THE SEVEN TRUMPETS

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

THE SEVEN TRUMPETS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Divine judgment of the seven trumpets will perform three works in the Christian Church: it will purify the saints, making them ready for the Presence of Christ; it will separate the true saints from the lukewarm believers; and it will prepare the saints to participate in the kingdom-wide witness that will be given to the peoples of the earth.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Overview The Christian redemption The seven trumpets Spiritual applications Spiritual significance

Trumpet One: Fruitfulness Trumpet Two: Dominion Trumpet Three: Life Trumpet Four: Light Trumpet Five: Service Trumpet Six: Holiness Trumpet Seven: Redemption

A period of preparation Forming the witnesses of God The mystery of God Taking the book Sweet and bitter Giving a true witness Israel, God's witness Measuring the Temple of God Bearing the witness The authority of the witness Two witnesses Overcoming the witness The resurrection of the witness The ascension of the witness The Presence of the Lord

Review

THE SEVEN TRUMPETS

 Introduction

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24)

We are approaching the days of the blowing of the seven trumpets of 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:-3)

The first chapter of the Book of Revelation presents the resurrected and glorified Lord Jesus Christ.

The second and third chapters of Revelation speak of the churches on the earth, and then of the victorious saints—that is, of the Wife of the Lamb. The victorious saints are the unspotted Bride of whom the Scriptures speak.

The fourth and fifth chapters show the Throne of God in Heaven and the authority and power of the slain and risen Lamb. The Lamb is able to take the book of the history of mankind (which also is the book of the heart of man) from the hand of God and to open the seven seals of it.

Chapter Six portrays world history, from the going forth of the conquering Christ on the white horse to the rolling back of the heaven and the appearing (parousia ) of God and Christ to the peoples of the earth. Included in this panorama are the red horse of war, the black horse of commerce, and the pale horse of death. Also, God’s martyred witnesses are seen at the foot of the altar in Heaven (compare Exodus 29:12).

This is man’s history, from the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ to His appearing in the heavens: the conquering of men by Christ, war, commerce, murder, famine, disease and other forms of death, and the slaying of those who bear a faithful and true witness of God’s Person, will, way, and eternal purpose.

Chapter Seven has to do with the sealing of God’s bondservants. The emphasis here is not on accepting Christ, although it is impossible to be saved apart from Christ. Rather, the emphasis is on the bondservants. Many believers in Christ do not serve God, they serve themselves. They may participate in the culture of the Christian churches, but in their hearts they serve themselves, not God. It is the bondservants who are sealed. It will be important to remember this during the days that are coming upon us.

Overview. The eighth chapter of the Book of Revelation brings us to the seven trumpets. The seven trumpets are the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets of the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:24).

The Day of Atonement and the feast of Tabernacles are the two celebrations that follow the Blowing of Trumpets. The thousand-year Kingdom Age, the Millennium, is the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, as we understand it, while the new heaven and earth reign of Christ is the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles—Leviticus 23:27-43. The seven trumpets represent the coming of the King, Christ, to mankind. Christ has created all peoples. Now He is coming to bring every work into judgment.

 All men are judged. The first to be judged are the Christians, especially those who are pressing past Pentecost, past the Lampstand (to use a figure from the Tabernacle of the Congregation), to the place of cross-carrying obedience to the Lord Jesus. The place of cross-carrying service is represented symbolically by the Altar of Incense—again employing a figure from the Tabernacle.

The ninth chapter of the Book of Revelation continues with the blowing of the trumpets.

The tenth and eleventh chapters, which should be considered as one chapter, reveal the events that will transpire during the blowing of the seventh trumpet. During the blowing of the seventh trumpet, the end-time, latter-rain outpouring of God’s Spirit will take place. The latter-rain revival was announced by the Hebrew Prophets (Joel 2:23; Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1).

The latter-rain revival is portrayed symbolically by the "two witnesses," of Chapter 11. One of the effects of the work of judgment of the first six trumpets will be the purifying of the saints so they may be able to bear the unprecedented anointing of the latter-rain outpouring without taking the glory to themselves, or attempting to become wealthy, or otherwise falling from the grace of God. Also, mankind will be in a better position to hear the Gospel of the Kingdom. The darker the hour the clearer the light shines.

The twelfth chapter portrays the creation of Christ in the saints. The saints will bear a true and faithful witness to every nation, in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. At the same time the Ruler of the ages to come—Christ—is being formed in them. When Christ comes to maturity in them they will be revealed in the parousia (appearing of the Lord) as the Body of Christ.

After Chapter 12, the Book of Revelation proceeds to speak of the Antichrist, of the False Prophet, of the harvest of the earth, of the destruction of Babylon (man-directed Christianity), of the appearing of Christ and His saints from Heaven, of the Battle of Armageddon, of the thousand-year reign of Christ and His saints, bringing us finally to the new heaven and earth reign of the Lamb and His Wife.

It is important to keep in mind, when studying the Book of Revelation, that the events are not arranged chronologically. Revelation presents several facets of the one Day of the Lord. The events are not in sequence. Attempts to put the aspects of the vision in chronological order will lead only to confusion.

The blowing of the trumpets, that begins in Chapter Eight, announces the coming of the King, Christ, to judge His creatures. Divine judgment begins with the household of God (I Peter 4:17).

We Christians are the "firstfruits" of mankind, a first reaping of the vine of the earth. We are not better than other people; rather, we have been chosen by the Lord to serve Him as priests and kings over the saved peoples of the earth. Until we understand our role in blessing mankind we cannot perceive correctly what it is that God is doing with us and in us. We will not give ourselves to God as we should.

 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18)

And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: (Exodus 4:22)

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18)

And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)

The twentieth century has seen a revival of the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-21). Speaking in tongues has been restored to the Christian Church. Many of the gifts of the Spirit are in operation. Praise and worship have been enhanced greatly, and singing in the Spirit takes place where people are reaching out to the Lord Jesus and opening their hearts to Him.

The gifts and ministries given by the Holy Spirit are part of the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Weeks (Pentecost). In the symbolism of the vessels of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the ministries and gifts given by the ascended Christ are typified by the golden Lampstand of the Holy Place. The feast of Pentecost and the Lampstand of the Tabernacle are closely related in spiritual fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.

The revelation of Christ in gifts and ministries is, as we have said, typified by the golden Lampstand of the Holy Place. God is moving in our day past the Lampstand to the Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense represents death to our self-life and resurrection in Jesus Christ, as we wait before the Lord in worship and supplication.

It is not enough for us to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. In addition we must die to our self-life so God smells the incense of His dear Son, Christ, arising from our personality.

The only Christians who will be able to survive spiritually in the coming days of darkness will be those who are willing to die in the Lord until Christ is living in them. The necessity for death to self and the inner rulership of Christ cannot be emphasized strongly enough.

The Christian redemption. Let us think, for a moment, about the portrayal of the Christian redemption that is set forth in the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation (Exodus, Chapters 25-40).

When we enter through the gate of the Outer Court we are confronted with the Altar of Burnt Offering. All animal sacrifice was conducted on the bronze altar. The Altar of Burnt Offering typifies our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

Passing the Altar we come to the bronze Laver. The priests were commanded to always wash in the Laver before entering the Holy Place. The Laver portrays repentance and water baptism. After we place our trust in the slain Lamb of Calvary we are to repent and be baptized in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

At this point we enter the Tabernacle building, the holy tent. The Tabernacle was an oblong structure. The front two thirds of the building was named the Holy Place. An ornate veil separated the Holy Place from the room on the western end, which was termed the Most Holy Place.

On the right, as we enter the door of the tent, was the Table of Showbread. The Table of Showbread represents the born-again experience. We enter the Kingdom of God (the Tabernacle building) by being born again.

On the left was the golden Lampstand, which typifies the ministries and gifts of Pentecost. The Lampstand is Christ, the One anointed with the "oil" of the Holy Spirit. The Body of Christ receives of the same holy anointing oil, and various gifts and ministries are the result.

The Pentecostal Christians have been at the Lampstand, to speak figuratively, for several decades. Now the Lord is calling us past the Lampstand to the Altar of Incense.

The Altar of Incense, according to the Old Testament writings, was located in the Holy Place, directly in front of the separating veil (Exodus 30:6).

While the Lampstand is the place of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, the Altar of Incense speaks of the death of the saint to his self-will and self-seeking. How many times the Lord comes to us, only to smell ambitious flesh. We are working "for Him," as we say. However, we only are glorifying ourselves

The Altar of Incense is the place of the "cup." The holy incense was poured on the fire in the golden Altar of Incense twice during each twenty-four hour period. The cup speaks of the sufferings of the cross. "Let this cup pass from me," Jesus cried. To those who would rule at His right hand and His left hand, Jesus spoke of the "cup" that all must drink who are to participate in the government of the Kingdom of God.

It is time for us in Pentecost to move on to the Altar of Incense. We must be willing to drink of that cup. We must offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. There is a witness, the latter-rain testimony, to be borne throughout all the earth. God desires that we be brought to the Altar of Incense and judged there so we may participate successfully in this most powerful and widespread of all revivals.

The Veil separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The holy Veil represents the flesh of man—that which stands between the Lord and us. Behind the Veil is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark typifies "the Lord, strong and mighty in battle." When the Veil is removed the Lord Jesus will appear and judge all men.

The Veil speaks also of the Jordan River, of that which stands between the Church and the land of promise. The Jordan River portrays the death to self the saint must experience if he is to cross over to resurrection ground.

The heavens themselves are a veil concealing the Throne of God from the curiosity of the flesh. When the veil of the heavens is rent, the Lord will appear in His glory and His saints with Him. This is the parousia, the appearing of Christ and the members of His Body. It is the manifestation of the sons of God of which the Scriptures speak (Romans 8:19).

All of this glory depends on bringing the Church to the Altar of Incense. It is impossible for the Church to move from Pentecost, from the Lampstand, directly into the appearing of the Lord. First we must come to the Altar of Incense. The Church must die, as did Samson, before it will be able to crush all the powers of the evil one. We must die at the Altar of Incense. Then the God of Heaven will smell the fragrance of His beloved Son.

The incense used in the Tabernacle by the priests was compounded from equal parts of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense, and was pounded together with salt in a mortar. It was not meant to be smelled by people (Exodus 30:38). The fragrance was for the Lord alone to smell.

How much of today’s "Christianity" is for people to smell? This is an abomination to God. We are to be a sweet savor to God. If people accept us, then that makes our task easier. Let us strive always to be a sweet savor to God and Christ. The incense is for God to smell, not for man to smell.

The four ingredients were spices obtained by incisions in branches of shrubs, or by burning. They were bitter to the taste. Many times our experiences are bitter to our taste but a sweet savor to God of His Son, the Lord Jesus.

The Christian discipleship often is portrayed as a sweet, wonderful experience. It is sweet and wonderful—the sweetest, most wonderful relationship with the living God one could imagine. However, the sweetness and the wonder come forth as the result of incisions and burnings of the flesh and soul.

God’s ways with people are incomprehensible, sometimes causing deep pain and death in the inner part of our personality. When this happens we are to pray until the fear and pain leave us. We are to pray until we are "walking on hinds’ feet," until we have peace, and a song in our heart. Our richest seasons of growth and understanding come from such trials.

The Altar of Incense and the trumpets of the Lord are placed together, in the eighth chapter of the Book of Revelation. It is as though the trumpets will not be blown until at least part of the Church comes to the Altar of Incense, that is, to the place of obedience to God.

It is at the Altar of Incense that we say, "Not my will but Yours be done." It is the point of death to self-will, self-love, self-seeking. Coming to the Altar of Incense marks our decision to become the servant of the Lord.

Both the Altar of Incense, and the trumpets, were number five in a series of seven elements.

There were seven feasts of the Lord: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. The blowing of Trumpets was the fifth of the seven convocations.

There were seven elements of the Tabernacle of the Congregation: the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Laver, the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy Seat. The Altar of Incense was the fifth of the seven furnishings.

The number five signifies the beginning, or point of entrance, of the Kingdom of God.

The "smoke of the incense" is to be added to our prayers.

 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God from the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:4)

We who have been "in Pentecost" for a while, that is, we have been at the Lampstand, to use another figure, and are now approaching the Altar of Incense, know what it means to pray in the Spirit. Praying and worshiping in the Spirit are an important part of the Christian discipleship.

It is apparent today that many believers pray and worship in the Spirit, and yet they still are filled with their own lusts and self-will. Apparently there must be a further work of God if there is to be a Bride without spot or wrinkle.

How often is it true that there is much worship and praise taking place in the assembly of the believers, and yet there is carnality and self-seeking. The "smoke of the incense" is not being mixed with our prayers.

When God comes down to receive our worship there is not ascending before Him the fragrance of His Son, Christ. Instead there is the smell of human fleshly uncleanness, pride, ambition. It is time now for the saints of the Lord to move past Pentecost, past the Lampstand, and proceed to the work of Divine judgment that takes place at the Altar of Incense.

When God arises, coming forth from the Most Holy Place to meet man, the first furnishing He comes to is the golden Altar of Incense. The saints who are worshiping at this altar are the closest to the Lord and therefore are the first to be judged.

The Altar of Incense represents a life that is humble and open before the Lord. God’s servants who are here are meek and lowly of heart. They bear the yoke of Christ. Their bodies are being presented as whole burnt offerings. The incense of their personalities is pleasing to God.

When the smell of consecrated believers comes up before God He will command the seven angels to sound their trumpets, and the end of the age will be here.

Whenever a believer offers himself as a living sacrifice to the Lord, judgment falls on the flesh:

 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)

Drawing near to the Altar of Incense causes many voices to be heard. These voices cause division. Those whose hearts are right in the sight of God are separated from the multitude of believers who are of the religious Babylon.

The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire (Psalms 29:7).

The hearts of the believers are the flames of fire.

Today there are many voices in the land. Some are teaching and preaching that the saints are to be prosperous and untroubled in this world; if we have faith there is no need to suffer any affliction; God would have us to be wealthy in material things; He will "rapture" us up to Heaven so we will not suffer any pain at the hands of Antichrist.

What strange doctrines these are! How foreign they are to the historical beliefs of the Christian Church! How would they sound to the ears of Jeremiah, or John the Baptist, or the Apostles of the Lamb, or the approximately 350,000 Christian leaders and workers who were martyred last year?

Why has it been so easy to deceive the believers of our day? It has been easy because world thinking has been moving toward the preeminence of man. The most important consideration of all is how people are being affected. Human welfare is the number one priority.

