THE END-TIME JUDGMENTS
THE END-TIME JUDGMENTS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The closing days of the Church Age will be characterized by Divine judgment. The seven trumpets will announce the coming of King Jesus to destroy His enemies, beginning with the forces of darkness that bind His own people. The blowing of the seven trumpets will result in much tribulation. The purpose of tribulation is to separate the true people of the Lord from Satan, from Antichrist, from the False Prophet, and from Babylon (man-directed Christianity). The blowing of the seven trumpets represents those interventions in human history designed to humble and purify the Bride of the Lamb and to prepare mankind for the coming of the Lord.
Table of Contents
THE END-TIME JUDGMENTS
The greatest contrast imaginable is that between the scenes portrayed in the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis and the horrors described in the Book of Revelation; the contrast between the peace and beauty of Eden and the roaring inferno of the last days. The result of the transgression of Adam and Eve has been thousands of years of agony and death.
The history of mankind has been tragic. But of all the catastrophes of history, including the Holocaust perpetrated on the Jews by the Nazis, nothing has occurred as yet on the scale outlined in the Book of Revelation.
We may wonder, why would God permit such awful torment and chaos to be visited on the earth?
There are good reasons.
First we must point out that the Lord God takes no pleasure in the pain that comes upon man. The anguish man experiences is of man’s own doing. It grieves the Lord to see a single human being suffer pain and confusion. It is the conduct of man that brings pain and confusion upon him. Spiritual laws are inviolable. Certain kinds of behavior bring love, joy, and peace. Other kinds bring murder, torment, and anxiety.
God has done all in His power to save man. If God went any further in controlling the conduct of people they would cease to be human beings and would be puppets possessing no will or judgment of their own.
God is permitting Satan to realize and express all that is in his personality. The exposure of Satan’s personality will continue until sin and self-will have been brought to maturity.
God’s purpose in allowing Satan to utilize the physical world to portray the consequences of his ambitions and lusts is to provide an object lesson for the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth. All the creatures of God now have portrayed before their eyes the results of not abiding in the will and love of the Father. Indeed it is a horrible sight.
At the same time God is bringing forth sons in His image. God’s sons will be filled with glory and, under Christ, will reign supreme over all the works of God’s hands. The angels are ministering spirits for these heirs of the Divine salvation. But before the sons are fully born (to be fully born as a son of God we must be born of woman, born of the Spirit, and raised from the dead) they must be thoroughly exposed to Satan’s being and works.
Each son must of his own will choose to abhor Satan and cleave to God. The Lord Jesus Christ came to help us do that. God’s Glory is revealed not only in forgiving sinners but in bringing forth sons in His image—sons who under the most difficult of circumstances have chosen to obey their Father in all things.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 2:7)
We are drawing near the days of vengeance. It may be true that the hour of temptation already is upon us. Even now the tares may be being removed from the wheat. The foolish virgins may be running out of oil.
The Day of Wrath is at hand. The exercise of the Divine judgment will result ultimately in the destruction of the entire first creation. Man, animals, plants, the earth, the sun, moon, and stars—all will be done away. The material creation will accomplish its purpose and then will be withdrawn in favor of a superior creation.
I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked: and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord. (Zephaniah 1:3)
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)
There will be a new sky and a new earth, and a redeemed race to enjoy the new creation.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Revelation 21:1)
Those who would be part of the new creation must do the will of God. It is not enough merely to "accept Christ," according to the current usage of the phrase. Rather we must accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and from that point onward continue in His will. Those who do the will of the Lord become eternal creatures.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (I John 2:17)
Although man and his environment will pass away the promises of God never shall pass away.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. (Luke 21:33)
All through the agonies of the end time the promises of God in Christ will remain true. Those who put their trust in the Lord shall be saved. It is of the utmost importance the reader understand that the Word of God will hold true during all the judgments. When the moon turns to blood and the stars themselves vanish from sight the Lord will be a rock of stability for all who trust in Him.
No doubt many passages of the Scriptures, particularly the Ninety-first Psalm, were written for those who will be on the earth during times of judgment and tribulation.
There has entered into the thinking of Christian people a false hope. That false hope is the concept of the pre-tribulation rapture. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, combined with the perversion of Paul’s teaching of grace to mean it is not necessary that we live a righteous and holy life before the Lord, has destroyed the Christian churches of our day. It is conjectured that since we are saved by unconditional grace it is not necessary to express our faith in righteous conduct.
Terror is about to fall on all nations. When it does, the believers who have been lulled to sleep by false doctrine will be swept off their spiritual feet. They will not be able to stand and bear witness in the last days—which precisely is what Satan hopes to achieve. Rather they will be slain spiritually (and physically, in some instances) by the antichrist political-economic system and by the spirit of religious deception. This is taking place now.
Although we probably are in the Philadelphian age, we see about us increasing signs of the lukewarmness of the last of the golden lampstands—the church of the Laodiceans. Such Laodicean lukewarmness is especially evident in the wealthy democracies in which the worship of God is permitted (with some limitations). Although Christian in name and doctrine, the church of the Laodiceans is a friend of the world.
The church of the Laodiceans professes to be "rich, and increased with goods." But it is disgusting in the sight of the Lord. He will vomit the materialistic Laodicean believers from His mouth.
Laodicea is the lampstand of God. But it soon will be replaced by that which never was of God, that is, by the False Prophet (spiritual deception) and by Babylon (the end-time Christian religious organization).
We already can observe the advent of the False Prophet—the spirit of religious deception and seduction that will give spiritual life to the antichrist world system of politics and economics. Even today we see a tendency toward the occult, toward supernatural schemes for personal success and prosperity.
The False Prophet has entered the Christian churches with all sorts of supernatural practices of "faith," imaging, and positive thinking. The next step may be for Christian leaders to approach the heads of state and teach them how to use supernatural principles of faith in order to gain power.
Perhaps they will urge the heads of government to "accept" Jesus and to speak in tongues. But they will not tell them that in order to be a Christian they must lay down their life, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. Of course, all their "saving" of the heads of state will be done in the name of Christ, as Jesus declared (Mark 13:6).
In the last days the false prophets will help Antichrist rule over the nations just as today they gain entrance to as many governmental leaders as they can, thinking they are getting them saved and that somehow the Kingdom of God will be increased in this manner. It is not of God. It is the False Prophet giving life to the Beast (Revelation 13:15).
There is a movement toward the occult in the healing professions, as may be noticed in the employment of transcendental meditation, yoga, and some of the holistic techniques. Hypnotism is practiced increasingly. Public educational institutions offer courses in various forms of spiritism as people turn away from materialistic science toward psychic phenomena in order to control their environment.
We are at the entrance of a new age in which spiritual forces will give life to a one-world government, performing miracles of healing, and even bringing down fire from the heaven (Revelation 13:13). Christians are becoming involved in this Antichrist scheme without realizing it. We are being deceived because we are not praying and carrying our cross in stern obedience to Christ.
Deception is rampant in our day and the Lord is sounding the trumpet in Zion. The perils of the end time will serve to purify the work of God. Every person will find himself in that realm for which his level of spirituality has prepared him. The hidden things will be exposed. Then it will be easy to determine who is serving God and who is not serving God.
If we would know the truth we must call on the Lord with fervor, watching and praying with utmost carefulness. The place of safety in the Most High is a "secret" place. It is known only to the Lord’s true servants. The majority of Christian believers are easily deceived by the cunning of Satan. The day of fire that even now is upon us will bring to the light all the secret things. Every man’s work will be revealed as to its true nature.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
The above verse means that if we watch and pray, God will deem us worthy of the truth and will keep us from yielding to the temptations that will abound in that day. It signifies that God will prevent our being deceived and overcome. Instead we shall be able to stand in triumph before Jesus, not having been harmed spiritually by the seductions and attacks of the enemy (see John 17:15).
The concept of being accounted "worthy" is of interest. Several verses of the New Testament encourage us to behave in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps these ought to be stressed more in our day.
One aspect of the current deception is the way faith, or belief, is being defined. The present definition of faith is not in line with the Scriptures. The Scriptural meaning of faith is obedience, that is, works of righteousness according to God’s will (Hebrews, Chapter Eleven).
Faith without works is dead! Doctrinal "faith" does not bring salvation. In order to be accounted worthy we must do the works of watching and praying. Only then will we escape deception. The reason so many Christians are deceived today is that they do not watch and pray. They have not been found worthy of escaping the seductions of the last days and they will fall (and already have fallen) before the material and spiritual seductions of the antichrist spirit.
If we guard the Word of Christ’s patience, walking patiently after Him, not seeking our own desires, our own life, but only the will of God, Christ will guard us so we are not deceived during the testings that even now are at the door.
Because thou hast kept [guarded] the word of my patience, I also will keep [guard] thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
It can be observed that those who are thus guarded are not the individuals who make a doctrinally correct statement concerning the atonement or the resurrection of the Lord but those who have followed Him patiently. Spiritual protection in the last days depends on our patient obedience to the Lord.
The protection is not from the great tribulation but from the hour of testing, that is, from the abundance of lawlessness that causes the great tribulation. We must be careful to distinguish between the hour of testing and the great tribulation. Tribulation always purifies the believers.
The problem is not tribulation it is the abundance of lawlessness and sin filling the earth today. The Christians already have been overcome, not by tribulation but by sin. It is the abundance of lawlessness that will cause worldwide desolation and the great tribulation.
Let us be among the saints who serve the Lord faithfully, diligently, and consistently. Only in this manner can we escape the spiritual dangers of earth’s midnight hour.
There are four major aspects of the Divine judgment:
The opening of the seven seals.
The blowing of the seven trumpets.
The pouring out of the bowls of wrath.
The invasion of the earth by the army of the Lord.
It is our point of view that these four major aspects of the Divine judgment do not take place in chronological order. Any attempt to place the four judgments on a chart, arranging them in chronological order, leads only to contradictions and confusion.
Rather, these four events are best understood if we do not attempt to describe them in chronological order or physical detail but instead seek to obtain from the Holy Spirit the message, the concept of the symbols used in presenting the judgments.
What parts of the personages, things and events are sequential and what parts are simultaneous or interwoven cannot be known to us except as the Holy Spirit reveals the interpretation. The same is true concerning what parts are literal and what parts are figurative, being symbolic of spiritual personages, things and events.
It is easy to miss Christ, as happened to the Pharisees, by holding to a preconceived picture of what is going to take place. The visions in the Book of Revelation often are portraying events as seen from a spiritual standpoint, and sometimes are symbolic.
For example, in the first verse of the ninth chapter of Revelation we find that to a "star" was given the key of the bottomless pit. Obviously, this is not the kind of star to which we are accustomed.
Again, in Revelation 12:4 we notice that a third part of the stars of heaven were cast to the earth. Since the physical stars of the heaven are much larger than the earth it is not possible for even one star to be cast to the earth.
To maintain that when the Book of Revelation refers to a "star" or "stars" it is always speaking of a physical star would be to make any reasonable interpretation impossible. By the same token, it would not be wise, we believe, to treat every event of Revelation as having no literal fulfillment. Our point of view is that the Book of Revelation is a mixture of the literal and the symbolic without emphasis on the order in which the episodes take place. This is true also of the Hebrew Prophets of the Old Testament.
Another important concept is that of the convergence of the spiritual and physical realms in the last days such that the spiritual realities of the Kingdom of God find concrete expression in the material world. For example, people are hurled in their physical body into the spiritual Lake of Fire.
Let us look now at the first of the four major aspects of the Divine judgment.
It is our point of view that the opening of the seals portrays world history from the time of Christ’s resurrection.
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1,2)
The opening of the first seal, the crowned rider on the white horse holding the bow, represents, as we see it, the conquering of the darkness in men by the Lord Jesus Christ.
And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. (Psalms 45:4,5)
From the first century, Christ has gone forth throughout the world "conquering, and to conquer." Only God Himself understands the conquests of Christ. No doubt an accurate account of world history would reveal that the Lord Jesus, not economics, not wars, not politics, not education, but Jesus Himself has been the central factor in the affairs of mankind. It may not appear to be the case because much of what the Lord does remains hidden.
It often is advantageous to the work of the Kingdom that the majority of people do not understand what is taking place or who the Lord’s servants are. The desire of the churches to publicize everything Jesus is doing does not spring from the Holy Spirit but from the fleshly desire to promote the Christian religion. The Lord sometimes warns us to "tell no man"; but we, who are accustomed to being disobedient, go out and publish the matter anyway. The overcomers, however, come to understand that secrecy is one of the more important arts of war.
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. (Revelation 6:3,4)
The opening of the second seal, the man on the red horse carrying the great sword, signifies war. War has been one of the predominant characteristics of history from the first century.
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. (Revelation 6:5,6)
The opening of the third seal, the rider on the black horse holding the pair of balances in his hand, speaks of commerce. Buying and selling have become the chief activities of the nations of the earth. The kingdom of Antichrist is based on buying and selling.
The spirit of commerce is so widespread it is difficult to conceive of a civilization not based on economics. Yet, it is a black horse. There is no quicker way to kill the spiritual life in a human being than to occupy him with acquiring material goods. No man can serve God and money.
One measure of wheat or three measures of barley was not much grain for the amount charged (a day’s wages), speaking of the endless cheating that takes place wherever merchants are active. The masters of commerce were overcharging the poor for their staple food while paying great attention to the luxuries of oil and wine. So it is today as the poor are continually abused while the rich surfeit themselves with luxury.
The day is at hand when the poor will take their ease in the Paradise of God while the rich are in torment in Hell.
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7,8)
The opening of the fourth seal, Death riding on a pale horse accompanied by Hell, represents the slaying of people by violence, by famine, by disease, and by wild animals. Although the world prides itself on becoming "civilized," the fact remains that many in our own day are dying by violence, by famine, and by various plagues. The Word of God cannot be changed by the efforts of man.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:9-11)
The opening of the fifth seal, the giving of white robes to the martyrs under the altar, speaks of the persecution of the righteous in this world and then the clothing of them in the robe of righteous conduct, which is the reward of the overcomer.
The Beast (the Antichrist world spirit), the False Prophet (the spirit of religious deception), and Babylon (man-directed Christianity) regard the truly righteous as being worthless refuse that must be removed from the earth. But God clothes those who have endeavored to live righteously with the power of righteous conduct, the power of endless, incorruptible, resurrection life. No more will they be compelled to struggle against a body of sin and death.
The true saints have been tortured, burned at the stake, driven into exile, scorned, and cast out as evildoers—often at the hands of "Christians." The Catholic Church alone, that forerunner of the end-time worldwide Christian denomination, has murdered multitudes of true Christians down through the centuries of the Church Age.
It is our point of view that the most vicious persecution of all times soon is to take place on the earth.
God clothes His saints in the white robes of the power to behave righteously. They are revealed to be truly righteous and accepted of God while their murderers are blind, not having any place in the Kingdom of God. God will wait until every saint predestined to death at the hands of the wicked has been killed. Then God will avenge the blood of His witnesses by forcing the wicked to drink blood from the water supplies of the earth.
What a different world this would be if God were to make plain those who are righteous and those who are wicked! He does not do so. He permits people to make that judgment from their heart so all that is in their heart may be revealed. In this manner the sons of the Devil are separated from the sons of the Kingdom.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:12-17)
The opening of the sixth seal, the great earthquake, the darkening of the sun, the turning of the moon to blood, the falling to the earth of the stars of heaven, signifies the end of the present age and the return of the Lord Jesus.
As noted earlier, the Book of Revelation appears to be a mixture of the literal and the symbolic. One can err in interpretation by stressing the literal too much or stressing the symbolic too much.
We know there will be a great earthquake at the end of the present age as the result of the seventh angel pouring out his bowl into the air:
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. (Revelation 16:18)
The darkening of the sun is associated with the Day of the Lord.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. (Isaiah 13:10)
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. (Joel 2:30,31)
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Matthew 24:29)
The darkening of the sun and the turning of the moon to blood could indicate any number of literal events, and also have symbolic meaning. It seems clear that God is going to darken the sun and turn the moon red in order to portray to the inhabitants of the earth the depths of wickedness to which mankind has fallen and the severity of the Divine wrath. Surely men’s hearts will be failing them for fear when they behold such sights in the heavens.
The falling of the stars of heaven to the earth cannot be taken literally unless a shower of meteors is meant. A display of meteors would give the appearance of stars falling from heaven.
However, the Scriptures are more exact than this. The Scriptures claim the "stars" will fall from heaven. Meteors are not stars. They are relatively small masses that enter the earth’s atmosphere.
Perhaps these "stars" are not literal stars. In some instances the term "star" may be referring to a spiritual personage.
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. (Revelation 9:1)
Obviously a star from a galaxy above us will not be given a key. This verse is referring to an angel, either a spirit-angel or a human-angel, for the term angel means "messenger."
We think that in many instances the falling of the stars to the earth refers to the casting of Satan and his angels to the earth.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)
The spirits who govern the world will be cast into the earth. What a day of woe that will be for the inhabitants of the earth!
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Revelation 12:12)
It is difficult to comprehend the extent of the change that will occur in human history when Satan and his angels are cast out of the heaven into the earth. Perhaps they will be made visible at that time. In any case, this event is one of the major judgments of God. It is the cleansing of the heavenlies that is being referred to here.
Sometimes it is taught that Satan was cast out of the heaven two thousand years ago because of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. That view does not agree with the Book of Revelation. The truth is, Satan and his followers have a higher place in the spirit realm than commonly is taught. They certainly are not dwelling around the throne of God with the elders and the four living creatures, but neither does it appear likely that Revelation 12:7-12 took place two thousand years ago.
Paul says, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (in the heavenlies)" (Ephesians 6:12).
Both the woman (the Church) and Satan are presented as being "in heaven" (Revelation 12:1,3). It is true that in Christ we are above Satan (Ephesians 2:6). Nevertheless the fact remains that Satan is in the heaven, in the spirit realm portrayed by the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Satan cannot enter the Most Holy Place but he seems to be active in the Holy Place, that is, in the realm where the saints struggle to gain total victory.
Peter tells us that the angels who sinned have been cast down to the abyss and delivered into chains of darkness (II Peter 2:4). Perhaps this means that some of the angels who sinned are already in the abyss, in a dark pit, while others are left to accomplish God’s purposes in the earth.
Satan has been so highly placed that the inhabitants of the heaven rejoice when he is cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:12). We know from the books of Job and Daniel that Satan has been able to appear before God, and to interfere with the angels who do the Lord’s will (Job 1:6; Daniel 10:13).
The departing of the heaven "as a scroll when it is rolled together" (Revelation 6:14) may be an example of the converging of the spiritual and material realms we mentioned previously.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament associate the physical heaven, or the sky, with the spiritual heavens. The two are regarded as one. No doubt were our eyes to be opened we would see that the spirit realm is all around us in the area over the earth.
We know from the Scriptures that the doing away with the present heaven and earth will not take place until the end of the thousand-year period. It seems likely, therefore, that the spiritual veil that hides from our eyes the realities of the spirit realm will be removed so to a certain extent we can behold God and the spiritual heavens.
Those who have had visions suggest that the Heaven of God is not as simplistic in arrangement as we have believed. It may not be true that when a believer dies he goes straight to streets of gold. It is more likely there are levels of the heavens. The "courtyard," so to speak, of the heavens appears to be extremely large—perhaps reaching as close to us as the surface of the earth and extending upward for a distance. The regions of the wicked are beneath the surface of the earth.
Most deceased believers are in the courtyard, we believe. Only those who have been close to the Lord in this life will be brought to Him when they die—to His throne in the highest Heaven.
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. (Isaiah 25:7)
The moving out of their place of "every mountain and island" reveals the catastrophic geologic events that will herald the end of the age and the appearing of the King of kings and Lord of lords. God will display His power to terrified man.
We find the same geologic disturbances when the seventh angel pours out his bowl into the air, suggesting identical events are being described.
And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. (Revelation 16:20)
In that day men will be afraid of God. World history, which began with two people in a beautiful garden, will terminate with men and women crying out to the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of God and the wrath of the Lamb—all stemming from the one transgression of Adam and Eve.
Surely the inhabitants of the heavens and of earth should learn in that hour the folly of disobedience to God. Yet we find the error repeated at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age as the nations attempt to overpower the saints (Revelation 20:9).
