money and spend their way into prosperity. Likewise big advances in agricultural science promised to free the undeveloped countries from their acute poverty. With extensive application of fertilizers and trace elements, starving countries had the potential to become rice bowls.
In those years of post war reconstruction, the social planners and politicians envisaged a ‘brave new world,’ of civil liberties and moral permissiveness. They foresaw an enlightened society freed from the constraints of ‘Victorian morality.’ Man would be able to indulge all of his desires, provided they did not infringe of the rights of his neighbour to do the same.
The blind pursuit of these dreams of ‘paradise on earth’ has engulfed man in the perfume of the harlot. He has become intoxicated by visions of ‘the good life,’ surrounded by material affluence, and freed from all moral restraints. Man is in a drunken stupor, and continues to stumble towards his destruction in the arms of the harlot.
her enticing speech she c
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
he went after her, as an ox goes to the sl
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
Till an arrow struck his liver.
As a bird hastens to the snare,
He did not know it would cost his life…..
For she has cast down many wounded,
And all who were slain by her were strong men.
Her house is the way to hell,
Descending to the chambers of death." Proverbs 7:223, 26-27
2. JUDGMENT OF THE WORLDLY CHURCH
The institutional church will not be able to avoid God’s judgment on the worldly religious system of the Woman Babylon. "And the fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all." Revelation 18:14.
The first five
chapters of the book of Isaiah present a prophetic picture of God’s dealings
with the church. Although this picture is "concerning
First of all the opulent state of the institutional church is described. "Their land is also full of silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures;…..Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made." Isaiah 2:7,8.
Then the awesome judgment of God on this idolatry is pronounced. "In that day a man will cast away his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship….From the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily….For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stock and the store, the whole supply of bread, and the whole supply of water." Isaiah 2:20,21, 3:1.
This judgment will
be so comprehensive that it will decimate the man-made institution. All that is
valued by man will fall under and be broken by the power of God’s judgment. The
impact of God’s judgment in this area is prophesied in Zechariah 14. This
prophecy presents a picture of "the day of the Lord" and the "battle
the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst.
For I will gather all the nations to battle against
Members of the
institutional church have become complacent in their apparent wealth and
prosperity. They have been running it like a business, by paying their fees and
then employing a professional minister to manage ‘the enterprise.’ Bec
It is clear that the church is to be purged clean of its dependence on material wealth and humanistic endeavour. Church members have sought security in economic well-being, but this is now to be stripped from them. They have run their denominations with money, but now this economic scaffolding is to collapse. All the impressive structures put up by man instead of God are set to crumble.
In a similar
manner Jesus rebuked the church of the Laodiceans. "Bec
GOD’S ASSURANCE TO THE FAITHFUL
There are two companies of people who are sealed in the book of Revelation. First there are those who have the mark of the beast sealed on their foreheads. They have been seduced by the Woman Babylon into idolising man’s abilities and the objects he makes.
Secondly there are those who have the name of God sealed on their foreheads. "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." Revelation 7:3. This is a seal of God’s ownership. "Then I looked and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty four thousand, having His Father’ name written on their foreheads." Revelation 14:4.
Those who are
sealed by God, are separated and totally consecrated to Him. "These are
the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins." Revelation
14:4. Their virginity symbolises the purity of their dedication to God and the
absence of any flirtation with the harlot. They are wholly God’s and "follow
the Lamb wherever He goes." Revelation 14:4. Bec
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters.
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
Bur her leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8.
THE JUDGMENT OF GOD
Revelation 19:1-6 "After
these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
"Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our
God! For true and righteous are His judgments, bec
THE HOLINESS OF GOD
Before we can rightly apprehend the nature of God’s judgments, we must have had our hearts opened, so that by the Holy Spirit and the word of God, we might begin to see the holiness of God, and the justice of God. The prerequisite for this revelation is a humble spirit which has been opened to the knowledge of the fear of God. "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word." Isaiah 66:2.
The first thing we need to understand is that God alone is holy. The overcomers proclaim, "Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy." Revelation 15:4. The only holiness we have as God’s children is that which is due to His presence in us.
The essence of
holiness is a complete and utter separation from all sin and darkness. God
dwells in a light that to man is unapproachable. That light is the full
knowledge of God’s holiness and glory. After he returned from the presence of
God, "the children of
The bible declares that "righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne." Psalm 97:2. Righteousness and justice are so fundamental to the holiness of God, that it is impossible for Him to tolerate sin. To God sin is so abhorrent, that every stain and trace of it had to be dealt with, even in His own children. In this respect He ordained His own Son to bear the full extent of our punishment, until every demand of justice was silenced. "He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." Romans 8:32.
LEARNING TO FEAR GOD
The revelation of God’s holiness and learning to fear God go hand in hand. "Who shall not fear You, O Lord….For You alone are holy." Revelation 15:04. To fear God is to revere His holiness, and consequently to tremble at His word.
As baby Christians we have an immature image of God as a kindly grandfather type figure dispensing ‘jellybeans’ to His children. This ‘Father Christmas’ image precludes any notion of Him disciplining His children. The most pressing need in our church today is for us to shake off this childish picture of God, and begin to learn to fear Him. "Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord." Psalm 34:11.
of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is
understanding." Proverbs 9:10. The fear of the
Lord is the beginning of wisdom bec
Christian has little real fear of God, and does not see the pressing need to
separate himself and the sanctuary from all evil. There is a current
permissiveness in the denominational church which welcomes unrepentant sinners
into the family of God (such as practicing homosexuals and adulterers), on the
basis that ‘God is love’. The apostle P
CLEANSING THE SANCTUARY
God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, saying, "Mark well who may enter the house and all who go out from the sanctuary." Ezekiel 44:5. He then went on to declare the neglect of the children of Israel in not honouring His holiness, "when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to defile it - My house….And you have not kept charge of My holy things, but you have set others to keep charge of My sanctuary for you." Ezekiel 4:7,8.