The concept of man-centeredness has entered strongly into Christian thinking. It is the voice of Antichrist. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will in the earth, is being used as the means of promoting the happiness and success of people. The believers who are seeking to avoid their personal cross are being deceived readily. They think they are servants of the Lord Jesus. However, their concept of Christ is incorrect.

When Peter attempted to save Christ from the cross, Jesus said to him: "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence to me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (Matthew 16:23).

The churches of our day understand human ways and desires. They are quick to respond, some of them, when there is human need. This is worthy but it is not of the highest priority. The highest priority is the will of God. In many instances the will of God brings suffering and affliction.

In the lukewarm, self-serving age in which we live we must look to the saints of history for our example of patience during affliction and trials.

Before Jesus went to the cross, or His disciples knew He was going to the cross, He commanded them to take up their cross and follow Him. Although they may not have known at the time that Christ was to be crucified, they had seen the criminals of Rome carrying their crosses to the place of execution. They understood that Jesus was advising them that to follow Him is to die to the mortal grasp on relationships, things, and circumstances.

They knew their hopes and ambitions henceforth were to be established solidly in Heaven above. Their lives on the earth were to be a pilgrimage to the city that has foundations.

If we are unwilling to accept the true Gospel of cross-carrying obedience to God, we will be deceived by the voice of Antichrist. We have not received the love of the truth. Therefore God Himself will send us a strong delusion so we should believe a lie (II Thessalonians 2:11).

The voice of Christ is speaking today concerning judgment in the house of God. We Christians are to set our house in order. We are to repent of our sins. We are to confess to God that we are ready to do His will. Then we are to prepare our heart for whatever comes, resolving to serve the Lord Jesus faithfully to the point of death.

We are to place every person and every thing on the altar. This is difficult to do. If we bring all our pains and dreads to the Lord in prayer, He touches us. We then are able to bear every burden that He places on us. This is the true Christian discipleship.

There are many voices speaking today. Only one of the voices is the voice of Christ. Those whose hearts are not right in God’s sight are part of the lukewarm church of the Laodiceans, as we have said. The true saints will shine ever more brightly in righteousness unto the perfect Day.

 . . . and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

Whenever the fire of Christ is cast into the "earth" of mortality there are the voices, as we have said, and also the thundering and lightning of God as He reveals His majesty to us. "Cease ye from man," the Spirit of God commands, "for his breath is in his nostrils. He always is one step from extinction. I am the almighty God. Turn away from what is perishing and look always to Me. In Me, and in none other, is salvation."

When we are willing to die to the world we then are able to see the Lord. He is high and lifted up and the train of His supreme Glory fills the heavens and the earth. In that moment of revelation our life on earth appears to be insignificant as we begin see things as the Lord sees them.

The revelation of God’s Person and majesty is followed by a "great earthquake." All in which we have trusted is shaken. Everything that has not died and been raised again in Christ is removed. Only that which has been raised in Christ is able to withstand the shaking of God.

After the shaking there is a "still small voice." The voice of the Lord Jesus speaks sweetly to our heart: "Open the door, and I will come in to you and dine with you." We then are to open the everlasting gates of our personality to the Lord so He may enter us and cast out all that is not perfectly pleasing to Himself.

When the saints have moved past the Lampstand of Pentecost to the Altar of Incense, the place of consecration to God’s will, God will smell the holy fragrance of Christ ascending to Himself. God will command the seven angels to sound their trumpets. When the last trumpet sounds the dead will be raised and we shall be changed into immortality:

The seven trumpets.

 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. (Revelation 8:6)

The seven trumpets announce the coming of the King, Christ. When the trumpets have concluded, the parousia, the appearing of Christ and His saints, will be here.

The trumpets of the Lord will test the hearts of all men, separating the wheat from the tares. The way of the Lord must be made straight. All that opposes and exalts itself against God will be brought down.

The judgment of the seven trumpets will come upon all who live on the earth. It will begin with the saints, with those who are closest to the Lord, with those who are worshiping at the Altar of Incense (Revelation 11:1).

Let us look at what happens to the earth and its peoples when each of the seven trumpets is blown, and then make spiritual applications of these events. We are not certain whether or not the literal grass and trees will be destroyed. Perhaps they will be. However, we need to keep aware of all that may be implied by the descriptions of the judgments.

We believe the trumpet judgments are directed toward people, particularly toward God’s elect. We are the firstfruits of the earth to the Lord; therefore, the Divine judgment must begin with us. Also, we must be purified and made ready to participate in the last witness. The last witness is the latter-rain outpouring, the empowering of the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation on the earth. The earth-wide witness must be given before the Lord returns (Matthew 24:14).

Trumpet One: hail and fire mingled with blood are cast on the earth, burning up the third part of the trees and all green grass.

Trumpet Two: a great burning mountain is cast into the sea, turning a third part of it into blood. This results in the death of the third part of the living creatures in the sea, and the destruction of the third part of the ships.

Trumpet Three: a huge burning star falls from the heaven on the third part of the rivers and on the fountains of waters. A third part of the waters is changed into wormwood, causing the death of many people.

Trumpet Four: a third part of the sun, moon, and stars is smitten, resulting in the removal of a third part of the day and a third part of the night.

Trumpet Five: the emerging of tormenting spirits from the bottomless pit and their attack on all men who do not have the seal of God in their forehead.

Trumpet Six: the slaying of a third part of people because of their evil works: their worship of demons, of idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, their murders, sorceries, fornications, and thefts.

Trumpet Seven: this trumpet is divided into two parts. There is a time of preparation when the seventh angel will "begin to sound" (Revelation 10:7), and then the actual blowing of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15).

The powerful angel appears who has control of the events that prepare the Church and the nations of the earth for the coming of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. The seven thunders speak. John takes the little book and eats it. The Temple of God, the Altar of Incense, and those who worship there are judged. The two witnesses are invested with authority and power.

The two witnesses are overcome by Antichrist. Their dead bodies lie in the street that spiritually is called Sodom (the lust of the flesh), Egypt (the lust of the eyes), and Jerusalem (the pride of life).

Finally, the two witnesses are raised from the dead and ascend into the heaven in the cloud. Immediately there is an earthquake. The seventh angel sounds. The kingdoms of this world now are under the scepter of God and His Christ. The Day of Judgment has arrived. The Ark of the Covenant is seen for the first time since the day when Israel was taken captive and carried away to Babylon.

Spiritual applications. The preceding is a brief outline of the events that follow the sounding of the seven angels. Let us think for a moment about the spiritual applications of these Divine interventions.

However, before we do that it may be well for us to point out why we are so ready to make spiritual applications that, to our reader, may appear to be somewhat removed from what actually is being stated in the written Word of God.

For example, do we have a scriptural basis for supposing that God speaks of trees and grass when He really is referring to people?

As for "grass," notice the following:

 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. (Isaiah 40:7)

"The people is grass."

Does the Lord rebuke trees, grass, mountains, hills, and so forth? Probably not. But He does use these to refer to Israel.

Let us turn to the second chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Notice that God is speaking to His own people:

 Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. (Isaiah 2:6)

Now, notice how the Spirit of God uses material objects to portray the Divine judgment on men:

 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:12-17)

We understand that God is not attacking nature. The exalted "trees" and "mountains" are people on the earth—particularly the Lord’s own people (compare Isaiah 1:4; 2:6). The Lord’s people today consist of all who are in Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.

Spiritual significance. Now we are ready to give what we believe to be the spiritual significance of the events that attend the sounding of the seven angels, without suggesting that these works of destruction and terror will not literally take place in the material realm precisely as they are described in the eighth through the eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Trumpet One: fruitfulness.

Trumpet Two: dominion.

Trumpet Three: life.

Trumpet Four: light.

Trumpet Five: service.

Trumpet Six: holiness.

Trumpet Seven: redemption

Trumpet One: Fruitfulness

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 destruction of the third part of the trees and of all the green grass suggests Divine judgment on the fruitfulness of man. A third of the human personality is pruned back and all that has proceeded from the ambitions and inventiveness of the natural man is destroyed.

Human fruitfulness consists of what we have become, what we have accomplished, what we can do, what we possess, minus the state in which we were born. It is all that has been accomplished by us during our life in this world.

 Fruitfulness is one of the four Divine fiats that were pronounced by the Lord on the day in which he created man. Man is to be in the image of God, to be male and female, to be fruitful, and to have dominion over the works of God’s hands.

The Day of Judgment will test the works of our hands to determine if they are wood, hay, and straw or gold, silver, and precious stones. All will be made visible by the Divine fire. This judgment is taking place in the lives of many of the saints today, as they know well. Judgment has begun in the house of God.

When God speaks, His Words are "hail stones and coals of fire" (Psalms 18:13). The Lord understands that if He employs any other kind of language we rebels will not obey Him. We do not pay attention until "hail stones and coals of fire" are falling on us. Perhaps the "blood" mentioned in Revelation 8:7, refers to those persons whom we have harmed as we have attempted to force our own will.

Every human being without exception must one day stand before Christ and give an account of his actions while living on the earth. Every motive and every deed will be examined closely and thoroughly and we shall be required to give an account of our behavior.

The only exception to this are the motives and deeds of which we Christians have been convicted by the Holy Spirit, that we have confessed to the Lord, of which we have repented and have not continued to practice. These have been expunged from the record and never will be mentioned to us again.

Judgment on the Church has begun. The Divine judgment of the trumpets will perform three works as far as the Christian Church is concerned: it will purify the saints, making them ready for the Presence of Christ and for their appearing with Him; it will separate the true saints from the lukewarm believers; and it will prepare the saints to participate in the kingdom-wide witness that will be given to the peoples of the earth.

 All of our works must be tested by the fire of God. Only that which has been performed in Christ (including our ministry, if we have one) will be able to stand up under the terrible shaking that is coming.

Each of us must "set his household in order." If we do not set our own household in order, if we do not have every relationship, circumstance, and thing on the altar of God in complete consecration to the Lord Jesus, we will be harmed seriously or destroyed by the judgments of the seven trumpets.

When the Lord Jesus died on the cross of Calvary the whole world died with Him. The first creation, including the works of men’s hands, is finished as far as God is concerned. The race of Adam has been weighed in the balances and found wanting.

Now there is a new creation. The new creation began with Christ on the day in which he rose from the dead. From that moment forward the Divine judgment has rested on the peoples of the earth. We Christians have been baptized into the death of the first creation and the resurrection of the new. All that has been performed in us by the Spirit of Christ is eternal. It will abide the Divine fire. It is of the new creation.

That which has proceeded from our old nature, from the flesh and soul of our first personality, cannot survive the fire. It is wood, hay, and straw. It will be burned up during the blowing of the first trumpet.

Be prepared for the fiery trials that will come upon you (if they haven’t already). Do not be surprised as though such burnings were not a part of the normal Christian discipleship. Even the righteous are saved with difficulty.

If you will keep your eyes steadfastly on the Lord Jesus, not looking to the right or to the left, not paying attention to the distractions of the world or to the fleshly counsels of those whose God is their belly, the tribulations you shall experience will result in your purification and your liberty in the Lord.

The Lord soon will return from Heaven, but before that there will take place the most powerful revival of all time. Christ desires that you be perfectly prepared for His coming and for the revival. Your sufferings are to make you ready for both of these glorious events.

Hold steady in the Lord and He shall bring you through. He shall bring you through.

Trumpet Two: Dominion

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)

The second angel speaks of a "great mountain burning with fire, and of a third part of the sea, of the creatures in the sea, and of the ships." Mountains in the Scriptures typify governments—places of supremacy. Ships indicate commerce. The "creatures that were in the sea and had life" represent the soulish life force of the individual.

In the beginning God gave man, the only creature made in God’s image, dominion over the works of God’s hands. The will to rule is a fundamental part of human nature.

Christ was offered the kingdoms of this world on the condition that He worship Satan.

There only is one lawful ruler of the universe and that is God Almighty. God has given His authority and power to the Lord Jesus. Christ is, by Divine appointment, King of all kings and Lord of all lords. God will accept no rule other than that of His Son.

It is the will of Christ, and of God, that the saints rule with Christ. Before we can rule, Christ must be formed in us. We cannot rule in God until it is true that it no longer is we who are living but Christ who is living in us. This is why the "creatures in the sea" must die. Our rulership must be replaced by the rulership, the will, of Christ in us. Our own will to rule must die and the will of Christ must come forth. Sometimes this is a difficult death for us to accept.

One of the principal means by which men acquire power is the amassing of money. Money is power, in this world. This is why the "ships" are mentioned. By commerce, men become rich and powerful. Then they are able to exert rulership over other men.

The second trumpet brings Divine judgment on the power that we have, in order to determine if our power is coming from Christ or from our own sources of power. All power that is not of Christ will be shaken and removed in the Day of the Lord. The saints must become weak so they may be made strong in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Their personal cross is the means by which God makes men weak. Only those who suffer will rule with Christ. Only those whose personal strength has been removed can rule in the Kingdom of God. The sufferings of the cross bring down our personal strength to the dust. Then Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

The power of man will be broken in the Day of the Lord:

For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, (Isaiah 2:12,14)

Obviously the hand of the Lord is not against the mountains and hills of our planet; rather, He is speaking of the power that man has taken to himself, the power that is not coming from Christ.

We saints are being prepared for the last testimony to the earth, the latter-rain downpour of the Holy Spirit—the witness portrayed by the "two witnesses" of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. In that day the Lord alone will be exalted.

It will not be as it is today, where some of the Christian believers become exalted to high places of power. Rather, the testimony of the two witnesses will be borne by the humblest and lowliest of the believers.

God is removing our personal strength now so we may be able to rule with Him in the days to come.

Let us enter with great joy into the judgment on our strength. It is far more blessed to have Jesus exert His power in us than it is to walk in our own strength. Therefore we will glory in our infirmities, in our part of the cross of Christ. When we are weak, Jesus’ strength comes forth in our personality. Let us emerge from our "wilderness experience" leaning on our Beloved.

Trumpet Three: Life

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from 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)

The third judgment is on the "rivers" and on the "fountains of waters." The rivers and fountains, or springs, of water refer to the source of our life. There is a natural, soulish life. Then there is spiritual life. The Christian, as we notice from the admonition of Paul in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, must choose to walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh.

The church in Sardis is typical of many churches of our day. The church in Sardis had a name that it was alive but it was dead. It was considered by Christian people (for they are the only ones who judge the "life" of churches) to be alive. Their judgment was based on the fact that the church in Sardis was active and growing.

In the sight of Christ, the church in Sardis was dead. Why was that? It was because the apparent life of this church consisted of the motives, ambitions, energies, wisdom, and talents of human beings. The church in Sardis was animated by the soulish life of well-intentioned religious people. These religious people had not been changed into the death of Christ. Their "rivers" and "fountains" proceeded from their uncrucified personalities. They were religious but not truly spiritual.