Sin and self-will are not easily removed from the personalities of people.
The opening of the seventh seal brings us to the blowing of the seven trumpets, and we shall speak in a moment of that aspect of the Divine judgment.
Let us think once again of the history of the world from the time of Christ:
The conquering of the darkness in men by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Commerce, dishonesty, and famine.
The slaying of people, and the tormenting of them in both the physical and spirit realms, as represented by the presence of Death and Hell.
The death of the righteous in this world and the clothing of them in the spirit realm with a robe of righteousness.
The end of the present age and the return of the Lord Jesus.
Could one give a more accurate outline of the history of the world? These factors are continuing presently and will terminate with the severe judgments of the opening of the sixth seal.
Chapter Seven of the Book of Revelation presents two concepts associated with the judgments of the end time. The first concept is that of the sealed remnant. The second concept is that of the large number of true Christians who will be slain during the great tribulation and who purified their behavior through the cleansing of the blood of the Lamb.
In expressing the difference between the two groups we are giving the opinion we hold at the present time. We may be incorrect in our understanding of the two groups, but the spiritual concepts of service, of love, of conquering in Christ, are nonetheless correct and useful to the believer who would press forward to the fullness of God.
The sealed remnant, as we understand it, are the Lord’s firstfruits. They are the Lord’s bondslaves. They are totally committed to doing the Lord’s will to the smallest detail. They are the most intense of the disciples, the most diligent in following Jesus. They have confessed their sins while on earth and through the grace of Christ have gained victory over sin and self-will.
All through the tribulation period the sealed remnant will serve as witnesses of God and a place of deliverance for those who turn to God in the hour of trouble. They follow Jesus wherever He goes. They not only refuse to worship Antichrist but in addition are able to overcome the enormous spiritual darkness and to help others. They are God’s "stars" and turn many from lawlessness to the righteous ways of the Lord.
The sealed remnant are distinguished by the fact that they are "the servants of our God" (Revelation 7:3). They have been faithful in serving God and so they are chosen to bear the glory during the last days.
The sealed remnant differ from the "great multitude," whom we shall discuss in a moment, in that they love the Lord now. Before the prodding of torments and tribulations they have given themselves wholly to the Lord. They follow Him wherever He goes. They live in the "waters to swim in," in the fourth and highest level of love and union with God through Christ (Ezekiel 47:5).
The great multitude come "out of (the) great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14). They stand true during the torments of the great tribulation. The sealed remnant cleave to Jesus in love now, not needing an abundance of tribulation to drive them to wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The sealed remnant love Jesus for Himself. Only this kind of fiery, intense love is strong enough to carry the saint through the obstacles that stand between man and total union with God, total rest in God, total victory in God. It is intense love, and only intense love, that can bring a believer to perfection and completeness in Christ in God.
The sealed remnant is described in numerous places in the Scriptures.
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. (Isaiah 32:1,2)
Some scholars hold that "And a man shall be" (verse 2 above) should be changed to read "And each one of them," indicating it is the King and the princes who are as the hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, rivers of water in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert [hiding place] from storm and from rain. (Isaiah 4:6)
There shall be deliverance in the sealed remnant.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
Notice carefully that the remnant of Israel, that is, God’s devoted servants, are not immune to the judgments that accompany the history of the world.
Before the trumpets are blown, which are the judgments of the great tribulation as we see it, the angels "to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea" are not allowed to proceed until the remnant have been sealed carefully in their foreheads. That is because it is not necessary for the sealed remnant to be tormented during the fifth trumpet. They have chosen to be one with the Lord without having had to be tormented (Revelation 7:3; 9:4).
It is our opinion that this sealing is taking place today. We are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical feast of trumpets. There will be great tribulation throughout the earth. Those who truly are serving God are being sealed so the tormentors will not touch them.
We think it may be true that the 144,000 are the same as those who "stood on the mount Sion" with the Lamb. These were sealed by having the Father’s name written in their foreheads.
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
"Mount Sion" represents the warlike qualities of the sealed remnant, who are the firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb. They have the Father’s name written in their foreheads because they do the will of God in all instances. They are the Lord’s bondslaves.
They are virgins in that they are married only to the Lord Jesus. They refuse to enter into a relationship with this world, with Satan, with demons, with the antichrist political-economic spirit of the age, with any "special" group of believers, or with the spirit of religious deception. They are clean from all these "marriages." They have chosen to be holy to the Lord. (The virginity of Revelation 14:4 is not referring to physical marriage.)
They follow the Lamb wherever He goes because they love Him intensely.
They are guileless, not having to sell or prove anything to anyone. They are without fault before the throne of God!
Although all those who gain victory over Antichrist, washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, will be kings and priests to God and will "reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10), the 144,000 peculiarly are a "firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb" (Revelation 14:4).
The concept of a firstfruits of the Bride, a firstfruits of the Lord’s elect, is taught in the Scriptures.
Speaking of Abishai, the brother of Joab, a mighty man of valor, the Scripture states:
Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three. (II Samuel 23:19)
The "first three" bring to mind Peter, James, and John who were chosen from among the twelve to be with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration.
There are distinctions of calling and prowess even among the members of the Lord’s royal priesthood.
The concept of a firstfruits of the Bride is presented in the Song of Solomon:
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.... (Song of Solomon 6:9)
After mentioning two other levels of fruitfulness, the firstfruits exclaims:
I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour. (Song of Solomon 8:10)
Let us see what the symbolism of the sealed remnant indicates:
The number 144,000, being 12x12x1000, portrays a complete remnant, a full representation, of Israel, of the called of the Lord. It probably is not a literal number.
The fact that the tribes of Israel are emphasized indicates that the firstfruits of the Lord will include the most fervent of the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. The warlike remnant, the bondslaves of the Lord, will be characterized as "Israel," not as the "Christian religion."
The sealed remnant, as we understand it, will include the Christian saints who have fled from the antichrist world system and the elect Jews who have been driven from Jerusalem by the exaltation of Antichrist in the Temple of God. These two remnants will come together in hiding in the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ will reveal Himself to the elect Jews through the Christian remnant. Together the two remnants, now one in Christ, will await His return to earth.
The combining of the Jewish remnant and the Christian remnant will be the spiritual fulfillment of Jacob and his family being forced by famine to join with Joseph and with Asenath, Joseph’s Gentile bride. The family of Israel was reunited in Egypt. So will the Jewish elect and the Gentile elect become one in the last days.
The firstfruits of the Body of Christ was Jewish at the beginning of the Church Age. The firstfruits of the Body of Christ will be largely—perhaps mainly—Jewish at the closing of the Church Age.
As Asenath became an integral part of Israel when she married Joseph, so will it be that the remnant left alive on the earth during the great tribulation will once again be Israel. The sealed remnant, the devoted believers who will be the shadow of a great rock during the deadly storms and fury of the tribulation period, will be God’s Israel.
In the list of the tribes of Israel, Ephraim and Dan are omitted (Revelation 7:5-8). The tribe of Joseph is included. Joseph, the one who married the Gentile bride, represents Ephraim: . . . "then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions" (Ezekiel 37:16).
Joseph represents Ephraim. Ephraim represents the elect of the Gentiles: . . . "his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations" (Genesis 48:19).
The promise to Abraham is that he will be the father of many nations; not just the father of the nation of Israel but of many nations (Genesis 17:4,5). This promise is carried forward in Ephraim, or Joseph. Joseph (through Ephraim) is not just the father of a tribe in Israel but of many nations.
Because of Jacob’s prophecy that Ephraim would become "a multitude of nations," the inclusion of Joseph representing Ephraim (Revelation 7:8), separate from Manasseh (Revelation 7:6) reveals the presence, among the 144,000 sealed remnant, of Gentile saints from many nations.
The absence of the tribe of Dan presents a problem for interpreters of the Scriptures. The absence of Dan may suggest that we are not to take this list literally, confining it to the physical tribes of Israel. It must be taken symbolically. God would never present a literal list of the tribes of Israel and leave out the tribe of Dan.
Dan means judge, or judging. The absence of Dan may be telling us the 144,000 already have been judged by the Lord as being worthy to walk in white with Him. Divine judgment has been accomplished in them and no longer threatens them. The second death no longer has authority over them (Revelation 2:11).
The sealed remnant are associated with war and rulership.
Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. (Micah 5:3)
"The remnant of his (Christ’s) brothers."
The context of Micah 5:3 is the coming of the Ruler in Israel to make war against His enemies. The remnant of the brothers of the Ruler will return to the children of Israel when she who travails has brought forth, that is, when Christ has been born in the members of His body, as portrayed symbolically in Revelation, Chapter Twelve.
We think this is taking place today. The Gentile Christians who are being sealed by the Lord are finding in their hearts a yearning to become identified with Israel. The joining of the Gentile remnant to the remnant of Israel will be the creation of a firstfruits—a Bride who is "terrible as an army with banners."
Revelation 14:1 associates the 144,000 with war in that the saints are standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. Whereas the "great multitude" are standing before the throne with palms in their hands (Revelation 7:9), the sealed remnant are standing on Mount Zion. Mount Zion speaks to us of war, of the Deliverer, and of the Law of God.
Zion was the city of David, the place where David kept the Ark of the Covenant. Spiritual Zion is the part of the heavenly Jerusalem that will be established first and will be the base of operations until all the creation has bowed the knee to Christ.
Revelation 19:8 reveals the Bride in white raiment, ready to ride with the Lord in the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:14).
We are of the opinion, therefore, that the sealed remnant are the firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb and are warlike, while the great multitude consists of those who were able to keep their salvation during the great tribulation and were slain by the destructive forces of that period. They did not attain to to the ranks of the sealed remnant, but in the hour of danger they stood true to God. Therefore God will bring them up to His throne and comfort them.
There are numerous believers like that today. They are true Christians in the sense they have had a genuine experience with the Lord Jesus. But they do not seem to have the inner calling that enables them to cast aside all for Jesus. They do not know what it means to live by Jesus as He lives by the Father. Their sins have been forgiven but they have not entered fully into the heavenly romance.
Every Christian must follow his or her own calling. Those who are called to a high rank in the Kingdom of God must seek the Lord constantly until they have attained to the mark of their calling. There must be the calling, and then there must be a diligent response to the calling.
There are other believers who do not have as high a calling. Even though they only have been given one talent they must be as faithful as the believer who has been given ten talents.
The believer who is careless, worldly, lukewarm, awaits certain punishment at the hands of Christ. Those who neglect their salvation will not escape. They may forfeit their birthright as did Esau.
When contrasting the sealed remnant and the great multitude we are not comparing the diligent Christian with the careless Christian, for the careless will be punished and suffer eternal loss. Rather we are stating there are some who are called, as were Peter, James, and John, to stand at the side of the Lord in His Kingdom. Others are of lower rank in Israel. Rank in the Kingdom of God is not ours to decide. The Lord exalts whom He will.
None of us can choose a high rank in the Kingdom or a lesser rank. Our task is to grasp that for which we have been grasped. The individual who does not obey the Lord in all matters will be chastised severely.
All things work together for good to those who have been called according to God’s purpose. There is Israel and then there are the "mighty men". All are judged according to that which God the Father has put in their heart to do.
The sealed remnant are the firstfruits of the Church. They follow the Lord wherever He goes. He is their Life. They are experiencing the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles in that the Father and the Son are making Their eternal abode in them (John 14:23). This is what God has put in their heart to do and to become and they have responded with all their strength to their high calling.
The "great multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9) refers to those who are faithful to death during the great tribulation. They do not attain to the degree of union with Christ that is true of the sealed remnant, but they remain faithful to God during earth’s darkest hour.
The tortures and slayings of the great tribulation purify them. They wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb by confessing their sins, turning from all wickedness, and placing their trust in the atonement made by the Lord Jesus. They refuse to take the mark of Antichrist and for this reason come under extremely severe persecution.
They are taken from all nations and tongues. It is given to them to stand before the throne of God and before the Lamb. They wear the white robes of righteousness and hold the palms of worship in their hands.
They are before the throne of God day and night. The Lamb dwells among them.
They will suffer hunger during the great tribulation but then they will be hungry no longer.
They will be thirsty during the great tribulation but then they will be thirsty no longer.
The burning sun of persecution will hurt them during the great tribulation but then they will be in pain no longer.
The Lamb will feed them and give them to drink, and God Himself will wipe away all tears from their eyes.
All the horrors of the great tribulation are behind them and they now are where they can be hurt no longer. They are saved. They will reign with Jesus throughout eternity as members of the royal priesthood.
The members of the great multitude are saved "out of [the] great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14). This means that through Christ they are able to gain victory over the Antichrist.
The "two witnesses," the Lord Jesus and His Body, will bear the testimony of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. Through the authority and power granted them they will gain access to every nation, every tribe, every village on the earth. The end-time latter-rain witness will be given during the early stages of tribulation, that is, during the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:27).
At the end of the three and one-half years, the first half of the seventieth week, God will permit the witness to be overcome and driven from the cities of the earth. The Spirit-filled saints will be forced into hiding. Then a man (or woman) in whom the antichrist spirit is personified will come into power. We believe he or she will be a Christian who becomes deceived by Satan, as is taking place today.
At first Antichrist will be seeking to do good for people. Most of the population of the earth will have "accepted Christ" because of the power of the latter-rain witness. Many of the new Christians will be deceived and will follow Antichrist, as believers of today have followed those who have seduced them with the "faith" and "prosperity" messages.
As he, Antichrist, begins to be possessed fully by Satan, God will cause the tribulation to increase in severity. Man making himself God is the abomination that will result in a destructive, desolating tribulation.
The seeds of the antichrist kingdom are germinating today. Antichrist represents the maturing of man’s self-will. Each one of us Christians is dominated by self-will until we take up our cross and follow the Lord. This is an antichrist spirit.
The way we overcome the antichrist spirit in us is to renounce our own life. We must deliberately choose to be crucified with Christ, setting aside all our own plans and ambitions. We must lay down our life. We must take up our personal cross and follow the Lord Jesus. This is the only manner in which we can overcome the antichrist spirit of man making himself god.
The Christian churches are at a crossroads today. Some of the believers are choosing to keep their adamic personality, hoping to persuade God to bless their enterprises. Whenever we attempt to "save our life," that is, to go forth in spiritual matters before we know what it is the Lord wants us to do, we provide an opening for the spiritually ambitious Satan to enter our personality.
Other believers are choosing to die. They are giving up their own life so the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit may make them the chariots of God. Their whole existence is bent toward becoming the dwelling place of God. God hears their cry for total union with Him. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit will enter their bodies and dwell with them (John 14:23). They will be in the cleft of the Rock throughout the end-time judgments.
The only manner in which we can overcome the antichrist who is in us is by setting aside the whole of our life and seeking the Life of Christ. Only by entering into perfect, complete union with the Lord Jesus can we escape being deceived by Antichrist.
The Christian Gospel never is "tongues," or healing, or miracles. These signs follow when the true message is preached. The true Christian message is a message of discipleship. We are to believe in the Lord Jesus, repent of our sins, receive the atonement, be baptized in water, and then take up our cross and—through Jesus’ help—do the things the Lord and His Apostles commanded us to do.
It is time for all of us to get on our face before Jesus and cry to Him for discernment, for a removing from us of that which is not from Him. It is time to test the apostles. It may be that many of us are in deception. The signs of the true Presence of Jesus are not always manifest in the churches. We may be receiving in part, if not in whole, the False Prophet.
If we cannot come to the Lord now, humble ourselves, and cry out for mercy and discernment, then we will not be able to overcome the Antichrist when God gives him the enormous spiritual authority the Word describes. We will not be able to overcome! Those who succumb to Antichrist will drink of the wine of the wrath of God without mixture.
Both the sealed remnant and the great multitude have enough spiritual strength through Jesus to overcome the Antichrist. The difference between the two groups is, as we have stated previously, that the sealed remnant have been called aside by the Lord now and are entering into the judgment of their sins and the crucifixion of their personalities. The great multitude, on the other hand, will be brought closer to the Lord by the torments of the great tribulation.
The great multitude is mentioned in the fifth chapter of the Book of Revelation:
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9,10)
The reason we associate the above group with the great multitude is that the description of the great multitude, in Revelation 7:9, includes the phrase "of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues." This is the same statement made in Revelation 5:9 (above).
No doubt the members of the sealed remnant are included in this group of kings and priests. But the emphasis in the sealed remnant is on the tribes of Israel rather than on the elect drawn from the nations (Revelation 7:4). The sealed remnant appear to have a special place in the heart of Jesus. We previously have discussed the concept of the firstfruits.
Again, just before the outpouring of the bowls of wrath:
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. (Revelation 15:2)
The saints are safe in the Presence of God before the wrath of God falls on the earth.
The accent here is on gaining the victory over the Beast, over his image, over his mark, and over the number of his name. We believe this group to be the great multitude because the sealed remnant, while they also overcome the Beast, are characterized by their intense love for the Lord Jesus, not by their gaining victory over Antichrist.
In any case, it is of supreme importance for the believer to understand that the issue of the last days is the overcoming of Antichrist. The temptations of the last days will include the lusts of the flesh, and especially the love and worship of money. We believe the major temptation will be the worshiping of the self-will of man.
We must overcome the man-worship of the closing days of the Church Age if we hope to escape spiritual destruction at the hands of Satan. We must live far beyond the current expectations of the Christian churches if we are to survive the end-time judgments.
Revelation 20:4-6 describes the first resurrection and those who participate therein.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
We think that those who sit on the high thrones of judgment in the spirit realm, the thrones that govern the earth, are the sealed remnant. Those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus are the great multitude. All who have overcome Antichrist will receive back their bodies from death and will rule as priests on the earth.
Both groups, the sealed remnant and the great multitude, will participate in the first resurrection, that is, in the resurrection and ascension that take place when the Lord Jesus appears. Both groups are "beheaded," which is to say, they set aside their fleshly reasonings and desires and follow the Spirit of the Lord.
Both groups refuse to worship the Beast and his image and reject his mark. Both groups live and reign with Christ throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
We think it not unlikely, however, that it will be the sealed remnant who will sit on the highest thrones of judgment and will be especially active in the attack of Armageddon. Jude declares that the Lord will return with "ten thousands of his saints" (Jude 14), not with all His saints but with ten thousand of them. This may indicate that not all the saints will be in the first wave of the attack.
In describing Armageddon, Joel stresses "a great people and a strong" (Joel 2:2). It is the firstfruits of the Bride who are distinguished by being "terrible as an army with banners" (Song of Solomon 6:10). The sealed remnant stand, not on the sea of glass but on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1)—the spiritual mountain of the spirits of righteous men made perfect (Hebrews 12:23).
Zion was the first area of Jerusalem that David captured. Zion then became David’s city. Zion is associated with war and with the Ark of the Covenant. Zion represents the going forth of the Law of God, of that which destroys the enemies of the Lord. The Ark leads the way into battle.
The sealed remnant and the great multitude will be raised in the first resurrection. They are God’s judges, His ruling priesthood. They will receive back their bodies from the dead and will judge and rule the nations of saved peoples of the earth throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
Let us review briefly what we have stated to this point. The book "written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals," symbolizes the heart and actions of man (Revelation 5:1). When these seals are opened the course of history is revealed.
Man has a "writing" within him and a "writing" on the surface. What a man reveals on the outside may be quite different from what is in him. As the Lord goes forth conquering and to conquer, the writing on the inside begins to change for those who permit the Lord to conquer the darkness in them. When the writing on the inside begins to change, the writing on the outside, the sin and self-will evident in the behavior of people, also begins to change. The process is slow.
Meanwhile, torment and death fill the earth. These are not a Divine intervention but the natural consequence of the violation of spiritual principles. All men, including the elect of God, suffer because mankind is violating God’s laws. We know, for example, that immorality and other abuses of the body carry in themselves severe penalties. God is not mocked.
At the opening of the sixth seal the heaven will depart. The heaven is that which divides "the waters from the waters" (Genesis 1:6). It has pleased God to place a firmament, a heaven, between the spiritual world and the physical world.
The Word of God tells us what is true in the spiritual world, but we are compelled to live in the physical world, a dead world. The physical world basically is a lie and we are urged by the Lord not to be conformed to it (Romans 12:2). We demonstrate our faith in God by living according to what His Word declares is true, not what the world portrays as truth.