King David had to
With some reflection, King David learnt from his mistake, and before making another attempt to retrieve the ark, he made proper arrangements. "Then David said, ‘no one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.’’ 1 Chronicles 15:2.
These warnings are not limited to observances in the temple of the Old Testament. We should be careful to heed Christ’s warning in the parable of the wheat and the tares. "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness." Matthew 13:41.
GOD WILL JUDGE ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
The bible is full of uncompromising statements that declare God’s inevitable judgment of all unrighteousness. For example:
"Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy sinners from it…
I will punish the world for its evil,
And the wicked for their iniquity;
And I will lay low the h
"The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;
From heaven He will thunder against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth." 1 Samuel 2:10.
"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And vengeance to His adversaries;
He will provide atonement for His land and His people." Deuteronomy 32:43.
These readings must be disturbing to those who have no feeling for the holiness of God. No doubt they would prefer to confine them to the Old Testament Hebrews. It must therefore be even mote disturbing for them to read the warnings to the New Testament Hebrews who were Christians.
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries….For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:26-27,30-31.
tempted to try and justify God’s fearsome judgments of sinful man, by declaring
it to be borne out of love, and a concern to bring sinners to repentance. While
God does have that concern, it is not the heart of the matter. God will judge
all unrighteousness bec
OUR RESPONSE TO GOD’S JUDGMENTS
Those who have not
learned to fear God tend to try to make His awesome judgments more palatable.
They discount and discredit His word bec
Those who have c
There is an
"Great land marvellous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all the nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested." Revelation 15:3-4.
THE NATURE OF GOD’S JUDGMENT
In order to understand the nature of God’s judgments, we must first, like Elisha’s servant, have our eyes opened to see our true positions in the spiritual realm. At one stage the prophet Elisha and his servant found themselves entirely surrounded by the might of the Syrian army. The servant cried out in alarm to his master, wondering what they were to do.
Elisha reassured his servant. "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, all around Elisha." 2 Kings 6:16-17.
Among the many blessings that are counted to those who fear the Lord is the blessing of the Lord’s protection. "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them." Psalm 34:7. When Satan contended with God for Job’s soul, he bemoaned the fact that Job was under God’s protection. "Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?" Job 1:10.
We too are surrounded with a ‘hedge’ of God’s protection. God patiently guards His children from the overwhelming power of Satan, whose hatred would consume us in an instant if it was allowed. We are protected by the hedge so that we have every opportunity to draw closer to our Father in heaven.
The nature of God’s judgment is to withdraw this hedge by degrees, and so confront the rebellious in heart with the powers of darkness that they had been courting. The Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah provides a picture of this process in the story of the disappointing vineyard.
"My Well- beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes." Isaiah 5:1-2. There was nothing more that God could have done to ensure a pure crop, and yet the result was rank.
"And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; and break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will lay it to waste; it shall not be pruned or dug, but there shall come up briers and thorns." Isaiah 5:5-6. God removed the vineyard’s protection so that it was exposed to the wilderness it had reverted to.
God has disclosed
the nature of His judgment on the nations, (i.e. those who have resisted Him
and afflicted His children). He has said He is bringing them into the
It is useful to
consider the experience of King Jehoshaphat in this context. Jehoshaphat lived
and reigned over
panicking, or suing for peace, Jehoshaphat believed this word from the Lord and
trusted in it. He counseled His people to "Believe in the Lord your
God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall
prosper." 2 Chronicles 2:20. Then he appointed singers to go out
before the enemy and "sing to the Lord," and "praise
they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of
Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.
For the people of Amon and
At the close of
the age, the true church is in the same position as the armies of Jehoshaphat. "They
(i.e. the nations deceived by Satan) went up on the breadth of the earth and
surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city." Revelation
20:9. The church is surrounded by the hostile apostate church which has been
incited to violent hatred by the antichrist. When we are confronted with this
opposition, we are not to fear or be dismayed. We are to position ourselves and
stand still. We are to believe in the Lord and His prophets, and praise the be
The rest is up to the Lord. When God lowers the hedge, He withdraws His restraining hand which has been holding back the powers of darkness. The spirits of hatred and resentment and jealousy that are in league against the saints will then turn on one another. The resulting process of self destruction will go on until all that opposes the true church will be brought to naught.
The prophet sets
the scene. "For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their
brightness." Joel 3:14-15. The multitudes of the world have been
plunged into spiritual darkness bec
Jesus said that "the
heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their
eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their
ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn." Matthew
The apostle P
This is the scene
then. The two witnesses, the word of God and the spirit of prophecy, lie dead
in the street bec
truth falls on the ears of anyone, that person is brought into the valley of
decision. He has to make a choice, bec
HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE SHAKEN
The Lord is coming
into His church. "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will
thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but
He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:12. The
wrath of God will fall, and "the heavens and earth will shake; but the
Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of
This is a time of great sifting within the church. "For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more…I will shake heaven and earth.’" Haggai 2:6. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews concludes that "this ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain." Hebrews 12:27.
The Lord will not tolerate sectarian bigotry or the divisions of denominationalism. He will expose the works of Antichrist, and purge His church of apostasy. "And the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth (the testimony of the two witnesses) and destroy with the brightness of His coming." 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
There is no escaping the valley of decision. God is confronting everyone with a choice. On the one hand the works of darkness are being revealed, and on the other hand the true works of Christ are being set before us. We can remain in darkness and suffer the judgmental wrath of God, or we can repent of darkness and choose light.
‘Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.’" 2 Corinthians 6:17.
