Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Prophecy From 1965 That Is Very Relevant Today

I do not usually put much stock in people's prophecies for several reasons. 1) They generally do not line up with Scripture and 2) they do not sound like the Lord. When you study God's Word you find that He does have a way of speaking that is peculiar to Him.  When I came across this lengthy prophecy I started reading it with a lot of skepticism. As I reached the end for the first time I felt that I have read something with I can attribute to the Holy Spirit speaking through someone, as it hits the mark straight on. This was given in 1965 by a man named Stanley Frodsham.

Great Judgements

"With great judgements will I plead with the population of this country. Great darkness is coming upon the countries that have heard My gospel but no longer walk in it. My wrath shall come
upon them. The darkness shall be so great and the anguish so sore that men shall cry out for death and shall not find it. There shall be a lingering death, famine and great catastrophes.

My wrath shall be manifested against all ungodliness. It shall come with great intensity. You have known my love but have not experienced My wrath or My severity. My judgements are literal
and not a thing to be passed over lightly. Realize the severity of My judgements and My intense anger against the sin in My Household. My judgements shall begin in My House, for I will cleanse My House that it be not a partaker of My wrath against the iniquities of the cities. Before I visit the nations in judgement I will begin at My House. When I do cause My wrath to come upon the cities of the world My people shall be separate. I desire a people without spot or wrinkle and such will be preserved by Me in the time of My wrath, which will be coming upon all iniquity and  unrighteousness.

I am going to prepare you for the coming days by a hard path that will cause many to cry out continually unto Me. For when the going is easy men do not seek Me, but rejoice in a temporary
blessing. And when that blessing is removed they so often turn this way and that way but do not come to Me. I am showing you these things in order that you may seek Me continually and with
great diligence. As you seek Me I will open up truths to you that you have not seen before, and these very truths will be such that will enable you to stand in these last days. As you are persecuted,
reviled and rejected by your brethren then you will turn unto Me with all your heart and seek Me for that spiritual life that you need. So that when the tribulation comes you will have that which will
enable you to stand. For many will be tossed to and fro, men's hearts shall fail them because of trouble on every hand. These days shall be very terrible the likes of which have never been seen before.

Coming Glory - and - Deceiving Spirits

When I visit My people in mighty revival power, it is to prepare them for the darkness ahead. With the Glory shall come great darkness, for the Glory is to prepare My people for the darkness. I will enable My people to go through the darkness because of the visitation of My Spirit. Take heed to yourselves lest you be puffed up and think that you have arrived. Many shall be puffed up as in
the olden days, for then, many received My message but they did not continue in it. Did I anoint Jehu? Yet the things that I desired were not accomplished in his life. Listen to the messengers, but
do not hold men's persons in admiration or adulation. For many whom I shall anoint mightily with signs and miracles shall become lifted up and shall fall by the wayside. I do not this willingly for I
have made provision that they might stand. I call many into this ministry and equip them, but remember that many shall fall. They shall be like bright lights and the people shall delight in them. But they shall be taken over by deceiving spirits and shall lead many of My people astray. Hearken diligently concerning these things, for in the last days shall come seducing spirits. They shall turn
many of My anointed ones away, many shall fall through diverse lusts and because of 'sin abounding'.

But if you will seek Me diligently I will put My Spirit within you so that when one shall turn to the right hand or to the left hand you shall not turn with them, but instead you will keep your eyes fixed
wholly on your Lord. The coming days are going to be most dangerous, difficult and dark for there shall be a mighty outpouring of My Spirit in judgement upon many cities and many sh all be
destroyed. My people must be diligently warned concerning the days ahead. Many shall turn after seducing spirits and already many are seducing My people. It is those who 'Do Righteousness'
that are righteous. Many cover their sins by great theological words. But I warn you of seducing spirits who instruct my people in an evil way. Many of these I will anoint that they in turn may
purify and sift My people, for I will have a holy people. When I come I shall not find faith upon the earth but in a few, for when the time of testing comes many will depart from their Lord.

Many shall come with seducing spirits and hold out lustful enticements. You will find that after I have visited My people again the way will become more and more narrow, and fewer shall walk
therein. Be not deceived, the ways of righteousness are My ways. For though Satan come as an angel of light hearken not to him; for those who perform miracles and speak not righteousness are
not of Me. I warn you with great intensity that I am going to judge My House and have a church without spot or wrinkle when I come. I desire to open your eyes and give you spiritual understanding,

Look unto Me and I will make you to perceive with the eyes of the Spirit the things that lurk in darkness, that are not visible to the human eye. Let Me lead you in this way, that you may perceive
the powers of darkness and battle against them. It is not a battle against flesh and blood, for if you battle in that way you accomplish nothing. But if you let Me take over and battle against the powers
of darkness then they are defeated, and then liberation is brought to My people.

The Ways of Deceivers

I warn you to search the Scriptures diligently concerning these last days. For the things that are written shall indeed be made manifest. There shall come deceivers among My people in
increasing numbers, who shall speak forth the truth and shall gain the favour of the people. For the people shall examine the Scriptures and say, 'What these men say is true'. Then when they have gained the hearts of the people, then and then only shall they bring out their wrong doctrines. Therefore I say that you should not give your hearts to men, nor hold people's persons in
admiration or adulation. For by these very persons Satan shall gain entry into My people. Watch for seducers! Do you think a seducer will brandish a heresy and flaunt it before the people? He
will speak words of righteousness and truth and will appear as a minister of light, declaring the Word. The people's hearts shall be won. Then when the hearts are won, they will bring out their
doctrines and the people shall be deceived. The people shall say 'Did he not speak thus and thus'? 'And did we not examine it from the Word'? 'Therefore he is a minister of righteousness. This that
he has now spoken we do not see in the Word but it must be right, for the other things he spoke were true'.

Be not deceived. For the deceiver will first work to gain the hearts of many, and then shall bring forth his insidious doctrines. You can not discern those who are of Me and those who are not of Me
when they start to preach. But seek Me constantly, and when these doctrines are brought out you shall have a witness in your heart that these are not of Me. Fear not, for I have warned you. It is possible that the very elect may be deceived. But it is not possible if you walk in holiness and uprightness before the Lord, for then your eyes shall be open and the Lord will protect you. If you will constantly look unto the Lord you will know when the doctrine changes, and will not be brought into it. If your heart is right I will keep you, if you will look constantly to Me, I will uphold you.

The minister of righteousness shall be on this wise --- his life shall agree with the word, and his lips shall give forth that which is wholly true, there will be no mixture. When the mixture appears
then you will know he is not a minister of righteousness. The deceivers speak first the truth and then error, to cover their own sins which they love. Therefore I exhort and command you to study the Scriptures relative to seducing spirits, for this is one of the great dangers of these last days.

I desire you to be firmly established in My word and not in the personalities of men, that you will not be moved as so many shall be moved. I would keep you in the paths of righteousness. Take heed to yourselves and follow not the seducing spirits that are already manifesting themselves. Diligently inquire of Me when you hear something that you have not seen in the word, and do not hold people's persons in admiration, for it is by this very method that Satan will hold many of My people.