In the beginning the spiritual world and the material world were one. The tree of life grew from the ground of the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, God placed a division between the two worlds. But the two worlds will converge in the Kingdom of God.
The believer who would stand during the last days must learn to live in both worlds. By constant prayer, obedience, meditation in the Scriptures, and diligent application to the other aspects of the life of discipleship, he can begin to draw near to the Lord, bringing about in his own life a converging of the two worlds. The believer who chooses to live in the flesh will be tossed about like chaff, being completely unable to cope with the spiritual realities that even now are coming upon us.
All flesh is grass. It is the Word of God that will stand forever. The Word is of the spirit realm, and those who live in Jesus and by Jesus will have within themselves the strength of the Word of God.
When we behold the horrors that are coming we will faint with fear unless we are at home in the spiritual world. Those who dwell in Zion will be able to sing and dance in the height of Zion while the world is in flames (Jeremiah 31:12).
When the heaven departs, mankind will be able to see that which always has been true but has been hidden from us. Then people will be pierced with remorse because they had not lived differently.
The trumpets (which we have not discussed as yet) are a Divine intervention in the history of mankind. The blowing of the trumpets heralds the coming of the King. The judgments of the trumpets are sent to prepare the way of the Lord. Their purpose is to lead men to repentance.
We understand the blowing of the trumpets to be the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament Blowing of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24). The trumpets call into being the great tribulation that is to come upon the world. Tribulation is chastisement. It is redemptive. Tribulation produces patience in men. We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God. If we are without tribulation we are not genuine sons of God.
One of the major purposes of the great tribulation is to purge from the Body of Christ all sin and self-seeking, all worshiping of elevated ministers, all presumptuous "ministry", all dabbling in metaphysics as the "ministry" teaches people how to "use their faith," all concepts that we are God’s favorites and entitled to all the comforts of the antichrist world system, all spirits of pride and exaltation that promote the idea God’s people will be "raptured" up to Heaven in the last days so trouble cannot come near them.
The prevailing spirit of pride and presumption must be cast out of the churches. The spirit of humility and the fear of the Lord must be returned to the elect. The great tribulation will accomplish this purging, this renewing of the purity and humility of the Bride.
The proper response to tribulation is to wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. If we harden our heart we move forward to the wrath of God. The wrath of God is not redemptive. The wrath of God does not produce patience in us. The wrath of God punishes all who rebel against the most high God.
As we understand the Scriptures there will be at least four categories of people on the earth in the last days:
The sealed remnant.
The great multitude of the faithful.
Those who worship Antichrist.
The smaller nations and tribes
The sealed remnant. The sealed remnant are protected from the torments of the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:4). They are the servants of the Lord, the Lord’s "mighty men"—His warriors who stand with Him on Mount Zion.
The torments are a judgment on those who are not serving the Lord. Since the sealed remnant love the Lord and serve him of their own choice it is not necessary they be punished. Their hearts are in tune with the Lord’s heart and they share the Lord’s distress over the abominations performed in the midst of the Lord’s house (compare Ezekiel 9:4-9).
The remnant are mentioned in Revelation 12:17:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Some Christian teachers have stressed that the remnant that keep the commandments of God must be Jews because Christians do not have to keep God’s commandments. But notice the following:
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
It is the warlike remnant of saints who keep God’s commandments that pose a threat to Satan’s kingdom.
The greatest deception ever to enter Christian thinking is the idea that the believers do not have to keep God’s commandments. The truth is, the purpose of the Divine salvation is to enable us to keep God’s commandments and thus have fellowship with God. The Christian churches have been destroyed by this error. If we would survive the age of moral horrors that is approaching and the Gentile holocaust we absolutely must keep God’s commandments as set forth in the New Testament!
After Babylon, the large Christian organization of the last days, is burned with fire by the ten kings that "receive power as kings one hour with the beast" (Revelation 17:12,16), the remnant, the firstfruits of the Bride, will appear. She is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, the fine linen being the righteous conduct of those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:8).
The great multitude of the faithful. The members of the great multitude also are an integral part of the true Israel of God. They refuse to serve Antichrist during the great tribulation. The sealed remnant, the Lord’s firstfruits, are different from the great multitude of the faithful in that they have passed ahead to the "secret places of the stairs" (Song of Solomon 2:14).
The great multitude succeed in overcoming the world through Christ. The sealed remnant overcome through Jesus and then press forward to the attitude of delighting in being removed from the world. They make an eternal decision to be married to the Lord, and the Lord Jesus leads them into areas of relationships of which the great multitude know little as yet.
The sealed remnant are the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The great multitude are the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The nations of saved peoples of the earth are the Courtyard. God is judging the Most Holy Place and the Holy Place in our day, but the Courtyard will be left until later (Revelation 11:1,2).
It may be true that most professing Christians of our day are not even at the level of the great multitude. They are not part of true Israel. They are not true saints, true Christians, even though they bear the name "Christian."
Notice the following statement to the church in Sardis:
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. (Revelation 3:4)
What can we say of the majority of the believers in Sardis? We can state they are not true Christians. They are not worthy to be of the great multitude. They are not a part of the Lord’s elect. They are churchgoers but that is all. They do not keep the Lord’s commandments. They have not taken up their cross and followed the Lord with patience. They are not disciples, therefore not true Christians.
Those who worship Antichrist. A third group of people are those who worship Antichrist. They will suffer exceedingly severe torment in the last days.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:9-11)
And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. (Revelation 16:2)
To worship Antichrist will be to drink of the wrath of God without mixture, that is to say, without any addition of mercy. There will be extremely intense suffering both in this world and in that which is to come.
To not yield to Antichrist will be to experience suffering in this world (except as God protects) but love, joy, and peace after physical death.
Christian people are not nearly prepared today to stand up against Antichrist. To yield to Antichrist, obtaining a momentary respite from suffering, is to bring a much greater torment on one’s self when the wrath of God is poured out on the earth.
Those who stand against the darkness, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, come to that place of death in the Lord where they are able to find rest in the Lord’s Person. They enter the pavilion of the Lord even while they yet are alive on the earth. Their works follow them. They bear the fruit of Christ who is at rest in them. The Lord Himself is tabernacling in them and has become their strength and their song.
Revelation 14:9-11 warns of the terrible consequences of succumbing to Antichrist. Then comes the promise in the following two verses.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from the heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (Revelation 14:12,13)
The reason the promise comes immediately after the warning is that it is the rest in God that is our protection from Antichrist and the spiritual perils of the closing days of the Church Age.
The spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39-43) is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in the personality of the believer (John 14:23).
John 14:15-23 speaks of the Fullness of the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, dwelling in and with the believer.
The heirs of the rest of God, of the "Tabernacles" experience, are those who patiently keep the commandments of God and hold steadfastly to the faith of Jesus. They do not walk in the flesh. They do not attempt to take a shortcut to the fulfillment of the vision God has given them. They do not participate in the faith or prosperity messages or in any other self-realization technique, or follow their own spiritual ambitions. Instead, they wait on the Lord. They "die in the Lord."
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit find Their rest in the personality of each saint who dies in the Lord. It is the Godhead dwelling in and with the faithful saint that is his perfect and complete protection during the last days.
This does not mean the saint will not experience suffering, torture, or martyrdom. He may. We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God. Rather, the Godhead is the saint’s protection against deception, against spiritual seduction and eternal injury.
We can overcome the deceptions of Antichrist only by the indwelling Presence of God.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4)
The pressures of the last days will be unbearable. All mankind will be victimized by the spiritual forces that will be unleashed on the earth. The only manner in which the believer can overcome the Antichrist is by patiently keeping the commandments of God and holding fast to the faith of Jesus until the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit come to dwell with Him in his personality, making him a part of the eternal Temple of God. Only then will he be able to serve God and bring forth the fruit of good works during the darkness that is beginning to fill the earth.
We must give all our heart and strength to attaining to that to which the Lord Jesus has called us. We can walk with the Lord in the last days if we so choose. Or we may prove to be among those who suffer the torment of fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. The Christians of today are far too confident, being in deception. They do not realize the churches already have been overcome by the antichrist spirit and are approaching even greater deception.
The antichrist spirit is the spirit of lawlessness. Until the Christian believer surrenders his will to the Lord, takes up his cross, remains patiently in the prison in which the Lord places him—until this full surrender is made the believer is under the influence of Antichrist.
As long as King Self is on the throne of our personality we are antichrist. We are still part of the great rebellion against the Father even though we have received the blood atonement and have been baptized with God’s Holy Spirit. Make no mistake about this.
God’s wants people who will keep His commandments sternly and diligently. Nothing less than this is acceptable. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
The smaller nations and tribes. There will be a fourth group. It appears the world system of Antichrist will be centered in the large cities of the earth and will not be of long enough duration to corrupt many of the smaller nations and villages. The God of Heaven has promised to shorten those days. We know the Lord Jesus is coming to rule over the nations of the earth, and we conclude from this that there will be peoples who are left alive for the Lord and His saints to rule. Otherwise we would have no inheritance.
The fourth group are those who are not of the sealed remnant, nor of the great multitude of the priesthood, nor of those who worship Antichrist, but of the smaller tribes and villages that have not been part of the antichrist system. Although power is given to Antichrist over all nations it may be true that he will not have enough time to establish his spirit and ways among regions of lesser population.
This fourth group, then, are the nations over whom the Lord and His saints will rule.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)
And the Gentiles [nations] shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. (Isaiah 60:3,4)
Today a separation is occurring. A few are hearing the voice of Jesus and are serving Him with utmost diligence. However the believers often are spiritually soft, ignorant of the severity of God. Humanism and metaphysics are prevalent in Christian thinking and conduct. Multitudes of believers are unaware of the terrible danger they are in.
God is separating out His remnant and sealing them today, we believe. Others are not aware of what is taking place now but will stand true (amid much suffering) during the dark hours ahead. The wise reader will not assume he is secure against torment but will go to the Lord in the most sincere supplication and worship, seeking to know his own position in the present evil hour.
God is not the God being presented in many of the Christian churches of our day.
The witnesses of the end time will prophesy in the sackcloth of repentance (Revelation 11:3). They will bring the fear of God into the earth. As Elijah, they will minister in the presence of danger. As Elisha, they will have a double portion of Divine authority and power. In the end the Divine testimony will be overcome by the wisdom and power God will give to Antichrist, as symbolized by the death of Elisha due to sickness.
Let us consider now the blowing of trumpets—those interventions in human history designed to humble and purify the Bride of the Lamb and to prepare mankind for the coming of the Lord. It is hoped that the sufferings brought on by the trumpets will cause many people to be reconciled to God.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, 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 another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (Revelation 8:1-3)
The "golden altar which was before the throne" is the Altar of Incense, the fifth piece of furniture of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, coming after the golden Lampstand.
The Old Testament Blowing of Trumpets, today termed Rosh Hashanah (the Head of the Year), is the fifth of the feasts of the Lord, the next observance after the feast of Pentecost.
The Christian Church has been at the Lampstand, at the feast of Pentecost, for two thousand years. Now the Lord is moving us toward the Altar of Incense, toward the Blowing of Trumpets (the Head of the Year, that is, the beginning of the entrance of the Kingdom of God into the earth).
The Altar of Incense typifies the place where the Church bows in humility and obedience before her Lord, dying to sin and self-will. The Blowing of Trumpets signifies the coming of the Lord to make war against the sin and self-will of the peoples of the earth, beginning with those who are closest to Himself. It is the coming of the King to wage war against His enemies. It is the entering of the Lord into His temple to cast out the moneychangers. It is spiritual war!
The seven trumpets announce the coming of King Jesus to destroy His enemies, beginning with the forces of darkness that bind His own people. The blowing of the seven trumpets results in the great tribulation. The purpose of the great tribulation is to separate the true people of the Lord from Satan, from Antichrist, from the False Prophet, and from Babylon. The tribulation will perfect the Lord’s true saints and also prepare the peoples of the earth for the appearing of the Lord.
At the end of the great tribulation, that is, at the blowing of the seventh trumpet, the royal priesthood, the Israel of God, will be raised from the dead and ascend into glory. As we understand it, the resurrection and ascension of God’s true witnesses of every age will take place "after the tribulation of those days" (Matthew 24:29) and before the bowls of wrath are poured out on the inhabitants of the earth. There is an important difference between the tribulation period and the pouring out of the bowls of Divine wrath.
The great tribulation will expose the sin in the churches, humble the true saints, and prepare the way of the Lord among the nations.
All worldliness, sin, and self-exaltation must be purged from the house of God. The commercial spirit in the churches, the immorality, the entertainment, doing what is right in our own eyes instead of keeping the commandments of Jesus, foolishness, presumption—all must be burned out of the Lord’s people.
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:4)
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:5)
There is a multitude of voices in the land today, but only one of them is the voice of the Lord. We have to pray intently in order to discern the voice of the Lord. There is much deception in the churches.
The thunderings of God’s wrath can be heard in the Spirit. The thunderings are a warning of the destruction that soon is to come upon the world.
The lightnings of God’s power will strike the inhabitants of the earth, including the Lord’s own people. Divine judgment already has fallen on numerous saints of the Lord.
Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. All that is not of the Lord Jesus Christ will be shaken and removed from the heavens as well as from the earth.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. (Revelation 8:7)
The hail and fire portray the voice of God in judgment (Psalms 18:13).
"Blood" speaks of vengeance. Cain killed Abel and the blood of Abel cried to God from the ground (Genesis 4:10). All of us are "bloodguilty." We have not been our brother’s keeper as God intends we should. Some have had an abundance of Gospel preaching while others have never heard the name of Jesus. Some have more food than they can eat while in other parts of the world children die of starvation. Some, as the rich man, are full, warm, clothed handsomely while others of mankind, as Lazarus the beggar, are hungry, naked, and homeless.
The rich man was cast into the flames of Hell because he ignored the needs of his neighbor, Lazarus.
We cannot approach God until we have been cleansed of the bloodguiltiness of despising our brother and ignoring his needs. Every human being is responsible for the condition of mankind. The failure of the Christians in Germany, and in the rest of the world as well, to come to the aid of the Jews during the rule of Hitler is a vivid illustration of the willingness of people to concern themselves only with their own welfare. The plight of the people of Uganda and Cambodia, as well as the Christians of Sudan and China, are other examples of neglect by those who could have helped.
Many human beings are in desperate circumstances today, including numerous people who need medical attention. How many Christians of the wealthy nations, as was true of the rich man, are occupied primarily with their own pleasures and kingdoms?
The lust for pleasure is revealed in the abortions taking place. God records every abortion as an act of murder unless God accepts the surgery as being necessary for some vital reason. Every murder of a human being must be accounted for in the day of reckoning. None is forgotten.
For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:21)
"The earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain".
Until we reach the place in Christ where we are doing everything in our power to serve God and man according to our own calling and gifts, we are guilty of the blood of the victims of man’s murderous selfishness. We must seek the Lord until we have the assurance we are serving Him with all the strength, wisdom, ability, and material and spiritual blessings He has given us. Only then are our hands clean from bloodguiltiness.
A "third" speaks of a pruning, a chastening, a tribulation, a partial judgment. The tribulation is for our good and makes us perfect. It is the chastening of a Father. When we come to the bowls of wrath, in Chapter Sixteen, we discover that they speak not of partial but of total destruction.
A third of the earth being burned up refers to the judgment that comes on all those who make the earth and their activities on the earth the focus of their way of life. The Lord Jesus advised us to turn away from the things of the earth and to give ourselves to the Kingdom that is in Heaven and soon will come to the earth.
Those who continue to live in the flesh will not be able to endure the destruction and terror at hand. If we do not learn to live both in the heavenlies and on the earth at the same time we will not be able to stand when men’s hearts are failing them for fear.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
But lay up for yourselves treasures in the heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (Matthew 6:20)
Our life is to be hidden with Christ in God. When we refuse to lay up treasures in Heaven, God burns up with the fires of judgment that on which we have placed our heart.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)
Get ready for a third of your earth to be burned up. Set your love on God, on the things of the Kingdom of God. Then you can suffer the loss of your life on the earth and not be overly concerned. The tribulation will loose you from the heavy bondages of earth’s cares.
Judgment is falling on the believers of today as well as on the remainder of mankind. Much of what we have considered to be essential to our life will be removed. Our human attractiveness may be destroyed. Jesus demands our complete attention. It is not Satan who is dealing with us, in most instances, it is the Lord. He is touching our fruitfulness and our attractiveness so we will cease pampering our flesh and attempting to please man, and turn our hearts toward God.
When the Lord begins to deal with us He often prunes back much of the fruit we have born. A "third part of the trees," that is, of our fruitfulness is burned up, along with "all green grass." All that is pleasing to the natural man is blighted.
The burning up of a third of the trees speaks of the partial destruction of our fruitfulness, of that which we have accomplished in life. The Lord Jesus will prune every branch in Himself that bears fruit. The pruning back of our accomplishments will strengthen us in the Lord provided we receive such pruning in an attitude of faith and do not strive to retain that which God is removing.
It always is wise to pray and seek the Lord and then, after we are assured we have done all we know to do, to rest in the Lord and trust in Him. Jesus knows what we need to retain and what should be pruned back.
It may be true that a literal third of the trees of the earth will be burned up. We certainly are not denying a literal interpretation. But sometimes what is taking place in the physical realm is a reflection of a counterpart in the spirit realm.
All the green grass is burned up, referring to that which is pleasant to the eyes. The nations of the earth will be struck by the hand of God. God will cause to wither what is pleasant and delightful in our lives so we begin to turn to the Lord and find solace in Him.
As long as we are taking pleasure in our present life we will not turn to the Lord. When our way on the earth becomes unattractive and painful we will seek Him. That is the purpose of the great tribulation—to turn our eyes and hopes away from the earth and toward the Lord.
The Day of the Lord will come: ". . . upon all pleasant pictures" (Isaiah 2:16).
All the works and delights of the flesh will be made desolate—all that is of Paradise, that is attractive and desirable on the earth. After that, the saints will be used of the Lord to restore the earth.
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)
There can be no question that the trumpets are beginning to sound in our day. Numerous Christians are experiencing the chastening of the Lord. If this is happening to you, do not despair. Look only and always to Jesus. He will bring you forth as refined gold if you place your trust in Him.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8,9)
As we have stated previously, the emphasis (in the judgments of the trumpets) on "the third part," refers to the fact that these judgments are a pruning and not a wrathful destruction. There is no mention of a third part in the pouring out of the bowls of wrath, for the bowls of wrath are not redemptive. The trumpets prepare the way of the Lord, while the bowls of wrath fall with destructive vengeance on the rebellious of mankind.
Mountains, in the Scriptures, represent governments, places of power and rulership.
For the Day of the Lord of Hosts will be: ". . . upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up" (Isaiah 2:14).
As the King approaches the earth He begins to judge the places of power, beginning with the "great mountain" of self-will in those who are closest to him. The Lord Jesus sends the fires of tribulation upon us. It is only through suffering that the self-will in us is destroyed. It is at the Altar of Incense that we bow in death before the Lord and say, "Not my will but Yours be done."
The "blood," and the death of the creatures in the sea, speaks of the death of our fleshly nature. When our self-will dies, much of our life dies with it. We do not realize how much of our life and work is proceeding from our self-love and self-centeredness until the Lord strikes at the rule of self that is within us. Then many of our activities are revealed as coming from our own soul rather than from the Spirit of the Lord, and we cease practicing them.
One of the central issues of the Christian redemption is the death of the old man, of the adamic nature. The blood of the covenant that is sprinkled upon us does not bring us into the Kingdom of God until we assign our first personality to the cross with Christ.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)
The whole problem of antichrist has to do with the preservation and exaltation of the self-life of human beings. Jesus saves us from Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet of religious seduction by counting our first personality as being crucified with Himself and our new born-again personality as having been raised with Himself to the right hand of God.
The original sin was not of the lusts of the flesh. The original sin had to do, rather, with discontent with one’s appointed station and the desire to be like God.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:14)
Satan has injected mankind with the desire to be like God.
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5)
God always has desired that man be in union with Himself, that he be part of Himself, that he be the dwelling place of God.
Instead, man, at Satan’s prompting, chose to be a God himself. Man desires to be like God, not to be part of God. This is the difference between Antichrist and Christ.