Some may read these words and assume we are speaking of the traditional churches that fervent Christians sometimes despise as being dead in their formalities. No, we are not speaking of such. Rather, we are speaking of the fervent Christian churches that are considered to be alive. They are alive in the soul. They do not understand the difference between human energy and the life of the Holy Spirit.

The true Christian discipleship is a transition from the life of the first personality to the life of the second personality. The first personality is the life of Adam, of flesh and blood. The second personality is that of the Lord from Heaven. We are being converted from living souls to life-giving spirits.

In order for the transition from soulish life to spiritual life to take place, our soulish life must be changed into the death of Christ on the cross. It is on the cross that the first creation dies.

Our new personality is not motivated by our human spirit but by the new spiritual Life that is of Jesus Christ. It is not that we pass from the human flesh to the human spirit, but from the human personality into a new personality that is born of God.

The life of the world may seem to be delicious to those who are immersed in it. In the Day of the Lord’s judgment the natural waters will become bitter indeed. Then will men cry out for the waters of eternal life that flow only from the Throne of God.

Much—perhaps most—Christianity of our day proceeds from the adamic nature. The adamic nature is well able to learn the facts of theology and to participate in the cultural life of the Christian churches. Such life still is Adam. It is not Christ. Adam may sing the songs of Zion but he still is Adam.

It is only when Adam is brought to the cross that the true life of the Kingdom of God comes into being. Christian people often resist the work of the cross in their lives, supposing that Satan or men are fighting against them. They attempt to perform Christian work but are frustrated by circumstances. They attribute their frustrations to Satan, or to people, when it is God who is attempting to convert them from their own abilities and ambitions to His abilities and eternal purposes.

It was not until Samson died that he was able to tear down the power of the Philistines. It is not until our adamic nature dies that we are able to overcome the bondages of sin and self-will that bind us and those around us. The life of the Kingdom of God is the Life of Christ, the Life of the Spirit of God. It is only as man dies that he is able to be raised up in the Life of the Spirit of God.

During the sounding of the third angel the corruption that is in the life of the flesh is exposed for what it is. In that day there will be a clear distinction between the life of the flesh and the Life of the Spirit of God. God desires that this distinction be made clear in the personalities of His saints.

Trumpet Four: Light

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 sounding of the fourth angel (it was on the fourth day that God created the sun, moon, and stars) brings judgment on the "light" by which men live.

The purpose of light is to reveal what is true of one’s surroundings. Useful light does not blind us by its brilliance, or dazzle us, calling attention to itself. Rather, it opens our eyes to the truth of our situation.

A human being can choose to live by the light of this world or by the light that comes from Heaven. The light of the world does not enable us to see the Glory of God and of His Christ—the glory that fills the heavens, the earth, and all that is under the earth. Therefore the light of the present world blinds us to truth.

Jesus is the only true Light from God. Jesus opens our eyes so we can see matters as they truly are. Apart from Jesus we are blind. If we are leading other people we are blind guides. Jesus referred to the religious leaders of His day as "blind guides."

The servant of the Lord is "blind" and "deaf" to the light of the world. He does not trust his own understanding, realizing that the mind of the flesh wars against the knowledge of God. He does not trust in education to reveal God to him. He has learned that the knowledge of the Holy God comes only from the intervention of the Spirit of God in his life.

The servant of the Lord waits for the Lord’s judgment to come to him before he decides on a matter. He is in prayer constantly, listening carefully for the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit to bring truth to him. He does not trust what he sees, hears, or thinks. He commits his way to the Lord, leaning not to his own understanding but trusting that God will direct his paths.

The fleshly Christian walks in the light of the world. He uses his own natural understanding in order to attempt to do the Lord’s will. As a result he always is opposed to the Spirit of God. How much so-called "Christian" work is guided by the light of human understanding?

Knowledge inflates the adamic nature. Only Christ Himself can reveal the Father. The Jews were attempting to find God in the Scriptures but they would not come to Christ. The purpose of the Scriptures is to bring us to Christ. Christ alone is able to reveal the Father.

The careful study of the Scriptures is one of the most necessary and valuable exercises that a Christian can pursue. But if that study does not result in a personal knowledge of Jesus it has not accomplished its intended purpose.

We are approaching the end of the present age and the days of the latter-rain revival. Today much emphasis is placed on education. Unless we are living in prayer to the extent that we are trusting in the Lord instead of in our own understanding, we shall continue to stumble and grope in the spiritual darkness that is increasing daily in the world.

The Lord God of Heaven desires that all men everywhere walk in the light of His Son, Christ. This especially is true concerning the saints, God’s firstfruits from among men. The saints must not be walking by the light of the world.

If we who are called to bear the Glory of the Lord continue to walk according to our own understanding, God will bring judgment on the natural light in which we are trusting. We will come into a place of confusion.

When we become confused we are not to rush about in distraction. Neither are we to kindle sparks and attempt to walk in the light of our own fire, so to speak. We are to wait patiently on the Lord, realizing that our darkness may be His means of causing us to cease trusting our own understanding and to commence looking to Him every moment of every day for light by which to live.

The mark of the maturing saint is an increasing dependence on God for wisdom and knowledge in every situation. How wonderful it is to walk in faith in Christ, trusting Him for every detail of life, waiting constantly for His Words, His promises, and the fulfillment of the visions and hopes that are our unique portion from Him!

Judgment has begun with the household of God. One part of the judgment has to do with the fact that the Christian churches for two thousand years have been employing the wisdom of men to accomplish the work of God. The Day of the Lord brings judgment on our leaning on the arm of flesh in this manner. It is time now to look only to God. It is time to remove the head of man from the Body of Christ and to place the one true Head on the Body.

After the sounding of the fourth angel, which is the Divine judgment on the light by which men choose to walk, there is a warning concerning the woes that will attend the blowing of the remaining three trumpets:

 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of Heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! (Revelation 8:13)

There is a reason, we believe, for the division between the first four trumpets and the remaining three trumpets. All men will be touched by the first four judgments. But the Christians who serve God with all their heart will not be hurt by the last three judgments. In fact, they will be filled with glory and actually will administer the plagues that fall on the earth during the "two-witness" ministry of the saints, and then the bowls of wrath that follow.

Trumpet Five: Service

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. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke from 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. And there came from the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. (Revelation 9:1-3)

When the fifth angel sounds, the bottomless pit is opened. Out from the pit fly spirits in the form of locusts. They are instructed to torment all men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Those who are sealed are God’s bondservants:

 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. (Revelation 7:3)

Remembering that the Book of Revelation is a symbolic vision, it is doubtful that those who are sealed are physical Jews. Neither is it the "saved" who are sealed. The people who are sealed in anticipation of the blowing of the trumpets are those whom the Scripture sets forth as God’s bondservants.

It is God’s will that all men serve Him, beginning with those whom God has called out from mankind to be His Church, His royal priesthood. Since the Lord God of Heaven has created us, and then has died on our behalf, He has every right to require our unqualified obedience and service.

The people of the world will not accept the lordship of Christ. They will not serve God. Neither will most of the "believers" in the Lord Jesus. It appears that numerous Christians of our day follow Christ only to the extent, and with the understanding, that He is blessing and helping them. They have no intention of giving all their relationships, circumstances, and things to Jesus to do with as He will; no intention whatever, except in "churchy" talk or in the singing of hymns composed long ago by disciples of sterner mettle.

The sounding of the fifth angel brings torment on every person who is not a bondservant of God, whether or not that individual has made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

Being a bondservant of God means we are doing God’s will in the earth as it is done in Heaven.

The issue of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is done in Heaven.

Apart from the doing of God’s will there is no Kingdom of God.

The original sin was disobedience.

It is unthinkable that any Christian would live otherwise than in the will of God. Many Christians defeat themselves with their own tongue. They confess disobedience. They state that it is impossible to do God’s will, and that they know what they should do but do not do it. Why is this? Why do Christians say such things? Is the will of God such an impossible demand that no one can perform it?

It is a lie of Satan that insists we cannot do our Father’s will, that if we come to God to do His will He will lay on us some impossibly heavy burden or grievous task. It is a lie of Satan that implies no matter how we struggle we never can please God.

It is a lie of Satan that leaves the impression God is a harsh ruler. It is Satan who is the harsh ruler. The ways of Satan are exceedingly harsh and cruel. The ways of the Lord are not grievous. Rather, they are full of mercy, peace, and all good fruit.

Every Christian is expected to perform God’s will. This is easy to accomplish. All we have to do is to present our body a living sacrifice and each day tell the Lord that we, by His strength and wisdom, are ready to do His will throughout the day. What is so difficult about that?

Satan has placed a lie before the churches—the lie that if we do the will of God we will lead a painful, miserable, confused life. The contrary is true. If we do our own will instead of God’s will we indeed shall lead a painful, miserable, confused life. If we give ourselves wholly to the Lord we will lead a joyous, peaceful life.

At first we will be chastened. The chastening may be prolonged, depending on the depth of iniquity and self-will that abides in us. If we wait patiently on the Lord, enduring our tribulations with as much cheerfulness as we can summon through His help, we finally will come to peace and rest in the Presence of the Father.

If we do not choose to do God’s will we shall be tormented during the blowing of the fifth trumpet. We are a disobedient child. We will be chastened and rebuked until God’s war against us has been successful and all that is in us bows the knee to the Lord Jesus.

Until we agree to be a bondservant of God, which is the obligation of every individual born on the earth, we shall be chastened and tormented. To not be willing to serve God, but to choose the doing of our own will instead, is to rebel against the Lord. Rebels shall be dealt with according to their rebellion.

The greatest misunderstanding in Christian thinking is that "accepting Christ" as our Lord and Savior is a substitute for, an alternative to, doing God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.

Accepting Christ is part of God’s will for us. Accepting Christ does not fulfill our responsibility before God unless we understand that receiving Christ is an act we must perform every day of our life.

Every day and throughout every day we are to receive Christ concerning the issues at hand. Christ is to be uppermost in every thought, every decision. Christ is to be our absolute Savior and our absolute Lord in every aspect of our personality and behavior. If he is not, we are walking in disobedience. We are putting some other God before the Lord.

Christ has come from Heaven to the earth in order to deliver us from our sins and disobedience. Through His grace we are enabled to present our body a living, holy sacrifice to the Father in Heaven. When we decide to present our body a living, holy sacrifice to the Lord, we then are able to understand and perform God’s will for us each day.

The cross is an engine of death. The reason we must bear our cross behind the Lord Jesus is that the cross slays our self-will. As we "hang on the cross," so to speak, our self-will and self-centeredness die. The part of us that comes forth from the "dead" is ready and able to perform the will of God. This is the Kingdom of God.

Death has come upon mankind because of Adam’s disobedience; but through Christ’s obedience to the Father, righteousness and eternal life have been made available to us (Romans 5:19).

Abraham was tested severely concerning obedience, and was blessed richly and made a blessing because of his stern obedience to God.

Christ Himself learned obedience to His Father by what He suffered. Now Jesus has been made Lord of Heaven and earth. All men are to obey Jesus as He obeys His Father.

In the beginning God created man on the earth. Man is meant to be both the servant and the son of God. Man cut himself off from His creator, his Father in Heaven. Through Christ we receive the authority to once again be the children of God. As children we are to obey our Father in Heaven. This especially is true of the members of the Body of Christ, who are a firstfruits of mankind to the Lord.

It is unthinkable that any man on the earth ever at any time should disobey the Father in Heaven. Some of the angels disobeyed the Father and they have been bound for eternity in the chains of spiritual darkness. Today the peoples of the earth, including many—if not most—Christians, are seeking their own will instead of the will of their Creator. They are not God’s bondservants and they will not be sealed as a protection against the torments of the fifth trumpet.

Let every person on the earth now give himself over to God as His bondservant. Let him or her receive Christ as the only God-given Savior and Lord and then resolve to follow Him in cross-carrying obedience. If we choose to take this action of faith we will be sealed on our forehead by the Lord. Then we will not be tormented when the "locusts" are released from the bottomless pit.

Trumpet Six: Holiness

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 9:13-15)

The sixth angel looses such destruction on mankind that a third of the peoples of the earth perish from the fire, smoke and sulfur.

The reason for such a slaughter is the fact that the works of the hands of the inhabitants of the earth are an abomination to the Lord, just as was true in the days of Noah.

People worship devils. Five major devils are worshiped in our day: money, lust, drunkenness, violence, and sorcery. These are demon gods and they are worshiped in the so-called "civilized" nations of the world.

The Scripture accuses us of worshiping "idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk" (Revelation 9:20).

The nations are giving themselves over to murder, sorcery, fornication, and thievery (Revelation 9:21). The major countries of the earth indeed are characterized by covetousness, drunkenness, hatred and violence, sorcery, immorality, and dishonesty, just as the Scriptures predict.

The issue here is holiness. Holiness is the absence of unclean spirits, and separation to God for His special ownership and use.

God demands that all persons everywhere be holy, for man was created to be the image of God. His elect, His royal priesthood, are to be especially holy to the Lord.

The earth and all who dwell therein belong to the Lord. There is no place on the earth for unclean spirits. God has given to His Son, Christ, the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession. Spirits of lust, covetousness, murder, sorcery, drunkenness, thievery, rage, lying, will not be tolerated in the inheritance of the Lord.

The Christian Church, the Body of Christ, is to be made an example of holiness in the eyes of the nations of the earth. We are to perform good works of righteousness and holiness because the Life of Christ is being created in us. When the peoples of the earth see the "light" of these works of righteousness and holiness they will give glory to God.

God created man on the sixth day. The blowing of the sixth trumpet brings the judgment of God on all that is unholy in His creation.

Surely one of the greatest contrasts with which we ever will be confronted is that which exists between the idyllic scene portrayed in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, and the tormenting and slaying of mankind at the sound of the trumpets of the fifth and sixth angels and during the plagues of the bowls of wrath.

How did mankind get from Eden to the judgments of the Book of Revelation? The history of the earth is one object lesson to the heavens and the earth of the horrible mistake of heeding the advice of Satan, or of any creature that follows Satan or its own will.

The Book of Revelation is bound with a curse. Whoever adds to this book will be visited with the plagues described herein. Whoever subtracts from the words of the Book of Revelation will lose his part in the Book of Life, in the new Jerusalem, and in all other aspects of the Divine restoration.

Why would God place such a curse on those who tamper with the words of the Book of Revelation? It is because God knew in the last days men will be lovers of themselves. They will attempt to make the Gospel of the Kingdom a means of securing their own well-being and personal advancement.