Before we are able to understand the nature of God’s judgments, we have to learn to fear Him, and open our hearts to the knowledge of His holiness, When we learn to hate evil as God hates evil, then we can do nothing but praise Him as His judgments are manifested.
The saints are
required to separate themselves from all evil and protect the sanctuary of God.
To this end we are all brought into the valley of decision, where we have to
make the choice that determines whether we follow the path of apostasy or the
path of light. As God’s judgment falls on apostasy, the saints are to rest in
the Lord and "praise the be
The following three chapters will study God’s judgment in some detail. The next chapter will examine the ‘Great Tribulation’ or God’s judgment on the Jewish nation. This is a physical judgment which has often been confused with God’s last and spiritual judgment at the end of the age. The subsequent two chapters will go on to study the specific features of that final judgment. These are outlined in the seven trumpets and the seven plagues of the Book of Revelation.
THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Matthew 24:1-4 "Then
Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to
show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you
not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be
left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Now as He sat
Matthew 24:4-14 "…Take heed that no one
deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and
will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you
are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not
yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And
there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All
these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to
tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's
sake. . And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate
one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And bec
Matthew 24:15-22 "Therefore when you
see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet,
standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), then let
those who are in
Matthew 24:23-31"Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
THE DISCIPLES ASK TWO QUESTIONS
The Key Bible
Reading describes the disciples coming to Jesus to show Him the temple
The Key Bible Reading contains Christ’s answer to both these questions, but it does not present them in strictly sequential order. This has led to a lot of confusion, and to the common but erroneous belief that the Great Tribulation refers to the Last Judgment. Careful study of the reading reveals however, that the Great Tribulation is God’s physical judgment on the Jewish nation, and has already taken place. Jesus dealt with the second question of "what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" in verses 4 to 14, and again in verses 23 to 31. However our main concern in this chapter is Christ’s specific answer to the first question of "when will these things be?", which referred directly to the destruction of the temple. This answer is contained in verses 15 to 22.
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Jesus provided the
disciples with a clear indication of the timing of the destruction of the
temple. It was "when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of
by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place." Matthew 24:15.
Note that this warning was made directly to the Jews. "(T)hen let those
who are in
In referring to the "abomination of desolation" Jesus was drawing on a prophecy by Daniel. "And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate." Daniel 9:27. The word ‘abomination’ is closely associated with apostasy and idolatry in the Old Testament. The prophet Daniel’s words were warning of a prelude of apostasy that would precede the ultimate destruction of the city and its temple.
A further insight
into what the Jewish Christians could expect was provided by Jesus’ words as
recorded in Luke’s gospel. "But when you see
THE HISTORICAL RECORD
When Jesus drew
near and saw the city of
the crucifixion at
In 66AD Vespasian
was ordered by Nero to conduct a military campaign in
catcalls of the Jews, t
THE CURSE OF THE LAW
Jesus wept over
Moses had told the
However, there was another side to this covenant. "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you." Deuteronomy 28:15. The list of curses reads for the next 53 verses.
shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land……The Lord will c
Jesus knew that if the Jewish nation refused to acknowledge Him as the Son of God, they would have to bear every one of those curses. Jesus knew the Scripture, and so He knew the final horror of their judgment. Little wonder that He wept.
Between the time
that Vespasian withdrew, and the time that Titus returned, there fell a
Passover festival in
God removed the
protective hedge, and the Israelites were goaded into action by the spirits of
darkness they had entertained in rejecting the Lord. The result was a
The temple was burned and the city sacked. Thousands of Jews were taken into captivity as slaves. This once proud people were dispersed from the Iberian Peninsula to India. It was the end of the Jewish nation as God’s covenant people.
They had refused
to accept the Son of God who bore the curse of the law for them. "Christ
has redeemed us from the curse of the law having become a curse for us (for it
is written ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’). Galatians 3:13. Bec
DANIEL’S SEVENTY WEEKS PROPHECY
The understanding of the Great Tribulation as God’s judgment of the Jews is confirmed in the ‘seventy weeks prophecy.’ "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy." Daniel 9:24.
This prophecy is
directed specifically to the Jewish people. It was given to the prophet Daniel
by the angel Gabriel, who made pointed reference to "your people,"
and "your holy city." Daniel’s people were the Jews, and his
holy city was
Certain events are prophesied to take place over a period of time which is symbolised be "seventy weeks." Later in the prophecy, this time is divided into a period of sixty nine weeks, and a period of one week. Much emphasis is then placed on the events prophesied to occur in the last week. Initially however, "seventy weeks" is the symbolic period of time which is designated for the complete fulfillment of the whole prophecy.
During the time God determined to "to finish the transgression" of the Jewish nation, He determined to "make and end of sins," with the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He determined "to make reconciliation for iniquity," by redeeming fallen man back to God his Creator. He determined to "bring in everlasting righteousness," by the resurrection of Christ to intercede as our great High Priest for ever.
The result of the
performance of these things was "to seal up vision and prophecy,"
The seventy week
period of the prophecy is now divided into three unequal parts; 7 weeks in
which the temple and walls were to be restored, 62 weeks during which the city
The sixty nine
week period begins with the command to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of
THE LAST CLIMACTIC WEEK
"And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate." Daniel 9:26-27.
Jesus came to
establish a new covenant. "He shall confirm a covenant with many for
one week." This new covenant was manifested in His earthly ministry of
teaching, healing, deliverance, and miraculous provision. It was continued
after His death by the ministry of the apostles, who t
In the middle of the week Jesus was crucified, and the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. "(I)n the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering." Christ’s perfect act of atonement on the cross removed the need for the continuous Mosaic ritual of temple sacrifices and offerings. "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself." The words "cut off" suggest violent death, and are consistent with the cruel death on the cross.