The Way of Triumph

I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly, that you may triumph where I triumphed. On the cross I triumphed over all the powers of Satan and I have called you to walk in the
same path. It is when your life is on the cross that you shall know the victory that I have experienced. As you are on the cross, seated in Me, then you shall know the power of the resurrection. When I come in My Glory the principalities and powers in the heavenly places shall be utterly broken. Fear not, for I have given you the power whereby you may tread down the powers of darkness, and come forth victorious through every trial. As you areon the cross then you are victorious. It was on the cross that I triumphed over all the powers of the enemy. My life shall flow through as you enter into these precious truths. Look unto Me and appropriate My life. As your eyes and desires are toward Me
and you know what it is to be crucified with Me, then you shall live and your anointing shall increase. It was not in My life as I walked upon the earth but rather it was in My life as I hung upon the cross that I openly spoiled principalities and powers.

I am showing you truth that shall cause you to overcome, to have power over the wicked one, this is the truth that will liberate you and those around you. You shall know also the fellowship of My
sufferings. There is no other way whereby you may partake of this heavenly glory and to reign with Me. My word says that If we suffer with Him we shall reign with Him. I desire to make these truths real within you. As you keep them before you, you will in turn liberate many who are in bondage. You will have revelation of those who are in darkness and will have the keys to liberate the
captives. Many seek to liberate but do not have the keys. Upon the cross continually you will know the power of My resurrection.

If you will indeed judge yourself you shall not be judged. As you seek My face and desire to be cleansed by Me in all truth and sincerity of heart, I will judge you in the secret place, and the
things that are in the secret place of your heart shall not be made manifest to others. I will do it in the secret place and no man will know it. The shame that will be seen on many faces shall not be
seen on your face. Therefore in mercy and love I am instructing you in order that you may partake of My Glory. As you are willing to walk with Me and rejoice in your sufferings, you shall in turn
partake of My Glory. Look unto Me for you have need of power to overcome the wicked one and the bondages in other's lives.

I said that if a man will judge himself he shall not be judged. It is not My good pleasure that the shame of My people be seen by all. How can I judge the world if I judge not first My own house?
Hearken unto these things that I am telling you, for if you will not hearken unto Me thy shame shall be evident to all.

God's Part and Our Part

I would have you consider My life on earth --- the anointing upon Me was great and yet the temptations were great on every side; they came in one form and then in another, offering Me first the
glory of the kingdoms of the earth and then in the  form of reviling and persecution. There will be great glory given to My people but also the temptations will be intensified on every side. Think not
that with the glory there shall be no temptations or persecutions. The glory to My church shall be great and so also the temptations from the enemy to turn My people from My paths. I warn you
again that when the glory shall be manifested the temptations shall be great until very few that started shall finish the course. First of all they shall be offered great worldly possessions and then will come great revilings and unbelief.

Consider your Lord, that as He walked so it shall be for you. There shall be need of great intensity of purpose. At times it will seem that everyone is rising up against you, trying to turn you from the
course that I have set for you. It is written of Me that I set my face as flint to go in the direction that My Father had prescribed for Me. If you will finish the course the Lord has laid down for you, you too will have to set your face as a flint. With great determination you must walk in the course laid down for you. Many of your loved ones and those who follow with you will seek to persuade you and
try to turn you from the course. With many words that seem right in the natural they will speak to you. Did not Christ rebuke Peter who would turn Him from the course God had prescribed?

Understand these two things and meditate upon them solemnly --- the persecution and the darkness shall be as great as the glory in order to try to turn the elect and the anointed ones from the path
the Lord has laid down for them. Many shall start but few shall be able to finish because of the greatness of grace that shall be needed to be able to endure unto the end. The temptation and the
persecution of your Lord was continuous. He was tempted by Satan in many forms throughout His entire life and even to the cross where the ungodly cried out 'if thou be the Christ come down from the cross'. Think not that there will be a time of no persecution, for it shall be from the time of your anointing until the end. Difficulties and great persecution will go on to the end. The Lord must prepare you to be an overcomer in all things, that you may be able to finish the course. The persecution shall increase even as the anointing shall increase.

In paths of judgement and righteousness shall the Lord God lead His people and bring them into that place which He has chosen for them. The Lord has chosen a place for His people, a place of
righteousness and holiness where He shall encamp around them. All who will be led of the Lord will be brought into this holy place. For the Lord delights to dwell in His people and to manifest
Himself through His people. The holiness of the Lord will be manifested through His people. Let the Lord lead you and He will lead you in the difficult places. He led His people of old through a
place where no man dwelt, where no man passed through, in a place of great danger and in the shadow of death. The Lord will indeed lead His people again through such places, and at the same time will bring them out into a place of great glory. Understand that the way toward the glory is fraught with great danger and many shall fall to the right or the left, many shall camp on lesser ground. But the Lord has a place of holiness and nounclean thing shall dwell among His people.

Put your trust in Him and He will bring you into a place of holiness. He desires to bring His people into a great glory --- the likes of which has never been seen, for this is what the Lord will do for
those who put their trust in Him. It is a place of darkness and great danger and it will separate His people into the place where He would have them walk. He will protect them from the voices that would turn them from His path. He will bring them through the dark places and treacherous paths and lead them out into the light of His glory. He will rejoice greatly over His beloved and cause them to be filled with joy unspeakable. He seeks to lead His people into a new place of grace and glory where He will indeed encamp among them. Put your trust in Him and He will surely bring you into this new place.

Fear not the days to come, but fear this only --- that you shall walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord. In this time I am ordering and setting up My church and it shall indeed be pure, without spot or wrinkle. I will do a work in My beloved that has not been seen since the foundation of the world. I have shown you these things that you may seek the Lord diligently with all your heart, and that
you may be a preserver of His people.

Run not to this one or that one for the Lord has so ordained that salvation is in Him and in Him alone. You shall not turn to this shepherd or to that one, for there shall be a great scattering upon the earth. Therefore look unto Him for He will indeed make these things clear to you. You shall not look here or there, for His Wells shall increase your strength and your faith as He prepares you for the times that are coming.

The truths that I have revealed to you must become a part of you --- not just an experience, but a part of your very nature. Is it not written that I demand truth in the inward parts? It is the truth of the
Lord expressed in your very being that shall hold you. Many shall experience the truth but the truth must become a part of you, your very life. As men and women look upon you they will hear not only
the voice but see the expression of the truth. Many shall be overcome because they are not constant in My ways and because they have not permitted the truths to become a part of them. I am showing you these things that you may be prepared, and having done all, to stand. "

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What the Pros and Cons of the Letters to the Seven Churches Teach Us

It seems that more and more God is giving me object lessons, using a few other people and their relationships with me, to show me how far short I am falling in working on my relationship with Him, by letting me experience the same kind of treatment that I am giving Him. It has not been pleasant, and in fact has been hurtful. The most obvious place that I am failing is in giving Him the time and attention that any relationship needs if it is to succeed. So many people take relationships for granted and do not realize that you have to actually put in the time and effort, and work diligently to keep the relationship alive. It doesn't just happen. You need to spend time with that person. Nothing replaces your time and attention. And so it must be with our Lord. I have been spending a lot of time examining myself and looking at what the Scriptures say as to how I should be living my life to make sure that I am abiding with Christ, so that I can, as Peter says, “...give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10).