God knew from the beginning that man would seek an unqualified pardon, an unconditional reprieve, a means of avoiding the consequences of his behavior. The concept of the unqualified pardon is proceeding from Satan and his demons who also are interested in compelling God to grant an unconditional pardon so they will not be forced to reap what they have sown.

We see in our own day how successful the theologians have been in persuading the Christian people that the salvation that is in Christ is an unconditional reprieve, a means of evading the consequences of one’s behavior.

The Christian salvation includes a pardon only to the extent that God forgives the individual who asks for a new start in life through Jesus Christ. The pardon holds provided the believer continues to walk in the light of God’s will.

The intent of the Divine pardon is that the sinner may be forgiven and have an opportunity, through Christ, to mend his ways. He is freely given a continuing freedom from condemnation while he walks in God’s will. If he chooses to walk in obedience he can have holy fellowship with His Father in Heaven even though he has not as yet been perfected. The blood of the Lamb makes up the difference.

If the believer sins he can go to the Lord, repent, and obtain forgiveness for the sin. He can do this many times and the blood will continue to pardon-provided he is sincere in what he is doing!

If the pardon is carried beyond this, being used as a license for sin, it becomes a part of the satanic desire for an unqualified amnesty.

The concept of unconditional love often is mentioned in our day. It is a destructive idea. God’s love always is conditional. It depends upon our response. If we spurn God’s love, God spurns us.

 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. (Deuteronomy 7:9,10)

For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:7,8)

The concept of unconditional love comes from the soul of man and from Satan. The idea is, whatever an individual does we love him, or God loves him. But the Scripture teaches that the individual who demonstrates that he is not worthy of the Kingdom will be removed to outer darkness—or worse!

Satan and his angels understand that God is giving to His elect the authority to judge both men and angels. They are hoping to persuade the elect, the royal priesthood, to pardon the angels who sinned against God. The sinning angels know that the Father will never forgive them so they are hoping that the sons of God will be more lenient.

The truth is, the sons of God will be so filled with the Father’s will that they never, never, never will seek a pardon for the rebellious angels. The sons of God understand that it is possible for angels and men alike to seal their own doom until there is no reprieve!

It absolutely is true that God will pardon any human being who comes to Him in sincere repentance. But let us keep in mind that the very desire to repent is a gift of God. If the individual repents, turning from his wicked ways, his unrighteousness will not be mentioned to him.

But to believe or teach that God loves all people regardless of their conduct, that we cannot cause God to become angry, that He eventually will forgive everyone (which is an element of the concept of unconditional love) is to depart from the Scriptures.

God shall repay to his face the person who hates God! The Lord Jesus is a king and possesses the fierce pride and jealousy of a king.

 Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalms 2:12)

An unqualified, unconditional amnesty would constitute an evading of the fundamental Kingdom law of sowing and reaping, and God never shall permit this fundamental law to be abrogated. To do away with the law of sowing and reaping would be to change what God is.

The love of the Father in Heaven causes Him to wink at the sins of people who are ignorant of the covenants and grace He has provided. But in no manner does the Father wink at the sins of those who are attempting to use the Gospel of the Lord Jesus as an unqualified amnesty so they can continue in their sins and self-will and yet reap the rewards of the righteous and obedient saints.

The Book of Revelation declares with clarity that there will be no unqualified Divine amnesty. Christ is coming again to give every man as his work shall be, and this includes Christian people.

The Book of Revelation, describing as it does the nature of the events of the closing days of the present age, is to be read orally in the hearing of God’s people. It is the only book of the Scriptures that purports to be a vision that the Father has given to Jesus Christ.

History will follow the outline of the Book of Revelation. There is no power in the heavens or on the earth that can change one letter of one word of this book.

What, then, are we to do? We who are God’s people are to humble ourselves under the sovereign hand of the Lord God, repenting of our lawless, self-centered behavior. We are to seek the Lord with a pure heart, confessing and repenting of all our sins. Even the righteous will be saved with difficulty in the days ahead.

Two of the major purposes of the great tribulation are the separation of the true Church from the babylonish religious structures, and the purification of the true Church. In order to persevere throughout these difficult times we will have to seek the Lord continually, doing His will from the heart.

If we do not, if we persist in the lightness and foolishness of the current church activities, not seeking the Lord Jesus with a pure heart in sincerity, we will be shaken terribly in the near future and our salvation will be endangered.

The events of the seven trumpets of the Book of Revelation will take place as they are recorded. The first to be visited with judgment will be the saints who are worshiping the Lord at the Altar of Incense—those who are the closest to the Lord as He emerges from the Most Holy Place in preparation for His parousia, His appearing with His saints.

 Trumpet Seven: Redemption

But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)

The seventh trumpet has many aspects:

Preparation for the latter-rain witness.

Forming the witnesses of God.

The mystery of God.

Taking the book.

Sweet and bitter.

Giving a true witness.

Israel, God’s witness.

Measuring the Temple of God.

Bearing the witness.

The authority of the witness.

Two witnesses.

Overcoming the witness.

The resurrection of the witness.

The ascension of the witness.

The Presence of the Lord.

A period of preparation. At the beginning of Chapter 10 a majestic angel appears.

 And I saw another majestic angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: (Revelation 10:1)

As nearly as we can tell, this tremendous angel is not one of the seven angels with the trumpets but an angel of preparation. The sounding of the seventh angel marks the end of the present age, which will be brought about by the parousia—the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in and with His saints.

Notice, in Chapter 10, verse seven, the following expression "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound."

"When he shall begin to sound (is about to sound)."

Then in Chapter 11, Verse fifteen: "The seventh angel sounded."

There is a period of time filled with events of the highest significance that will take place between the days of the voice of the seventh angel when he is about to sound, and the actual blowing of the seventh, or last trumpet.

We understand, therefore, that the teaching that there will be a sudden appearance of Christ without a period of preparation for both the Church and the world is not scriptural. There are events that transpire from the time when the seventh angel is about to sound until his actual sounding.

The seventh angel sounds the last trumpet. At the last trumpet, the parousia of the Lord will be here. The dead in Christ will be raised and then ascend to meet the Lord in the air.

 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)

God has ordained that extraordinary preparations are to be made for the advent of His beloved Son, accompanied by His saints, as King over all the kingdoms of the world.

The preparations for the coming of the King are set forth in the fortieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah.

Let us think for a moment about the coming of the Lord. The Hebrew Prophets foretold the coming of the Lord. The coming of the Lord as a Baby, and as an Offering for sin, were (in the writings of the Prophets) not distinctly separated from the coming of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. It appears that the Prophets spoke chiefly of Christ’s coming as King over the earth.

Christ came as the Baby of Bethlehem and the Sin Offering of Calvary. These supremely important events were foretold by the Prophets of Israel. It is true also one day this same Jesus will return in the glory and splendor of His Father’s Kingdom.

Yet in a real and profoundly true sense, the two comings are one coming. Although Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God in Heaven, yet He still is here in the members of His Body. Jesus is both with and in us. This clearly is scriptural. Now that Jesus has come (having been born in Bethlehem) He never again will leave the earth and its peoples, which are His inheritance.

The Lord Jesus is not here today in body. His bodily form is in Heaven. His Spirit indeed is here. He is here now, being with us, and also in us.

The parousia of the Lord, His coming, is not so much His return from a far country as it is His bodily appearing. The concept of the parousia may not be primarily that of the return from a distance; rather, it is the idea of being present in the body.

In the sense in which we have just been speaking, there is only one coming of the Lord.

The same concept holds true for the time of preparation, as described in the fortieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. But the fullness of the expression of the first eleven verses of Isaiah 40 awaits the period of preparation for the parousia—the appearing of Christ and His saints in the clouds of glory.

John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way, through repentance, for the coming of the Lord. So it will be true that the Spirit of Elijah and Elisha will come upon the saints of the last days. They will continue with the ministry of repentance, and will bring plagues on the earth as they prepare the way for the appearing of Christ in the glory of His Kingdom.

The fortieth chapter of Isaiah does not distinguish between the two periods of preparation, the days of John and the days of the two witnesses, because in the sense that we have mentioned previously they are one period of preparation.

The concept of Elisha having the double portion of Elijah, the fact that the Lord mentioned "greater works," the promise of the "latter rain," and similar thoughts, give the impression that the power of the preparatory testimony of the two witnesses will be as much greater than the ministry of John the Baptist as the parousia of Christ and His saints will excel in splendor and majesty (in the eyes of earth’s peoples) the brief sojourn of the Rabbi of Nazareth in the regions of Judaea, Samaria, and Galilee.

 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; (Joel 2:1)

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)

The blowing of the trumpets brings judgment, as we have said, on the Lord’s people, on "Jerusalem."

Why is that? It is because we have much in our personality that does not bow the knee to the Lord Jesus. Everything in us does not cry, Holy!

As long as there is any part of our personality that is not in subjection to the Lord Jesus, His entering us in the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical Blowing of Trumpets results in a battle against His adversaries. When we open the everlasting doors of our soul to the Lord, He enters us as "the Lord strong and majestic, the Lord mighty in battle."

The warfare continues until our iniquity is pardoned, until we have received of the Lord’s hand double for all our sins. We have been chosen by the Lord to be close to Him and to reveal His Person, ways, will, and eternal purpose to the nations of the earth. Therefore the Lord deals with us concerning everything in us that is not perfectly pleasing to Himself.

 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:2)

The earth-wide ministry of the two witnesses soon will commence on the earth. The saints must be prepared for this testimony and also for the parousia of the Lord.

Forming the witnesses of God. After the Lord accomplishes His work of judgment in our lives He comforts us with many consolations.

 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (I Peter 5:10)

Many times when the Lord’s people are being chastened by the Lord they suppose they have backslidden or that Satan is gaining an advantage over them. They pray, seek the prayers of others, and still find no relief.

After we have prayed, have sought help from the elders of the church, and have done all that we know to do, and there still are problems, it is time to turn to the Lord. It may be that He is guiding us into a more mature position in Himself.

Sufferings draw us closer to the Lord. The closer we come to the Lord, the more we know Him, the more effective witness we become. Those who serve as part of the two-witness ministry will be brought close to the Lord beforehand. They must learn to stand before the God of the whole earth, as was true of Elijah and Elisha.

We can be a witness of the Lord only to the extent that we know Him:

 Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (Isaiah 43:10)

The two witnesses (who are a symbolic representation of the double portion of God’s Spirit on Christ-filled saints) will testify in the "wilderness" of the world, preparing the way of the King of kings and Lord of lords:

 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

The call to repentance of the two witnesses, which will be accompanied, according to our understanding, by the outpouring of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, will give all the peoples of the earth an opportunity to prepare themselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Truly the "civilized" world of our time is a wilderness of confusion, sin, and death. The nations in no manner are prepared for the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth. God, in His love, has prepared a witness for every nation:

 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)

The way of the King of all kings must be made straight. The sounding of the seven trumpets by His messengers will announce to all mankind that His appearing is at the doors.

 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: (Isaiah 40:4)

How many "valleys" are there in the churches of our day? The "valleys" are people who are hiding in fear. They are depressed, oppressed, unsure of God’s love and of their position in Him. They live under condemnation. They are afraid God is not pleased with them. They do not have enough confidence in themselves or in the Lord to take a firm stand of faith and joy.

In some instances, such worried believers are doing God’s will but just do not realize it. Their experiences and circumstances have caused them to distrust themselves and God. They are morally pure people of tender conscience. Yet, they do not draw near to God because they do not believe in His goodness. God is unable to draw near to them because of their fear and unbelief.

Theirs may be one of the most valuable ministries of the church they attend. However, they do not believe in their own worth. Their faithfulness and character cause them to keep working in their church and adhering to their personal religious routines. But their outlook concerning themselves is pessimistic. Such are the "valleys."

The Lord desires that His "valleys" be exalted: that they gain the confidence and faith to reach out to Him, to realize He loves them just as much as He loves anyone else. God’s greatest joy will be to reveal His unbounded love for them, to lift them up into the Glory of His Presence.

The Lord, during the preparatory period between the time that the seventh angel is about to sound and the actual sounding, will pour out an anointing on His servants such that those who are mourning and cast down will be released into joy, hope, and faith:

 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

It always is the responsibility of the members of the Body of Christ, as the Lord gives them grace, to assist each weaker member of the Body until he or she becomes a tree of righteousness. Those who are anointed by the Spirit, who are living a victorious life in Christ, have been blessed by the Lord so they may build up their brothers and sisters who are having difficulties.

The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are given for the building up of the saints until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

There are two major aspects of the latter-rain revival: the forming of Christ in the members of the Body of Christ (which is symbolized by the birth of the "male son," of the twelfth chapter of Revelation); and the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the peoples of the earth for a witness of the true Nature of God and of His Kingdom that soon is to descend from Heaven.

It is the Lord’s desire that each saint participate in each of these two Divine works; for the way of the Lord must be prepared in the saints, and also the nations of the earth must realize the Kingdom of God soon is to come to the earth.

The nations of the earth will be judged by the Lord at His coming on the basis of how they treated the Lord’s witnesses, His brothers.

"Every mountain and hill shall be made low." It is the way of the world to seek exaltation and lordship over as many people as possible. The Lord Jesus informed us that seeking preeminence and rulership is not the way of the Kingdom of God.

Those who are greatest in the Kingdom are the persons closest to God and who are filled with His Glory. They are the servants of all and have much to give. They do not rule as men do today, making themselves lords over other individuals. Rather, they joyfully give of the waters of life and of other aspects of the Divine Nature as the Spirit leads and enables them. They rule in the overwhelming love and joy of Christ-directed service.

This is the way of the Kingdom of God.

We of the Christian churches are so filled with self-will and self-love that we seek preeminence, as do the unsaved. There are numerous "mountains" and "hills" among the Lord’s people. Each of them must be brought down to the dust. Each of the believers must be delivered from the desire to be preeminent, to exercise rulership over the other believers.

It is a mark of spiritual maturity when we are as joyous in God in the lowest place as we are when in an exalted position.

To be otherwise is to be a candidate for being made low during the days of preparation, the days preceding the sounding of the trumpet of the seventh angel.

Tremendous authority and power are about to be delivered to the saints so Christ may be brought to maturity in them and so the peoples of the earth may receive a clear testimony of the Person and will of the God of Heaven. If this authority and power were to be given today they would be abused. People would attempt to channel them into the building of an organization or personal kingdom.

The ministry of the two witnesses will be performed by saints who have had the love of preeminence destroyed from them. They will be as Elijah and Elisha, seeking the Glory of God alone.

The Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

The crooked places in the believers will be made straight. Jacob was the usurper, the heel-snatcher. Before he had his wrestling match with the Lord he was devious, self-seeking, cunning. He was not straight but twisted in his dealings with men.