God cursed Satan by giving him an insatiable desire for "dust," that is, for the flesh of man (Genesis 3:14). From that day forward there has dwelled in the flesh of man the foul, perverted, fiery lusts of Satan and his demons.
Through Christ mankind has been forgiven. Also, the Holy Spirit of God has entered the believers. The Spirit of God wars against the lusts of Satan. Every son of God who follows the Spirit of God puts to death, through the Spirit, the lusts of Satan that dwell in his flesh (Romans 8:13,14).
The original sin, that of desiring to be like God instead of a part of God, remains in the personality of man—even in the personality of the believer who has been forgiven and filled with the Spirit of God.
Today the Spirit-filled believers are at a fork in the road. One branch goes toward the death of the cross where the believer chooses to die, to "lose his head" (Revelation 20:4). The other branch goes toward self-realization. The former leads to glory and very great joy. The latter leads to darkness and barrenness.
The Lord Jesus has a most wonderful experience in store for the believer who chooses to die to his own life. That experience is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles. It is to be filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Those who choose to die to their adamic personality, thus to become part of God, will be protected completely from the deceptions of Antichrist. They will be the house of God forever.
Those who move forward on the other branch are heading toward destruction. Whenever we choose to save our life rather than to lose our life in the Lord we provide an entrance for Satan into our life. We become part of the synagogue of Satan even though we profess to be a follower of the Lord Jesus. Satan entered Peter and attempted to persuade the Lord Jesus to save His life by not going to Jerusalem. Satan entered Judas because Judas was unwilling to lose his life for the Lord. Judas, as was true of all believers who are living in their soul rather than in the Spirit of God, was seeking to use Jesus to accomplish his own objectives. The end of trying to use Jesus to accomplish our own objectives is destruction.
Either we are choosing to be like Christ or we are choosing to become part of Christ. Either we are attempting to gain power, success, prosperity for ourselves or we are choosing to die in the Lord, to decrease continually in order that He may increase. Either we are seeking to persuade Christ to serve us or we are seeking to lay down our own life so Christ may be exalted in us.
The protection God has provided for the enormous deception of the last days is the "Tabernacles" experience, that is, the filling of the believer with the Presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are kept from the deception of man making Himself God by becoming a branch that is abiding in the Vine, in the one true Christ.
The philosophies that have been developing over the past several hundred years are bent toward man making himself a God, man ruling himself, man attaining what man desires. Men have become lovers of themselves. "The rights of man" have been made the highest good, the top priority. This is of Antichrist. It precisely is what Satan is hoping for, for then he can corrupt man’s worship of himself into the worship of Satan.
Communism, humanism and democracy are man-centered philosophies. None is of the Kingdom of God. Both humanism and democracy claim to work for the good of people. But they work only for the immediate physical comfort of people. Because they do not point people toward union with the Lord they actually lead people to harm and eventual destruction.
Throughout history people have revolted against the harsh rule and excesses of totalitarian governments. Eventually they will revolt against Communism because the Communist states rule with harshness and oppression.
The philosophies of the "free world" which exalt the rights and desires of the individual are actually more compatible with the present move of Antichrist than is the philosophy of communism. Communism, at least in a pure form, would stress sacrificing the desires of the individual for the betterment of the state.
We are not promoting Communism. We are merely attempting to challenge the reader to be alert to the insidious danger of a religion or a form of government that seeks to make each individual his own God.
It can be seen today that both Communism and the Muslim religion stress morality. The gross displays of immorality are in the democratic nations which have been influenced by perverted Christian thinking. By perverted Christian thinking we are referring to the stress on belief and forgiveness ("grace") rather than on righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. The emphasis is on how merciful Jesus is and how much He loves us rather than on obedience to what He commands.
The union of perverted Christian thinking with the philosophies of democracy and humanism have produced an anti-Christian climate that may be more destructive of spiritual growth than is true of the oppressive regime of Communism.
It is time now for the true saints to ask the Lord Jesus to remove from them all these man-centered philosophies and religions for they are of the Antichrist. Those who succumb to them will grow increasingly self-centered until they are of the body of Antichrist. They will suffer the torment of fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb.
The mountain of self-exaltation must be burned with Divine fire. The spirit of self-will, of self-aggrandizement, must die completely. Not one trace of it is to be found in the Kingdom of God. The total destruction of self-will cannot be accomplished in a moment. The judgments of God during the closing days of the Church Age are not sufficient to cause the extinction of self-will, for we find the same spirit of rebellion rising at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Revelation 20:9).
Man’s self-love and self-will cannot be tolerated in the Kingdom of God. Self-seeking is the opposite of all that is pure, all that is holy, all that is of Paradise, all that is of the Kingdom. Only those who are willing to become as little children, to be purged of the mountain of selfish ambition, can enter the Kingdom of God.
The "third part of the ships" refers to commerce. The love of money is the root of all evil. No man can serve God and money. These are two different gods.
The backbone of the antichrist world system is money. Nearly everything is measured in terms of money. Nearly everything depends on money. Human security, pleasure and achievement are based on money. The more money one is able to hoard the more successful one’s life has been.
In the Kingdom of God there is no hoarding of money, no attempting to gain security, pleasure or achievement apart from the daily word and will of Christ directed toward us, no seeking of an advantage over others. As the Lord draws near to His servants in preparation for His return to earth the love of money must be purged from us. Otherwise it is impossible for us to enter the Kingdom of God. The wealthy of this world find it extremely difficult to enter the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptures teach us that the love of money is a great evil. We have the example of Balaam, of Gehazi, of Judas, of Ananias and Sapphira. The Lord Jesus warned us that no man can serve God and money. A man’s life consists not in the abundance of things he possesses. Take no thought for tomorrow. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you. The Scriptures are clear on the subject of the love of money.
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (I Timothy 6:5)
We are to withdraw ourselves from every individual who teaches that gain is godliness, that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and favor.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (I Timothy 6:9,10)
As we have said, the blowing of the seven trumpets announces the coming of the King. As soon as King Jesus enters through the gates of Jerusalem, through the gates of the heart of the believer, He comes into the temple of the living God. He then looks about Him on every side. He sees the tables of the moneychangers. The jealousy of God comes upon Him and He makes a whip and drives out of the house of God the abomination of the love of riches. He makes His Father’s house a house of prayer.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from the heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. (Revelation 8:10,11)
This marks the fall from the heaven of secular wisdom and knowledge.
The "lamp" speaks of wisdom and knowledge. The rivers and fountains of waters refer to the mental and spiritual life of which man partakes. The "waters" of human and satanic wisdom and knowledge flow from the educational institutions, from the media, from entertainers, from teachers, scholars, and philosophers, from government leaders, and sometimes from the Christian churches, but their point of origin is the fallen princes in the heavenlies.
The science of psychology has had a profound effect on the sources of information. Yet the origins of psychology and psychiatry are tainted with a materialistic view of the universe, and with the occult in some instances.
People "drink" of all this guidance and information and of the spirits promoting them without being able to discern what is helpful and what is harmful.
Along with these many sources of "water" there also is the water of life—that which is coming from the throne of God. Today it is not always possible for people to discern the difference between the waters that cause death and the waters that bring life and health.
As part of the judgment of the trumpets the Lord will turn a large part of earth’s various forms of "water" into wormwood, into bitterness. That which proceeds from the babylonish [man-centered] churches, from the public schools, from teachers, scholars, and philosophers of the world, from government leaders, from psychologists and sociologists, from playwrights, from the media, will become manifestly harmful.
Multitudes who do not drink of the only pure water, the water of life that comes from Christ, will die. The spirits coming from the fleshly churches, from the teachers of the world, from the editors of the media, will be bitter in the "mouths" of the drinkers and they will die—spiritually and, in some cases, physically.
For example, the public schools of our day teach children to ignore fixed moral standards, such as the Scriptures, and to develop their own values through experimentation. The lingering godliness in our culture has to the present hour prevented the death and torment that reside in such corrupt values to be revealed.
In the days to come, those who ignore the fixed standards God has given, such as conscience and the Scriptures, will find that the "waters" they were given to drink in the public schools have become bitter indeed and have led to spiritual and physical torment, sickness and death.
This already is taking place. We are beginning to reap the harvest.
Mankind does not understand the proper use of the human brain. God did not give us a brain so we would become a God separate from Himself. Our brain is a blessing by means of which we are able to comprehend and enjoy our environment and especially to appreciate and understand God and His Word to us.
When we attempt to use our brain to control our destiny we are employing the brain in a manner contrary to the purpose of God. Education will form a large part of the antichrist system, second only, perhaps, to the role of money. Through education the brain is strengthened in the hope that man will be able to provide a better environment and destiny for himself.
But the Scriptures teach that God has not given the brain to us for that purpose.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
The above verse is the opposite of the scientific method of solving the problems of living. The scientific method is employed properly when it is used for the investigation of the material world. But when it is used to guide the human being through life it is usurping the role of the Spirit of God.
We are to trust the Lord and lean not to our own understanding. This is the commandment of the Word of God. We are to acknowledge God in all our ways, that is, our ways of conducting our life. If we do that, God will direct our paths.
Paul taught us that the brain of the natural man, of the adamic personality, is the enemy of God.
Because the fleshly mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:7)
Educating the human brain does not lead us to God. In order to perceive the will of God for our life we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). Our mind is renewed as we cast ourselves upon the Lord, trusting in Him. Then we receive the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a different mind from the mind of the adamic nature.
The sons of God are not led through the problems and purposes of life by their minds, by education, but by the Spirit of God.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
God desires that every believer press into the place in Christ that is his destiny. Only the Holy Spirit can guide and strengthen the believer so he continually and surely moves toward the mark God has set for him. Education can give the believer a fuller comprehension of his environment and an understanding of God’s workings in the past, in the present, and in the future. But the plan for the believer’s life, the manner in which he is to spend each day, can come only from the Holy Spirit.
As we have said, the witness of Jesus must "lose his head" (Revelation 20:4). The only way in which any person can become a true witness of Jesus is by setting aside his own thinking, his own judgment, and entering the mind of Christ. God’s servant is blind and deaf to the wisdom of this world, but he sees and hears that which the Lord is doing and saying.
Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant? (Isaiah 42:19)
The true knowledge of God never can come through educating the human brain.
The only light of men is the Life of Jesus (John 1:4). Jesus is the Truth and the only truth. His Life is our light.
As Christ is formed in us the truth is formed in us. The truth of God is not a series of impressions on the brain. The truth of God is the Life of God that is in us. We have knowledge by that Life. We have wisdom by that Life. We have understanding by that Life.
There is no shortcut, no quick method by which one can come to the knowledge of the Lord. The truth is formed in us as we learn to live by eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His holy blood.
God has made man upright but man has sought out many inventions. Ecclesiastes comments that "much study is a weariness of the flesh." To fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:12,13).
The Lord enters us in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles and He becomes our way, our truth, and our life. Our brain serves only to gives us understanding of what the Lord is saying to us. It is the Lord Himself who is our wisdom and knowledge.
The educational systems of Antichrist bring bitterness and death to the human spirit. Blessed is the individual who comes to the realization of this inevitable consequence, who then turns away from reliance on the fountains of human wisdom and knowledge and in a childlike manner places his faith and trust in the Lord His Creator.
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. (Revelation 8:12)
The sun represents the Lord Jesus; the moon represents the created realm; and the stars, in this case, may portray the saints of the Church. The obvious Presence of the Lord will diminish as part of the great tribulation. The Christian churches will be corrupted by the world. The testimony of the Holy Spirit through the saints will not be as abundant as formerly. Many Christians will fall through deception.
The cloud of blessing by day will be curtailed. The fire of the judgment of God’s Word, the help God gives us during the "night," will seemingly be diminished.
Whatever literal fulfillment this passage may have, it is evident that the spiritual counterpart is taking place in our day. The light of God’s Presence and Word appear to be diminishing. People from different cities have reported to us there is no church they know of where the Presence of God can be felt.
Some who have been accustomed to the Presence of God in their lives are finding that God does not seem as close to them as once was true. Trouble has come to them and they are not being delivered. Some are plagued with the manifest presence of demons.
Ministers and people are unable to obtain release from the lusts of the flesh. Spiritual darkness is settling in where there used to be an abundance of Gospel light. It is becoming more difficult to seek the Lord. There appears to be a spiritual torpor, an inability to shake one’s self. Deception is widespread. The spiritual light is decreasing. Spiritual darkness is increasing.
The darkness of Antichrist is here now—today, and the darkness will become greater. We are not speaking of events in the future only. We are speaking of the present hour.
(It also is true in the present hour that there is marvelous light and glory for each believer who will turn away from the ungodliness of the churches and seek the Lord with a pure heart.)
Daniel warned us of the authority God will give to the Antichrist.
And it waxed great, even to the host of the heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. (Daniel 8:10)
We understand from the above verse that Antichrist will have power that reaches into the heaven, deceiving and casting down some of God’s stars. This is taking place today as some pastors and evangelists fall through immorality and covetousness.
Antichrist will deceive and overcome the saints through ease and prosperity.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power [by Satan’s]: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [prosperity] shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:24,25)
He will shatter the power of the saints of the Lord.
. . . and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)
The Antichrist will overcome the saints who bear the latter-rain witness of the last days, the Gospel of the Kingdom that will be brought to every nation.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
Antichrist will wear out the saints by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Also, he will persecute savagely those who do not conform to his way of thinking. He will work both by violence and by deception.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)
As we stated previously, the only protection from the spiritual darkness entering the world is to be filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To thus enter the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles necessitates the removal of the love of the world from us, the removal of the love of sin from us, and the removal of the love of self from us.
The love of the world is removed from us as we turn our back on the world, choosing to be a pilgrim and stranger on the earth.
The love of sin is removed from us as we confess our sins, our demonic lusts, repent of them, and ask the Lord to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. After that, we must seek the Lord continually for His wisdom and strength so we may obtain victory over every area of sin.
The love of self is removed from us as we take up our cross and follow Jesus. Suffering and tribulation purge from us the love of the world, the love of sin, and the love of self. Only as we are purified of these can the holy Godhead settle down to rest in us. It is the Presence of the Godhead which preserves us from the spiritual death of the last days.
Let us look for a moment at the four evil forces of the last days.
The False Prophet.
Babylon the great.
Satan is the fallen cherub, the adversary, the accuser of the brothers, the one who desires to be like God and to be worshiped as God.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:14)
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. (Ezekiel 28:14,15)
If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. (Luke 4:7)
We understand that Satan is the father of the unholy trinity (Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet). Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Babylon live and move and have their being in the spirit of Satan. Satan is God’s rival for supremacy in the heavens and the earth. God will permit the whole of Satan’s personality to be revealed in the earth as an eternal lesson to God’s creatures of the folly of not abiding in God.
Antichrist is the second person of the unholy trinity. He is the imitation, the counterpart, the rival of the only true Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The spirit of Antichrist is in all human beings. It is the desire of man to be God. In the last days the spirit of Antichrist will be revealed in a man who finally will take his place in the Temple of God in Jerusalem. He will sit in the Most Holy Place declaring He is the Glory of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the only true and living God. This is the final result of the spirit that is in us, the spirit that seeks to be like God rather than an eternal part of God through Christ.
There is one point we wish to emphasize. The major issue of the last days is the overcoming of Antichrist. This is what the Book of Revelation stresses.
Antichrist already is in us. It is not a case of waiting until a dreadful man appears in the future. Antichrist is a spirit in us we have to overcome now—right now!
Antichrist is the spirit of man making himself God, of attempting to be like God and endeavoring to rule his own environment and destiny.
The last several hundred years of world history have witnessed the emergence of the spirit of Antichrist. The philosophers have brought forth the concept that man is the center of all things. Various nationalities of peoples have risen in revolt against those who have ruled them.
We do not wish to question the rightness or wrongness of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John, the French Revolution, the American Revolution. The tyranny of people in places of power has resulted in rebellion on the part of those abused by them.
But the fruit of man’s struggle is the emergence of rule by the masses of people, a bowing down to "world opinion" on the part of those who would attempt to accomplish anything. The philosophies of democracy and humanism are spreading. Communism and the Muslim religion still control major segments of earth’s peoples. Humanism and democracy will emerge victorious because they appeal to the love of man for himself. Satan perceives that man can be corrupted more easily and more thoroughly by prosperity than he can by violence and fear.
Antichrist rises out of the "sea" (Revelation 13:1). This means Antichrist will come forth from the masses of earth’s people. He is that spirit of lawlessness, of self-rule, that seeks the godship of man. He is in all of us until we are willing to lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus.
The antichrist system emphasizes money, education and the brain of man, and finally the occult until it is obvious it is Satan who is in control.
There are at least four aspects of the antichrist system:
The image of the Beast.
The mark of the Beast.
The number of his name.
Our understanding is that the Beast represents man opposing the rule of Christ, man choosing to govern himself.
It may be true that the image of the Beast will be some computerized marvel, some masterpiece of cybernetics employed to solve the problems of mankind. However the image may prove to be money. It may be recalled that Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold (Daniel, Chapter Three). It appears today that money is emerging as the primary God of the world. Everything is accomplished by money. The worship of money is spreading to lands that formerly worshiped idols, or nature, or some personage or object.
The mark is in the right hand or in the forehead (Revelation 13:16). The mark in the right hand suggests that the system works by the strength of man. The mark in the forehead means the individual does the will of Antichrist, just as God’s seal in the forehead of the remnant means the individual does the will of God.
We are not implying that there will not be some type of device inserted under the skin that is linked with a world economic system. There may be such a device. But that is not our problem now. Our problem now is overcoming the giving of our strength to the world system, and the habit of thinking as the world thinks.
The television and the Internet are among Satan’s principal tools for forming our thoughts and imaginations in the image of the world. It is difficult to comprehend the enormity of the evil of television with its ceaseless displaying of the values of Satan. No sincere Christian spends much time on the television programs presented by the world.
If we do not overcome the mark of today we will be helpless when it comes to a governmental demand to become part of the world economic system, the alternative being we can neither buy nor sell.
The number of his name—666—symbolizes man making himself God, seeking to exalt himself, and finally to be worshiped. It is the ancient satanic desire to be like God instead of being in union with God through Christ.
Each believer who would be accepted of God must overcome the Beast, the image of the Beast, the mark in the right hand or in the forehead, and the number of his name.
It is not enough to accept Christ, or to be born again (as Christians employ the term), or to speak in tongues. In order to be accepted of God each believer must overcome, through the Holy Spirit, his governing of himself. He must submit to crucifixion so Christ may live in him in place of Antichrist.
Each believer must overcome, through the Holy Spirit, the God of money. He must seek first the Kingdom of God and allow God to supply his needs. This does not mean the believer is not to work. It does mean all employment becomes secondary and seeking God’s will becomes of supreme importance every day of his life.
Each believer must overcome, through the Holy Spirit, the using of his prime time and energies to serve the world spirit of Satan. He must resist doing the will of the God of this world and be transformed by the renewing of his mind. He must present his body a living sacrifice to God.
Each believer must overcome, through the Holy Spirit, the desire to exalt himself, the desire to be God, the desire to be worshiped by his fellow creatures. He must humble himself unto death, the death brought about by bearing his personal cross, in order that he may become part of the one true Vine—the Lord Jesus Christ. He must renounce for eternity his desire to be a competitor of God, another will in the universe. He must be willing to become one with God.
The believer who does not overcome the Beast, the image of the Beast, the mark in the right hand or in the forehead, and the number of the Beast’s name, will never be accepted of God. He is in danger of being cast into the torment of fire and sulfur. Let the reader take heed!
The only manner in which we can escape deception is by doing what Revelation 14:12 and 13 command. We must be patient. We must keep the commandments of God. We must hold fast the faith of Jesus. We must die in the Lord and allow His Spirit to perform the works of redemption in us.
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. (Revelation 15:2)
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
From the above verse we see that the only persons who attain to the first resurrection are those who do not worship the Beast (man’s self-rule), or his image (money), and who do not receive his mark on their forehead (fleshly reasoning) or in their hand (using their strength to serve the world spirit instead of God).
The Scriptures state we attain to the first resurrection by overcoming the Beast, his image, and his mark. Let every person who adds to or subtracts from this statement consider the dreadful curse with which the Book of Revelation is bound (Revelation 22:18,19).