It is a given that the first place to start is to give God your time and attention, as said above. Without that the rest of what follows is a moot point. Christ and the Father should be a constant presence in our life, and we should be talking to Him whenever we can. There is no such Christian as a Sunday Christian. Nor even a Sabbath one for that matter, (for us Sabbath observers). We also need to be spending time in His Word on a daily basis, as much as possible. If you aren't beginning with that, then you have already lost the battle and can only expect that you will drift further away with each passing day. The only way back is through repentance and a diligent effort to change your ways.

So many teach that all you have to do is say a pray accepting Jesus and you are all set for heaven. They do a disservice to many people, for while at the moment of accepting Christ we are given justification and are secure, from that moment on everything we do can either jeopardize it or continue to secure it. Salvation is the prize for which you have to run to win. 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Paul said in Philippians 3:10-14 that he had not yet attained that state of perfection and the security of eternal life. He still had to press toward the mark to apprehend it. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (to eternal life). Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We do not have the security of eternal life until we pass from this life, and to gain it we must still be in good standing with God at the time of our death. There are so many things that can cause us to get off the path. And it does not help that so many teach that once you accept Christ, you can put Him up on a shelf like a trophy and live however you please. It does not work that way, and the Bible does not teach that. I have several articles addressing different aspects of this issue, starting with the subject of eternal security. That article can be found here.

What I want to do in this article is go over each of the churches of Revelation to see the pros and cons of what they were doing, so that we might be careful to look at our lives and see if we have the pros and need to get rid of the cons. The first church mentioned is Ephesus.

Revelation 2:1-7 “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

The pros listed in this church are: 1) works, 2) labor, 3) patience, 4) not tolerating evil, 5) assessing people who say they are apostles (or any type of teacher, preacher, prophet, etc.) to see if they are truthful or liars by double checking what they say and what they do against the Word of God, 6) longsuffering with patience, 7) labored without ceasing, 8) hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Notice that patience and labor are mentioned twice, as is basically hating evil deeds, those in general and the Nicolaitans in particular. Whatever those deeds may have been, Christ saw them as particularly bad. This group would not tolerate that evil. This gives us a list of things which should be evidenced in our lives if we are living correctly. We should have good works to our credit. And they should not be done out of a wrong attitude or motives or be works that are not really of or for God. They need to be works that will glorify God, and be done with a cheerful heart out of charity, not out of selfishness. We should labor. Not only labor for our daily bread, but labor to bring in a harvest of people for God, and it should be always ongoing. We should be slow to anger, patient in tribulation, and longsuffering with others. We should not tolerate evil, especially within the church. It needs to be exposed, not hidden, not tolerated, and not condoned. We need to be Bereans and check everything against Scripture that leaders, teachers, and others teach and say, to catch false teachings.

The cons consist of 1) leaving their first love, 2) repent and do the initial works that one did when first saved, 3) repent in general of sins of commission and omission. What is the first love? I never understood it until the first time I fell head over heels in love. Those first few months were ones where every moment of the day, my every thought and desire was for the person I loved. I wanted to be with him all the time. I wanted to do everything to please him, as I wanted him to be as happy as I was. I floated on a cloud, as they say, and I was told even by people who did not know the reason for it, that my face was radiant. No matter what bad things happened during that time, I never was unhappy, for the happiness I felt in my love overwhelmed any sad feelings I might have had. I knew happiness and joy every minute of the day for days on end. Then there was that first moment of disappointment in the other person when they were less than perfect and deeply hurt my feelings, and reality hit and the bloom was off the rose. For those few months, I had seen the other person as perfect and their love for me as perfect and had an unrealistic view of them. It was the sense of perfection that had given me that “high” that I was feeling, and when that perfection was shattered, so was the “high.” Usually when that happens with people, they tend to forget that they, too, are less that perfect and might have contributed to the perfection of the love being shattered. 

With Christ, when we accept Him, we feel that same “high” of being in love. And in this case our view is not unrealistic, as Christ is perfect and will never disappoint us in His love or behavior toward us, but what happens is that we are the ones who sin and ruin the perfection of the relationship. Somehow we expect the love that Christ has for us to be perfect in its protecting us from anything bad, or not being upset with us when we are not perfect ourselves. We become disappointed that it does not protect us from the evils of life that sin has wrought, and so we tend to shift the blame to the one who does not deserve it, Christ, and lose that sense of that first love, where our every thought of every minute of every day is to please them. We feel disappointed that He doesn't overlook our sin, even if we aren't repentant. The bloom comes off the rose, and while we continue to love Him as we love other people, even though they are not perfect, it is never quite the same. Christ is telling us to get that first love back. And since the problem is us, not Him, it is our behavior that needs fixing. We need to draw closer to Him and make Him our priority every day, thinking of Him all the time and spending the time with Him.

Next we need to do the initial works that we did when we were saved. If you have been around brand new Christians the one thing that seems to be common is that just as a person new in love wants to shout their love and share it with the world, so does a new Christian want to share their new-found faith. They seem to have no concern over the reaction they might get from the people with whom they are sharing it. As time goes by, Christians tend to be much more selective as to when and with whom they will share their faith. They worry about people's reactions. Christ wants us to get back to that initial work of sharing the gospel in the same way that we did at first. And lastly we need to not just repent of our sins off commission, which Christians have less problem doing than repenting of those sins of omission, which we tend to ignore. We need to be far more cognizant of the things we could have done and did not do and repent of those things as well.

The second church in the list is Smyrna. Christ has little to say to them, because they are abiding with Him. Revelation 2:8-11 “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”

The church as Smyrna is unusual as a people in that Christ finds no fault with any of the people in this church. The pros of this group are 1) their works, 2) their tribulation, 3) their poverty, and 4) their faithfulness in suffering persecution. This teaches us that again, works are very important, as they are the evidence of our faith. James 2:17, 24 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” We are to be faithful in tribulation, even unto death. And while poverty is not a sign of faith, those who are poor need to rely on Christ for their daily bread far more than those who are rich in material wealth. And so because of this, their faith is stronger, so they are actually richer in that they are rich in spiritual wealth.

There are no cons in this church as far as their Christian faith is concerned. The bad news for this church is that they are martyred. This occurs in spite of their almost perfect faith. They are not going to be protected from persecution and death. They will be thrown in prison and killed. This is one of the churches whose example we should emulate. They are doing the works they should, they are enduring tribulation with faithfulness, and they are rich in spiritual things.

Pergamos is the third church in this list. Revelation 2:12-17 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Pergamos has the following pros: 1) works, 2) holds to the faith, and 3) does not deny Christ. Once again we see that works is the very first thing mentioned by Christ, as it was in the previous two churches. Christ sees our works as a very important part of our walk with Him. They do not earn us salvation, but they secure it by glorifying God and evidencing our faith in Him. Without the works, we show no evidence that we love or have faith in Him, for words without actions are meaningless words. When you tell someone you love them, and then do not show it in the least way, why should they believe you? Our love is borne out by our actions toward the person. If there is no tangible evidence of our love, then it really only exists in the imagination of the one saying that they love you. There is no reason for the one who is told they are loved to believe the person when they say it. The same is true of faith. Love and faith go hand in hand. They have held fast to the faith even in the face of martrydom coming to one of their own, and have not denied Christ. They are willing to face death if necessary, and will not deny Christ if it comes down to it, and it could very well come down to it considering where they live. They live where Satan has his earthly headquarters (at that time).