The "Jacob" nature abounds among the Lord’s people, as it does also in the world. The Lord Jesus will not dwell among those who are crooked in their dealings. The Lord loves righteousness and truth. Before the Lord will abide with any person He will uproot the crookedness that is in him or her. There is no place in the Kingdom of God for lying, deceitfulness, thievery, the usurping of the place of another. The Kingdom of God is open, upright, truthful in its relationships.

Many Christians in our day will be dealt with by the Lord concerning the cunning and crookedness of their ways. Satan has "bruised their heel" and they cannot walk in uprightness. It requires a hot flame in order to burn the deceitfulness from the personality of a human being.

The rough places will be made plain, or "a plain." Today the broad, plain, easy-to-follow highway is the road to destruction while the way of life remains narrow, restrictive, difficult to find and pursue. The Lord God desires that the way of holiness and righteousness be broad, plain, easy to find and easy to follow. It is the task of the stronger saints to construct this highway and to clear the rubble from it so the weaker can travel on it without stumbling.

The Lord has His heroes of faith of today who are fighting and struggling to open up a plain path of faith and holiness. They are opposed by the spirit of the world, Antichrist, Satan, some of the Lord’s people, and their own sinful flesh and self-love. Yet they push forward, knowing that theirs is the good fight of faith and that the Lord Himself is with them.

One day the highway of holiness and righteousness will be completed. It will be contained in the personalities of those who in the present hour have given themselves without reservation to the performing of God’s will. Throughout the eternity of eternities, these who sought holiness and righteousness in the face of overwhelming opposition will serve the creatures of God by being the way to the throne of Christ. Christ Himself Is the Way, and these are being made a part of that eternal Way.

 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them [the ways to the throne of God]. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. (Psalms 84:5-7)

The latter-rain revival of the days preceding the parousia, the appearing of Christ and His saints, will be the greatest manifestation of Divine glory in the history of mankind:

 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5)

Think of it! All mankind will behold the Glory of the God of Heaven. This is an expression of God’s love; for it is His desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. It is not God’s will that His coming result in the destruction of the peoples of the earth but rather that they may be prepared for His appearing with His Christ.

There was one who announced the first coming of Jesus of Nazareth. There will be a multitude of anointed saints who will announce the second coming of the King of kings. No individual will be able to say, I did not know that there is a God in Heaven who has made provision for my salvation.

Joel also saw the Glory of God that is to be poured out in anticipation of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth:

 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:28,29)

Notice that the worldwide outpouring ("upon all flesh") is followed, in the prophecy of Joel, by the universal signs of the onset of the parousia :

 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. (Joel 2:30)

The same sequence can be found in the fortieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, where the announcement that all flesh will behold the Glory of the Lord is followed by:

 Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. (Isaiah 40:10)

The earth-covering latter-rain revival of God’s Holy Spirit is at hand. Now is the time for us who believe in Jesus to open our heart to Him so He can prepare us for the awesome events that soon are to come to pass in the earth.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation does not state what the two witnesses will preach. However, their message can be found in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah:

 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:6-8)

This is the message of the two witnesses. It concerns the temporary, perishing nature of life on the earth. The Divine light, the illumination of the true nature of things, will be given, accompanied by authority and power on the part of those who bring it, in a day when mankind has convinced itself that its ways are truth, that it has no need of God, that people are the center of all things—the gods of the creation.

We are to bear witness of the truth of Christ, of the eternal Word of God, of His love for mankind, of the reality of the Day of Judgment that will come upon every man who has been born on the earth. The Word of our God shall stand forever.

Notice that the "good news" of the coming to earth of the Kingdom of God will be brought to the earth by the Lord’s saints:

 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! (Isaiah 40:9)

Zion symbolizes the warrior-remnant, the firstfruits of the Body of Christ.

The ministry of the two witnesses will result in the preparation of the peoples of the earth for the coming of the King of kings in the glory and power of His Kingdom. Before the true witness can be borne, those who bear it must themselves be prepared.

In many instances we Christians do not understand the reality of the "locusts" from the bottomless pit or of the other forces of torment and destruction that soon are to be released on the earth. All these terrors are real and they are sufficiently dreadful to bring us to repentance.

No amount of teaching and preaching would be adequate to move the sluggish believers of our day. But the locusts, and the fire, smoke, and sulfur of the Lord indeed shall move those who otherwise would cling to their possessions and way of life in the hope that somehow all will work out in the end. It will require much fright and pain before most of us awake to the fact that the Kingdom of God actually is at hand.

We have spoken before of the huge angel who will come down from Heaven in order to prepare the believers and the peoples of the earth for the coming of the Lord (Revelation 10:1).

The fact that the angel of preparation comes down from Heaven reveals to us that the spiritual wisdom and power necessary for making straight the way of the Lord will come down from above, not from men on the earth. The work will not be of men but of God. It will not be accomplished by the wealth or power of the flesh but by the Spirit of the Lord.

The greatest need of our time is for men and women, boys and girls, who will seek the Lord with a pure heart. It is time for God to move. Man has had his day and the nations grow more wicked by the hour. It is time for God to intervene, for the Lord Jesus to establish His fear in the hearts of people.

It appears that even the churches do not fear the Lord anymore because they, like Uzzah, have become overfamiliar with the things of God (II Samuel 6:6).

The angel is "clothed with a cloud." The cloud speaks to us of the coming of the Lord. The Lord Jesus will return in the clouds of heaven.

There is a rainbow on the head of the angel. The presence of the rainbow is characteristic of the Throne of God (Revelation 4:3). The days immediately preceding the parousia of Christ and His saints are the most significant of history. During this period all that has been planted in the earth will be brought to harvest. Therefore the throne of the Father is represented in the angel who has been given command over the events of this supremely important hour.

The face of the angel is as the sun. The sun, in the symbolism of the Scriptures, represents righteousness:

 But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. (Malachi 4:2)

Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)

Because the Christian teachers and preachers of our day have misunderstood Paul’s teaching concerning grace, the Christian churches no longer are pillars of righteousness. So much emphasis has been placed on imputed (ascribed) righteousness that actual righteousness of personality and behavior—that with which God primarily is concerned—has been relegated to a position of minimal importance.

Practice follows doctrine, and so the Christian churches of today do not practice righteousness.

The need today is for righteous behavior. The stress of the preaching of the last days will be on righteousness. Apart from righteous and holy behavior the Lord God will not have fellowship with man. Imputed righteousness, righteousness ascribed before there is actual righteous behavior, serves while the work of redemption, that is, the work of moving men from the influence of Satan to the influence of God, is taking place. But the goal is actual righteous behavior, not ascribed righteousness.

The events of the last days will produce righteous behavior in the true Body of Christ and this righteous behavior will serve as a witness to the remainder of mankind. Elijah and Elisha, and the other witnesses of God, were able to serve as witnesses to their own generation because of their personal righteous behavior and holiness. Apart from righteous and holy personality and behavior there can be no witness of God.

The feet of the preparing angel are as "pillars of fire." Feet of fire represent judgment. The ministry of the last days is a "feet" ministry because all the works of Satan, and Satan himself, will be crushed under the feet of the saints:

 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)

The work of judgment is that of separating between what is righteous and holy and what is unrighteous and unholy. The Divine fire burns up all that is not of God. Everything in us that is not from the Father through Christ will be burned away by the fire of judgment even though we are a Christian.

One of the greatest needs of the present hour is for a wall of separation to be constructed, the wall of the new Jerusalem. There now is a gray area in that it is impossible to distinguish what is of God and what is of the flesh of man. The gray area must be removed. There must be a clear line of separation so every person on the earth can perceive what is acceptable to God and what is not acceptable to God.

The Lord loves judgment. He loves to have matters plain and clearly defined. Those who are of God always run to the light for they want clarity in all that they are and do. If there is any darkness in them they want to know about it immediately so they can come to God for cleansing.

The wicked are not so. They wish to preserve as many gray areas as possible so their wickedness cannot be seen for what it is.

The angel of preparation has feet of fire. The fiery feet signify that those who participate in the end-time witness will bring judgment wherever they walk. In time past God may have winked at some things because of our ignorance. But once the witnesses of the Lord pass by there will be no more winking. The way of the Lord will have been made straight and clear. Every person will be required to choose between Christ and Antichrist, between God and Satan, between righteous behavior and wickedness, between holiness and filthiness.

The angel of preparation had a little book open in his hand. This little scroll is the book of the prophecy that must be given as a witness to all peoples on the earth so they may be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

It is a little scroll. How often the greatest works of God come in little things or in unpretentious surroundings. How often we are looking toward the imposing edifices and accomplishments of men when the Truth is lying in a manger!

The cloud that Elijah saw, the beginning of the downpour of rain on a parched land, was "a little cloud from the sea, like a man’s hand" (I Kings 18:44). The Word of the Lord cautioned Zerubbabel about despising the "day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10).

If we would participate in the ministry of the two witnesses we must be able to see the Lord in the small things of life. It is the way of man to be impressed with the "great stones of the temple." It is the way of God to ordain wisdom in the mouths of little children.

A few loaves and fish that have been blessed by the Lord are sufficient to feed the multitude.

The little book in the angel’s hand is open. Today is the day of the open revelation of the Lord. Our time is one of the extraordinary seasons of spiritual opportunity that have come to men on the earth.

It is characteristic of people who are living at the time of some marvelous intervention of God that they cannot perceive the significance of what is taking place. We think of the people of Judaea and Galilee and wonder why they did not drop everything and gaze with adoration on the thundering God of Sinai who was walking along their dusty streets.

We marvel at Martha’s preoccupation with the tasks of serving, when the God of Heaven was in visible form in her home. Yet, it is so today. One of the great moments of history is upon us. Are we able to grasp the significance of our own age or are we occupied with that which is not of lasting importance?

It is not the big things and events that rob us of the glory that is available to us, that blind our eyes to the benefits of the seasons of opportunity that are unique to each generation. Rather, it is the small, everyday tasks of survival to which we have become accustomed. These weigh on us so heavily and incessantly that we cannot "hear" the Master’s admonition to "consider the lilies" and to make seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness the first priority of our life.

We remain creatures of the mud, unable to lift our heads even though a Star has appeared in the heavens. The Son of God, the incarnate Word, beckons to us to come away with Him to the mountains of the leopards. He speaks of Paradise restored, of new worlds to conquer, of love, beauty, peace, glory, abounding and increasing throughout ages without end.

The Lord reminds us that one of the faces of God is the eagle. The sons of God were born to soar above that which is earth-bound.

We rise momentarily as the deep of God calls to the deep of our spirit. Then our earthly bondages clamor loudly for our attention. So we turn once more to what is visible and familiar (and temporary).

We believe, to a certain extent, that Jesus is what He claims to be. But it is not for the likes of us to go dancing among the galaxies. Better to clutch our rags even though we are shivering with cold than to let go of them just on God’s promise that He Himself will clothe us better than this.

Towering mountains to climb. Nations to inherit. Treasures of the snow to explore. To buy them we have to sell what is in our hand. Selling the visible for the invisible, the tangible for the intangible, requires faith, courage, hope, patience, and a dash of boldness, common sense, and good humor.

We make the choice: hold on to the protection and safety of the visible and familiar, or launch out into Christ in the hope of something better. The brevity of our life on the earth, and the vicious opposition of the adversary, do not permit any double-mindedness.

To not lay aside all else and press with diligence and integrity into one’s unique calling in God is to choose to spend one’s life in the problems of survival, the pleasures of sin, and the efforts of personal ambition.

There exists now a season of intervention that has come to us from the hand of the Lord. Once this season passes, the glory of it, the crowns of it, the wisdom and power of it, then the opportunity to draw near to God, the avenues of service, may be gone forever.

There will be new challenges in the Kingdom of God for those who live in victory now; but what is available at the moment is for the present period. Once it has gone it may be gone forever. Either we enter what God is holding out to us now or we will experience exceedingly great remorse when the Lord requires an accounting of our behavior, as we stand before His Judgment Seat.

The angel of preparation "set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the earth" (Revelation 10:2). This gives us some idea of the size, the extent of the Divine intervention during the period of preparation. Our entire planet will be affected. The whole earth, including the seas, will be touched by God’s witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. (Revelation 10:3)

The testimony of the two witnesses will not be given in the sweet tones of gentle entreaty. Rather it will be as the roaring of a lion. Christ is a Lion. Satan goes about as a roaring lion. It is a time of lions, of a fight to the finish for the rulership of the earth.

 Seven thunders represent power, the fullness of power. This power cannot be revealed until certain preparations have been made in the saints.

 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (Revelation 10:4)

Before the fullness of Divine power can be revealed, the Lord’s people, as well as their leaders, must learn to give the glory to God. The power of the latter-rain revival will not be entrusted to us until our own power and ambitions have been brought down to the dust.

Notice in the following verse that the thunder of God’s power is hidden in a secret place:

 Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah. (Psalms 81:7)

Before we can be given earth-shaking power we must be tested with trouble; we must be tried at the waters of Meribah.

Those who would rule with God (and the issues of the preparatory period are the refining of rulers and the notifying of the nations of the earth that a supreme government is coming) always must be tested with thirst. The waters of Meribah signify the response of Israel to thirst:

 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water from it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not? (Exodus 17:6,7)

God tested His flock with acute thirst. Israel failed the test. Instead of maintaining a cheerful faith and confidence in God the people complained bitterly. Israel put the Lord God to the test, asking: "Is the Lord among us, or not?"

The test of thirst is the test of the cross, of imprisonment, of delayed gratification, of deferred hopes and dreams. It is the trial of our patience, of our faith in God’s Word to us. God’s rulers are formed in the place of thirst.

The believer who will not walk with God unless his desires are fulfilled will never receive the power of God. The fullness of the Divine power will be entrusted only to those who are willing (as Joseph and many others) to suffer prolonged seasons of thirst.

"I thirst" comes the cry of agony from the cross.

One of the strongest of the thirsts men have is the desire for power and glory. Until the desire to vaunt ourselves has been destroyed from us by the Lord we will not be entrusted with the fullness of the Divine power—the complete power that is necessary for the bringing of the witness of the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation on the earth.

 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water from this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. (Numbers 20:10,11)

Notice how the pressure from the people brought from Moses’ personality a seldom observed (in him) vanity and presumption. So it is with us. After we have served the Lord for many years there may arise unusual seasons of pressure and pain that bring forth from our personality various aspects of rebellion against the Lord that we did not realize were present in us.

Those who are privileged to bear the end-time witness will be tested again and again. Even then, each saint always must guard himself carefully to insure he does not fall into the trap of "smiting the rock" when God has commanded him to "speak" to it.