The final events of the week took place after the crucifixion. "And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate." Despite God’s grace being extended to them through the miraculous and evangelistic ministries of the early church, the Jewish nation continued in apostasy. The anointed words of the apostle Peter and the martyr Stephen were ignored. "(A)nd the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." God’s further period of grace eventually ran out, and the Jews were brought face to face with their terrible judgment.
Tribulation was God’s judgment on the Jewish nation. It involved the complete
physical destruction of the city of
The Scriptures prophecy another judgment awaiting mankind at the end of the age. In the Last Judgment, the church will be purged of apostasy and lawlessness. Then all the nations who have rejected Christ, and aggressed on the saints, will be confronted with the judgmental wrath of God. The next two chapters will study the particular aspects of this Last Judgment as prophesied in the Book of Revelation.
THE LAST JUDGMENT (I)
A SPIRITUAL JUDGMENT
In the last
chapter we studied the Great Tribulation of the Jewish nation. It was most
significantly a physical judgment. God judged His people in a physical way bec
But Jesus Christ "does
not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His
own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He
offered up Himself." Hebrews 7:27. We, as the body of Christ, are
spiritual heirs to a spiritual kingdom. We appropriate our spiritual promises
by faith. We are the spiritual children of
"Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought of worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:28-29.
The Last Judgment
follows a similar pattern to God’s judgment of
God’s` judgments in the ‘end time’ begin with the church, and go on to include the unbelieving world. These judgments are unveiled in the writings of the Old Testament prophets, and confirmed in the Book of Revelation. Our study on the end time judgment involves the comparison of two sections of Revelation. It is not uncommon in the bible for one topic to be dealt with in complementary sections, with each section presented from a different viewpoint. The story of creation in the Book of Genesis is an example of this approach. Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 presents the overall picture of creation, and Genesis 2:4 -25 presents a more specific picture from man’s perspective.
The first account
of judgment in the Book of Revelation finishes at the end of Chapter 11. Here
God’s judgment on "those who destroy the earth" is proclaimed,
and we are told that "the
Each section contains an account of the Last Judgment. The first section outlines the events to occur in the form of seven trumpets of judgment. The second section outlines these events in the form of seven plagues, or bowls of wrath. These two accounts will be studied side by side.
THE FIRST TRUMPET: THE FIRST PLAGUE
Revelation 8:7. "The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up."
Revelation 16:2. "So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image."
It was noted in an earlier chapter that the earth is a symbol of the church. This judgment is directed at the church and its involvement with humanism and apostasy. It is specifically directed at "the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image." The apostle Peter wrote that "the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and …it begins with us first." 1 Peter 4:17.
The "hail and fire…mingled with blood" are symbols of God’s judgment, and indicate a severe time of testing and refining. The "foul and loathsome sore" that comes upon men is an eruption onto the surface of all the spiritual foulness that had been hidden beneath.
We are told that "all green grass was burned up" and it is clear that those who take the gospel lightly, (or who are nominal Christians), will not stand in the day of judgment. That "a third of the trees were burned up" suggests that even a proportion of apparently ‘strong’ church members will not stand correction, or be open to change.
The principle of refining the church by the fire of judgment is revealed in the Old Testament. "For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver." Malachi 3:2-3.
This principle is
confirmed in the New Testament. Christ. "For no other foundation can
anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds
on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each
one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, bec
The only things to survive this fire will be those of the Lord. All impurities and imperfections grafted on by the power of our flesh will be exposed and seared away. Only those works performed in perfect obedience to the Spirit will stand.
THE SECOND TRUMPET: THE SECOND PLAGUE
Revelation 8:8-9. "Then the second trumpet sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood; and a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."
Revelation 16:3. "Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died."
This time the judgment is on the sea, which is a symbol of the ‘nations’, or the world outside the church. It is a principle of judgment that those who have been used by God to execute judgment on His people, are then faced with their own judgment. An example of this is the judgment of the Babylonian empire after the Jewish captivity.
principle is useful in guiding us to the meaning of the "great mountain
burning with fire (which) was thrown into the sea." We can trace the
symbolism of the burning mountain to the prophet Jeremiah, who identifies it as
The sea "became blood as of a dead man," and "a third of the sea became blood." These phrases are vivid descriptions of worldly corruption. The perfume of the Woman Babylon permeates every aspect of the world until there is nothing else but the stench of decay.
We are told that "a third of the living creatures in the sea died," and that "every living creature in the sea died." Once a man succumbs to the perfume of the Woman Babylon, the inevitable result is spiritual death. "And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth." Revelation 18:24.
The fact that "a third of the ships were destroyed" confirms that this judgment involves the Woman Babylon. These words refer to God’s judgment on man’s commercial enterprises and "that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth!" Revelation 18:19.
THE THIRD TRUMPET: THE THIRD PLAGUE
10-11. "Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from
heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the
springs of water; and the name of the star is Wormwood; and a third of the
waters became wormwood; and many men died from the water, bec
"Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of
water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘You
are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to come bec
The great star falling from heaven is a picture of one of Satan’s angels. This great star, "burning like a torch," gives the impression of light and truth, but in reality it is an angel of darkness and deception. This darkness and deception falls "on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water." The rivers are symbols of spiritual life, and the springs are symbols of the source of that life. The waters feeding mankind are fouled by the spiritual slush of lies and half truths. The poison enters the stream at its headquarters: i.e. institutions like the seminary and bible colleges entrusted with dispensing spiritual truth.
The church has rejected the Lord’s way of presenting His spiritually prepared and anointed leaders. It has rejected the possibility of Christ’s gift of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God." Ephesians 4:12-13.