Again we should recognize that we should have works to our credit, for they are very important as evidence of our faith. We should also not be ashamed of Christ. Too many are afraid of offending others, or afraid of being mocked or disliked, if they were to parade their Christianity. We cannot hold back, for Christ has told us that if we deny Him, He will deny us. We need to be willing to let our Christianity be known, even if we live in an area that is very anti-Christian.

There are some serious cons in this church. 1) They tolerate those who practice the doctrine of Balaam, and 2) they tolerate those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The doctrine of Balaam was that he advised that the Israelites could be conquered by getting them to live licentiously with the pagan women. So this church is tolerating all sort of moral and sexual sins with the idea of “freedom in Christ,” as so many are doing today. They are indulging in worldliness, probably going to worldly venues, hanging out with worldly people, and indulging in worldly pursuits. They would claim, as so many are doing today, that obedience to the commandments of God is trying to work your way to heaven, and that their freedom in Christ allows them to partake of these things. Added to that is the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which is something that Christ particularly hates. There is nothing in Scripture that tells us what this sin is. There are several theories. One, due to the root derivatives of the word “Nicolaitan” (meaning overcome the laity), is that there were those who were saying that only the clergy and leaders could understand Scripture, so were the wolves in sheep's clothing that were teaching apostate doctrines, and withholding the truth from the people. Another theory is that they were Gnostics, as there was a Gnostic group later in time who were referred to as the Nicoliatans. But according to what I have found written, they did not adopt this name at that time, so it seems that this might not be what is referred to. The third possibility is that there is one reference to a Nicolas in Scripture. He was a deacon, a proselyte from Antioch. It is possible that he was teaching some very bad teachings and was getting a following. Again, whatever these deeds were, they were bad, and unlike Ephesus, they were tolerating it here.

We should not be tolerating worldliness and licentious behavior, nor any deeds that are evil, or doctrine that is unscriptural. Too many Christians think today that living in holiness is trying to work their way to heaven and they don't want to become “legalistic,” so they embrace the world, its pleasures, and its people and are unequally yoked to it. They see no harm in living that way, not realizing that Christ does not see it the same way. He has told us that we must abide in Him and produce good fruit, not bad.

The fourth church to come under scrutiny is Thyatira. Revelation 2:18-29 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Once again, the first thing mentioned is works. Not only once, but at the end of the list of pros, their works are listed once again, for they continue to grow in works reaching out further and further into the community. So for this group, the list of pros is 1) works, 2) charity, 3) service, 4) faith, 5) patience, and 6) works again. The list of works, charity, service, and faith is very reminiscent of the type of behavior that one finds in the churches today who focus on working one's way into heaven. They have good intentions and believe they are doing them for God, so He gives them some credit. There are some denominations who do have a head belief in Christ, and try to live for Him, for whom works is the key to getting into heaven, rather than a vital personal relationship with Christ. It would seem that this church is a forerunner of those type of churches. The thing with this is, we should have all these things. They are very important, and are vital things that we should be doing. And of course patience is something which we should always practice. The problem was, this church had those things without the relationship. Without the relationship they are done for man's purposes, not God's.

Besides the churches who focus on works to earn their way to heaven, we have those who teach that salvation is by grace, but pervert the rest of the Bible. One of the practices of the mega-churches these days is to have more ministries than you can shake a stick at. They reach out into the communities to service people who have all sort of problems and addictions. Their works are more than those at first, where they mainly saw to the needs of the saints in their congregation. But with that also seems to come apostate teachings, the prosperity gospel, the purpose driven church, etc. This is a problem of the church at Thyatira also.

The cons of this church are so bad that they are said to be the depth of Satan's teachings, and Christ says He will throw them into great tribulation. The phrase “great tribulation” is used in only one other context in the Bible, and that is during the 70th week of Daniel. This church is allowing a woman, one who is so evil that God calls her Jezebel after the queen in the Old Testament who was evil, to teach. It is not only that they allow her to teach the entire church, against what Scripture teaches about women not being pastors of churches, but she is actually advocating and encouraging people to commit fornication and adultery of all kinds. It is not bad enough that they tolerate people in their ranks acting this way, as was found in other churches, they have elevated the ringleader of this kind of sin to the rank of leader. All of the good deeds which they do, does not hold a candle to the evil that is going on in their church. God will purge them of their sin by giving them the worst persecution ever, that will result in their deaths. Just as we cannot tolerate the sins of Balaam or the Nicolaitans, we cannot allow our leaders to teach that sinful behavior is okay with God. We need to check their teachings against the Scriptures.

Sardis is the next church on the list. Revelation 3:1-6 “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Sardis has the following pros 1) none. They don't even have works, for their works are not perfect before God. They are strictly the works they want to do, not works for God. They have a name that they are Christian, but they have reached the point of almost death, as far as faith is concerned. They do not have a living faith at all, it is just the remnant of glowing embers ready to be extinguished. They basically have nothing more than the name of Christians. I know some liberal churches like this. They have discontinued their belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. They don't even believe much of what is in it is actual history anymore. They treat it as a mythological book. They do not see Jesus as the Son of God, born of a virgin, and a part of the Trinity, but ascribe a lesser position to Him. They do social works for the world. They are essentially almost unbelievers, but there are still some in the church who are true believers. They have not defiled themselves with the unbelief that is rampant in their church. We must be careful to not be entangled in churches like this, for the people we keep company with will corrupt us, if they are the wrong kind of people.

The cons of this church are 1) everything. They have no faith, no doctrine that is good, no works, nothing. They are on the point of being unbelievers and probably most of them actually are. Church is a ritual for them. Again, this is a serious warning to us to cling to the truth of Scriptures and believe in what they say, for if you do not, you end up in unbelief.

Philadelphia is akin to Smyrna in that they are not guilty of straying. Revelation 3:7-13 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

The pros in this church are 1) they have works, 2) they have kept God's Word, 3) they have not denied Christ, 4) they have kept the word of God's patience, and 5) they will be kept safe through the great tribulation. This group has several things in common with Smyrna. 1) Christ has nothing bad to say about them. They have the works that are always the first consideration. They have kept God's Word pure and unadulterated, and have not denied Christ. These are things which we want in our lives. 2) They also have some enmity with the synagogue of Satan who call themselves Jews. Both of these churches have had dealings with this group of people. Then there are two things that Christ mentions which have not been mentioned before in connection with any church. They keep the word of God's patience, and because they have kept it, they will be spared the suffering of the great tribulation which will purge the rest of the churches who have been chastised, and which will result in the deaths of the Smyrnans even though they are spiritually fine. Because of this many of this group will most likely live to see the rapture. To know what keeping the word of God's patience means, and what criteria this group must meet to get to the rapture, read my other article here.

Now while this article is about helping us to know some of the ways (not all, but some) that we must be behaving to have a right relationship with Christ, if one wants to actually make it to the rapture, I would advise not only doing the things that this article presents, but especially those things of the article just referenced, as well as any other of the many things of which we are told that we should be obedient.

The Philadelphians have no cons, just as Smyrna had none. This is the ultimate group to be in, for not only do they meet with Christ's approval, they will not have to die the death of the martyr.