We do not enjoy the seemingly endless testings we are enduring. But once the events of the closing days of this age begin to transpire we will be glad indeed for every trial and tribulation that God saw fit to send to us during the days of our preparation.

 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:5-7)

Notice the solemn oath given by the angel of preparation. First, that there will be delay no longer. Second, that the mystery of God will be completed. Both of these will take place during the period of time known as the "days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound," or, "when he is about to sound."

To the nominal Christian, the concept that the "delay" is over means little or nothing. But to those who have lived "in prison" most of their Christian discipleship, whether in a literal prison or in one of the Lord’s other kinds of prisons, the importance of the fact that the delay has come to an end warrants an oath. "How long? How long? How long?" we ask God as we wait for the fulfillment of what God has spoken to us. We exclaim with the Prophet Jeremiah:

 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? (Jeremiah 15:18)

We wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. Those who never have placed their treasures in Heaven have no means of understanding what it means to have so much of one’s life committed to Christ that the waiting for God to appear becomes at times almost more than can be borne.

We watch hopefully for some little "cloud," some sign that what God has promised is on the way. Some come, as did the butler and the baker to the imprisoned Joseph, and promise deliverance. But no person on earth or in Heaven can bring one of God’s future kings from prison until God Himself announces with an oath that there shall be delay no longer.

Blessed are those who mourn now, for in that day they will leap and dance with joy. Woe to those who find their satisfaction in the present life, or who surround themselves with their own excitement, for they will mourn in the days to come! This is the inviolable justice of the Lord God of Heaven.

"The days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound."

The period of time known as the "days during which the seventh angel is poised to sound" indeed is among the most significant of the eras of mankind on the earth. During this period the true Bride of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, will be drawn out from the Babylon of religious confusion, the various denominations and independent churches of Christianity.

The true Bride, the remnant, those who "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ," will be refined by the fire of God’s judgments. The latter-rain witness will be given to the peoples of the earth. The Christian witness will be overcome, although its "dead bodies" (the Christian institutions that walk in deception) will be permitted to remain and will be subsidized by the cunning Antichrist.

Antichrist will rule the "civilized" nations of the earth. When all apparently is peace and safety, God once again will raise up His true witnesses. They will be lifted up to the heaven in the cloud in the sight of their enemies. Then the seventh angel will sound his trumpet and the kingdoms of the present world will be turned over to our Lord and to His Christ.

These earth-shaking events will take place during "the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound." Apparently the "any-moment, pre-tribulation rapture" doctrine comes into conflict with the Book of Revelation. For whatever else may be true, we know that we shall not be raised from the dead and put on incorruption until the sounding of the last, or seventh, trumpet (I Corinthians 15:52).

Perhaps it is time now for sincere Christians to put away the deception concerning the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers. This new (in terms of Church history) post-biblical "revelation" has served only to erode the determination of the believers to stand during the days of tribulation that are on the horizon.

The huge angel of preparation swore with an oath that during the days when the seventh angel is poised to sound, the mystery of God shall be completed.

The mystery of God. The mystery of God is "Christ in you" (Colossians 1:27).

To the present hour this mystery neither has been understood nor completed.

The Jews are looking for Christ to come and be with them. They have no concept of Christ being in them.

This is true also of the majority of the Christian people. We are familiar with the with relationship. The concept of the in relationship of Christ and His saints is largely unknown to us. The in relationship remains a mystery to this day. But in the days when the seventh angel is preparing to sound, the mystery of the in relationship will be fulfilled and revealed.

The difference between the with relationship and the in relationship is profound. An understanding of the difference is vital to our understanding of the eternal purpose of the God of Heaven.

The with relationship has to do with Paradise. The in relationship has to do with the Kingdom of God.

Paradise, and the Kingdom of God, are two separate aspects of the future. Let us consider the difference between Paradise (Heaven), and the Kingdom of God.

Paradise is the garden of God, a place of exceeding beauty. At one time Paradise was on the earth. Adam and Eve were in Paradise. God Himself walked in the garden in the cool of the day.

Today Paradise exists only in the spirit realm. Apparently Paradise is the place where God, Christ, the saints, and the elect angels dwell.

When the saint dies, he goes to Paradise. It is our point of view (and we are not alone in this understanding) that the believer, when he dies, goes to a level of the spirit Paradise compatible with his spiritual development. Just as Christians on the earth prefer the company of those who are of their own degree of spiritual development and fervency, so it is true that when the believer dies he is gathered together with those who are like himself in their relationship to Christ.

There is no scriptural passage of which we are aware that suggests that all believers go to the same area of Paradise. Also, reason is against it. Our experience on the earth is against it. The visions of the saints are in agreement that we are placed with those of like spiritual attainment.

Whatever else may be true, Paradise is a place in the spirit realm. It is an area infinitely more real than the earth. The earth is the "valley of the shadow of death." The earth is a shadow of spiritual reality and it is filled with spiritual death.

When we die we shall be admitted to the area of the spirit realm compatible with our spiritual development. The murderer is placed with the murderers. The saint is placed with saints. As in earth, so in the spirit realm. It would be exceedingly cruel of God to force the murderous to dwell with the saintly—cruel both to the murderous and to the saintly.

Accepting Christ does not change what we are in spiritual development. Accepting Christ does qualify us to be with Jesus ("To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise"); although all the saved will not go to the same part of Paradise, according to our understanding. Receiving Christ by faith enables God to forgive our sins and to place us on the pathway that leads to Christ-likeness and to union with Christ.

We can be with Jesus only to the extent that we are like Him, just as it is true that a baby can be with an adult and yet not be with him in the sense that would be true of another adult.

Even in the with relationship, what we are in spiritual development determines the blessing and joy that can come to us.

Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding that exists in Christian thinking is that fellowship with God rests on the basis of the forgiveness of our sins through grace. To believe this is to misunderstand the nature of spiritual realities.

The forgiveness of our sins through Divine grace delivers us from destruction in the Day of Wrath. Forgiveness through Divine grace does not change what we are in personality. Other aspects of Divine grace accomplish our transformation. It is what we have become in personality that determines our ability to be with God and His Christ.

God can forgive those of a filthy heart and filthy hands because of the efficacy of the death of Christ on the cross. But God will not dwell among those of a filthy heart and of filthy hands. We must come out from spiritual filthiness and wickedness if we would have fellowship with the Fire of Israel. Only the pure in heart shall see God.

The with aspect and the in aspect of our salvation are both of great importance. When we die we shall go to Heaven and be with the Lord Jesus. This is the hope of every person who truly loves Jesus. One by one our most valued treasures have been committed to Him. They are in Heaven now, along with our heart. We desire with an almost unbearable intensity to go to Paradise to be with the Lord.

However, going to Paradise to be with the Lord is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Paradise is a reality. But going to Paradise to be with Jesus is not the mystery of God. Paradise is not the Kingdom of God.

The mystery of God, which is Christ in us, remains hidden to this day to a great extent. It is not understood or emphasized by the Christian ministry.

The Kingdom of God is Christ in us.

Jesus never spoke one parable concerning our going to Paradise to be with Him. Going to Paradise to be with Jesus is neither a mystery nor the Kingdom of God. Therefore Jesus did not cover going to Paradise with the dark glass of the parable.

Every parable spoken by the Lord Jesus has to do with the mystery of God, with the Kingdom of God—that which is to be completed in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound. In our day, in the time just preceding the appearing of Christ and His saints, the mystery of the Kingdom of God will be completed. The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us, the hope of glory.

God is invisible. His eternal purpose, His mystery, is that He will make Himself visible to His creatures. The invisible God of Heaven is in the process of making Himself visible. This is the mystery. It is the Kingdom of God.

God has made Himself visible in the Lord Jesus Christ. He who has seen Christ has seen God. Christ is the Incarnation of God. Wherever Jesus is, that is the Person and Presence of the true God of Heaven.

It is the will of God that the Incarnation be multiplied, be enlarged. It is God’s will that a number of human beings enter the Oneness that is God. It is God’s will that the saints become an integral, eternally indivisible part of the Incarnation of the invisible God.

Before we go further, let us clarify one point that may become confused as Christians attempt to convey the nature of the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus is unique. The Lord never will become just one part of a many-membered Christ. There are aspects of the Lord Jesus that eternally will remain unique.

No person other than the Lord Jesus was the Word from the beginning. No person other than the Lord Jesus was born of a virgin or died for the sins of the world. No other individual is referred to as God’s only begotten Son.

Christ eternally remains Lord and Master. He is the Bridegroom while we are the bride. Once the preeminence of the Lord Jesus has been established beyond question we are free to proceed with our teaching concerning the mystery of God, which is the making visible of the invisible God.

Out from the churches of the earth is being drawn a company of saints. This company is the true Church, the Bride of the Lamb, the sons of God, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, the victorious saints. The primary goal of the Church Age has been the identifying of the elect, the brothers of the Lord, the sons of God, and the beginning of their creation in the image of Christ.

The Body of Christ, of the Servant of the Lord, is the Kingdom of God. As soon as the Kingdom of God has been perfected it will come down from Heaven to abide on the new earth. It is termed the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.

Then God in Christ through the saints (that is, through His Kingdom) will wipe away the tears of mankind. Then will the living God dwell among men in His Tabernacle, which is the Church, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem. This is the mystery that will be completed in the days when the seventh angel is preparing to sound. God and Christ will enter the perfected saints before the parousia, before the appearing of Christ and His saints to the world.

It is apparent from the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, that before the Lord returns, the Kingdom of God will appear in power in the saints, just as the Kingdom of God appeared in the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The Kingdom of God will not appear gradually as the Christians learn to apply the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. Rather, the Kingdom of God will appear suddenly in power and glory in the personalities of those who have undergone the preparation that is required.

The entering of God and Christ into the saints (which is described in John 14:18-23, and also in Chapter 60 of the Book of Isaiah) will take place, as we understand it, immediately prior to the appearing of Christ in the clouds of glory. The revelation of God and Christ in the saints will herald the coming of the Lord and will be an integral aspect of that coming.

Notice carefully the parables of our Lord. None of them speaks of a with relationship, in which we go to Paradise to be with Jesus. Rather, they speak of the entering of another Life into the human personality, a Life that soon dominates the individual.

Obviously the parables are not speaking of going to Paradise, which is the entering of the believer into the garden of the spirit realm. It is apparent that entering an area of the spirit realm is one matter, while the entering of Divine Life into us, resulting in the transformation of all that we are, is a different experience.

 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. (Mark 4:29)

Again:

 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. (Mark 4:30-32)

The above two parables, as is true of all the other parables of the Lord Jesus, have little to do with our going to Paradise to be with the Lord. Rather, they are speaking of the entering of the Seed of God into us.

There are two aspects of the forming of the Kingdom of God in us: first, the entering of the Seed of God into us and its growth to maturity; second, the entering of the Father and the Son into the individual who has been transformed because of the growth and development of the Seed of God in Him.

The first stage, the growth and full development of the Divine Seed in us, requires a period of time. All the graces and experiences that we associate with living the victorious Christian discipleship have a part to play in bringing the Seed to maturity in us, in forming Christ in us.

In the second stage, the Father and the Son take up Their eternal residence in us. The second stage, while it may have been experienced already by a few distinguished saints, will occur for most of us at the time of the Lord’s return. Truly, a nation will be born at once.

The stones of the Temple of God (the Temple of God being the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb) are fashioned perfectly while yet at the site of the quarry from which they were dug.

At the appointed time, which will occur in the days of the seventh angel, when he prepares to sound, the trumpet of the Lord will call the perfected "stones" together. Then will the members of the firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb be clothed in the white garments of incorruptible righteousness and eternal life. The perfecting of the entire Israel of God, according to our understanding, awaits the thousand-year Kingdom Age for its accomplishment. The holy city is not seen in its perfection until the conclusion of the thousand-year period.

It is one matter for the forgiven believer to be with the Lord Jesus in Paradise. It is quite another aspect of redemption for God and Christ to enter the saint, bringing a unique revelation of the invisible God to the creatures of God.

The "marriage" of Christ and the saint results in a new personality. The new personality is not the original believer, although he or she is in the new personality. The new personality is not Christ; there never is a confusion of identity in the Kingdom of God. We lose our individuality as soon as we become a part of Christ, but our identity is enhanced.

The new creature is a unique blend, or "marriage," of Christ and the saint. The marriage brings forth a person who never has existed previously. This new person is the Kingdom of God—the rule and expression of God throughout the creation. The new person is the seed of Abraham, the seed of promise. In this seed, this new incarnation of the God of Heaven, all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

What is entailed in our becoming a part of the Kingdom of God? What are the differences in the demands made on those who would have Christ in them as distinguished from having Christ with them?

As we may imagine, the differences in the demands are very great. Having God and Christ make Their eternal abode in us requires a transformation of us so profound, so total, so complete in detail, that only God Himself knows where to begin. Many aspects of the program remain incomprehensible to us.

Our task is to hold steady in faith as God works in us. God’s task is to conform us to the image of His beloved Son, Christ. The Lord God Himself called us, justified us, and glorified us before He created the world. All the universe is moving toward one end: the conformation of the elect to the image of Christ that He may be the firstborn among many brothers.

We see, therefore, that being with Jesus in Paradise, and being a part of the coming Kingdom of God, are two different issues. The demands made on our personality are very much greater in the case of Christ being in us in the Kingdom of God. Being with Christ requires that we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. Being in Christ and having Christ in us requires the transformation of all that we are in personality and behavior.

The Lord Jesus Christ is offering to us marriage to Himself. We are to say yes, or no. To remain in indecision is to say no. The calling of marriage to the Lamb is so sublimely above any other destiny that can be imagined that to remain in indecision is to say no. To not make up our mind means we are weighing some other God against the Lord.

To say yes is to give to Jesus every hope, dream, joy, and ambition that we have. All must be entrusted to Him and we must set out on our journey of faith, as Rebecca did when she went to Isaac.

Once we enter the marriage preparations there is no moment of the night or day that we are not being supervised by Jesus in every aspect of body, soul, and spirit. The Lord Jesus takes complete charge of us. He is making us an eternal part of Himself. Therefore the preparations are exhaustive.

Jesus is our Lord, our Head, and we are His Body. We are being created on His body and blood. We are being made bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh. We are becoming an indivisible part of Him. His destiny and ours are bound together with eternal chains far stronger than steel.

Marriage to Christ is infinitely more than salvation from Divine wrath. It is our incorporation into the Being who is God.