Instead the church has chosen to accept leaders who are prepared after the manner of the world. God is announcing His judgment on those worldly religious institutions, and the ‘leaders’ that they produce. These worldly institutions have corrupted the truth and become dispensers of spiritual death.
THE FOURTH TRUMPET: THE FOURTH PLAGUE
Revelation 8:12. "Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened; and a third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night."
Revelation 16:8-9. "Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory."
echoes similar prophecies in the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Behold,
the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the
land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven
and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in
its going forth, and the moon will not c
The prophet Joel repeats this symbolism. "The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord…The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness," Joel 2:31, 3:15.
The sun is a symbol of the light of the knowledge of God, who is the source of all truth and life. The moon symbolises the light of God reflected by Jesus, through whom all men must approach the knowledge of God. The stars are those anointed teachers and prophets, whose task it is to fill the church with the fullness of the knowledge of Christ.
This judgment is
on those who have wittingly turned their backs on the truth, and hardened their
hearts to it. Bec
Down through the centuries God has consistently and patiently declared His truth to His children by His Spirit and through His prophets. "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets." Zechariah 7:11-12.
God even sent His
only begotten Son into the world as a tangible and living witness of his truth.
"and this is the condemnation, that the light as come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light, bec
The apostle P
judgment is God’s judgment on those who have deliberately hardened their hearts
to His truth. "The coming of the lawless one is according to the
working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all
unrighteous deception among those who perish, bec
Throughout the bible the times of deception and confusion are associated with a darkening of the skies. In these times people are unable to discern truth from untruth. "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20.
worldly leaders of the church are unable to shepherd their flocks through the
confusion of the end times. "Therefore My people have gone into
Worldly leaders are not able to provide this vital vision of God’s purposes to His people at the end of the age. They are unable to present the fullness of Christ as deliverer, protector, healer, and saviour. Consequently men are left in darkness and despair and anguish, with no light to provide relief. "And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who had power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory." Revelation 16:9.
THE LAST JUDGMENT (ii)
THE FIFTH TRUMPET: THE FIFTH PLAGUE
Revelation 9:1-11 "Then
the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To
him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit,
and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun
and the air were darkened bec
16v10-11 "Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the
beast, and his kindom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues
HORDES OF DEMON SPIRITS
A fallen angel is
It is necessary
for spiritual darkness to precede the demon spirits, bec
inflicted by the demon spirits in this climate of confusion and darkness is "like
the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man." The result is so
distressing that although "they were not given the
GOD’S GREAT ARMY
The prophet Joel records a similar account of a great mass of locusts used by God as His instruments of judgment. In this account God calls "the swarming locust…the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, ‘My great army which I sent among you.’" Joel 2:25. It is worthwhile reading Joel’s description of this demonic army, as it bears a striking resemblance to the hordes which emerge out of the smoke at the sounding of the fifth trumpet.
Joel 2:1-11 "For the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array. Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of color. They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down. They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?"
THE SEAL OF GOD OR THE MARK OF THE BEAST
The language used by the prophet Joel reinforces an image of restless torment befalling those who worship the beast. "And the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast, and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." Revelation 14:11. Those who seek fulfillment in the apostate church, or who strive for their own provision will not know peace. Rather they will be afflicted with nervous tension, emotional disorders, and demonic oppression.
church is clearly included in this judgment, for it "has become a
habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every
unclean and hated bird!" Revelation 18:2. The result is very
distressing. "Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are
drained of colour." Joel 2:6. The tragedy is that they will not
repent. "(A)nd they gnawed their tongues bec
This fifth judgment is on all "those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads." Revelation9:4. The "seal of God" is the seal of God’s ownership. It is an invisible seal set by the Holy Spirit, signifying that those who wear it have given up their lives to the death, and so are totally consecrated to God. They have become His property. They have ceased striving, and trust in God to provide for their every need. Those who are protected from this judgment have "gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark and over the number of his name." Revelation 15:2. (Authorised King James Version). They stand with the Lamb "having His Father’s name written on their foreheads." (Revelation 14:1), rather than with the beast’s "mark on their right hand or on their foreheads." (Revelation 13:16)..
THE SIXTH TRUMPET: THE SIXTH PLAGUE
"Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns
of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the
trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river
16:12-16 "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great
The sixth judgment
is presented in a picture of great and final conflict at a place called
Armageddon. The Greek name comes from the Hebrew ‘hill of Megiddo.’ This was
the traditional battlefield of
All the enemies of
the church are gathered together to face God’s final judgment for them. In the
same way the Egyptian armies were drawn to the
The apostle John "saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan), out of the mouth of the beast (Antichrist), and out of the mouth of the false prophet (the spirit of antichrist)," Revelation 16:13. The forces that draw them into this conflict "are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of the God Almighty." Revelation 16:14.
These demon spirits are agents of deceit and deception, "for their power is in their mouth and in their tails." Revelation 9:19. This reminds us of another account of this final battle which we are already familiar with. "Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.." Revelation 20:7-8.
God has been
holding back the powers of darkness until this time when He withdraws His hedge
of protection. "Release the four angels who are bound at the great
The Euphrates was
a natural barrier between the nation of
The battle lines are now formed. The saints have been called out of the apostate church and stand united in the Lord. They are surrounded by those who have been deceived by Satan into attacking the true church. "They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city." Revelation 20:9.
At this point the power and glory of God are demonstrated. "And the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming." 2 Thessalonians 2:8. This is not the emergence of one figure who is recognized as Antichrist himself. Rather it is the exposure of all the works of the antichrist by the two witnesses, and the subsequent destruction of those works by Christ coming into His true church. The light of His truth, accompanied by the manifestation of His power and glory in His servants, will expose and destroy the darkness of Antichrist’s deceptions.