To those who teach that by accepting Jesus we automatically are overcomers, let us respond by pointing out it is evident that numerous persons who have "accepted Jesus" still are governing themselves, are worshiping money, are serving the world, are worldly in their thinking, and never have laid down their life in order that Christ may live in them.
Therefore to say that "accepting Jesus" (as we use the term—for it indeed is not a true acceptance of Christ) automatically makes us an overcomer is false and destructive of the Christian redemption.
The False Prophet is the third person of the unholy trinity. The False Prophet is an imitation, a counterpart, of the Holy Spirit. The False Prophet lives by soulish, metaphysical wisdom and power not governed by the Lord Jesus, wisdom and power that do not proceed from the Holy Spirit.
The Antichrist rises out of the sea, that is, from the ranks of mankind. But the False Prophet comes up out of the earth, out of the souls of people.
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. (Revelation 13:11)
Man is spirit, soul, and body. God deals with the spirit of man. The soul of man can choose to live in the spiritual life of God, or to live in metaphysical life that is of the spirit realm but not of Christ.
The occult always has been with us. The religions of the East understand and practice metaphysical powers that work in and with the soul of man.
Western man has been drugged with materialism. But materialism is not a satisfying way of life. The human being longs for the supernatural. Christ satisfies the hunger for the supernatural for those who walk with Him. Satan stands ready to supply this need for those who reject Christ.
The science of psychology is of the soul. The science of psychiatry also is of the soul and has been known to dabble in the occult. The present-day trend is toward the soulish, toward the occult, as we can determine by studying the curricula of the public institutions of learning.
The False Prophet has two horns like a lamb. He is an imitation of Jesus. He claims that his power (the two horns) is the power of the Lord Jesus, of the Lamb. But his voice is that of the ancient dragon, Satan.
The False Prophet performs wonders (Revelation 13:13). We may note today that miracles are taking place in some instances. It is up to the Christian believers to make sure the miracles being demonstrated are turning us back to the Lord and are not supporting the current man-centeredness of Christian teaching.
If the miracles are supporting the idea that we all are acceptable to God, that no Christian need concern himself with the Judgment Seat of Christ because we are saved by grace, then we need to pray for discernment and we need also to test the apostle.
Today the Spirit of the Lord is calling for repentance and is warning God’s people of judgment to come. Any prophecies or other miraculous actions that support and confirm the current doctrinal position regarding the acceptability of worldly believers on the basis of their profession of faith in Jesus, are not coming from the Lord. Any prophecies or other miraculous actions that support and confirm the current doctrinal position that it is not necessary for us to keep the commandments of the Lord because we are saved by "grace" is assuredly not coming from the Lord. The primary way in which we show our love for the Lord is by keeping His commandments.
The False Prophet advises those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the Beast. After that, the False Prophet gives life (breath) to the image of the Beast and enforces the worship of the image of the Beast.
It is the Christian people of today who are emphasizing the worship of the golden image—money. Some have "prophesied" that in the last days the world’s wealth will be given into the hands of the believers and the world will be required to come to the believers for help.
Already we behold the beginning of the concept of the golden image being supported by those Christians who have been seduced.
We see also the Christian leaders attempting to make believers of the heads of government. They do not stress that the political leader lay down his life, take up his cross, and follow Jesus. They do not make the head of state tremble with the demands of God, as happened with the ungodly Felix (Acts 24:25). Rather, they advise him or her to just "accept Jesus" and then talk in tongues.
Any individual who accepts Christ and talks in tongues, but who does not lay down his own life and follow the Lord Jesus, is a potential antichrist.
The Scriptures are being fulfilled before our eyes. The False Prophet, which is the spirit of religious deception in the Christians, is attempting to make an image of gold for all people to worship and to give spiritual life to the world leaders.
What if the leader receives Christ? What if he speaks in tongues? Do we suppose for one moment he is going to lay down his life and follow the Lord into the crucifixion of his self-life? Rather, the politician is looking for means to strengthen his political life. How many politicians in America are professing to be born again so they may gain support from Christian people?
Our religious works are not accepted by the Lord as long as our self-life is directing us.
The Lord Jesus insists we give up our life and die in Him. He helps us by allowing Satan to cast us into prison. The Lord lets suffering come our way. He will burn that mountain of self with fire and cast it into the sea so the soulish creatures in us will die.
If some evangelist could persuade a world leader to "accept Jesus as his Savior" and to speak in tongues, and then learn to accomplish his own political will "by faith," we would be well on our way to the cooperation between Antichrist and the False Prophet mentioned in Revelation 13:11-15. Why is this? It is because accepting Jesus is not enough. Speaking in tongues is not enough. We come into that which God desires only when we stop planning our own life and begin to find the will of God through prayer and presenting our body a living sacrifice to God. We must lose our own head and put on the Head of Christ.
The False Prophet is spiritual power not coming from Jesus, not being administered by Jesus, but using the name of Jesus. It is under the control of the human soul and mind.
This is where the danger is in today’s revival movements. The people are seeking power rather than the Lord Jesus.
Babylon the great is the fourth of the four evil forces of the last days. Babylon is not the church of the Laodiceans. The church of the Laodiceans is the seventh of the lampstands of Christ. Babylon (man-directed Christianity) never was a lampstand of God, never was of Christ.
Babylon is the spirit of religious organization. Because of the worldwide spread of the Gospel of the Kingdom through the Lord and His saints of the last days, Christianity will, as we understand it, establish a worldwide religion, perhaps absorbing into itself enough of the other religions of the world to satisfy the demands of a majority of the earth’s population.
It appears not unlikely that Babylon, the worldwide Christian Church of the last days, will be located at the site of ancient Babylon on the Euphrates River.
Notice, in Zechariah 5:7-11, there was one woman in the ephah, which may represent the Catholic Church. Then there came out two women, no doubt the Catholic and the Protestant churches. After that, the wickedness of the ephah (basket) was carried to the site of the tower of Babel, of ancient Babylon. There they built a house for it.
The ephah is significant in that the ephah was a basket used for holding grain—a type of the Lord’s people.
The spirit of religious organization, of bringing the Lord’s elect into a manmade structure and hierarchy, has been with us since the first century. A denomination is formed after a revival has taken place with the intention of systematizing and assisting the new workings of the Lord.
Denominations may have been a necessity during the early stages of the Body of Christ. But the spirit that always is in religious organizations will be revealed in the last days, and the Lord’s true elect will come out of all religious organizations and be joined to the Head. The time is not yet. We of today must work within the structure in which we find ourselves.
We understand, then, that Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the worldwide Christian Church will work together to produce abominations, desolation, and death in the world. Finally the ten kings who give their power and strength to the Antichrist will turn against Babylon and burn her with fire (Revelation 17:16).
We have discussed the judgment on the earth, on the fruitfulness of man, on the attractiveness of the world, on self-seeking, on commerce, and on the educational-spiritual life that proceeds from the mind of man and from Satan. We have called attention also to the diminishing of the spiritual light available to people, and to the rise of Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Babylon.
The final three trumpets reveal further the attitude of God toward the conduct of mankind, and the steps God will take in order to prepare the Lord’s people, and the nations of the earth, for the return of His King—the Lord Jesus Christ.
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from the heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. (Revelation 9:1)
Now will the denizens of darkness be released from the pit so they may torment the inhabitants of the earth.
And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. (Revelation 9:2)
Since the bottomless pit is a spiritual place not found on the earth, it follows that the smoke from the pit also is spiritual.
We notice here the converging of the spiritual and physical realms in the last days. The pit and its smoke are found in the spirit realm. The sun and the air are found in the physical realm. How much the physical realm may be affected as to an actual darkening of the sun and the air we are not certain. We have had the experience of walking down a sunlit road and having the Lord speak to us about the darkness filling the earth. The natural environment did not match what the Lord was emphasizing. This has happened to us on several occasions.
But it is our opinion that eventually the two realms will coincide. Ultimately the darkness filling the spiritual atmosphere must affect directly the physical realm. We do not see this as yet but have no doubt it will take place in the not too distant future.
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. (Revelation 9:3,4)
We understand from the above passage that the judgments are not in chronological sequence. The locusts were commanded that they should not hurt the grass of the earth. But in the first trumpet "all green grass was burnt up." The judgments of the trumpets do not take place in sequence. Rather they are various aspects of the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament Blowing of Trumpets. They are the messengers preparing the way of the King.
The locusts are not permitted to touch the sealed remnant. The Lord’s servants will be exposed like everyone else to the withering hand on the earth and on human fruitfulness and beauty, to the fiery judgments on self-will and on the love of money, to the making bitter of the waters of human life, and to the diminishing of the manifest Presence of the Lord. The sealed remnant will experience the darkness.
But the Lord’s servants will be protected from the excruciating torments of the great tribulation.
The locusts come out of the bottomless pit. Locusts ordinarily would attack the green growth of the earth. But these are locusts whose task is to torment people. There will be a stinging, burning pain like the sting of a scorpion.
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. (Revelation 9:5)
The torment that will follow the sting of one of these locusts must be intense for people will seek to escape the pain by dying.
And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. (Revelation 9:6)
Physical death, like sleep, is one of the blessings God has provided for sinful man. Through death we can escape agonizing physical pain and the extreme weariness of old age.
But during the great tribulation there will be periods when people will not be permitted to die. Escape through death will be denied them. This is a horrible nightmare. Here again we behold the converging of the spiritual and physical realms. The torment of the locusts comes from a spiritual army and people are locked in the physical realm by supernatural forces.
It is difficult to conceive of men not being able to die. If someone leaped from a tall building, or blew away part of his head with a shotgun, what would he be like if he remained alive?—if he could not die?
It has been suggested there is a spiritual application here. Perhaps it means also that after sufficient torment there will be some believers who then will be ready to die "in the Lord," that is, they will be ready to turn over their life to Jesus; but He will not receive their offering.
To a greater extent than most of us realize, the ability to seek the Lord is a gift given to us by God. No man can come to Jesus unless the Father draw him, and this is true at all levels of Christian experience. No man can repent or seek after God except as God permits. Repentance is a gift (Acts 11:18; II Timothy 2:25)!
Our ability to draw near to God, to overcome, to die in the Lord, to enter into the rest of God, to be transformed in personality and behavior, are gifts from God. Salvation is held open to us for a short period of time. There are seasons of opportunity (Acts 3:19; John 6:44; Hebrews 3:13).
It may be true that in the near future it will be impossible for us to make the decision to die in the Lord, to enter the rest of God, to find our place of refuge in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is a distinct possibility, a probability. The wise reader will not delay but will give himself to the Lord immediately. He will come to the Lord now, seeking to enter into the marvels that have been prepared from the creation of the world for the closing days of the Church Age.
Many that are last will be first. The door to glory is open and neither man nor devil can close it. But the individual believer indeed can choose not to go through that door, judging himself to be unworthy of the Kingdom of God, by neglecting that which God is offering to him. Fearful indeed is the fate of the person to whom God has entrusted much but who chooses to neglect His Divine calling and follow his own path.
The period of time allotted to the locusts (five months) reveals that God will keep this particular torment under His strict control. In fact, all the plagues and torments with which mankind will be visited will be executed by Satan. But they remain under the careful supervision of the God of Heaven. God is in control—always! Mankind and the earth are God’s creation. God controls everything that happens to people on the earth.
The description of the army of locusts may be symbolic, or literal, or may set forth their appearance in the spirit realm. They may or may not be visible to human beings—we do not know at this time. It is possible there will be a material counterpart of this torment, such as a sickness, or a physical weapon of war of some sort. Perhaps the disease known as AIDS falls under this category.
In any case, the locusts are a woe to the inhabitants of the earth. This is a terrible plague indeed.
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. (Revelation 9:8-11)
The angel of the bottomless pit will be leading whatever creatures or instruments these are. The inhabitants of the pit are coming forth to wage war against mankind.
The locusts of the fifth trumpet remind us of the fiery serpents God sent among the Israelites (Numbers 21:6). The Lord Jesus Christ has been lifted up so whoever looks on Him may be delivered. But in the last days men will seek death rather than Him who was lifted up for the healing of men.
One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. (Revelation 9:12-15)
The "two woes" that are to come "hereafter" may be the events that follow the blowing of the sixth and seventh trumpets.
The four angels have been prepared for the hour, day, month, and year in which they are to be released for their dreadful mission. Again we see that the plagues of the end time are not haphazard but are controlled by Him who knows the end from the beginning.
On the sixth day of creation man was brought forth. At the blowing of the sixth trumpet a third of mankind will be slain, the four angels being prepared for the precise moment of the execution of judgment.
No doubt it will prove to be true literally that one out of every three people on earth will die—well over a billion human beings. This is a pruning of the vine of mankind.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand: and I heard the number of them. (Revelation 9:16)
A specific number of warriors has been commissioned to perform a specific task on the earth, being under the total control of the Lord.
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. (Revelation 9:17-19)
The description of the judgment of the sixth trumpet is suggestive of a world war. But whatever material form these soldiers may take they will be a manifestation of the four angels, for it is the four angels who have been prepared to slay the third part of men.
The closing days of the Church Age will be spiritually dark, and filled with plagues. So many will be slain during the great tribulation that just the Christians who are killed are referred to as "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (Revelation 7:9).
The faithful who wash their robes and make them white in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus will be brought up, when they die, to stand before the throne of God. The fervent disciples will be sealed so the spirits assigned to torment and slay mankind cannot harm them.
The sealed remnant also will be before the throne of God, in a spiritual sense, but many of them will be kept alive on the earth in order to be a refuge and place of deliverance for all who call on the name of the Lord in the oppressive spiritual darkness.
Multitudes will not repent even though they have experienced torment and have witnessed the slaying of a large part of the population of the earth.
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. (Revelation 9:20,21)
One may wonder why God would permit the judgments of the seals, the trumpets, the bowls of wrath, the burning of Babylon, and the invasion of Armageddon, to fall on the human beings whom He has created. The reason is, people will not repent. No matter how they suffer they will not repent. How many times was Egypt smitten with destruction? Yet Pharaoh would not repent.
The hardness of the human heart is a wonder. Why are we so determined to resist God?—to refuse to humble ourselves before God? Why are we so determined to have our own way no matter what the will of our Creator may be?
The hearts of people increasingly will become hardened until they are shaking their fists in defiance of God. Even after all the judgments they will be angry at God. After a thousand years of the righteous rule of Christ and His saints, after the nations have been broken to pieces by the rod of iron, mankind still will rebel against the saints at the end of the Kingdom Age so that God has to send down fire on them and destroy them. (Revelation 20:9).
So severe is the wrath of God that the earth and the heaven themselves will flee from His face and no place will be found for them (Revelation 20:11).
We see this hardness of heart today. People will not serve God. The Christian believers are choosing the present world ahead of God.
The churches have assigned all torment to the Jews, to God’s chosen people, so the so-called "Gentile Church" may enjoy Paradise while the Jews attempt (without the Holy Spirit) to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The truth is, Divine judgment begins with the Lord’s saints, with those who are closest to Him. God’s wrath toward the sins of mankind is so extreme the righteous themselves are saved only with difficulty (I Peter 4:17-19). The righteous will suffer much in the last days as they have down through history. But they will be saved if they keep themselves so Satan cannot touch them (I John 5:18).
The closing days of the present age will be a holocaust. The gap between the earth and the bottomless pit will be narrowed. Satan and his angels will be forced down from the heavens and compelled to live among mankind on the earth.
The fallen angels have desired to gorge themselves on the flesh of men, and the flesh of men will be given to them in abundance. What a disgraceful condition for those personages who once had illuminated the heavens with the splendor of their majesty—to be forced to wallow in the rancid mass of rotting flesh, the heaped up corpses of willful humans!
Of those who know the Lord, some will be slain. Some will fall into sin because of widespread lust and deception. Some will be driven from the cities of the earth. Some will be strong in the Lord and be a place of safety for all who call on the name of the Lord.
The last days will be an extraordinary era, and many who serve God during this time will be among the first in rank in the Kingdom of God. It is a period during which an individual can reveal his determination to love and serve the Lord and become a victorious saint.
The last days will not be a time of hilarity and glorification for the saints as sometimes is "prophesied." It will be an hour of the greatest tragedy and suffering and the saints are not exempt. The saints will minister but in "sackcloth," that is, in humility (Revelation 11:3).
There will be no exalted ministers in that day nor the foolishness, presumption, and entertainment of Christian assemblies. Rather there will be a return to the apostolic and prophetic ministry of the first century. It will be a dark hour for all—saints and sinners alike. But the believers who give themselves wholly to Jesus in first-century consecration will be enabled by the Lord to shine in the darkness.
The seventh trumpet is the last trumpet. When the last trumpet sounds the Lord’s saints, His witnesses of all ages, will be changed from mortality to immortality.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound [is about to sound], the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)
The "mystery of God" is the forming of Christ in the members of His Body. The sealed remnant will be made perfect during the tribulation, and the great multitude of the redeemed will wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation, Chapter 11 tells of two witnesses who will prophesy as the seventh angel is about to sound. We understand the two witnesses to be Christ—Head and Body. The two witnesses will prophesy during one "week" of years.
The tribulation period, as we understand it, will occur during the second half of the prophetic week of years. During the first half of the week (three and one-half years; 42 months) the true saints will be empowered to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in all the world for a witness to every nation under the heaven, in accordance with Matthew 24:14 (see Daniel 9:27).
During the "latter-rain" witness, which will take place during the first half of the "week," as we understand it, the saints will cause judgment to fall on the peoples of the earth. They will have authority to shut the heaven so it does not rain during the time of their prophecy.
They will have authority over waters to turn them to blood, and to bring all plagues on the earth as often as they choose—no doubt in both spiritual and physical fulfillment. Those who oppose them will be slain by the Word of Divine judgment that comes from their mouth (Revelation 11:5,6).
The number two, which is associated with the end-time witness (the two witnesses; the two olive trees; the two lampstands) refers to the double power of the Holy Spirit—the Elisha anointing. Christ (the one Lampstand) and His Body (the second Lampstand) will be filled with a double portion of the Holy Spirit to bear witness on the earth of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
At the end of the first half of the week God will permit the witness to be overcome and driven from the cities of the earth. The Christian witness will be overcome by violence and by deception. It is impossible to overcome Jesus and it is impossible to overcome the saint who abides in Jesus. But many saints do not abide in Jesus to the extent they should, and it appears that the testimony of many of them will be overcome after God lifts the powerful anointing of the last days. The witness must be overcome so the spiritual power that hinders Antichrist may be removed from his path (II Thessalonians 2:7).
During the second half of the week the fullness of the abomination that Antichrist is will be revealed. Antichrist will be, we believe, a Christian. We say this because Judas, who was in the inner circle of Jesus’ apostles, was referred to by the Lord as "the son of perdition" (John 17:12). The same term is applied to the Antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:3; note also I John 2:18,19).
Because of the number of people who have been converted through the ministry of the two witnesses, Antichrist will find it possible to rise to extraordinary political power by gaining the confidence of the new believers and then of the adherents of many of the other religions of the earth.
Antichrist may be a deceived Christian. It is not a large step from the desire of Christians to obtain power from the Lord for their personal material advancement, to the willingness of a Christian finally to yield completely to the concept that God wants to give uncrucified man all authority and power.
Since the first edition of The End-time Judgments the next step toward Antichrist has been taken. We are referring to Dominion Theology, or Reconstructionism. This new form of postmillennialism appears, at first glance, to be positive, faith-filled Christianity. In actuality it is the expression of believers with spiritual gifts who are walking after the counsel of their own uncrucified minds, seeking to build the Kingdom of God apart from the personal intervention and will of the Lord Jesus.
Dominion Theology is gaining many adherents among zealous believers because they are not praying and are not following Jesus in patient, cross-carrying obedience. They are being deceived.
Antichrist will begin by attempting, perhaps in all sincerity, to use Christian principles to solve the problems of the world, as the ministry is attempting today to use Christian principles to solve the problems of people. But Satan will manage to deceive this supremely skillful administrator, this perfect combination of Christianity and humanism, to the point he begins to consider himself to be God. Now Satan has what he is looking for—a human being who, because of his own self-centeredness, has become a Satan-filled imitation of Christ.