We stated before that we are becoming an enlargement of the Incarnation. God’s sole motive is love. God loves us whom He has called from the creation of the world and He desires greatly that we become an eternal part of Himself. God also loves the nations of the earth. He is forming us so in us, by us, through us, from us, He can love, rule, and bless the saved peoples of the earth.

If we belong to Christ we are Israel. Israel belongs to God in a peculiar way. God knows Israel by name. God has called from the creation of the world all who are Israel. Israel is God’s Servant, His Witness that He is God and that there is no other God. It is the Lord’s intention that Israel be His Presence in the earth.

Israel is the eternal chariot of God.

The enlarging of the Incarnation is the mystery of God. The mystery of God is being revealed in our day. The mystery will be brought to completion in the day when the seventh angel is poised to sound.

All men will come and behold the Glory of God, the revelation of God in Christ in the saints. When the peoples of the earth see the Glory of the Lord in the saints they will believe God indeed has sent Christ and that God loves the saints as He loves Christ.

This is the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The ministry of the two witnesses will prepare the world for the coming of the Kingdom. The coming of the Kingdom of God is good news for the meek of the earth but bad news for those who love darkness rather than light, whose deeds are evil.

Christ and His saints will rule in righteousness. The wicked will be ground to powder in that Day.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the mystery of God. The "woman" is the Christian Church. The male Son who is about to be born is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Christ, and Christ alone, is the ruler of the nations. Christ rules in us. We are His throne. The Throne of God and the Lamb is in us.

Revelation 3:20 informs us that Jesus knocks at the door of our heart. If we hear His voice and open the everlasting doors of our heart, the King of Glory will enter our personality.

The King of Glory dines with us, and we with Him. The King spreads a table before us in the presence of our enemies. He then goes to war against every trace of sin and self-will that is in us.

If we, through Christ’s virtue, power, and wisdom, conquer all the enemies that are part of our old personality, we then are raised to sit with Him in His throne just as He is set down with His Father in the Father’s throne. By opening our personality to the Lord Jesus and allowing Him to have His unhindered way in us we become part of the highest throne of all.

The Kingdom of God is born from the travail of the Church. The saints bear the end-time witness and also enter the travail attending the birth of the Ruler of the ages. These two operations of the Kingdom, the end-time witness and the forming of Christ in the Church, take place during the period when the seventh angel is about to sound.

The eleventh chapter of Revelation portrays the witness that must be given to the nations. The twelfth chapter of Revelation describes the forming of the Body of Christ in the Church.

The bearing of the witness, and the forming of Christ in us, are related. The saints are to go forth to every nation, large and small, even to those nations consisting of a tribe or two, and bear witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The saints will be empowered by the tremendous anointing of the latter-rain outpouring. At the same time Christ, the Ruler of the ages to come, is being formed in them.

The two olive trees speak of the double portion of the anointing. The two lampstands portray Christ—Head and Body— who is the Witness of God, the Servant of the Lord. The golden Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation always represents Christ.

The two lampstands are fed by the oil flowing from the two olive trees. This symbolism portrays an unlimited anointing of the Holy Spirit resting on the Body of Christ. All this glory will be borne by the saints during the closing days of the present age.

When the Lord returns, the "John the Baptist" (witness) part of our ministry will be done away and only what is of Christ in us will remain. Then we shall change from a ministry of witnessing to a ministry of release and rulership of the creation.

We feel today the desire to go forth and release the creation from the bondages of sin and death. However, that is not our role at this time. Our role now is to bear a true witness of God.

The day indeed shall come when it will be given us to go forth and release the material creation from all the prisons of darkness. Today is the day to bear witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God. It is the witness that is all-important. Sometimes that witness includes loosing, and sometimes binding. However, the true witness must be given whether or not deliverance takes place.

If we do the will of Christ in the bearing of the true witness of God, then in the Day of Christ we will be privileged to bring the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord to the whole earth, setting the physical creation free from the chains of futility and corruption with which it has been bound since the time of the rebellion of Adam and Eve.

As we go forth to bear the witness of the Lord, Christ will be brought to fullness of stature in us. The act of ministering faithfully to the Lord will result in our coming to maturity. As we mature in Christ, our ability to bear a true witness will be increased proportionately. This is the way it is now, and it will continue to be the case during the days when the seventh angel is about to sound.

The way to the throne is through the cross. It is only as we are willing to forsake our own life, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, that we can be truly born again and grow to maturity in the Kingdom of God.

The motivation that carries us successfully through the change from Adam to Christ is God’s love that is in us. All other motivations must eventually wither and die because the death required for such personality change is more thorough than our first nature is willing to accept. We must determine with resolution to set Christ before us and to follow Him through death, burial, and resurrection.

Taking the book.

 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. (Revelation 10:8)

The angel will not hand the book to us. We have to go and take the book from the angel’s hand. It appears that one of the greatest mistakes made in the Christian discipleship is to accept a spirit of inevitability. Numerous believers live in the hope that one day the Lord will come to them and empower them to do some great thing for God.

The years have a way of slipping by and the moment never comes. The believer grows old and dies and the dream of gloriously serving God never materializes.

This happens because of ignorance of the manner in which the Kingdom operates.

God has given to every person a gift, a role in the Body of Christ. In order to realize the service available to us we have to go and "take the book." We have to put our talents to work even though they may be few in number and unpretentious in quality.

Two believers can be given the same ministry. One will perform the ministry with zeal, giving much prayer, thought, and diligence to the small task, serving the Lord in the "minor" role with all his might. The other will give little thought or energy to the task, waiting for the Lord to move in some more spectacular manner. In the meantime, the careless believer attends to the things of the world with considerably more zeal than he applies to his role in the Kingdom of God.

As life goes on the Lord will visit the two believers. With the one the Lord Jesus will be greatly pleased and will issue additional responsibility, opportunities, and abilities. The Lord will be displeased with the neglectful believer, taking away the one talent he had been given and placing that talent in the care of someone more faithful.

Dorcas, the seamstress of the Book of Acts, is an example of diligence in the use of one’s talents.

When the Lord returns, the diligent believers will be rewarded and the careless believers will be punished.

God never will arrest most of us as dramatically as He did Saul of Tarsus. Rather, we are to go and take what God is offering to us and attend to our charge with diligence and faithfulness. If we do, from the few loaves and fish that are ours will come food for the multitude. This is the manner in which one serves in the Kingdom of God.

Untold numbers of Christian believers have gone through life without ever having sought vigorously the will of God for themselves as far as Christian service is concerned.

Sweet and bitter.

 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. (Revelation 10:9)

When the Lord begins to reveal to us the glory of the latter-rain revival, the works of power that God intends to do in the earth in the last days, the new day that God has brought to us, the taste of it in our mouth is as sweet as honey.

When we eat it, it is bitter in our belly.

 And I took the little book from the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. (Revelation 10:10)

Why is the scroll bitter when it enters us? It is bitter because bearing a true witness of God requires the death of our adamic nature, just as John the Baptist was imprisoned and killed physically for his witness.

 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (Revelation 10:11)

It is bitter because it is a testimony against the house of Israel, against the Lord’s own people:

 And he spread it before me; and it was written in and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. (Ezekiel 2:10)

The Word of the Divine testimony, the true and faithful witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God, always is sweet in our mouth and bitter in our belly. It is sweet in our mouth because it tastes of the Life and Glory of the Lord Jesus, of Paradise. It is bitter in our belly because the Life and Glory of God bring death to our flesh, to our fleshly mind, to our first personality. The first creation is under a curse, and was condemned to death on the cross of Calvary. It was judged and finished there.

Now there is a new creation. The new creation delights in the ways of God and receives God and His judgments gladly. When the flesh and soul become aware that the new creation proceeds from their death and resurrection they react angrily against the tools God uses to bring about the transformation.

The true Presence of the Lord Jesus always brings a sword. The sword is the living Word of God and it cuts between the soul and the spirit. The true witnesses of the Lord must undergo the death of the soulish personality. After they themselves have experienced death and life in God they are ready to testify of God’s Person and ways. The witnesses of Christ bring sweetness and bitterness wherever they go. As a result of their testimony the true Kingdom of God is separated from religious Babylon.

The true witnesses of God are a plumb line, a standard. God can do little among men unless He can find someone who is willing to undergo the process of becoming the Divine plumb line. Once God develops that individual he brings him or her to the attention of those with whom He is dealing. Then they must make a decision: This is God speaking to me and I shall listen and do His will; or, This is not God speaking to me; or, Whether or not it is God speaking to me I choose not to respond.

From the days of Abel to the present, such has been the case. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah and Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Paul the Apostle, the Lord Jesus Himself—all are true witnesses. They are bearing witness today because all true witnesses of God are eternal.

When one is confronted with any of these individuals in the Scriptures he must make up his mind. This is God speaking to me or this is not God.

Sometimes people know that the witness is true and respond negatively. The negative response leads to their destruction, whether from pride, anger, fear, or self-pity.

Until there is a true witness there is no way in which people can be brought to account satisfactorily. God is prevented from working, unless He chooses to employ an angel or some other supernatural means to express His Personality and will.

There is a difference between the witness and the ministry. The major purpose of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit is to create the witness of God.

According to the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians, the ministries serve until the saints are brought to the fullness of the stature of Christ, until they are brought to the fullness of the stature of the Divine Testimony. The Lord Jesus and His Body is the true and faithful Witness of the God of Heaven.

Giving a true witness. There is much Christian ministry in the earth today but not much true testimony. The ministry is the bringing of the Word of God to people that they may be saved from the Divine wrath by believing in Christ, and that they may be built up and established in the Christian faith.

When the believers are built up by the ministry they will walk in righteousness in the sight of people (if the ministry is preaching the truth of God instead of the deceptions so prevalent among us Christians).

The testimony, on the other hand, is the portrayal of God’s Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose. The righteous deeds performed in the sight of people are the light, the testimony of God. People, upon seeing the righteous behavior of the Christian people, will glorify the Father who is in Heaven.

An organization can spend much money distributing the written Word of God and yet not be a good testimony. If the money was raised by natural means, and all the other efforts of communication and transportation were carried on by the talents and efforts of well-intentioned human beings, there may have occurred a widespread distribution of the words of the Gospel of Christ. The testimony is that human beings worked hard to spread what they believe. But there is no Divine testimony until God intervenes in some manner.

The words of the Scriptures are a testimony, but they are dead unless the Holy Spirit gives life to them.

Numerous Christian efforts are attended by illegal and immoral behavior. There is self-centeredness, the glorifying of people, strife, jealousy, and other evil works in the efforts to spread religion. On occasion, the funds are not handled in an honest, straightforward manner. Sometimes the various Christian organizations fight against one another and sue each other in order to strengthen their own positions.

Much ministry may proceed from such activities but there is no Divine testimony. It happens that we travel across land and sea to make one proselyte and then make him twofold more the child of Hell than ourselves.

What kind of a testimony are the Christian churches giving in the world of our day? Are people beholding the holiness and power of almighty God? Or do they see frail people struggling to sell their product just as in any other human undertaking? What are we saying about God when we plead for money?

The world is filled with Christian ministry of various types but there is a dearth of testimony. Is there any man or woman of God today who is facing the churches and the world with the spiritual and moral power of Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, or Noah?

In order for the Divine testimony to be in operation there must be both holiness and supernatural power in evidence. Such was true of Elijah. Of whom is it true today? Who is above reproach? Who is revealing in himself the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of God to the extent that was true of the apostles and prophets of the Scriptures?

Where are the Noahs, the Elijahs, the Elishas? Yet, we are under a covenant superior to what was true of them. What has happened to the Divine testimony in the earth? Has it become confused with the human efforts of the Christian ministry?

Before the Lord Jesus returns in His Glory a true testimony will have been given in the earth. The true testimony of the last days is portrayed in symbolic form by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

A witness of God is someone who bears the true Divine testimony. The true Divine testimony is, as we have stated previously, the accurate representation of the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of God.

In order to become a witness of God we must eat the book. Reading the book does not make a witness.

Seminaries and Bible schools have their place in the Kingdom. However, seminaries and Bible schools cannot produce witnesses. They produce people who are educated in the facts and skills of their curricula. They graduate those who have read the Bible and the other books of their respective programs.

Studying the books of the seminary does not leave either a sweet taste in our mouth or a bitter taste in our belly. It is eating the Book of God that makes the Divine difference.

Let us think for a moment about the creating of the true witnesses. We know that true witnesses have experiences with God that result in the death and resurrection of their personality, and it is the death that is bitter. The Lord’s true witnesses proclaim the Divine judgment on all unrighteousness and uncleanness and therefore must themselves be judged. The Divine judgment is bitter while we are undergoing it.

Those who are willing to accept the sweetness of God’s dealings but not the bitterness can never be His witness. Such may be well versed in the things of the churches but they do not know and cannot know the God of Heaven. They cannot give a true witness of Him. They can talk about God to other people; but talking about God is not the same as bearing a true witness of His Person and ways.

We cannot bear a true witness until we have come to experience God’s Person and ways for ourselves This knowledge often comes through the crucifying of our soul.

We can talk about God from what we know in our head. But the testimony of God is revealed as the Lord raises us up from various difficulties and deaths. The testimonies to God’s faithfulness that are found in the Scriptures are the result of the difficulties and deaths of the saints.

There only is one true Witness of God and that is Christ. The witnesses of the Old Testament were created through their contact with Christ in their day and spoke by the Spirit of Christ that was in them (I Peter 1:11).

The one true Witness of God is Christ, who is the Servant of the Lord. We who are learning to abide in Christ are becoming a part of His Body, of the Body of the Servant of the Lord, of the Body of the one true Witness of the God of Heaven.

Israel, God’s witness. The name of the Servant of the Lord is "Israel."

Israel is God’s witness to the heavens and the earth of His Person and will. It is God’s eternal purpose that all Israel become the perfect, complete expression of His Person and will. The perfect, complete expression of God’s Person, will, and ways is the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, the eternal Tabernacle of God.

We see, therefore, that the saints who bear the witness of the last days are a forerunner of the eternal city that is destined to descend from Heaven and be established forever on the new earth.

It is fitting that those who one day will rule the nations should be the witnesses who show in themselves beforehand the Divine Glory that is to come.

The Lord Jesus, the true and faithful Witness of God, came, died, and was raised again. One day He will return to the earth in glory. The saints who bear the latter-rain testimony will give their witness, die, and be raised again. When Jesus returns in His glory they will appear with Him. They are His Body, His Bride, and participate with Him in all things. It is His greatest joy and delight that they should do so. It is the Father’s gift to Him.