The group that is the worst of the bunch is saved for last. The Laodiceans. Revelation 3:14-22 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Laodicea has no pros. They have only cons. Even their works are useless for God. He can't even stand them. 1) They are rich in material goods, selfishly so, 2) they brag about it and are arrogant, and think that they are just fine not only with themselves, but with God also. They think because they have all this wealth that God must be blessing them, so believe that how they run their spiritual lives meets with God's approval. 3) They are so blind to the truth that they cannot see that in God's eyes they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. They don't even have dirty robes as the others do. They are totally naked. They need to get themselves some robes to begin with by truly having a relationship with Christ, and doing the good works that gives them that white robe. This is the church that I believe describes the American Church as a whole – wealthy (especially compared to the rest of the world in general, much less the Christian world), arrogant (they think that God will never let them suffer, while they see Christians around the world dying for their faith), and blind to their spiritual condition (they defiantly cry that trying to live holy lives is an act of works, and they do not need to earn their way to heaven, because Jesus did it all). They are so oblivious to the real gospel and what God expects from us in return that they don't even realize that Christ is not even a part of their lives or church. He is standing outside asking them if He can come in. This is a serious place to be, for this blindness is one that keeps them from seeing their condition and will result in their eternal damnation if they do not wake up. No Christian should want to fall into this condition.

There is an interesting progression among these churches. The first one is accepted by Christ as a whole as followers of His, although they are not perfect. But neither are they in flagrant sin or tolerating it in their church. Then there is a church which is walking in faith, but they are a persecuted church. The third church has many who have crossed the line, but the while church is not endorsing crossing the line, they make the error of tolerating those who do. So the church is dangerously trying to walk on the fence, but are still followers of Christ. The fourth church has totally crossed the line as a whole in setting up in the position of leadership those who would teach that they can and should cross the line. There are a few who do not go along with this though, so there are still some who are in Christ in this church. The next church is almost, for all intents and purposes, dead in faith or about to breathe their last. They have all, but for a few who still remain faithful, fallen away. Then we have another faithful church, who will not suffer the greatest persecution of all times, because they have qualified in a special way for that protection. The last church is one which has thrown Christ out the door, for He is standing outside waiting to get back in. The entire church is already lost. They do not even have some
among their ranks who are still faithful.

I have already written a couple of articles on how we should be making our salvation secure. I have already provided links above to those. Another article that might be useful for those who want to know how to walk with the Lord, was how to avoid being one of the people that Christ says, “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23). That can be found here.

There are many more passages in Scripture that give us instruction as to how to live our lives in Christ. Most of the epistles in fact. It is not an easy thing to live out the life of a Christian in the best possible way, but we can only strive to do so. God is forgiving, and we must make sure we are repentant when we do walk off the path. The main thing is to try. For if we do not at least try, we risk everything, for salvation is not a trophy that you display on a shelf. It is something that you must work out and run the race to try to win. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Christ took the penalty for our sins, and took us by the hand to lead us to His home, but we have to walk with Him to get to the destination. The words “fear” and “trembling” should indicate how serious this is. We can't take our own path and think it will get us there without His guidance and companionship, just because we accepted the invitation to go there. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Where Is the Wilderness Where the Woman of Revelation 12 Runs?

There is much speculation about a couple of related verses in Matthew 24 and Revelation 12. It has to do with the woman fleeing to the wilderness for protection and where that wilderness is. For years many teachers have taught that it is the city of Petra. They base this on some oblique verses in the Old Testament. The woman is Israel, and we know that at least 144,000 of original Israel – the twelve tribes – will be protected, and beyond that the Scriptures indicate another remnant is saved, so the number should be more. But is it practical to think all those people could run to and survive in the city of Petra? Had they done their homework, they would have found the answer to that question is “no.” At its top population, it is estimated that Petra could hold 20,000 people. That is a great deal short of a couple hundred thousand people. And not all of the Jews (not to mention the unknown Ten Lost Tribes) are in Israel. A great part of the world's population live in America. Roughly a little more than a third live in Israel, and roughly an equal amount of that live in America. Less than a third live scattered throughout the rest of the world. The world's Jewish population is roughly 15 million. Even if God only brought a tenth through (which is one of the prophecies) that is 1.5 million which is far beyond the 20,000 that Petra could hold. There is another verse that mentions bringing one third through. If we took a third of 1.5 million, we end up with 500,000. That is still way over the limit and more than 3 times the 144,000. So obviously they are in some other wilderness. So what wilderness could handle that many refugee Jews and Israelites?

When Christ was giving the Olivet Discourse, He said that those in Judea should flee to the mountains when the abomination of desolation occurs. So where does Israel go when it happens? In Revelation 12:14 we read, “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am a great proponent of taking Scripture at face value whenever possible. In this case clearly that cannot be done, so we have to find another explanation of what is meant here. The woman (Israel) is given two wings of a great eagle to fly away. Now I don't care how big eagles are, even if an eagle could carry a full grown human, it most certainly could not carry more than one. So we are not speaking literally here. We need then to look to what this might symbolically refer. Often the metaphor of an eagle is used to symbolize swiftness and in this case I think that probably is one of the meanings behind the use of the word, for Israel will be under siege of the beast's armies and as Christ said in Matthew, they are not to even take the time to go back in the house for anything. They are to run for their lives. So swiftness is definitely one of the indications from this word. Another meaning might be the symbol of the country which is the helper, who flies Israel out of the land. Scripture, especially in prophecy, does refer to nations in terms of animals at times. In Daniel chapter 8 we see the story of the ram with two horns (Medo-Persia) who was conquered by the goat (Greece) with a notable horn (Alexander the Great) which was then divided into four horns (the splitting of Alexander's kingdom into four sections after his death) followed by a notable horn that comes up among them (initially Antiochus Ephiphanes – ultimately a final fulfillment in the person of the antichrist). It is easy to see from history to whom these animals referred, Medo-Persia and Greece. In Daniel 7, I hypothesized that the animals in that prophecy were not the same nations as the statue in Daniel chapter 2, as traditional interpretation presents, but that due to certain phrases, it indicates that these animals represent nations who are currently part of our world system. As such, the lion is Britain and the eagle wings on its back represent America. The wings are plucked off the lion's back, which would seem to indicate a separation - the Revolutionary War - which allowed America to become its own nation. More explanation about this passage can be found at this post

Given that it would seem that the eagle's wings in this passage might well refer to America, it seems also possible that the wings of the eagle in Revelation also refer to America. And the fact that Israel flies on those wings might indicate American planes. The woman is flown to the wilderness. Now while America is not exactly a wilderness, she was at the time this was written, and as a country she is a vast area of open land from coast to coast. There are many cities and small communities, but overall, we are a great deal of open land. A wilderness so to speak. Israel is kept safe in this wilderness away from the reach of the beast for three and a half years.

Now, again, if one has followed my blogs, they will know that I believe America is Babylon. Reading the rest of my endtimes blog referenced above will show why I believe that. One should look in the archives to find the relevant passages in Revelation, as well as later posts that I wrote on Babylon, if one is interested in that information. If, as I believe, America is Babylon, and Israel is brought to Babylon for safety reasons, then it stands to reason that it should follow that we will find passages in the prophecies of Israel being in Babylon and having to “come out of her” as God tells His people to do in Revelation 18:4 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” And indeed, we can find some prophecies that point to this being the case.