Israel, by this time one of the strongest nations of the earth, will resist the efforts of Antichrist to achieve a one-world government. Antichrist will gather together the nations of the earth and go up to battle against Jerusalem. Jerusalem will fall.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14:2)
Antichrist will enter the Holy Land. He will sit in the rebuilt Temple proclaiming himself to be the God of Israel, the God of the whole earth. This is the abomination that produces desolation. Now will fierce tribulation fill the earth as the Lord reacts to man making himself God.
The Christian saints and the devout Jews will flee into the wilderness where God will keep them from the hand of Antichrist. The godly remnant of Christians and Jews will be reconciled and will wait for the revealing of Christ in the clouds of the heaven. Some of the Jews may remain in the land of Israel and finally come to accept the claims of Antichrist.
Antichrist will remove from the cities of the earth, by violence and by deception, the testimony of the holy people of the Lord, that is, of the Jews and the Christians. He will "wear out" all but the most fervent and committed of the Christians and Jews by untiring, skillful diplomacy and relentless persecution. God will give them into his hand until the appointed hour has come (Daniel 7:25).
The nominal Christians and Jews, those who accept his worldwide economic scheme, his one-world government, will be subsidized by him. He will invite Christian leaders to participate in his government. He will destroy the spiritual life of the Laodicean church by befriending it.
. . . it shall be for a time, times, and an half [the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week]; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)
Peace and safety will fill the earth. Suddenly the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Antichrist will summon the armies of the earth to Jerusalem because he will understand from the Scriptures that Jesus will return to Jerusalem.
The power of Christ will descend before Him and fill the bodies of the sleeping and the living saints, the eternal witnesses of God. They will rise from the dead in the splendor of Divine radiance. The living will be changed from mortality into immortality. The entire light-filled multitude will be caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air.
Now the Head and Body of Christ are One and are standing on the spiritual Mount Zion.
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
Antichrist and the kings of the earth will witness the ascension into the air of the radiant army of Christ.
And after three days and an half [the second half of the week] the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (Revelation 11:11)
Antichrist and the kings of the earth then will prepare themselves to fight against the Lord Jesus and His saints.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Revelation 19:19)
At this point there will be a massive earthquake.
And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of the heaven. (Revelation 11:13)
Notice the expression, "the city." The city mentioned here may be Babylon the great—the world headquarters of the "Christian" religion located on the River Euphrates, the ancient site of the Tower of Babel.
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:18)
The blowing of the seventh trumpet, the last trumpet, marks the termination of the Church Age. The Lord’s servants from every era of history will be raised from the dead, and then be caught up to meet the returning Lord in the air. The Kingdom of God now is at hand and soon will invade the earth.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in the 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. (Revelation 11:15)
The closing days of the Church Age will be a time of reaping. The wheat and the tares will have come to maturity. The Lord will gather His wheat into His barn but the wicked will be bound over to the fire.
The Lord will receive to Himself His firstfruits, His Bride. The sealed remnant are His firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10—the barley wave offering), marking the beginning of the harvest of the earth. They are that "cake of barley bread," Gideon and his three hundred, so to speak, who are the first to put the enemy to flight (Judges 7:13,14).
Then will come the harvesting of the Lord’s wheat—the great multitude of the blood-washed taken from every nation under the heaven.
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. (Revelation 14:14-16)
The one "like unto the Son of man" is the Lord Jesus, who has come to gather the fruit of the earth. The fruit of the earth consists of the great multitude of the faithful who have refused to worship the Antichrist. Their names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They have chosen death rather than to worship someone or some thing other than the true God. Therefore God will bring them up to His throne and bless them forever.
The harvest of the wicked is described as follows:
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. (Revelation 14:17-20)
The reaping of the righteous and the wicked includes the defining of the two categories. One of the undesirable aspects of the present hour is that there is not a clear line of demarcation between righteousness and wickedness. In order for the way of the Lord to be made straight, a line of separation must be drawn between righteousness and wickedness. We need to know what is righteous and who and what is wicked. The Lord will show us plainly in that Day.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41,42)
The righteous are those who keep the commandments of Jesus. The unrighteous are those who do not keep the commandments of Jesus.
The burning sun of the great tribulation will result in the maturing of righteousness and the maturing of lawlessness. The environment of the earth will become such that the righteous will be forced to be clearly righteous and the wicked will be forced to be clearly wicked.
Let us remind the reader that the several judgments are not sequential in time. It is not that after the seals come the trumpets, and after the trumpets comes the reaping, and after the reaping come the bowls of wrath, and after the bowls of wrath comes the judgment on Babylon. Such a chronological interpretation causes endless confusion and contradictions.
Rather, the Lord is pointing out that the end of the age is a time of harvest. The Lord will reward each individual according to his works. Those who do not worship the Beast or his image will be raised in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6). Those who wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb will be brought up to the throne of God where they will serve Him day and night in His temple.
The wicked will be gathered by the angel who has power over fire and will be cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Antichrist will put the righteous to death, sending them up to love, joy, and peace around the throne of God. Satan and wicked people, although they do not intend to do so, always send those who love God to places of peace and joy. But the Lord will slay the wicked until their blood flows as from the winepress—and this is just the beginning of their torment.
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49,50).
The supremely important issue of the last days is the gaining of victory "over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name." To gain victory over the Beast is to enter into glory. To worship the Beast is to enter unimaginable agony.
The "number of his name" is six hundred sixty-six. Six is the number of man. Three is the number of God. Six hundred sixty-six symbolizes man making himself God.
Man seeking to make himself God has been the issue since the beginning. The desire to be like God originated with Satan.
Paul says, concerning Antichrist, that "he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (II Thessalonians 2:4).
We think the spirit of Antichrist finally will be personified in one man and that he actually will sit in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, in the Most Holy Place, declaring himself to be the one true God.
However, it is true also that the spirit of Antichrist is in all of us until he is cast out by the Lord Jesus. Man is the temple of God. Antichrist sits on the throne in the heart of every individual. Antichrist is man making himself God.
A student of world history can observe the rise of humanism. Humanism is of the spirit of Antichrist. Humanism is man making himself God. The spirit of humanism, of man making himself God, is in Communism. The spirit of humanism is in democracy. The spirit of humanism is in the Christianity of today.
The danger of Antichrist is not that a man will arise somewhere and force us into a new environment or cause us to enter into some strange new way of behaving. Antichrist is in us. The spirit of Antichrist is in every one of us until we choose to lay down our own life, our own will, take up our personal cross and follow the Son of God. Until we do that we are part of Satan, of Antichrist, of the rebel against God and His Anointed One, whether or not we have "accepted" Christ as our Savior.
The issue raised in the Book of Revelation is that of overcoming Antichrist. It is the overcoming of our desire to be God, to be like God, to maintain our own will before God, to seek to do what we want, to get what we want when we want it. It is rebellion against God.
It appears that throughout Christian history there have been unnumbered multitudes of "weak" Christians—those who fear God but never have entered the joy of the victorious life. In the last days this "middle" group will be swallowed up by the intense powers unleashed by the operation of the forces of righteousness and wickedness. There will be no more middle group. Mankind will be divided into those who refuse to deify man and those who accept the deification of man; into the children of God and the children of Satan. The multitudes will be forced out of the "valley of decision" (Joel 3:14).
Antichrist always seeks worship and always attempts to overcome the testimony of those who bear witness of God and His Christ. Antichrist overcomes the Christian witness by violence and by deception.
Antichrist overcomes the Christians in Communistic countries by violence. Antichrist overcomes the Christians in the democratic nations by comfort and materialism.
The Communist Party has gained control of a large part of the world’s population. The Communist Party overcomes the Christian witness by violence. The Christian witness is driven from the cities and forced into hiding. The Jewish worshipers in the Communist state are also persecuted because Judaism and Christianity are part of one whole, Christianity being the spiritual fulfillment and eternal life of true Judaism (not of the non-Biblical Jewish traditions).
Judaism and Christianity have far more in common than many people realize. Satan and his Antichrist understand that Judaism and Christianity are of God and parts of one whole. The Judaic and Christian organizations fight against one another because the spirit of Babylon is in both of them. The true elect of God are neither Jew nor Gentile but the Body of Christ, the Seed of Abraham. They are the olive tree of God. They are the one new Man (Ephesians 2:15).
The violent persecution of Christians may be greater today than in any other period of world history. It is evident Antichrist is here now both in the Communist systems and the democratic systems of the world. In the Communist nations the spirit of Antichrist is perhaps more obvious. Those who do not conform suffer economic penalties and sometimes are imprisoned and tortured.
It is the deception of Christians, rather than physical persecution, that operates in the democratic nations. Some of the aspects of modern democratic nations, such as ungoverned speech and conduct, the rule of the people, the emphasis on the acquisition of money, the separation of church and state, and an abundance of material wealth and pleasure, can prove to be destructive of Christian discipleship. They lead to the deceptions of Antichrist.
In the democratic nations the emphasis on the free expression of the individual is leading to vile, hellish orgies of animal lust. The filthiest, most corrupt, perverted, grotesque, obscene expressions of Satan are protected by the doctrine of freedom of speech. The democratic systems are founded on freedom of speech. The Kingdom of God demands controlled speech—speech disciplined by the Spirit of God and that glorifies God.
The rule of the people is contrary to the ways of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom. God speaks. His Word is revealed through Christ. The Lord’s servants, His bondslaves, obey the Word of God without question—even to torture and death.
Capitalism as a system of economics is not Divine. The love of money is the root of all evil. The government of Antichrist is founded on money. Men hoard money in order to protect themselves against harm—to make themselves secure. Men use money to take the place of God.
Of all the gods of the first century, the one God Jesus mentioned was money. "No man can serve God and mammon," Jesus stated.
God intends for people to serve one another with their gifts and callings. We ought to help one another with no thought of recompense. But capitalism emphasizes the accumulation of money as being the proper motive for our service.
Today the doctors (under capitalism) heal the sick for money—sometimes an amount of money far in excess of what their patients can afford. The merchants encourage people to buy things they do not need with no thought of whether they are helping or hindering the individual. The schoolteachers demand more money or they will not teach the children. The policemen demand more money or they will not protect us. The firemen demand more money or they will allow our house to burn to the ground. The crime rates soar because people want money.
The God of capitalism is money. Capitalism is not of Christ, it is of Antichrist. One of the most destructive of all the ungodly influences that seek to destroy the human personality is the concept that life is based on the acquisition of money. The qualities of love and service, which are godly traits, have been destroyed in the democratic nations by the emphasis on the exchange of money as the basis for the way in which people work together in a society.
Could anyone believe the democratic concept of the separation of church and state is of God? It is of Antichrist. In Russia the children cannot pray in their schools. In America the children cannot pray in their schools. What is the difference?
Antichrist has overcome the Christian witness in the Communist nations by violence. Antichrist has overcome the Christian witness in America by deception. In both cases, Antichrist has overcome the Christian witness.
The scientific method of solving the problems of life, which is taught in the public schools, is of Antichrist. It is man seeking to control his environment and destiny by his own intellect. In the Kingdom of God, man looks to God for God’s will for his life.
There is no question that the public schools of the world teach the Antichrist position that man is God. Whatever gods there may be, the important God is man. Man is the ruler of the universe. Man is the master of his own destiny. This is what is taught in the public schools of the United States of America. This is what is taught in the schools of the Communist nations along with an emphasis on service to the state.
The capitalistic system of economics leads to an abundance of material wealth and pleasure. Of all the tactics of Satan, none is more effective than loading the Christian believer with wealth and pleasure. When the churches are persecuted they become strong and pure. In times of abundance and ease, however, only the most determined are willing to seek the Lord with their whole heart.
We know of one Christian high school that is teaching the young people the techniques of positive thinking. By positive thinking we are not referring to a wholesome faith in God and the resulting joyful, confident attitude toward life, or to sound mental health, but to techniques of self-hypnosis and the release of the latent powers of the subconscious mind. The concept is, we are to have the help of God and also of the powers that can be released by imaging, by concentrating, by speaking into existence that which we desire.
It often is true that the Christian young people are not accustomed to the harsh realities of the world God has made, to the prolonged strain of the work, complexities, struggle, and patience essential to our succeeding in the world and in the Kingdom of God.
In one situation with which we are familiar, the students in a large Christian university refused to study diligently, appealing to their professor to show God’s mercy by passing them. Their parents exerted pressure on the school administration to chastise the professor who would adhere to strict academic standards. The deans, because of their desire to keep peace and to be "loved," succumbed to the demands of the students and their parents.
Some are declaring that America is a Christian nation and as such has a unique destiny in the sight of God. It is a sort of American-Israelism. This also is of Antichrist.
America was a haven for Christian people. Now it is a secular nation. Soon it will be brought low by the judgments of God and may never again rise to a position of world importance. Antichrist is looking toward Europe and the Middle East. America is little more than a nuisance in the eyes of those who are seeking to control the world. He who would rule the world must do so from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, from nowhere else.
Many attenders of Christian churches have a false sense of security. When they die physically they will understand they have been in delusion. Instead of going to the new Jerusalem they will find themselves in waiting areas of the spirit realm. There the angels will inform them of the true nature of the Kingdom of God.
As we have said, the principal issue of the last days is the overcoming of Antichrist. God knew man would be in the ascendancy at the time of the end. The Book of Revelation teaches that we must gain victory over Antichrist, over man making himself God. If we do not, we will be tormented with fire and sulfur. The smoke of our torment will ascend up forever (Revelation 14:9-11).
The Lord Jesus gave us the solution to the problem of the antichrist spirit. Jesus commanded us to lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow Him. If we will do this our self-will shall be destroyed. We will change from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.
Many plagues and torments will come upon the world in the near future. The purpose of these plagues and torments is to turn us to God our Creator in humility, repentance, and obedience.
Those who humble themselves in the sight of God will be saved. But those who become angry with God, whether or not they profess to be Christians, will not be saved. They are the worshipers of Antichrist. They are determined to bend God to their will. If God does not do as they think He should they will rebel against Him. The Divine wrath will be on them to the uttermost.
Another form of Antichrist is the current emphasis on "togetherness." The one thing Christ desires is that the individual believer have a direct, personal, intense relationship with Himself. Too much group activity can be detrimental to the development of an intense personal relationship with Jesus.
Antichrist understands that the financial complexities of the world economic systems plus the desire for peace and material security will force the creation of a world government, a world bank, a world army. "Togetherness" is the cry of Antichrist. "By working together we can attain the ideals, the goals, of mankind. Worldwide peace. Enough food for all. Health for all."
Does it sound familiar? Did you notice God is left out?
God is not in any of this. God chooses an individual, reveals Himself to that one, and then works with him or her day and night, night and day, until His witness, His servant, begins to understand God and draws near to Him and has fellowship with Him. God develops His Kingdom through individuals.
The antichrist spirit is in all of us who want to be like God, whether we set out to accomplish this desire by secular means or religious means. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ commands us to lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow Him. As we do this, the antichrist spirit is destroyed out of us. We come into an intensely personal union with the Lord Jesus. He reveals Himself to us. The Father and He come to us and make Their eternal abode with us. This is the rest of God. This is the true salvation. All else is of Antichrist.
Ordinarily God includes a measure of mercy when He is pouring out His wrath. But God’s anger is so heated against the antichrist spirit of man making Himself God that God will pour out His wrath without mixture on those who become members of the worldwide rebellion:
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (Revelation 14:10)
God has borne with the works of the flesh of man for many thousands of years. Human beings are bound with cowardice, unbelief, lust, with violence, covetousness, sorcery, lying, and numerous variations of these. Those who practice such things will be cast into the Lake of Fire if they do not, through Christ, turn away from such works.
But it appears the most severe penalties of all, especially during the closing days of the Church Age, are reserved for those who succumb to the world spirit of Antichrist as man attempts to obtain security, pleasure, and achievement apart from the God of Heaven.
It is entirely possible to become a "Christian," as the term is used today, and still not overcome the spirit of man making himself God. The Lord commanded us to lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow him in personal obedience and union. Until we do this we still are part of the worldwide rebellion against God.
As we have said, Antichrist will likely be personified in a single individual. It is probable that Antichrist will come from the midst of Spirit-filled people because he (or she) will be someone who believes in and practices the miraculous. Satan always seeks out those who are pressing toward the Lord and joins himself with them. Remember, Judas was one of the Lord’s chosen twelve!
If we do not gain victory over the antichrist spirit, which is in the world now and is seeking to consolidate its power, we never will be able to resist the antichrist spirit when it is personified in the man of sin—the man to whom God will give enormous spiritual authority, wisdom, and power. If we cannot walk with God now, when His Presence still is abundant, what will we do in the hour of spiritual darkness when God permits the forces of evil to extend their power into the heavens (Daniel 8:10)?
If the Christian people are deceived in the present hour, what will be the case when the world is governed by a man who is willing to subsidize the Christian churches in the interests of world harmony?—who is seeking the assistance of the Christian churches in obtaining security and abundance for all the peoples of the earth?—whose doctrine is "the rights of people"?
There is a glorious destiny awaiting those who gain victory over the spirit of Antichrist. They will stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. The fact that they have the "harps of God" means the ability to worship God in obedience and purity has been created in them.
As we approach the Day of Wrath we find that the sealed remnant, the firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb, are standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb.
The great multitude now are shown as standing "on the sea of glass, having the harps of God."
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. (Revelation 15:2)
The "glass mingled with fire" speaks to us of the transparent holiness that will be wrought in the Lord’s people by the fires of the great tribulation. All the lust, pride, covetousness, malice, guile, and rebellion will be purged from those who have been chosen to stand before the Lord as His royal priesthood.
The "harps of God" refers to the song of praise that swells up within the heart of those who overcome the world and go to join the Lamb. Anyone can attend church and sing hymns. But only those who are true to the Lord have the song of God within them.
We understand, then, that neither the sealed remnant nor the great multitude of the royal priesthood will be on the earth when the bowls of wrath are poured out. The Lord Jesus will return immediately after the great tribulation but before the outpouring of Divine wrath. Those of the Lord’s people who have remained alive on the earth will be caught up to meet the Lord at His coming. This is the first resurrection from the dead.
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. (Revelation 15:3,4)
As soon as the Lord’s witnesses have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air the bowls of wrath will begin to be poured on the wicked of the earth, just as the fire fell when Lot was removed from Sodom.
Notice that it is the making manifest of the judgments of God that will compel all the nations of the earth to come and worship God.
The sealed remnant and the great multitude will be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Remaining on the earth will be the worshipers of Antichrist, and also those small nations that were not filled with the spirit of Antichrist nor did they participate in his world system, and that were not destroyed during the great tribulation. Some of these nations, we believe, will assist the saints when Antichrist seeks to destroy them, and thus will become eligible for the reward of the righteous (Revelation 12:16; Matthew 10:40-42; 25:31-46).
The bowls of wrath will be poured out as soon as God’s witnesses are raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord in the air. This fulfills the concept that when Lot leaves Sodom, sudden destruction comes from the hand of God (Luke 17:29,30).
The bowls of wrath will be poured on the "civilized" nations, that is, where the worship of the Antichrist world economic system is conducted—the centers of politics, finance, and education.
And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in the heaven was opened: (Revelation 15:5)
The "testimony" is the law of God. It is time now for God to execute the sentence of judgment on those who have despised His law and sought to establish their own way on the earth.
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. (Revelation 15:6)
It is possible the seven angels are seven saints, the term "angel" meaning messenger.
It is the saints who will judge the world.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; (Psalms 149:6,7)
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? . . . (I Corinthians 6:2)
The following judgments are not prunings of the earth in preparation for the coming of the Lord. They are the visitation of wrath on those who have rebelled against God. They do not strike a third part but the whole.
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. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. (Revelation 16:1,2)
No doubt this is a literal, physical sore that erupts on the body. Even today we see the afflictions coming upon those who persist in improper sexual behavior. God is not mocked. The people who are content to live in a world system in which man takes the place of God will discover that an "evil and grievous sore" will break out on their body. The pain and unsightliness of this sore will remind people constantly that man is not God. Man is the dust of the ground and it is unseemly for him to pursue his own way apart from his Creator. It is possible this sore will not yield to medical treatment.