The enemies of the church now face God’s judgment. "And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them." Revelation 20:9. The spirits of darkness that they have cooperated with are God’s instruments of judgment, "by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths." Revelation 9:18.
Again we are
reminded of the
THE SEVENTH TRUMPET: THE SEVENTH PLAGUE
11:15-19 "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in
heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of
our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" And the
twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and
worshiped God, saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One
who is and who was and who is to come, bec
16:17-21 "Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and
a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying,
"It is done!" And there were noises and thunderings and
lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great
earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city
was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great
In the seventh judgment it is announced that "it is done!" Revelation 16:17. It is declared that the "kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever!" Revelation 11:15. This is a victorious heavenly proclamation of the consummation of all of God’s dealings and judgments.
The final and
complete destruction of the Woman Babylon is declared as "great
This is consistent with God’s great principle of judgment. "And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purposes, to be of one mind and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled." Revelation 17:16-17.
The seventh trumpet heralds the end of this earthly dispensation. It announces "the time of the dead that they should be judged" and the destruction of "those who destroy the earth." It is also the time that God will "reward (His) servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear (His) name." Revelation 11:18.
The end of this earthly
dispensation is confirmed by the opening of the temple in heaven. Now that the
thousand years reign on earth is over, all worship will take place in heaven.
COME OUT MY PEOPLE
Revelation 18:1-4 "After
these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great
A POLLUTED CHURCH
It has been
established in previous chapters that the true
To a large extent
the true church’s reflection of the image of Christ has been replaced by a
counterfeit image of humanistic worldliness. The true church is an expression
of Christ’s love, His
This true image
has been tainted by "the image of the beast," in the
exaltation of man and the things of the world. Christ’s
Christ left the church with an inheritance of empowering, by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon her, and equipping her with the gifts of the Spirit. The denial and rejection of this empowering has left the church defenseless and vulnerable. The ministering power of the Holy Spirit has been replaced by the impotence of ministers ordained by man. Fearful obedience of the Spirit has been replaced by the lawless works of the flesh.
In assessing the measure of our reflection of Christ, the most decisive test we can apply is our relationship to one another. Our instruction to love one another is unequivocal. Jesus said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12. He told the Pharisees that the commandment to "love your neighbour as yourself" was second only to the first and great commandment to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind," Mathew 22:39,37.
nature of this commandment to love our brothers is emphasised by the apostle
John. "We know that we have passed from death to life, bec
The picture of the
"harlot" or false church is in stark contrast to the body of
Christ. It is an image of hatred and persecution, rather than love and
forgiveness. "And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints
and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with
great amazement." Revelation 17:6. The apostle John was amazed bec
This growing tide
of lawlessness and lack of love was prophesied by Jesus. "And bec
It is not
difficult to recognise the tainting of the Christian church by her close
proximity to the "harlot" within her midst. Even the world
sees that the institutional church is ailing and powerless. Few however can see
the path to restoration. Many ‘Pentecostals’ place their faith in ‘charismatic
renewal.’ Despite this spiritual movement being one of the most significant in
church history, it is still not sufficient to remedy the situation. This is bec
The whole church must first face God’s judgment and pass through the refining fire. "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God." 1 Peter 4:17. God is beginning to shake the church for the "removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made (by man), that the things which cannot be shaken may remain." Hebrews 12:27. What remains after the shaking will provide a sure foundation from which the restored church will rise.
CALL TO REPENTANCE
Previous chapters have presented an outline of God’s impending judgment on the apostate church, and on the people of the world who have rejected Christ. Accompanying this declaration of judgment there is a call to repentance, and a command to come out. "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." Revelation 18:4.
To prepare the way
for Christ’s first coming, "John the Baptist came preaching in the
This is a reference to the ministry of the two witnesses prior to Christ’s second coming, and "the times of restoration of all things." Acts 3:21. The spirit of prophecy that rested on Elijah and the spirit of the living word that rested on Moses, will anoint those servants God has chosen to proclaim His truth. The two witnesses are entrusted with the burden of preparing the way for the second coming of the Lord.
The task of the two witnesses is to wield the spirit of prophecy and the word of God to unmask the work of Antichrist. In this way people are brought into the "valley of decision," and repentance. (Joel 3:14). Their job is to urge the people to "Come out of her" before God’s judgment falls, and His church is purged of "all things that offend." Mathew 13:41.
THE NATURE OF REPENTANCE
Repentance is a frequently misunderstood concept. To many it suggests a dramatic emotional change bringing a sinner into a state of heart-felt guilt. The real meaning of repentance is to change our minds, or change our direction. Repentance is not a change in our emotional state, but an act of the will.
When a carnal Christian is confronted by the truth and repents, he is making a decision to change the direction of his life. He is turning away from a fleshly path, towards a path of submission to the will of Christ. Repentance must incorporate an actual change in direction, and be accompanied by appropriate steps in obedience.
Any believer who
has been travelling along a path which has been initiated by the spirit of
antichrist is required to repent. It may be a Baptist path, a Catholic path, or
a Pentecostal path. In fact it can be any path which is determined by man-made
doctrine, traditions and
SEPARATION OF THE WHEAT AND THE TARES
Up to this point in time God has restrained His hand of judgment from the harlot’s children. In Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares, the servants asked the owner of the field, "Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But He said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."’" Matthew 13:28-30. ;;
Jesus later explained this parable to His disciples. "(T)he harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Matthew 13:39-43.
The end of the age is upon us and the time of the last great harvest is at hand. Christ is about to purge and purify His church "that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that is should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:27. If we open our spiritual eyes we can already see the Lord at work. His angels are beginning to "gather together the tares and bind them in bundles." Congregations are separating into opposing factions in a direct response to the witness of truth. The children of the harlot are banding together in vehement and spiritually violent opposition to the saints.
