Edition 11. September 21st 2009
John 16:13 "When He the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth...and show you things to come"
In this edition:
●Glory and Horror...the prophetic plot of the church age
The Seven Churches of the Revelation
This is an extremely important and powerful subject, but before we get into it, I want to discuss what a church is and isn't.
A church is not a building. It consists of the 'ecclesia' or called out ones. As believers we are called out of the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God. Believers are those that have had a conversion experience or a regeneration within their hearts. They are further characterised by an indwelling love for our Messiah, His word, His people and His ways. True believers are those that have been born into a family and a Kingdom. Membership is by birth and not by works. God works in the believers life from the inside out. The professing church, have an outward form of Godliness but are counterfeits. They try to please God by works ,from the outside in!
The nature of the Revelation:
The book of Revelation is the 'unveiling' of Yeshua / Jesus our Messiah as King and Magisterial ruler of the universe. It reveals and unveils our wonderful risen Messiah as He is now and will be for all eternity. It is a book of prophecy outlining the course of the church age, the tribulation period, and well into the eternity of eternities!
Revelation 1:19 Instructs John to write the things which he has seen, which are and which will be. This indicates past present and future. So then, if this is a book a prophecy, what are these messages to the seven churches doing here? The messages were written to seven historic churches. But they also have a very present message within them to all believers at any time. Then they also have a most amazing prophetic significance as well. They plot the whole course of church history from its foundation to the rapture and tribulation.
It is this prophetic aspect of the seven churches which I will deal with in this edition.
The fact that these seven churches were in Asia Minor, which is present day Turkey is important. This implies that God is dealing primarily with gentiles and not Israel or the Jews at large at this stage. Turkey is also the land from which the antichrist will most probably arise, but more about that another time.
The messages to all churches from God:
Being in journalism all my adult life, I know that second hand information is not as good as going directly to the source! I don't know how many times I've heard people trying to decide about a church by asking this person or that, and what they come up with a host of variable personal opinions.
The Bible says that you are a fool if you compare yourselves among yourselves. It says that you need to compare the spiritual with spiritual things. Obviously there is no better source than the author of the Bible Himself! So, we will now ignore what every human has to say about the church and go to the source of the messages to the seven churches and see what God thinks!
Please don't underestimate the importance of this edition and its content, it could have eternal consequences for you!
The course of the church age:
All churches can find an identity within the seven churches of Revelation.
The seven churches reveal and plot the course of the church age from its formation to the close of the age. This can be seen from the meanings of the names and various descriptive terms within the messages. This shows that the choice of just these seven churches among the hundreds that existed then, was truly a prophetic supernatural act of God.
Have a look at the graphic below and keep it in your mind as we go along.
●The first message is to the church at Ephesus. Revelation 2:1-7
The name means 'beloved' and this represents the early apostolic church period. The church was warned not to "leave its first love". One of the positive features of this church was that they "hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans" The word reveals what this was. The word is derived from "nikao" which means to conquer and "laos" which means people. This allowed for the domination of the people by leadership who thought that they were God sent! This church also has in its favour the fact that it "tested those that said they were apostles and were not" Acts20:29 ..."I know this that after my departure savage wolves will come in not sparing the flock". This is just what happened. For the first 100 years the church was unstoppable and triumphant and then it began to loose its first love. Read on!
●The second message is to the church at Smyrna. Revelation 2:8-11
The name comes from the word 'Myrrh' which is a bitter / sweet herb used amongst other things, for the anointing of bodies at burial. This represents the church period from around 100AD to 300AD. This period was characterized by terrible persecution. The church is told that they will suffer persecution for '"ten days" and that they should be "faithful unto death". In this period ten successive Roman emperors tried to stamp the church out with incredible persecution and murder of believers en-mass. Satan was unable to defeat the church by persecution so at around 300AD he changed his strategy! It's good to remember that persecution can't defeat you as a believer! Read on.
●The third message is to the church at Pergamos. Revelation 2:12-17
The word means 'thoroughly mixed' and represents the Constantine era where church and state came together. It runs from about 300AD to 600AD. This was Satan's ace or trump card - to introduce or mix the occult, error and deception into the church. The Roman emperor Constantine decided to stop the persecution of the church and in fact turned things around completely and made Christianity the official state religion. But to make it more palatable to the masses he mixed in his abominable occult practices that originated from his own worship of Babylonian gods. I won't go into all of these in this edition, but just to name a few of them, Easter (the Babylonian goddess of sex), Christmas (sun worship on the 25th December), infant sprinkling and a host of other occult practices. The monumental book by Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylon's written in the 1500s details all of these things. This book is an absolute shocker and shows just how much of Babylon is in the church!
This church is told that they have "put a stumbling block before the children of Israel" (vs14) This church holds to the "doctrine of Balaam", which essentially is to curse Israel! This church marks the start of replacement theology, and everything anti- Israel which years later resulted in the world's worst ever mass murder of the Jews in the name of Christianity! They also hold to the "doctrine of the Nicolaitans", which means to conquer the people. This is the church that started the separation of clergy above laity for the purpose of subjugating and dominating the laity!
This was Satan's ace...mix error with truth! This marked the start of the dark ages!