When the Philistines attempted to take liberties with the Ark of the Covenant, boils broke out in their private parts (I Samuel 5:9). In our own time, as we have said, there are plagues coming upon people who are living in immorality. The governments of the afflicted populations are describing the statistical relationships between sexual promiscuity and the sicknesses; yet, they refuse to discuss the moral implications or the Scriptural explanation of the relationships. This is an example of the perverse spirit of Antichrist in the governments of the world.
Man will not bow the knee to God. Society will do all in its power to combat the diseases and to help the afflicted. But society will not lift up its voice and condemn the immorality, demanding that it cease. In the last days, when the plagues become so prevalent society no longer is able to make even a pretense of overcoming the various sicknesses and disasters, society will raise its fist against God, cursing Him for bringing pain and catastrophe on human beings.
We notice today a peculiar attitude toward the disease termed AIDS. There are other diseases in our time that are common, and often fatal, sometimes causing severe pain and distress to the afflicted.
Cancer is one such disease. Numerous people die each year from cancer. Sometimes the cancer is due to cigarette smoking and thus is a self-inflicted disease. It is possible that all cancer is due to improper diet or stress and that cancer is preventable. However, we do not know as yet all the causes of cancer. Unlike AIDS, cancer is not a communicable disease.
Multitudes die each year due to cancer, heart disease, crime, and drunken drivers. These causes of death are viewed with dismay by all of us.
AIDS appears to be treated differently. Whereas vigorous efforts are being made to protect people from the dangers of smoking, including attempts to stamp out cigarette smoking, the attitude toward AIDS seems to be significantly different. It is obvious that if people ceased from immoral behavior, and people who have contracted AIDS were placed under quarantine, as is done with other infectious, fatal diseases, the prevalence of AIDS would soon decrease.
A concerted effort is made to work with people with leprosy. Why not with AIDS? The public attitude toward AIDS, at least in America, is that the patient with AIDS is a helpless victim who ought to be allowed to cook in a restaurant so there is no breath of "discrimination" against him or her. The individual who would object that other people might be infected by this practice is viewed with scorn as though he is insensitive to handicapped people or racial minorities.
Recently the government of the United State has set aside a cemetery as a national monument. It is a cemetery for the victims of AIDS. The idea seems to be that dying of AIDS is somehow on a level with dying for one’s country.
Why don’t we do the same for pneumonia or heart disease? Why don’t we do the same for those who are killed by drunken drivers? Why not a national monument for heavy smokers who die of lung cancer?
We are not suggesting that we should be harsh and unloving toward people who have needs. Rather we are stating that the public attitude in America toward AIDS is different from leprosy, typhoid, or any other highly dangerous infectious disease.
Surrounding the AIDS problem is the attitude that the AIDS patient is some kind of a martyr. In one city the flag over the administrative offices was flown at half-mast to honor those who have died of AIDS. Why was it not flown in honor of all who had lost their lives during the same period of time? What is the difference? The only comparable attitude is that toward those who have died in the service of their country.
In our point of view, the public attitude toward AIDS, the concept that the AIDS victim is a hero, a martyr even though he had caused his own death by immorality or drug abuse, is the beginning of a revolt against God. Because AIDS is caused by homosexual activity, a behavior condemned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, there is a fear that the Judaic-Christian values may somehow be involved in how the AIDS victim is treated. The idea is, someone is causing harm to the homosexual, to the drug addict, or to the promiscuous individual. The homosexual must be permitted to continue his "lifestyle," and anyone who claims otherwise is an enemy of man.
In one hospital a few years ago the nurses were not permitted to wear gloves when treating a victim of AIDS in order not to offend the patient. (But how about the danger to the life of the nurse?)
The prevailing sentiment is that we must not condemn the homosexual or the drug addict for his behavior. Rather we must condemn whoever is causing the homosexual or drug addict to suffer. We must condemn the government for not providing more money for AIDS research or the drug laboratories for charging so much for medicine.
Although the truth is vehemently denied at the present time, it eventually will dawn on the minds of people that the enemy is God!
Homosexuality and drug addiction are no worse than other sins. But they are sins. Whoever practices such behavior is destroying the temple of the Holy Spirit and will suffer at the hands of God. The Lord Jesus Christ came to forgive us our sins, to deliver us from the chains that compel us to keep on sinning, and to heal us from the effects of our ungodly behavior.
And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. (Revelation 16:3)
We do not know whether the term "sea" is a general concept indicating all the oceans and seas of the world, or just the Mediterranean Sea or some other sea or ocean, or the sea of mankind (as in Revelation 13:1), or a combination of these.
If this is a literal, physical occurrence, and it appears probable to us that such is the case, it is a tremendous judgment indeed. The blood of a dead man is thick and corrupt—a foul-smelling mass. It may result in the death of all marine life. If the Mediterranean Sea becomes as the blood of a dead man it will result in much trouble for Jacob, for the nation of Israel.
Perhaps the Lord is referring to the sea of the wicked and is saying that the spiritual life the wicked do have will be as the blood of a dead man. Unsaved people have a lingering remnant of spiritual life—a sense of God and also a conscience. It would be a fearful thing for them to have the last vestige of their sense of God and also their conscience removed from them.
We know from the first chapter of the Book of Romans that those who practice abominations receive a mind void of judgment (Romans 1:28). The wicked lose their sense of right and wrong. This is a terrible loss, a frightful judgment. But we see it happening in the viewpoint toward AIDS, as mentioned above, and in the current campaign for the presidency of the United States where the ethics of one of the candidates is questionable and yet the individual is likely to win the highest office in the land.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. (Revelation 16:4-7)
The same judgment came on the Egyptians because of the gods they worshiped.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. (Exodus 7:19)
The peoples of the earth will be forced to drink blood, to bathe in blood, to cook with blood—for man cannot live without water, without liquid. What a severe punishment!
The judgment of the blood is entirely righteous because mankind has shed the blood of the saints and the prophets whom God has sent to bring guidance and blessing to people. God’s judgments are true and righteous. If we choose to shed blood an abundance of blood will be given to us. If we choose to live in righteousness an abundance of righteousness will be given to us. If we choose violence an abundance of violence will be given to us. If we choose peace an abundance of peace will be given to us.
Whatever a person sows he reaps. This is an inviolable law of the Kingdom of God.
A current error is the doctrine that if we "accept Christ" we do not reap what we sow.
The Lord Jesus did not come into the world in order to destroy the basic laws of the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus came to enable us to conform to the laws of the Kingdom so we will not be destroyed.
The Lord Jesus did not come so we will not reap what we sow. The Lord came to forgive us our past ignorance and sin, bearing the consequences of our misconduct on Himself, and to enable us to sow righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Eternal life comes to those who sow righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
If the believer in Christ continues to sow sin he will reap death. This is the teaching of the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans.
We will receive the consequences of our behavior in this world. The Christian believers of our day (by the millions) are almost totally unprepared for the coming Gentile holocaust, for what they will experience when they die physically, and for what they will experience in the Day of the Lord.
Each person, Christian or not, will be rewarded according to his works.
"Accepting Christ" does not change how a person behaves unless his accepting of Christ results in a genuine, actual cleaving to the Man, Christ, so that a new creation is born. What we are, we are; and we take our place in the Kingdom of God according to what we have become through the Lord Jesus, not according to the doctrine we believe.
And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. (Revelation 16:8,9)
Let us remind the reader that these terrible plagues will fall primarily on the major cities of the earth, the centers of commerce, entertainment, politics, and education. We think there will be many smaller nations, tribes, villages that will not be partaking of the Antichrist system, as today there are numerous peoples on the earth who are relatively untouched by the commerce, entertainment, politics, and education of the larger nations. It is the larger nations that have become an expression of the antichrist spirit, and this may continue until the Lord returns.
One of the worst torments that can be imagined is an increase of the temperature on the surface of the earth without any means of escaping the burning heat. Severe cold is not nearly as tormenting. When one becomes extremely cold, drowsiness sets in. Freezing to death is like going to sleep.
To be "scorched with great heat" is another matter. There is no escape except in death. Sleep is difficult or impossible. There is no rest, no refuge, except in water or by means of a mechanical cooling system. If the waters are blood, and the cooling systems fail, people may begin to dig in the ground to attempt to find a cooler place.
The response of mankind will be to blaspheme the name of God. Men will recognize, finally, that God has authority over the calamities that have fallen on the earth. Instead of repenting the wicked of the earth will shake their fists toward Heaven and curse their Creator.
Today people are unwilling to recognize that God is the One who is in control of the volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other catastrophes and afflictions that plague mankind. To mention publicly that God is in control and is warning us of our sins and self-will is to become the target of ridicule and anger. People are determined to go on believing God is "too good" to be responsible for anything that appears to harm people; that the worldwide increase of problems is unrelated to human behavior.
By the time society is willing to recognize that God has authority over these plagues, wickedness will be so far advanced in the personalities of the inhabitants of the earth, particularly of the larger nations, that people will curse and blaspheme the name of God. Many members of the civilized nations will become the body of Antichrist, of Satan.
And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. (Revelation 16:10,11)
The kingdom of the Beast will include the world centers of commerce and politics. It is likely that the seat of the Beast will be in a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: (Matthew 24:15,16)
The only "holy place," outside the human heart, is Jerusalem—in particular, the Most Holy Place of the Temple in Jerusalem.
If, as we believe, Antichrist (in imitation of Christ) will take his place between the cherubim in the Most Holy Place of a rebuilt Temple, then there would be standing in the Holy Place an abomination that causes desolation.
Such a blasphemy would cause enormous desolation and destruction in the earth, beginning in Jerusalem. The devout Jews would be well advised to flee for their lives from Judea in that day.
It may be at this point that the spiritual darkness converges with the physical realm so there is an actual, tangible, visible darkness surrounding the people who have striven to gain security, pleasure, and achievement apart from the Presence of God and His Christ.
The "civilized," sophisticated peoples of the earth, the nations that just a short time before had been boasting of peace and safety under their godless world system, will find themselves in spiritual and perhaps physical darkness, their bodies swollen with grotesque tumors, boils, and other disfigurements. They will be in agony from their pain. The superheated sun will enhance the effect of monsters moving about in a hell, roaring their obscenities in their rage against their Creator.
How different this will be from the scene of the first man and woman in the garden of Eden!
Rather than repent of their deeds, the response of the wicked to the pain and darkness will be to blaspheme the God of Heaven.
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. (Revelation 16:12)
The Scripture declares that Antichrist will maintain his headquarters in or near Jerusalem.
And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace [the tents of his palace] between the seas in the glorious holy mountain [toward the holy mountain of beauty]; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:45)
Although there are variant readings of Daniel 11:45, it appears that Antichrist will be encamped in or near, Jerusalem—perhaps in the Jezreel Valley, maintaining a standing army in the Great Plain. Megiddo, the site of the Battle of Armageddon, is in this area. So is Nazareth, the city of the true Christ.
The "holy mountain" of Jerusalem is between the Mediterranean Sea and the northern tip of the Dead Sea. The Jezreel Valley and the Great Plain are toward Jerusalem and between the seas. They are surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea.
"Between the seas" may be interpreted spiritually to mean between the nations of the East and the West, which would be true of any site from Babylon to the land of Israel.
The drying up of the Euphrates and the establishing of a highway on its bed would create an excellent vantage point for the Lord and His army (the kings coming from the east, that is, from the dawning of the Day of the Lord). We know that the army of the Lord will be on horseback. The saints will not fight in the air but on the surface of the earth.
And the armies which were in the heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
We know also that the Lord Jesus will descend to the Mount of Olives. However, this area may be too small to receive the army the Lord will be leading. The Mount of Olives will split in the middle so half of the mountain moves northward and half of it southward, leaving a valley running east and west—straight toward the wall of Jerusalem.
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. (Zechariah 14:3,4)
It appears that this will be a large valley and the people of Israel will use it as a means of fleeing from the city of Jerusalem.
And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:5)
If Antichrist and the kings of the earth gather together in the Great Plain, then it may be true that when the Lord comes to the Mount of Olives His generals will descend with the legions of glorified saints to the highway created by the drying up of the Euphrates. This would give the saints a strategic location (Revelation 16:12).
If the Lord’s generals appear on earth in the region of Mesopotamia, moving their forces on the highway on the bed of the Euphrates River, and if the Mediterranean Sea is as the blood of a dead man, Antichrist and the kings of the earth would be caught between the army of Christ on the east and north and a sea of blood on the west. Antichrist would make his stand at Megiddo and there be surrounded and destroyed by the encircling army of Christ.
A glance at the map reveals the perilous position of Antichrist. He is cut off on the east and north by the Lord’s legions riding on the bed of the Euphrates. He is cut off on the south by the Arabian Desert, and also by the Lord Jesus Himself—perhaps accompanied by some of the Lord’s most trusted and valiant warriors. They would be able to ride through the new valley dividing the Mount of Olives, coming against Antichrist’s right flank and cutting off any hope of retreat to the south. There is a sea of blood at his back. Antichrist and the armies of the earth are surrounded by fierce soldiers in glorified bodies—warriors who have learned faith and courage in the fires of their probation on the earth. Antichrist and the armies of the earth are finished. They shall be destroyed utterly by soldiers who will show no mercy.
Why saints in glorified bodies would need a highway we are not sure. However, it is likely the events of the future will be much more realistic, much more of the physical realm, than we have imagined.
The Kingdom of God is the convergence of the spiritual and physical realms. When we are raised from the dead our bodies, like that of the risen Lord Jesus, will be flesh and bones. Even though they will be clothed with incorruptible resurrection life our bodies still will be flesh and bones. They will be able to move about on the surface of the earth. How else could a war on earth be fought? The Scriptures teach that we will be kings "on the earth."
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
Perhaps when Antichrist sees the Euphrates dried up he may realize that soon the Lord’s army will be attacking his forces in the Holy Land.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16:13,14)
It will be the working of miracles that will cause the peoples of the last days to take the side of Antichrist. We see this today. People have a hunger for the supernatural. Whoever is able to perform works of supernatural power is able to gain fame and amass much money. People will flock to him from everywhere, especially if he is able to heal the sick.
These particular unclean spirits will work such miracles that government leaders will be drawn into the use of spiritual power to attain the goals of mankind. The inevitable end of the use of miracles for man’s purposes is to produce antagonism toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since the Lord Jesus does not come to promote man’s interests but God’s interests, those who employ supernatural powers to accomplish man’s goals soon discover Christ is not on their side. They have become part of Antichrist and his army of followers.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Revelation 16:15)
The world is being prepared for Armageddon.
The fact that "the spirits of devils" will go forth to gather the kings of the earth to battle shows that occult forces will inspire and assist the nations in their warfare against Christ and His saints. Satan and human beings, utilizing supernatural wisdom and power, will be resisting Christ and His saints now clothed in glorified bodies.
Some of the nations of our day are exploring the possibility of using metaphysical power for military purposes.
And he [perhaps Antichrist] gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16)
The area of Megiddo, which is a few miles southeast of Mt. Carmel, is a natural battleground. It may be here that the army of Christ, riding from the east, will surround Antichrist and the armies of the earth and destroy them. We say "may" because we cannot be positive about these things until the Lord shows us what actually will take place. What we know from the Scriptures we state as clearly as we can, and the rest we present as being our opinion at the present time. Let the reader pray and obtain the mind of the Lord for himself.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of the heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 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 the 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. (Revelation 16:17-21)
"It is done"! God has avenged Himself of the behavior of man on the earth. He has demonstrated His wrath: first in the pruning judgments of the great tribulation; and then in the plagues and catastrophes of the bowls of wrath.
The voices of God and His saints speak, and the voices of Satan and his followers speak. Thunder and lightning rock the heavens and the earth. It is the Day of Wrath—the Day of Vengeance of our God on all who despise His law and ways.
The most dreadful earthquake of all time will shake and rend the earth until the islands and the mountains remove from their places.
Notice the expression, "the great city." It is our point of view that the city mentioned here will be the center of Christianity, or possibly of the combined religions of the world. It appears it will be established at the original site of Babylon, as we stated previously. Shinar is the land in which the city of Babylon was located, the plain where the Tower of Babel was erected.
The ministry of the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven, which we believe to be the ministry of the Lord and His saints, will result in the testimony of the Kingdom of God being given to every nation on earth (Matthew 24:14). We think the majority of the peoples of the earth will repent and be baptized because of the cataclysmic acts performed by the end-time witnesses.
The result of the conversion to Christianity of millions—perhaps billions—of earth’s population may be the establishing of Shinar as the religious capital of the world. The leaders of this center may be skillful enough to gather into one headquarters the Catholic and Protestant organizations, and perhaps the other principal religious groups as well.
It is possible that the religious capital of the world will be located in Rome. But Rome is associated so strongly with the Catholic Church that it seems a different location would be more appealing to the majority of the religious people of the world. The site of ancient Babylon might appeal to the eastern cultures and not be repugnant to the western religious leadership. Certainly a supremely powerful organization including various persuasions would have a problem choosing Rome as the new headquarters.
If we are correct, there will be two main types of leadership in the last days: first, the secular leadership, headed by Antichrist; second, the religious leadership, presided over by a supreme pope, or bishop. Although both of these are expressions of Satan they eventually will clash. The kings who follow Antichrist will destroy the Christian organization (Revelation 17:16,17). Then Antichrist will declare he alone is God (II Thessalonians 2:4).
When the "kings of the east" ride in triumphal procession on the bed of the Euphrates they will receive no opposition from Babylon because that city, along with the cities of the nations, will fall because of the massive earthquake.
In the days of the seventh angel, God will remember the sins of Babylon and will cause the great whore to drink the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.
Huge hailstones will fall from the heaven, killing people and destroying their property. These hailstones are from God’s arsenal and will prepare the way for the invasion of the earth by the Lord Jesus Christ and His army of saints.
And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:1-5)
The "great whore" is organized religion, as we understand it. Organized religion, particularly in the case of the Christian religion, is a whore because it sells to the highest bidder that which God has given to His people as an act of love. The spirit of Babylon is in every religious organization from the largest to the smallest.
When considering the Christian religion we must keep in mind that God never intended Christianity to be a religion separate from Judaism. The one true religion of the world is Judaism. All the prophets and apostles of the Scriptures were of Israel.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to create another religion. Jesus came to bring eternal life and spiritual fulfillment to the elect of God. The Gentiles do not constitute a separate church. The elect Gentiles are to be grafted into the one true olive tree, into Judaism.
By Judaism we do not mean the body of traditions that have proceeded from the rabbis. We are referring to that which came from God through the Prophets. We believe the Hebrew-Greek Scriptures are the voice of God to man. They do not point toward two religions. There only is one religion, one Body of Christ, one Anointed of God.
In the last days the true saints will return to Israel; not to the Israel of the Talmud but to the Israel of the holy Scriptures. God has spoken in the Scriptures, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. But men have grievously changed the Scriptures in favor of religions understandable to men and which can be operated by human wisdom, talent, and effort.
The great whore "sitteth upon many waters." Organized Christianity can be found in many different countries of the world.
Throughout the Christian Era the large denominations have engaged in murder and politics. The Roman Catholic Church has an atrocious record of murdering the saints of the Lord. Multitudes of dissenters have been murdered by the Catholic Church. One wonders if the Catholic hierarchy ever has truly repented of the blood of Jesus’ lambs that is on its hands. Or does it justify the slaying of the innocent as being the will of Christ?
Our God, the Judge of Heaven, has never forgotten the torture and murder of the little ones who placed their trust in Jesus. The Day of Vengeance is at hand. Woe to those who have tortured and slain the innocent who trusted in God’s Son!
The Christian Church, the Bride of the Lamb, has no business torturing and murdering people or engaging in politics. The world is the world and the Church is the Church. The Church is the prophet of God among men and represents the Kingdom of Heaven—the Kingdom governed by God in Christ and which soon is to be installed on the earth.
Even today the major denominations, being of the spirit of Babylon, seek to influence the secular governments in order to obtain security and advantage. The true task of the Christian churches is to reveal the moral light of good works and to bear witness to the leaders of the world of the righteousness of God and the soon coming of the Divine Kingdom (Revelation 10:11).
"The inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication" means that the intercourse of the Christian organizations with the world leaders causes moral drunkenness, confusion, and instability, on the part of earth’s people. Like a drunken person the nations stagger about in their own moral vomit, all because the Christian organizations are not willing to keep themselves as pure virgins before the Lord Jesus Christ.
John was carried "into the wilderness" in order to see the great whore.