COME OUT OF HER
It is not our job to prevent this separation, or to try to ‘heal’ the differences between the wheat and the tares. It is an inevitable and divinely ordained process. While "the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," the tares will know "wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Our position in God’s judgment of the apostate church is to be obedient to His command, "Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." Revelation 18:4.
The antichrist is
well aware that Christ is going to separate the wheat from the tares at the
close of the age. He knows that at that time Christ "will say to the
reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn
them, but gather the wheat into My barn.’" Matthew 13:30. The ploy of
antichrist is to counterfeit this process with a pl
The artifice of ecumenism uses the obvious denominational differences and divisions in the church, to incite concerned church members into a worldly unity. Strenuous efforts are made to draw the different traditions together on the basis of common doctrine, government, or history. A superficial binding together is attempted through legal amalgamation of organizations, or sharing buildings and services. The end result is a man-made unity of things which were initiated by the antichrist in the first place. This is merely tying the wheat and the tares into the one bundle.
Christ’s way is to call His children out of all association with apostasy. This is not necessarily a physical separation from the institutional church, but a deliberate decision to reject apostasy in all its forms. Where a church fellowship is entrenched and bound in apostasy, and Christ’s Spirit is stifled, then we have no choice other than to physically "Come out of her."
There can be no
compromise. Jesus asked His disciples, "Do you suppose that I came
to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For
from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two
against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father,
mother against d
Christ is not
coming back to an impure church, but to "a glorious church, not having
spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but …holy and without blemish."
Ephesians 5:27. Our position is to be obedient, trusting that in spite of the
confrontation and persecution, the Lord is our refuge. "The heavens and
the earth will shake; but the Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the
strength of the children of
Jesus is the head of the body, and only He can build the body. It is He who will restore all things. Implicit in our obedience to His command to come out of the apostate church, is our trust in Him to place us in his true body. He is our good shepherd and He will not let us go.
The accusations of ‘splitting the church’ are of no consequence, despite their apparent accuracy in worldly terms. The true church is not what the world sees. Only the Lord knows His flock, and He has promised His Father not to lose a single one of us. Our position is to withdraw in obedience and wait on Him to lead us to the right spiritual fellowship.
THE HOUR OF DECISON
Christ is about to enter His temple to purge it from all apostasy, as a prelude to it being filled with His glory. "And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple….as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi (His anointed servants), and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." Malachi 3:1,3. The two witnesses are preparing the way as they stand on their feet and proclaim God’s truth. People are being brought into the valley of decision, where they are being presented with the choice between Christ and Antichrist.
On one hand there is continued involvement in the things of the antichrist. A church member can choose to continue to worship the beast, and receive the mark of the name of the beast, and the number of his name. The consequence of this choice is that "he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation." Revelation 14:10.
The alternative is to open our hearts to the truths being revealed by the two witnesses. It is to recognise the work of Christ going on around us as He purges His church of apostasy. It is to repent of all personal involvement in the things of antichrist, and to resolve to no longer partake of them. It is to cooperate with Christ and His mighty angels as they separate the wheat from the tares.
God is about to pour out a fire of judgment on the church to purge it and refine it, This is so that it can effectively receive the ‘latter rain’ of His Spirit, restoring it to its former glory.
He has prepared and anointed servants to reveal the true state of the church, and to call its members to repentance so that they might escape His judgment. Believers are called to come out of apostasy and be established in the true body of Christ, where they will take part in the restoration of all things.
THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
Revelation 19:7-9 "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."
Revelation 21:2-3 "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the
seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will
show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the
Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LAMB AND HIS BRIDE
The book of Revelation reaches its climax with a description of "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." This indicates the true relationship which is to prevail between Jesus Christ (who is the husband and head), and His perfected church (who is the bride).
This relationship between the Lamb and His bride can be more fully appreciated after study of the relationship between Adam and Eve. Before his fall, Adam was a ‘type’ of Christ in as much as he was called "Adam, the son of God." Luke 3:38. In like manner Eve is a ‘type’ of the church, and their relationship sets out the pattern which applies between Christ and the bride.
LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a
helper comparable to him." Out of the ground the LORD God formed
every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to
see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature,
that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air,
and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable
to him. And the LORD God c
between husband and wife is used by P
God saw that it was not right for man to be alone, and so He promised to provide Adam with a companion. As a prelude to this, all the animals were paraded before Adam to be named. As they passed he examined them intently, in case one of them proved to be his promised partner. "But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him." Adam was looking for someone with the same nature and of the same substance as himself, but he found nothing in the animal kingdom which was "comparable to him."
Adam looked at Eve
and saw himself. She had a separate identity from him, and yet she was made
from him. Adam knew that he could have fellowship with her bec
THE PREPARATION OF THE BRIDE
The formation of Eve from then substance of Adam is mirrored in the creation of the bride of Christ. Just as Eve was taken from the side of Adam, the church was symbolically taken out of the side of Christ. At the cross, "one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out." John 19:34. Out of Christ’s side flowed the blood of redemption and the water of life.
The church is formed out of the substance of Christ’s life and nature implanted in us. We are not vessels fashioned in the likeness of Jesus, but vessels which contain the life of Jesus. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7. The bride has to be formed out of the same substance as Christ. To imagine that Christ could have fellowship with the flesh of man is to imagine that Adam could have fellowship with the animals.