●The fourth message is to the church at Thyatira. Revelation 2:18-29
The word means 'a perpetual sacrifice' and represents the Catholic era from around 600AD right through into the tribulation! It is a church of compromise, evil and deception. Jezebel, who is tolerated in this church has many characteristics which can be seen in this church today. Jezebel is associated with Babylon. Jezebel killed the prophets of God. This church killed all who opposed her right up to the reformation. Because this church refused to 'repent' it is told it will be cast into 'great tribulation'. Verse 23 says "I will kill her children with death" The term 'children' refers to the offspring of the church, or those who cling to the mother church. vs24 goes on and says that "there are some who don't have this doctrine and haven't known the "depths of Satan" In other words many in this church have and do know the depth of Satan"! How amazing is this!
●The fifth message is to the church at Sardis. Revelation 3: 1-6
The word means 'to escape' and represents the reformation period from around 1500AD into the tribulation. The reformation was an incomplete work. It started the escape from the dark ages and the grip of Catholisism, which was good but this then gave birth to denominationalism. The church is told in vs2 "...you have a name that you are alive but you are dead" The church is commanded to repent and is told that if it won't "I will come upon you as a thief and you won't know what hour I will come upon you". There are "a few" in this church who are not defiled and will "walk with Me in white" This implies that the others will not! Verse 5 is a shocker "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life" Again this implies that those who don't will be blotted out!
●The sixth message is to the church at Philadelphia. Revelation 3: 7-13
The word means 'brotherly love' and represents the missionary period from about 1700 through to the rapture. This is the only church with not one word of condemnation levelled against it. It is highly commended and favoured by our Lord. "I have set before you an open door which no one can shut" - this refers to missionary work. Verse 7 identifies the church with "The key of David." Isaiah 22:21,22 defines the "key of David"... It is to be a "Father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah" This implies a Messianic church with a Hebraic expression and heart for Israel, Jerusalem and its people. The church is told that it has "little strength", indicating that it trusts for it's power on our Lord. It is favoured because it has "kept My Word" (vs8). It says that those of the "synagogue of Satan and who say that they are Jews but are not, will come bowing before you" This implies that this church is involved with true Jews and will even get the rabbinical Jews to come bowing! In other words, again, this is a Messianic group.
Verse 10 says "Because you have kept My Word, I will keep you from the hour of tribulation that will come upon the whole world" This is one of the clearest verses of scripture indicating a pre-tribulation rapture. (See previous edition) This church is commended twice for keeping the Word!!
This is a church with an Abrahamic expression, which means having a heart for both Jew and Gentile in Him.
●The seventh message is to the church at Laodicia. Revelation 3: 14-22
The name means 'people ruled' and represents the modern church era from around 1900 to the tribulation. There is only condemnation and not one word of commendation for this church. This church is "lukewarm" and will be "spewed out" of God's mouth! This church believes that it is "rich and in need of nothing, but it is poor". This implies self sustainability and self preservation. The name Laodicia can also be interpreted as self opinionated. This church has no working revelation from God because it "doesn't know how wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked" it is. It is deceived. It is told to "anoint it's eyes with eye-salve so that it can see" This refers to revelation knowledge which it lacks. The great tragedy of this church is that it is hell bound except for those that repent. This church is all around us today!
This is the church of replacement theology, stealing what God has given to Israel for itself. It's the church that will lead the world to stand against God's work in this regard. It will become the tragic great world church, ecumenical in nature and will be associated with the Satanic false prophet of the last days. It will be lukewarm to God's Word and mixed with all sorts of false religion. This is the church of horror.
Interestingly the council of Laodecia meeting in the 4th century, decided to exclude the book of Revelation from the canon of scripture!
We are already well beyond the formation of the horror church.
Pastors and church leadership take note. Many of you are largely responsible for the failure of Churchianity! The above discourse is God's view of the church. It's a shock! Let me add another portion of scripture, which no church I know of can accommodate. In the Bible this section is headed "Sectarianism (divisions or denominationalism) is sin"!
1Corinthians 1:10 "Now brethren I plead with you, by the name of our Lord, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgement"
What an incredible indictment on the present divided church, and there are many more verses. Amazingly, In all my years I have never heard one church teach on this subject.
There is one major all important overriding issue here. The leadership of the church have created a monstrous failure except for one glorious church which is empowered by God.
Perhaps this is why God's new thing is already and will be more and more a Messianic movement, in unity, with all the occult traditions of the church cast out.
Drama of all dramas, darkness, devastation and despair is the future for much of the church. On the other hand we see a spectacular, delightful, fantastic future of glory for other churches.
How does one know which is which?
Some things identifying the Laodicia church of today include: A lack of teaching across the full spectrum of the scripture. A lack of teaching of the cross and it's application to us.
The Philadelphian church would be characterised by the preaching and teaching of the full gospel including the cross and its application. To be right with God one needs to be right in heart and right in doctrine. Right in heart comes from the brokenness created by the cross and right in doctrine comes from correct teaching in fullness.
Personally, I have a very fertile and vivid imagination. But my Bible says that the eternal glory that is laid up for us, is greater than anything we can imagine!!! Bring it on!!!
In closing this edition here are two art works by Michelangelo. The top one represents the fury of God while the bottom one represents the friendship of God
Kind regards and many blessings...Shalom and hang in there!