The purpose of organizing the Christian people is to produce order and system, to keep out false doctrine, to prevent the people from being scattered, to promote the preaching of the Gospel.
To the administrative eye it may appear the organization has attained its goal. But in the spirit realm the opposite is the case. Christian organizations often dwell in a wilderness of their own making. Instead of order there is confusion. Instead of system there is waste. There is an abundance of traditions and false doctrine. The people are "drunk," being spiritually and morally confused. The Gospel of the Kingdom is not preached. In its place the plans and ambitions of the organization are stressed.
The great whore sits in a spiritual wilderness.
The woman rides on a "scarlet-coloured beast" because Babylon sometimes encourages the secular governments to murder God’s true saints, just as the Pharisees encouraged the representative of Rome to murder the Lord Jesus. Organized Christianity often persecutes those individuals whom God calls to Himself because they do not come under the control of the organization. They are a threat to the security, to the hierarchy of power, of the organization.
The leaders of organized Christianity perceive themselves to be God’s spokesmen. They resist anyone who is not submissive to the ranks of authority of their hierarchy. They believe that all who do not submit themselves to them are of the devil—and often say so. In the past they have enlisted the help of the government in suppressing all those of whom they do not approve. They may do so again in the future.
As we stated previously, whenever Christian people seek to serve God in their own soul apart from "losing their life" for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s, they have a weak spot in their personality through which Satan can enter. This is why violent persecution of Christian people who actually are abiding in Christ sometimes comes from other Christian people who are living in self-will.
It is not often that God speaks through the leadership of a Christian organization. Rather, God tends to warn and guide His Church through the night by means of His "stars," His gifted apostles and prophets.
God ordinarily does not fit His apostles and prophets into a Christian hierarchy. Apostles and prophets are intensely personal in their communion with the Lord, looking to Him and not to man for their directions, authority, and power. Can you imagine Elisha as part of a religious organization? Or the Apostle Paul? Babylon, organized Christianity, mistrusts, hates, and murders God’s true apostles and prophets.
The spirit of Babylon has been with the elect since Israel became a nation. Israel always murders her prophets and the same often is true of the Christian churches.
The "names of blasphemy" portray the contempt Christian organizations display toward the Lord Jesus, toward the work of His Spirit, and toward His true saints. The organized churches are devout in their beginning. But they soon begin to despise and condemn every new act of the Holy Spirit. Such contempt for the Lord and His work, for the Holy Spirit of God, has appeared in Christian organizations throughout the Christian Era and is present today.
The seven heads and ten horns of the beast on which the whore sits symbolize her involvement with Antichrist and the governments and kings of the earth.
Babylon is arrayed in purple and scarlet because she considers herself to be a queen. Every Christian organization, with the exception of some of the smaller charitable and missionary groups, believes itself to be God’s favorite—the lord of the universe and the rightful heir of the name and possessions of Christ Himself.
The gold, precious stones, and pearls speak of the desire of the Christian churches for wealth and finery. This desire for wealth and luxury may be observed in the headquarters and major edifices of the larger Christian organizations and in the love of the leaders for wealth and finery—their expectations of the rewards that attend ecclesiastical position. Ordinarily, Christian leaders are not followers of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The "gold cup full of abominations" refers to the fact that the great whore pretends to partake of the life of her Lord but instead is drinking the filth of her own murders and immoralities.
Babylon has been a "mystery" for two thousand years; but now the eyes of the saints are being opened and we can see the difference between being a humble follower of the Lord Jesus, and being an integral part of the ambitions of organized Christianity.
By no means are we ignoring the multitudes of godly souls who labor faithfully in the various Christian organizations. They love the Lord. They give their money, their time, their strength—sometimes their lives in the service of Jesus. In the last days, Christ will withdraw His true saints from Babylon. Then she will be void of the Presence of the Lord, and finally will be burned and totally destroyed.
Babylon the great is the mother of prostitutes. Those who are born of her are lewd, being willing to sell the blessings of God to any who will give wealth and advantage in return.
We hear the spirit of Babylon today as television preachers tell their listeners how much God loves them (although the Spirit of God is crying, "judgment!"), and then beg for money so they may tell other people how much God loves them. The television preachers gain much money and status. They live in fine homes and drive expensive automobiles. They are selling the Lord’s blessing for money.
The "abominations of the earth" proceed in part from the whoredom of organized Christianity. Instead of being the prophet of God among men the major Christian organizations become involved in the amassing of wealth and also in the seeking of political power. The result is confusion and abominations instead of the bearing of the true witness of Christ.
Babylon is the mother of fornication and abominations of all kinds. From ancient times organized religions have competed with secular governments for the allegiance of people and sometimes have worked in cooperation with the governments in order to keep the populace subdued. Organized religion has burned children as sacrifices, promoted temple prostitution, built cathedrals on the backs of the poor, robbed widows, left orphans homeless, and slain prophets and wise men.
It was organized religion that called for the murder of Jesus of Nazareth when the representative of the Roman government would have set Him free. It was organized religion that sought the death of the Apostles. Organized religion has tortured and martyred the godly throughout the Christian Era.
In the last days organized religion will work hand in hand with Antichrist in the seduction of the earth’s peoples, causing them to worship the gods of Babylon. Finally Antichrist himself will declare he is the one true God and require the worship of the inhabitants of the earth. But he will be struck down as was King Herod (Acts 12:23; Daniel 8:25; 11:45).
And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16)
The ten kings, being filled with the spirit of Antichrist, finally will turn against the worldwide Christian organization and destroy it from the face of the earth. The God of Heaven will exercise His righteous judgment by permitting wicked men to destroy each other.
We think the world Christian organization that is coming will swallow up the smaller denominations, forcing the sincere believers who are members of the denominations to see through the "mystery" and to flee from the whore with all true saints.
The light of the Holy Spirit of God, and the voice of the Lamb and His Wife, will depart from the whore, from organized Christianity, and never again will be found in her. The spirit of denominationalism, of kingdom building, will be judged and destroyed by the Lord God.
The worldwide Christian organization will be done away for it has no part in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in the heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. (Revelation 19:1-3)
As soon as the Christian organizational structure has been judged and burned, never again to appear among men, the Wife of the Lamb will be revealed. The Wife of the Lamb cannot be seen as long as the elect are part of an organizational hierarchy governed by the mind of man.
The Wife of the Lamb described in Revelation, Chapter 19 is not the entire Wife of the Lamb, the whole Israel of God, the fullness of the new Jerusalem, but a firstfruits who are ready spiritually to be revealed together with Christ at His appearing.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:7,8)
The firstfruits of the Bride appear here marking the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. She is clothed in the white robes of righteous behavior; not the white robes of a righteousness ascribed to her because Christ is righteous but a righteousness of behavior originating with Christ who is in her and who has changed her into His moral image.
At the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age the entire Israel of God, the full number of the elect, will come down from Heaven, not only in the white robes of righteous character but as the new Jerusalem, the holy city, the glorified, holy Word of God.
The firstfruits of the Wife now have appeared (Revelation, Chapter 19). Satan has been cast down to the earth because the firstfruits have overcome him through the blood of the Lamb, through the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11). The spiritual thrones located in the air, which govern mankind on the earth, will be occupied by those who overcome the Antichrist (Revelation 20:4-6).
Antichrist and the kings of the earth will assemble in the holy land because they (or Satan in them) will understand from the Scriptures (as did King Herod of old) that Christ will return to sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Revelation 19:19)
The firstfruits of God’s royal priesthood will appear, riding, we believe, on the bed of the dried up Euphrates River (Revelation 16:12).
The Commander in Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ, will descend to the Mount of Olives (perhaps with a few chosen warriors, as on the Mount of Transfiguration) and then ride toward Jerusalem through the new valley which has been formed by the cleaving of the Mount of Olives. He is ready to go through the Beautiful Gate and take His place on the throne of David in Jerusalem.
The armies of the wicked will be gathered together at Megiddo.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16)
The battle will be joined at Megiddo and there the forces of Hell will be destroyed.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:20,21)
The army of Christ will go throughout the earth destroying every trace of Satan and his works.
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. (Joel 2:3-5)
Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. (Habakkuk 3:13)
And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14,15)
At some point, whether at the beginning or at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age we are not certain, the Lord will summon the nations to appear before Himself. The nations that did not help and nourish the saints, the Lord’s brothers, will be led away to eternal punishment. But those that did bless and assist the saints will enter eternal life (Matthew 25:46).
There will be peace for a thousand years (or for a period of time symbolized by one thousand years) as the saints enforce the laws of Christ with a rod of iron. All resistance will be crushed.
As we understand the Scriptures, during the thousand years of the Kingdom Age the firstfruits of the Bride, the strongest members of the Church, will teach and help the remainder of Israel, of God’s elect. By the end of the thousand years of Christ’s rule on earth the entire Body of Christ will have been made perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Satan will be released from the bottomless pit that there may be one final sifting of the hearts of men. The rebellious nations will gather together against the saints and against the city of Jerusalem. But fire will come down from God and destroy them (Revelation 20:9).
Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire, into the place where Antichrist and the False Prophet are existing in torment.
The earth and the firmament will pass away with a thunderous noise. The dead of all ages will be raised and stand before Christ. This is the second resurrection. Each individual will be judged according to his works. Those who have been found worthy of eternal life will be saved. Those whose conduct has been such that Christ has blotted their name from the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire along with death and Hell.
A new firmament and a new earth will appear. Down from Heaven through the new sky will descend the new Jerusalem, the glorified Church, the Wife of the Lamb. The nations of the saved will find their places on the new earth. The throne of God and of the Lamb now will be on the earth instead of in Heaven and the nations of saved peoples of the earth will walk in the light of it.
Anti-Christianity is the employment of every means, of anything that appears to work, including the power of God if available, to enable ourselves and certain other people of our choice to enjoy a secure, happy, and successful life. We take for granted that it is morally right and God’s will for people, especially us and our loved ones, to be happy and healthy now and to enjoy "nice" things in this world. Our goal is our own betterment and sometimes the betterment of others. Also we would like to have as much fun and money as possible.
True Christianity is found in seeking God in order to work with Him to accomplish His goals in our own life and in the lives of others. We must lean as completely as possible on our ever-increasing union with God in order to determine what God’s methods and goals are, not taking for granted what we are to do or how we are to do it. We seek God because we love Him and desire to glorify Him.
God’s wrath is on Antichrist because the antichrist spirit is man making himself God, man preserving his individuality against God, man striving to use what God has given him—and God Himself if possible—in order to gain security, pleasure, and achievement.
Before the peoples of the centers of civilization become fully aware that the plagues of the last days are coming from God’s hand they will persecute viciously any who would dare suggest it is sin which is causing their problems. When the inhabitants of the cities finally recognize that the plagues and disasters of the end-time judgments are coming from God they will curse God and blaspheme His name. People will band together against God and His saints, becoming part of the adversary, Satan. The wicked will be the body of Antichrist.
Indeed, God does plan to make people happy and prosperous for eternity but only as part of Himself. Sometimes it is necessary for us to be unhappy and restrained, perhaps for a long period of time as we measure time, in order for us to attain the happiness and prosperity that come as we are part of God. Any gain we make that is not part of Christ is loss to Christ.
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (Philippians 3:7)
The individual who attains security, happiness, status, fame, ability, health, power, fulfillment, apart from union with God through Christ, who accomplishes anything apart from Christ, is a potential antichrist. If he does not set aside all he is, all he has accomplished, becoming nothing in order that he may be born again in Christ, he never will see the Kingdom of God. God will not receive him. He is another god and will dwell in eternal night. He is a source of doom to himself and those whom he influences.
To overcome Antichrist is to take God’s side against man making himself God—against our own determination to become God, to be like God apart from union with God, to maintain our own way against God. The human being who becomes angry with God, whether or not he is a Christian, is of Antichrist. He must repent of this grievous sin, humbling himself and asking God to forgive him for such blasphemy.
Part of the end-time judgments has to do with blood, with the turning of water to blood. This is because of the blood-guiltiness of mankind.
All mankind shares in the blood-guiltiness of the human race. Some of us have gorged ourselves while others have starved. We have been warm while others have frozen. We have gone to war and slain multitudes of people. We have received the knowledge of Christ from the Gospel while others have perished in ignorance. We have stood by and permitted Hitler to slay six million Jewish people. We have done little while the infants forming in the womb have been aborted.
The blood of the innocent cries to God from the ground.
The only way in which any human being can wash the blood from his hands is to offer his body to God a living sacrifice to use however God chooses. None of us can meet all the needs of people. But as we present ourselves to God, God makes use of us according to His wisdom. When we follow God completely, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength we are free from blood-guiltiness. Otherwise God holds us accountable for the sufferings of the poor and needy of mankind.
The sealed remnant and the great multitude of the redeemed, as we understand it, are God’s Israel, His royal priesthood. The smaller nations that are saved from destruction during the Day of Wrath are those that have not been part of the Antichrist system. Some of the surviving nations will be ushered into eternal life because they have helped the Lord’s witnesses during the days of Antichrist’s persecution of the saints. They will be governed by the royal priesthood.
The difference between the sealed remnant and the great multitude of the redeemed is that the sealed remnant are God’s bondservants. They not only have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and have overcome Antichrist, but in addition have pressed into the heavenly romance. They have entered an eternal experience of serving and loving the Lord. The multitude of the redeemed do not attain to this place of service, love, and rest while in this world, but they do repent of their sins and resist the seductions of Antichrist during the great tribulation.
The sealed remnant are spared some of the more severe judgments, as symbolized by the omission of the tribe of Dan (judge).
The multitude stand true as martyrs in the hour of their testing but the sealed remnant sing and dance in the height of Zion during the darkest of hours. This is because they, like the Apostle Paul, count their own life as nothing, seeking only to live by the Lord Jesus as He lives by the Father.
The key to washing our hands of the blood of the innocent, to being a part of the sealed remnant, to serving God and being a source of help to many during the great tribulation, is found in Revelation 14:12,13:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
The antichrist spirit in each one of us is our self-will and self-centeredness. We want to be a god like the true God but not as part of Him. We desire to maintain our individuality, our own will, our own being, apart from God.
God desires to remove the antichrist spirit from us. He accomplishes this by bringing us into situations that demand much patience. It is in the patient waiting on the will of Christ that the antichrist spirit of self-will is destroyed.
This is why the Scripture says, after describing the torments of those who succumb to Antichrist, "Here is the patience of the saints."
Meanwhile we must keep the commandments of God. We must, through the help we gain in prayer, do those things Christ has commanded in the Gospels and through the Epistles of the Apostles. We must make it our duty to love God, to love one another, to refrain from every uncleanness, from sorcery, from violence, from drunkenness. We must put our flesh to death by the Spirit of God. We must do all these things through faith in Christ, continually seeking His face, abiding in Him, doing His will, confessing His name.
The exhortation of Antichrist is that we live, that we accomplish much in this world, that we make a name for ourselves, that we prosper.
It is at this point in history, the time of man loving himself and contemplating his potential to govern his world, that those who die in the Lord are blessed.
Why are they blessed? Because they have turned away from the antichrist spirit and have yielded themselves to Christ. They have abandoned their own life so He may live. They have become crucified with Christ so He may live in them.
They are delivered from blood-guiltiness. They are delivered from the antichrist spirit. How? By dying in the Lord.
The term "henceforth" means from the time mankind is tempted to make itself like God—from that time, those who die in the Lord are supremely blessed.
They enter into rest during the end-time judgments.
. . . and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: . . . (Habakkuk 3:16).
Their works follow them because it is not they who are working but the Father and the Son through the Spirit of God who are working in them. They have entered the secret place of God, into the cleft of the Rock.
There has been a marked change in the spiritual environment over the past forty years. At some point there has entered a fullness of God that does not seem to have been present previously, a move from the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.
It may be true also that a spiritual darkness in which no man can work has come upon us or is close to coming upon us. We believe that from this time forward, "from henceforth," the ability of the believers to "do things for God" will be overcome, either by violence or by deception, and only those who enter rest in God will be able to stand and bear fruit.
We would like to comment once more concerning the "faith" movement. We have noted that those who advocate getting one’s way by faith stress that the Bible is Jesus, that the living Word and the written Word are one and the same.
It seems so right to "stand upon the Word," to declare what the Scriptures state and maintain that such will become reality provided we think it, speak it, hold to it. This approach sounds so positive, so victorious, so hopeful.
But there surely is death in the pot. The Bible encourages us to pray to God through Jesus, not simply to say something is true in any situation of our choosing merely because the principle may be set forth in the Scriptures. Also, the "faith" advocates do not emphasize nearly enough the Presence of the Holy Spirit or of the Lord.
Let us say someone is ill. We can pray with him and beseech the Lord concerning his health, or we can ignore prayer, ignore the Lord, ignore the Spirit of God, and state positively it is God’s will the sick be whole. He was healed by Jesus’ stripes.
Both of these approaches cannot be correct. One is correct and the other is incorrect.
We may note that nowhere in the Scriptures, Old Testament or New Testament, is there an emphasis on presumptuous faith. In fact, "standing upon the promises," as the phrase is employed today, is reminiscent of Satan’s exhortation to Jesus to leap from the pinnacle of the Temple.
None of the Prophets or Apostles of the Lord ever attempted to utilize the Scriptures in a presumptuous manner. Rather, in strict obedience they followed the Lord Himself and stood on what He had told them personally. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the "faith chapter," contains no concept of an aggressive use of the Scriptures to achieve one’s desires.
We are not ministers of the letter of the Scriptures but of the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:6). It is not true that Jesus and the Scriptures are one. Jesus is One with the Father, not with the Scriptures. The Scriptures are to lead us to the Person, Jesus. They themselves are not the Lord Jesus. There is no life or healing in the Scriptures. There is life and healing in the Lord Jesus.
Every true saint learns the Scriptures and trusts in them. What God has said He will do, He shall do. The Holy Spirit is the One who guides us, who teaches us when and how to apply the promises of God. When the Holy Spirit is applying the Scriptures, when we have the sense of the will of the Spirit, we can stand in faith on the Scriptures.
When we are using our own mind, our own faith, in an attempt to make the Scriptures work on our behalf, we are out of Divine order. It appears to us that the "faith" advocates, in their attempt to force the Scriptures to work according to their own desires, sometimes pass over into that which is satanic—namely, the release of the latent powers of the subconscious mind. Because they were not willing to humbly take up their cross and follow the Lord Jesus they have become deceived. They have entered into a relationship with the antichrist spirit, the spirit of man making himself a God. They have become the prey of the False Prophet, the spirit of religious delusion.
There may have been a point in our life when we chose to believe a promise of Scripture and then received an answer as a result. That was God’s goodness to us at that time.
But as we grow in the Lord we discover that an attempt to apply faith after this fashion no longer works. This is because God is drawing us closer to Himself. He wants us to look to Him, not to the blind exercise of our human faith.
The exercise of belief in an attempt to get what we want is not a loving entrance into union with Christ. It is of the spirit of the False Prophet. There is a world of difference between praying to the Father in Jesus’ name, and commanding the spirit realm "by faith."
Salvation is not a means of living a happy, successful life on the earth. Salvation is the Divine plan for moving us from the power of Satan to the power of God. There are times when happiness and success are part of God’s plan for us. There are other times when utter failure, pain, frustration, and piercing—almost unbearable—miseries are part of the Divine plan.
The goal is not that we always be happy. The goal is that we be changed into the image of Jesus and learn to be sternly obedient to the Father and to always trust in Him.
The current stress on success now, the answer to prayer now, healing now, is not of God. It is of Antichrist. Many believers already have reaped a bitter harvest because of the "faith" teaching.
Let us repeat. It is proper for the Christian to walk in confidence in the Scriptures, pressing forward to victory over every problem and pain. But maturing in the Lord Jesus means we ourselves begin to diminish and Christ begins to increase in us. As He does the victories begin to come, perhaps not as simply and readily as before but as part of an ever-deepening union with God through Jesus.
The darkness that even now is coming upon us is so profoundly satanic, so much more perverse and hellish than anything we have encountered to this point, that our formulas for victory will decrease in effectiveness. A desire for revenge may compel us to say or do something that is not of the Lord. Only the believers who die in the Lord and become part of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, will be able to survive the darkness and stand triumphantly before the Son of God in that Day.
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:20,21)