Before a believer
can become part of the bride, he must first be cleansed and redeemed by the
blood, and then filled with the life and nature of Christ. This latter aspect
is not an
The preparation is
a long and thorough one. It can only be performed by the Holy Spirit with our
full cooperation. It requires a complete separation from, and coming out of,
the apostate church and the power of the world. It means the Holy Spirit putting
our self life to death, and perfecting our obedience to Christ. This is not
reaching a state of sinlessness, but a perfecting of our commitment and
separation unto Christ. It is as P
"…As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
‘Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and d
Says the Lord Almighty.’ 6:16-18
Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1
The preparation of the bride requires us to receive Christ into our spirits and souls and bodies so that we become indivisible "members of His body, of his flesh and of His bones." Ephesians 5:30. To be adorned as His bride is to be filled with the light and glory of His presence.
"Who is she who looks forth as the morning, Fair as the moon, Clear as the sun, Awesome as an army with banners?" Song of Songs 6:10.
The bride emerges
from the night, splendid in her reflection of the light of Christ and the glory
of God. She is graced with the jewels of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and
anointed for spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness. As they behold
the power and
THE STATUS OF THE BRIDE
It is commonly assumed that the whole church constitutes the bride of Christ, but this is not entirely correct. In referring to "the holy city, New Jerusalem," there is consistent mention of two groups. These are the saints in general, and the bride of Christ in particular. For example, Satan’s forces "went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints (i.e. those who are saved in general) and the beloved city (i.e. the bride of Christ in particular)." Revelation 20:9.
Another example is given in a later and more detailed description of the holy city. "And the city had no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved (i.e. the saints) shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it." Revelation 21:23-24.
Christ told parables which concerned invitations to wedding feasts. These parables clearly assume that there is a difference between the bride and the wedding guests. The apostle John was told, "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" Revelation 19:9. These guests are the saints in general rather than the bride in particular.
THE PURITY OF THE BRIDE
The strength of
the bride is in her purity. "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O
The bride is the
perfected church bec
The prophet Daniel
The mixture must
be purged of the impurities of the flesh before we can be entrusted with
Christ’s work. In the perfected church there is no such weakness bec
THE HOLINESS OF THE BRIDE
The extent of our holiness is the extent to which the life of God has been imparted to us through Christ. All holiness is from God, and His purpose in redeeming mankind back to Himself is to fill us with the glory of His holiness. The bride is called "the holy city, New Jerusalem." Revelation 1:2. She is "the city (who) had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light." Revelation 21:23.
representation of the bride is given by the "one hundred and forty-four
thousand" who stand with the Lamb on
The 144,000 walk
in the light of Christ’s life, and so "are without f
THE OVERCOMERS ARE PART OF THE BRIDE
The overcomers have known the power of Christ’s indwelling life in getting "the victory over the beast, over his image, and over his mark and over the number of his name." Revelation 15:2. Jesus said, "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name." Revelation 3:12.
The overcomers are "pillar(s) in the temple," or Christ’s anointed leaders in the true church. Jesus declared that "he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations - ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron.’" Revelation 2:26-27. The overcomers are appointed to rule throughout the church age. "And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Revelation 20:4.
THE INVITATION FROM THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE
Just as the Lord has asked us to come out of the world and out of the apostate church, He is now asking us to come into the bride relationship Christ. "And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take of the water of life (i.e. Christ) freely." Revelation 22:17.
The way into the
bride relationship with Christ is the way into the new and holy city
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Romans 8:16-17. Once through the gates of pearl the bride walks on streets which are "pure gold, like transparent glass." Revelation 18:21. Gold symbolises the divine nature of God. It indicates that once through the gates of pearl the believer walks on a path which expresses the divine life and nature of Christ.
RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS
The restored church is "a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but….holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:27. It is a refined and purified church which has been purged of sin. She has no "spot" (stain) or "wrinkle" (flaw), and is without "blemish" (i.e. blameless). She is declared to be "holy," which means that she is filled with the life and nature of Christ.
The restored church is a "glorious church." The word ‘glory,’ in a spiritual context, expresses God’s own nature as it is manifested to our senses. Most commonly His glory is manifested in the person of Christ. A glorious church is one which therefore manifests the attributes of God, through the real and obvious presence of Christ.
The apostle Peter
A GLORIOUS CHURCH IN THE DARKNESS OF THE WORLD
The prophet Isaiah cries out to the church, "Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you." Isaiah 60:1. While the rest of the world is submerged in darkness the church comes forth shining in all the glory of the Lord. "For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you." Isaiah 60:2
The reason for this darkness is explained in a preceding verse. "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him." Isaiah 59:19. There is no doubt that darkness covers the earth and that the enemy has poured in like a flood. The bottomless pit of the fifth trumpet has been opened, and the demonic hordes have emerged to overwhelm the world with their torments.
In this climate of despair and confusion, "the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him." Isaiah 59:19. This is a reference to a traditional battle strategy which was resorted to when an army was particularly hard pressed by the enemy. In this event the standard bearer chose some high ground, and then lifted up the standard as a signal for the rest of the army to regroup around it. In this case the standard-bearer is the Holy Spirit, and He is lifting up the standard of Jesus Christ.
The result of this will be that although "darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people…. The Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." Isaiah 60:2,3.
Two choices confront the saints at this time. The first choice to be made relates to our response to God’s command to come out of the apostate church. One alternative is to remain in the darkness of apostasy, surrounded by the worldly perfume of the harlot, and the lawless works of the flesh. The other is to choose the light of the full knowledge of Jesus Christ and obedience to His ways.
There is no neutral ground in this area, and a decision has to be made. Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against me." Matthew 12:30. He said, "because you are lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth." Revelation 3:16. We either "Come out of her" or we "receive of her plagues." Revelation 18:4.
The second choice facing us summarised in the question ‘How far do we want to go?’ The Lord is calling us out of the apostate church so that we might enter into the bride relationship with Him. Are we prepared to submit to the long refining work of the Holy Spirit to become "a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use?" 2 Timothy 2:21 (Authorised King James Version).
"And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17.