In the book of Jeremiah we find a lot written about Babylon. However, there are some differences between some of the writings. Up to Chapter 50 we find that God is very specific in having particular kings and people mentioned by name, and the actions of those individuals. In this case, one has to understand that these prophecies were for those specific people and situations. When we get to Chapters 50-51 we find that the prophecy is no longer specified to particular people by name for most of the prophecy. It is more generalized, which allows it to be either one of the “two fulfillment” types of prophecies that we find in the Bible, where there is a near fulfillment and a far fulfillment, or one which is strictly a latter days fulfillment. In this case we can almost immediately see that this is an endtimes prophecy for the nation of Babylon during our time, for in verse 4 we find the following: “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.” Now the thing which stands out that makes this verse strictly an endtimes prophecy is the part about the children of Israel and the children of Judah going together to seek the Lord their God. Israel has not existed as a people since they were assimilated by Assyria. This occurred over 2700 years ago. So clearly this was not a prophecy that could have been fulfilled any time since then, as Israel, or the Ten Lost Tribes as they are known, will not exist again until the end of days. Also as Jeremiah prophesied roughly a hundred years after the captivity and assimilation of Israel, it clearly has to be a latter days prophecy as there was no Israel in his time.

The next verse also gives away the timing of this prophecy for verse 5 says, “They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” Israel will not be joined in a perpetual covenant again with the Lord until they look upon Him whom they pierced and recognize Him as their Savior. This will not occur until the end of Daniel's 70th week. There is more in the passage about their spiritual condition and then in verse 8 we read, “Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.” Both Israel and Judah are in the midst of Babylon. The Babylon of the end of days. If America is Babylon, then Judah (the woman who now lives in the land of Israel) and Israel (the Ten Lost Tribes which were assimilated and whose whereabouts are unknown) are in America. This would seem to confirm the passage in Revelation that the wings of the eagle might very well stand for the planes of America.

As we know God will have Babylon destroyed, naturally the prophecies go on to describe that. There is an interesting phrase used in verses 12 and 13 that again point to America being Babylon. “Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.” Babylon has a mother. Most nations are not said to have a mother, but there are some present day ones who have. Canada, Australia, and America all were birthed by the nation of Britain. And this goes along with the prophecy in Daniel 7 of the lion (Britain) who has the wings of an eagle which are plucked off. Then Babylon is referred to as the hindermost of the nations. The Hebrew word “achariyth” or as it is translated “hindermost” means the last or the end one. This particular Babylon will be the last great nation on earth for this present world. This most certainly can be said of America, for we are the youngest or the last nation that has become a great or the greatest world power. This is followed by the verses outlining some of God's wrath, which is repeated in other places including Revelation, that befalls her. This further identifies that this section is an endtimes prophecy.

The verses then change slightly and specific reference is made to Nebuchadnezzar which would seem to indicate that verses 16-18 refer to the Babylon of that king. But verse 19 again picks up with God saying that He will bring Israel back to their land (which won't happen until the end) and verse 20 starts with the phrase “in those days, and in that time” which generally is an indicator that we are going back to end of days prophecies. The entire verse is “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” That the verse is indeed an endtimes verse is proven by the statement that the iniquity of Israel and the sins of Judah will be sought, but will not be found. Clearly that is not the case yet, nor has it ever been. They are in diaspora due to their sins. Only when Christ returns will their sins be purged. God says that He will pardon those whom He saves. God is planning on saving a remnant and that remnant will be forgiven and brought back into a covenant. Specifically we know the 144,000 and the woman in the wilderness are a remnant. Whether they are the same group or not, I do not know. Personally I do not think they are. As God does not pardon Israel's sins until the end, when they seek Him and repent and acknowledge whom their Savior is, we see this prophecy is again a future one.

In verse 28 we see something that is missed by most prophecy teachers. “The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.” Now this could be only the prophecy about the destruction of the first temple by Babylon, but possibly it is about the tribulation temple, and the president of the United States (I do not at this time think it is Trump, for those concerned about that) being guilty of doing something that causes the abomination of desolation by the antichrist. This verse is followed for a number of verses by the description of the wrath of God that matches His wrath at the end, so it is likely that this is also about the endtimes temple. The part that is pertinent to Israel taking refuge in America is that those who flee (God has already told Israel to get out of Babylon) are to go to Zion, or Jerusalem, and declare that God is going to avenge what has occurred. So again we see that an endtimes prophecy has Israel in Babylon.

In Jeremiah 51:6-13 we read, “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God. Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple. Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.”

In this passage in Jeremiah 51 Israel is again told to flee out of Babylon. That Babylon is about to be punished for her iniquity. She was a a golden cup in God's hand, but has made the whole earth drunk on her wine of sin. People will hope to heal her, but she cannot be healed. Everyone must run for their lives back to their own countries. This would seem to imply a country that is a country of immigrants. What better description is there of America? We are a nation of immigrants from people all over the world. It is the mark of our country that we have a statue of Babylon in New York City harbor that welcomes the immigrants. Israel is told to declare the work of the Lord in Zion when they get there. Once more it is said that God is avenging His temple. He holds Babylon responsible for what the beast does. While the beast is the one who is the source of the abomination of desolation, clearly Babylon has done something which has caused this to happen.

In verse 50 it says, “Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.” There will be a time of affliction for God's people (Christians and possibly Jews) in Babylon at some point, for we know from Revelation that she is drunk on the blood of the saints, but there will be those who escape. Just as God earlier told them through Jeremiah to go to Zion, here they are told to let Jerusalem come to mind as they are fleeing. They are to make their way there.

Isaiah also has much to say about the endtimes. In Isaiah 47, the chapter deals with the destruction of Babylon, which again parallels the other passages that tell of God's wrath and the consequences of it upon Babylon. Chapter 48 deals with Israel and how God is going to refine them in the furnace of affliction. In verse 20 it says, “Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.” When the name Jacob is used, it refers to all twelve (or thirteen) tribes, so while they were to go to Zion and declare God's vengeance, now they are to leave Babylon and declare to the whole earth that God is redeeming Israel.

Now again when we read in Revelation 12 that the woman is to flee on the wings of an eagle to the wilderness, and in Revelation 18:4 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” we can see from knowing the prophecies in the Old Testament that God is not just speaking to Christians to get out of Babylon (America), but He is also telling the Jews and the people of the Ten Lost Tribes, who may not even realize that is who they are, to get out of Babylon. In Jeremiah 50:8 it told some to be as the he goats who go ahead of the flock. As the rapture does not occur until the seventh trumpet judgment at the end of Daniel's 70th week, it is quite likely that some Christians will survive the time of tribulation in Babylon, as they are the ones who will understand from the command in Chapter 18 that they are to leave before Babylon is destroyed. Revelation was written for Christians, but they should also know from Jeremiah that they are to be the he goats who lead Israel out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem, for Israel will not know exactly what is going on, given that they do not know the New Testament and Revelation. I believe it will be the mission of those Christians who escape, to gather Israel and lead her back to Zion or Jerusalem when the time is right. As to exactly when that will be, at this time I could not say. I believe God will make that clear to the people who need to know when they need to know it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Depart from Me, I Never Knew You

Lately I have been giving a great deal of thought to the verse in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The reason for my preoccupation with the verse being that I have had the belief of eternal security preached at me a number of times lately. Now I have written on eternal security here , so I do not see the need to go into the subject in detail when I have already written on it. What I would like to address here is, to whom is Christ speaking when He says that He doesn't 'know” them?

When Christians read this passage, they inevitably point the finger at someone else. They never even remotely consider that this passage might be speaking of them. And you will find this attitude pervades every Christian denomination or cult across the board. Well, the problem is, it applies to someone, so to whom does it apply? Obviously the people in question in the verse believe they are Christians. In fact they think they are good Christians. They believe in God, they believe in Christ, they even have power in using Christ's name. They have prophesied, cast out devils, and done wonderful works by the power of His name. The evidence of these actions would seem to fall under the category of fruits of the spirit, so when we are told that we can judge by looking at the fruits, we find that this is not always the plumb line that we can trust, for clearly people who seem to have had fruits still do not make it into heaven. In fact they are said to be workers of iniquity. This is about as frightening a passage in the Scriptures as one can find. In this passage Christ gives two more evidences that must be considered along with the evidence of works and gifts of the Spirit. The first is that we must do the will of the Father and the second is that we must “know” Christ.

When it comes to fruits and gifts in the name of Christ, one must look to see whether or not it is the Christ of the Bible or some other “christ” whose name is being used. New Age believers believe in a “christ” spirit which can give powers to some of them. The source of the powers though is not the Christ of the Bible, it is a demonic power impersonating Christ. Then there are actual Christian churches who have false prophets and teachers who use the name of Christ, and the people believe they are speaking of the Christ of the Bible, but in reality it is a different Christ. So we must be very careful to see what Christ is being referenced in the name of these works to see the source of the power behind the works. That requires having a thorough working knowledge of the Bible and its teachings, which so few seem to have these days.

The next criteria, that of doing the will of the Father can only be wholly determined by the individual in question. The outward actions of a person can only show so much about a person. We are told that if we love Jesus, we will obey His commandments. Living by the Ten Commandments (not nine, but ten) is a good indicator that a person is walking with God, but it is not a decisive factor, for many can conform in outward appearance (look at the Pharisees) while being inwardly rebellious. We also cannot know what God is asking of that person in which they may be resisting His will. We cannot look at someone else and decide whether or not they are doing the will of the Father, for we are not God and do not know His will for that person nor can we look at that person's heart. We can only look at them and see whether or not it looks as if their life is under His control. For ourselves we have to ask ourselves, are we living in accordance with God's commandments, and do we turn to God for every decision we have to make and try to find out what God's will is, or do we simply make decisions and expect God to go along with our decision? Often it seems hard to know what God wants from us when it comes to decisions in life that are not about sin vs. obedience but simply life choices, for the path may seem murky, or there is more than one path. Making decisions in these situations is most difficult, and often we find ourselves doubting that we have made the right choice. We can only pray and look for peace in our decision, for I have found that peace seems to be the one thing that we can count on to help us make the right choice. There are occasions when we are presented with opportunities which come out of the blue, and the natural reaction is to say that it must be from God, as we were not looking for this opportunity. In such cases we often will jump on that decision thinking we are doing God's will, but that is not always the case. Sometimes Satan will give us a temptation for an opportunity that will improve our lives materialistically and God is waiting to see if we will go for the gold, or take into consideration the cost of that decision in terms of spiritual well-being or the cost in other ways, such as family life. We must always weigh all the costs when determining God's will. There may be sacrifices that are necessary to follow God's will, but they will never be ones that will imperil our spiritual well-being by leading us away from Christ, and should not ruin our relationships with the godly members of our family. I specify “godly” members, as those who hate Christ will hate us if we follow Him, so we should not expect their approval.

The last criteria, and the one I want to dwell a little more on is whether or not Christ “knows” us. There are many ways that the word “know” is used in the Bible. Adam “knew” Eve and they had a son. In this case the “knowing” took the form of physical intimacy. Adam did not have to have intellectual knowledge of Eve to know her in this way. He did not have to know her desires or preferences or facts about her. He knew her carnally. This is the first type of “knowing” someone.

Another way to “know” someone is to have knowledge of the facts of their life - where they were born, grew up, went to school, etc. It is an intellectual knowledge of a person. We can get to know Christ in this way as we read about His life in the Bible. We gain a head or intellectual knowledge about Him and who He was and what He did. It does not necessitate that we love Him. This is a second type of “knowing” someone.

Even further we can “know” someone when we become friends and we spend time with them, getting to know their personalities, how they will react in situations, what their preferences are. This is a more personal knowledge that results from spending time with someone. We feel affection for our friends and we enjoy their companionship when we are with them, but when we aren't, they are not generally present in our minds. We don't dwell upon the thought of them, but when with them, we thoroughly enjoy their company and doing things together with them. We do love them with a brotherly kind of love, but it is not generally all encompassing to our lives. They are a pleasant and enjoyable companion for whom we feel affection and we like spending time with them. We learn to know Christ this way when we initially accept His gift of justification and forgiveness, and study God's Word and see into the heart and mind of Christ as He revealed Himself, and spend time in prayer talking to Him. He is in our hearts and we feel a love for Him, but our thoughts are not always turning to Him. He is a sometimes presence in our lives, when we go to church, when we do devotions, etc. This is a third way of”knowing” someone.

Finally we have the kind of knowledge which is the kind that marriage should result in, but so seldom does. It is the kind of knowledge that embraces the previous three, but goes a step further. It is the kind of knowledge that results when there is a combination of two elements, sacrificial unconditional love, and a constant intimate presence of two individuals together in spirit if not always in person. Their spirits and souls have become one in essence. This is how married people become “one.” They know each other intimately physically, they know each other's personal facts, they know each other's personalities and preferences and enjoy each other's companionship, but even more they have a deep abiding love for each other and know each other's deepest secrets, longings, and even when not physically in each other's presence, they have a constant awareness of the other individual in their mind and heart. They are always thinking of the other person and how what they do will affect that person, for that person's welfare and happiness is paramount to them. They are bonded in body, soul, and spirit, and start conforming to think alike and can even finish each other's sentences, because they have so joined their souls together that they almost think as one. This is what marriage is supposed to be, and hardly ever is. This is the fourth type of “knowing” and is why Christ calls us His Bride, for this is the kind of relationship He wants with us.

In this passage in Matthew the word “knew” is “ginosko” in Greek and can be said to mean “be aware of.” To be aware of something generally indicates that its presence is constantly within our perception. It is this constant awareness of the other person's presence in our minds and hearts that is defined in the type of relationship that one should find in marriage as described above. And to repeat, this is exactly why we are called the Bride of Christ. Our relationship with Christ is not supposed to be just a physical one where we have feelings that get all worked up when we are having an emotional outpouring at a rousing service, or the physical indwelling of the Spirit whom we can let guide us or quench if we do not want to listen to Him. It is not supposed to just be a head knowledge of Christ, who He was, what He did for us, or the facts of the Bible. It is not just supposed to be an affectionate relationship where we do love God to an extent and are familiar with the Bible and know the basics of what is expected of us, and spend Sundays (or Sabbaths) in worship, and may even read a devotional and pray every day to spend some time with God, but when not doing those things, it is "out of sight, out of mind" as far as He goes. Knowing Christ and God the Father has to go further.

Knowing Christ in such a way that He knows us has to be a relationship where you willingly submit and sacrifice self to His will. Christ should be constantly aware of your presence, because you should be constantly aware of His. Your thoughts must be conformed to His thoughts, your love must be as sacrificial and unconditional as His is. You should know God intimately in a physical way when you listen to the Holy Spirit and don't quench His teaching, guidance, chastisement, etc. Christ should be your best friend and you should have an intellectual knowledge of Him as well as enjoying His company as a friend whose companionship brings you joy. You must have all of the kinds of “knowledge” listed above for Christ to “know” you. He must be as aware of you in His life as you are of His in yours. If He is not, then this is probably the scariest passage for a Christian to read, for it does not offer blanket eternal security to all believers. There will be Christians who thought they have known Christ, because they have trusted in their church or a baptism to give them salvation and have thought that they lived their lives for Him (in their estimation) by demonstrating gifts of the Spirit and good works, and who yet have missed the mark. There will be those who have accepted salvation as a free gift as born again believers, who read their Bible, attended church, and have done good works and still they do not know Him, or rather He does not know them, for He has not been the Lord of their lives. They have walked with the world in a carnal Christianity and an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality instead of constant awareness, submission, and holiness. So having Christ “know” you is a serious business. One that more people should consider carefully to decide if they will be among the people He addresses, or if He will know them upon sight.

The question for the reader becomes not one of “Do you know Christ?” , but “Is Christ aware of your presence in His life? Does He know you?”

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why the Trumpet Judgments are Not God's Wrath Nor the Same as the Vials

A number of people have said to me that the seals, trumpets, and vials in Revelation are all the same thing, but merely from a different point of view. Or at the very least that the trumpets and vials are the same thing, and that I just do not understand. I think I understand that numbering things one through seven means that they come in numerical order. And when one of those numbers contains something, it falls within that number. So for clarity's sake, I am presenting a few verses to clear up this issue as to why they are not only chronological, but that only the vials are God's wrath.

I have already done an article on this subject, found here,
where I compare the seals, trumpets, and vials and show how the content is different so they cannot be the same, but I was reading something that made me realize I had missed the most important verses which prove that the vials alone are God's wrath.

First for a very short recap we look at the seals. Christ opens the seals on the scroll one at a time. This is how you open a sealed scroll, and John tells us that when he says "when he had opened the **th seal," telling us that they were being opened one at a time. So the only thing being opened is a seal and each seal has an event, none of which are the same as the trumpets and vials. Now does Jesus open them out of order? Well it does not say that they have a number written on them. John says that he opens one of them and from that point on he merely calls them in numerical order as Christ opens them, second, third, etc. from John's point of view. So they are opened one at a time and the order has been predetermined and Christ knows what that is.

Revelation 8:1-2, 6-7a,  gives us the first verification that the six seals come before the trumpets. "And when he had opened the seventh seal, (which is the last seal opened in chronological order) there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.  And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets....... And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.  The first angel sounded, and there followed...."

Now clearly it says that when the seventh seal (which comes after the first six) is opened, seven angels which are standing before God are given seven trumpets. And then they prepare to sound them, and what follows in that chapter is that there are six trumpets blown in successive order.  So there is no question that the seals and the trumpets are chronological, whether you look at this from a Hebrew or Gentile point of view (which is the excuse I have been given for them not being chronological, I don't understand how to look at it as a Hebrew). Nor are they simultaneous as John doesn't say they all sound together. He says that the first angel sounds his trumpet and thus and so happens. Then the second angel sounds, and so forth. So again, these are chronological.  To make this even more clear, in Revelation 9:12, John says that the first woe (which is the label he gives to the fifth seal) is past and there are two more to come. Well, there are still two more angels to sound their trumpets, so it is obvious that the two woes are the sixth and seventh trumpets. As they are yet to come and the fifth one is past, obviously these things are not happening simultaneously or even overlapping each other, which some like to say is happening.  Every word of Scripture is there to lead us to truth, so we must not skip over them. The seals are in order, the trumpets are in order, and at the very least, the last three - five through seven - are not overlapping.

At the end of the sixth trumpet John says something that is very pertinent to distinguishing the trumpet judgments from the vials of God's wrath which are contained in the seventh trumpet.  The dictionary defines "judgment" as "a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment."  "Wrath" on the other hand is defined as "extreme anger."  There is a reason that the trumpets are called judgments and not referred to as God's wrath. God uses judgments or misfortunes and calamities for the purpose of punishment. Punishment is given to try to drive people to repentance. God sent many calamities as punishment on Israel to try to get them to repent of their sins against Him. Whom He loves, He chastens. It is the last resort to try to get someone to repent BEFORE God exacts His vengeance or sends complete destruction on someone. America is under God's judgment right now. We are suffering natural disasters, bad leadership, and all sorts of punishments to try to drive us to our knees in repentance. We are still here. We have not yet been the recipient of God's wrath. That is coming, though. Sodom received wrath, not punishment or judgment. It received God's complete anger and was annihilated. There was no warnings given through punishment to give them time to repent. There is a distinct difference between God's judgment and wrath.

When we look at the end of the sixth trumpet judgment we see these words. Revelation 9:20-21 "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:  Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." God has sent these judgments as a last resort to drive men to repentance. This was their last chance. If this were God's wrath, there would be no opportunity for repentance. By the time God's wrath is handed out, the time for repentance is long over, and God is just exacting His revenge on an evil world.

Finally we come to the seventh trumpet. Revelation says this in 11:14-19. "The second woe is past; (sixth seal) and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,  Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.  And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.  And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail."

In the seventh trumpet we find that the last woe has come.  Christ is declared King of the earth, taking Satan's control of earth away from him. The time for the dead to be judged and rewarded (which means that the dead must be resurrected first, then the Bema Seat judgment held) has come. And that God's wrath, the time when He will destroy (not punish, but completely destroy) those who have been destroying the earth, has finally come. And then we see that God's temple is opened, and for the first time John sees the ark of the testament (or covenant) which resides in the heavenly temple.

There is a pause in the narrative of the chronology of the seals, trumpets, and vials at this point to fill in other information, because the time of tribulation and judgment is over and it is time for wrath.  As we know that we are not appointed to wrath, and we are to be resurrected/raptured at the last trump, we should find that at this point there is a rapture somewhere in the narrative, followed by God's wrath which corresponds to the event as described in Rev. 11, before the vials begin, and we find it in Revelation 14:14-20 "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.  And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.  (resurrection/rapture) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.  And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." (wrath)  This is followed by God's wrath.

Revelation 15:1, 5-8, 16:1 "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.......And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled......... And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth."

Notice that John saw the temple opened for the first time in Rev. 11, and now in Rev. 15 it continues that narrative as he repeats that the temple of the tabernacle of the (ark) of the testimony has just opened. It has not been closed and reopened, it is simply continuing the previous narrative. The seven angels having the plagues (I believe the angels themselves are the plagues) are handed the vials of God's wrath or anger to unleash their plagues. In Rev. 11 we saw in the condensed statement that God's wrath has come after the last trump, concluding with lightnings, thunderings, earthquakes and hail. And we find the exact same conclusion of God's wrath in Revelation 16:18-21 "And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.  And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.  And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." And we know that this is the end of God's wrath, because of the voice on the throne in Revelation 16:17 telling us it is done. "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done." So we have a beginning of God's wrath at the last trumpet, and the end of it at the last vial.

Clearly Scripture teaches that these things are in chronological order, and that the trumpets are not part of God's wrath, but the last resort attempt to bring some people to repentance. And it does not work, for they do not repent. So God then pours out His wrath and destruction. I am hoping this clears up this erroneous interpretation that so many have on this issue.