The forty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah speaks to us of the creation of Israel, of the Body of Christ, of the Body of the Servant of the Lord, of the true Witness of God:

 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

Here is the Divine decree concerning all who are part of the Servant of the Lord, of the one true Witness of God. God has redeemed us from the creation of the world. God has called us by name. We belong to the Lord in a special manner, having been called out from the ranks of mankind to be His peculiar treasure. This relationship to God is true of every member of the Body of Christ, of every true Christian.

Being a saint, a holy one of God, is the highest calling that can come to any man or woman, boy or girl. It is a full-time calling. To be called as a member of the Seed of Abraham, the royal Seed through which all the nations of the earth will be blessed, is an honor indeed. Those who have been chosen to be a part of God’s Christ must give the prime energies of their life in order to grasp that for which they have been grasped.

The Lord has warned us that if we neglect our salvation, not paying enough attention to it, not putting it in first place in our life, we will not escape the stripes that will be laid on those who did not put to their fullest use the talents of the Kingdom of God.

Let us not be sluggish but appreciative of the high calling to which we have been called by the Lord. Let us look always to Him, coming to know Him so we can represent Him throughout His creation.

 My sons, be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense. (II Chronicles 29:11)

The Servant of the Lord, God’s witness, has been chosen to stand before Him. The two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of Revelation stand "before the God of the earth." We are to burn the incense of praise before God, offering to Him the sweet-smelling savor of a Christ-filled, holy life. The world understands nothing of such behavior. The offering of praise and a holy personality to the Lord is the most important aspect of the Christian testimony.

The Christianity of today is altogether too man-centered. The task of witnessing is thought of in terms of person to person. It is one well-intentioned human attempting to persuade another human.

This is not the way of the witnesses of God. God’s witnesses stand before Him and know Him. They testify to other people what they are seeing and experiencing with God. What we have seen and heard we declare to others with fear and trembling. Fear and trembling, not because of our contact with people but because of our contact with God and our desire to please Him.

The most important qualification of a witness is that he or she know God. It is the personal knowledge of God that enables an individual to bear a true testimony.

A person may be skilled in the various aspects of the Christian ministry and experienced in dealing with people. Such abilities can be helpful and may lead to success in overseeing a local congregation, missionary endeavors, Christian education, and so forth. The work of the ministry will not succeed where there is incompetence, inexperience, foolishness, or laziness. The personal qualities that make for success in the world are effective also in the conduct of Christian work.

But none of the above has to do with the Divine witness. Our foolishness or laziness may repulse people and may cause us to fail in the work of the ministry. The Divine witness has to do with our personal knowledge of God, and with holiness, righteousness, and demonstrations of supernatural power and knowledge.

The greatest need of the world today is for people who know God. Only those who know God and are hearing His voice can help mankind in this dark hour. God’s witnesses work their works in prayer, in private with the Lord, not in consultation with other Christians. It is a good and blessed situation when Christian people dwell together in unity. But each of God’s witnesses must have an intensely personal knowledge of the Lord, dwelling in Him in a secret place that is known only to God and the individual.

The work of Christ is not accomplished by the combined efforts of believers, it is accomplished only as an individual comes to know Christ.

The joining of hand to hand, while it seems to be so scriptural and "right," actually may remove the Lord from the undertaking. Such efforts soon form their leadership structure and begin to operate in terms of human knowledge and ability. It is easy, even for the most dedicated Christians, to fall into the trap of working together to accomplish a "Christian" goal without ever really knowing how the Lord feels about what is taking place.

What is needed in every age—and now more than ever—is the voice of the true prophet in the land. We must have Elijahs and Elishas who come down from the mount of God and proclaim the will of the Lord. We need apostles who return from the desert with the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We are in desperate need of someone who knows God, who is hearing His voice. The Scriptures tell about the exploits of this kind of witness, whether we are referring to Enoch, or Noah, or Job, or Abraham, or Moses, or Elijah, or Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, or John the Baptist, or Paul the Apostle.

The true witnesses of God are chosen by the Lord and are brought close to Himself. There they are kneaded and prodded all the day and night, month after month, year after year. More often than not, it appears, they are at odds with the rest of the Lord’s people. They are not always "nice" members of groups of believers. They love to pray, and when they become the least bit careless in prayer the Lord immediately draws them aside and causes them to wait on Him with renewed intensity.

The Lord’s witness may or may not be skilled in social behavior. The Lord permits him to go only so far in group relationships. His first business is to stand before God and to know Him and hear Him. Every aspect of the life of God’s witness is centered on his peculiar relationship with the Lord.

An organization of Christian believers that emphasizes close ties among the participants may have much to recommend it, particularly in the values that it brings to wholesome family living. Children often benefit from the presence of many concerned adults.

The current "generation gap" is an absolute abomination to God. Young people always ought to be a part of the life of the whole community—Christian or not. When the children and young people are not a part of the life of the entire community, are not partaking of the same social experiences as their parents, we can be sure that Satan has been at work.

However, we must remain on guard, no matter how wholesome the organization may be, that these valuable social ties do not become a substitute for an intensely personal relationship with Jesus. The closely knit Christian community is not a substitute for an intensely personal relationship with the Lord.

One of the chief works of the Antichrist will be the development of the religious community that, while it maintains every form of Christian or other religious culture, does not contain members who stand before the God of the earth. Rather, they "find God in one another." This is what Antichrist desires.

We do not find God in ourselves, in nature, or in other people. We find the God of Heaven only through the Lord Jesus. This is what the Scriptures teach.

Also, we must keep in mind, in this day of Christian ecumenicism (togetherness), that the Lord Jesus commanded us to not call one another father, or master, or priest, or leader.

Whenever there is an attempt at Christian unity there soon arises a leadership structure. Leadership is necessary for the work of the ministry. Apart from godly elders, spiritual chaos results.

But each Christian is to have his own relationship with the only Master and Leader of the Church—the Lord Jesus.

God has placed in the churches those who have the experience, and other qualifications, to keep the young saints from falling into the snares of the devil. Each of us ought always to be willing to listen to those who are concerned about our behavior. The young person or the elder who hardens his heart in pride, believing that no one should offer a suggestion to him or her, is due for a fall. We must exhort one another daily because sin is—above all things—deceitful!

Yet, an organized system of oversight of the disciples may easily fall into the error of directing the believers to look to other believers for guidance when they ought to be looking to the Lord. Such organized oversight may prevent the bringing forth of the Lord’s witnesses, because God requires that His witnesses look constantly to Him and that they keep His secrets.

God often shows His secrets to His prophets, and they are not to reveal them to anyone except as God directs. What we have just said could keep some deceived individual from confessing his or her deception to an older saint who is ready to minister deliverance to the deceived one. If the believer begins to suspect that what he is receiving is not the secret of the Lord but in fact is a deception, he should seek out an older saint and confide his doubts.

The spiritual life is full of dangers and we must remain ready to confide in the mature saints. Nevertheless, it is as we have stated: the Lord’s witnesses are drawn apart to be with Him, and they are not always in a position to share all that they are experiencing in Christ with a spiritual leader who has been placed over them.

Antichrist desires that Christians answer only to Christians and find God in the other Christians. Also, Antichrist will instruct the believers to confess the secrets of their heart to each other, to be completely open to each other. He then can begin his work of seducing the believer who is at the top of this pyramid. If Satan can deceive the leader he then has control over all the followers.

The strength and wisdom of the Body of Christ arises from the fact that each member has his or her own intensely personal relationship with the Lord. When this is true, and there is no pyramid of responsibility and power, it is impossible for Antichrist to deceive the entire Body. When one member is deceived, the Lord Jesus notifies other members who rally and seek to deliver their wounded brother.

Each member of the Body of Christ is to be in immediate contact with Christ. The right kind of ministry will bring him to this place of personal maturity. The elders have worked themselves out of a job, so to speak. The members of the Body will not speak to one another saying, Know the Lord, for all will know the Lord—from the least to the greatest. The personal knowledge of God will have been attained when the new covenant has completed its work in us (Hebrews 8:11).

We do not find Christ in one another or in ourselves. This concept is not scriptural. We never are to confuse Christ who is at the right hand of God in Heaven with Christ who is dwelling in us or in our brother. To do so is to convert the Body of Christ into the church of the Christians instead of the Church of the Firstborn. The church of the Christians is an assembly of Christian believers whose spiritual life consists of their soulish interactions. Such human interdependence will be a distinguishing feature of the last days.

The difference between Christ and the False Prophet lies in the difference between the Church of the Firstborn and the church of the Christians. The church of the Christians is not the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, not the Church of Him who is the Firstborn from the dead.

Each of the witnesses of the last days will be known of the Lord personally and will know the Lord personally. He will walk hand in hand with the Lord Jesus. There are two witnesses, meaning that the Lord Jesus will walk in and with each member of His Body just as the Father walks in and with Jesus.

 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10)

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29)

"I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine".

 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (Isaiah 43:2)

Each of the Lord’s witnesses will pass through the waters and through the rivers. Each will walk through the fire. The witnesses of the Scriptures endured every conceivable difficulty, including the fiery furnace and the lions’ den. So have numerous people of the world who are not Christians.

The difference is that the waters do not overflow God’s witnesses. The lions do not eat them. The furnace does not burn them. We are not saying Christ’s witnesses never are harmed physically. But they are watched over carefully by the Lord, His Presence is with them always, and every calamity works for their good.

We know that sometimes the Lord’s witnesses are eaten by the lions, as in the arenas of Rome. The point is, they are not harmed spiritually. Spiritual preservation is by far the most important consideration. The saints emerge as conquerors because they trust in the Lord. They will appear to the world in victory with the Lord Jesus when He appears.

It is the deliverance from the waters and the flames that creates the testimony. The witness of Christ is not given by comfortable church people who attempt to persuade other people to adopt their point of view.

Rather, the witness of Christ comes when the Lord raises us up from death, and the overflow of power and wisdom reaches out to those who are around us. As we pass from death to life we bring along with us those who hear us. The witness comes forth from what God has done and is doing in us, not from knowledge that is stored in our mind.

The witness always is given by the Spirit of God as He brings us through death and life, and then prophesies through us the burden concerning the Messianic Kingdom.

The witness is by fire, and blood, and the sword. It comes forth from the agony of thirst, as God quenches that thirst by revealing Himself to the dying-living soul of the witness whom He is creating. The death of Jesus works in the witness so the Life of Jesus may come to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (Isaiah 43:3)

The idea that God would sacrifice one nation to gain another is not readily understandable to us who are accustomed to democratic ideals. Yet we know that the God of Heaven sacrificed Pharaoh and Egypt in order to reveal His glory in Israel. Israel was chosen to be the royal priesthood, and Egypt was destroyed in the process.

Because we are living in an age when the individual human being is being exalted above God it nearly is impossible for us to accept the seemingly arbitrary nature of God’s dealings. The concept that God is the Potter and we humans are the clay, and that God can do with us as He pleases, is alien to just about everything we are being taught.

The idea that God would count one nation expendable while He pursued His exalting of another nation may be repugnant to our libertarian, humanistic, democratic values. Those who love God will allow Him to be God, while those who are rebellious will rebel at this concept and at all the other aspects of God’s working that cause suffering to humans.

The Divine truth is, God has called His Israel, His elect, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth, to be a treasure peculiarly His own. Whom God foreknew He did predestine to be changed into the image of Jesus and to be the brothers of Jesus. All the creation is working together toward this end. The course of history has been shaped by one predominant consideration: that the Body of Christ be brought to the fullness of the stature of Christ’s image.

Evidently the demons consider God to be arbitrary and unrighteous, and the wicked of mankind portray clearly in themselves the attitude of the demons and fallen angels. But those who love God see righteousness in all that God does. Wisdom is justified by her children.

The Body of Christ is Israel, the Servant of the Lord, the visible representation of the invisible God. Mankind is flesh. Out from the mass of flesh God is calling, purifying, and perfecting a bride for His Son.

The Bride is not built from flesh and blood. She is created from the body and blood of Jesus, from the Divine Substance of the Son of God. She is married to Him because she is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, being created from His Substance just as Eve was created from Adam’s substance.

The Body of Christ, which is the "mystery of God" spoken of in Revelation 10:7, will be brought to maturity in the last days. The Body of Christ will bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God; and then, at the appearing of Christ, will be the Kingdom of which it bore witness previously.

How righteous God is! How compassionate in all His works!

The idea that other nations of people are expendable so God may bring forth this "firstfruits" of mankind may not be in accord with our current way of thinking. The Lord Jesus does many things that are not in agreement with current philosophies and values.

For example, the Lord spoke in parables so the truth of God would be hidden from people, preventing their conversion. In the Kingdom of God, more is given to them who already have been given the truth, while those who have little lose even what they do have.

 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (Matthew 13:10-13—compare Isaiah 6:10)

We understand, therefore, that God does not always work in a manner that is in agreement with our standards. God does as He will in the earth. Yet, because of Calvary, no person can say that God does not care. God does care for people and is willing for all to repent and to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. It is not God’s will that anyone perish.

We may not be able to reconcile the predestining of God’s elect to receive the fullness of the Kingdom, and then the hiding of the truth from the remainder of mankind, with God’s willingness that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). However, the fact that we cannot understand the ways of God is of little consequence.

God is not answerable to us. We do not know all the facts and considerations that bear on the issue. Therefore our responsibility is to give glory to God, believing and acting on what He has stated and maintaining a steady faith in God’s exceedingly great righteousness and love for His creatures.

 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (Isaiah 43:4)

God has given to the Lord Jesus Christ authority over every human being. Jesus gives eternal life to those whom God has given to Him for His special possession, those who are to be His Body, His Bride, His brothers (John 17:2).

We who have been elected to be the members of the Christian Church do not realize the extraordinarily high honor that it is to be called as a saint, a holy one of God. We do not understand the significance of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps it has not been clear to us that the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Presence of the Spirit Himself, are for the purpose of creating the Israel of God, the Servant of the Lord, the Body of Christ.

We have lumped together all the working of God under the one concept that we are being "saved" so when we die we may go to Heaven, there to retire in a beautiful mansion and do nothing of significance. We do not understand the role of the Church—why God is creating the Church and bringing it to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

We have not made a distinction between the saving of people from wrath, on the one hand, and the creating of the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, on the other hand. Numerous passages of the Scriptures, particularly of the Hebrew Prophets, make little sense to us.

When we perceive that God loves the nations of the world, and that He is calling out from the world an elect whom He is filling with His Presence and Glory so they may serve as kings and priests over the nations, bringing justice and peace to the saved peoples of the earth, the writings of the Prophets are much easier to understand.

 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. (Psalms 67:4)

In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. (Psalms 72:7,8)

It is not a case that some are predestined to be saved while others are predestined to be cut off from God forever (although there is scriptural support for the belief that in certain instances this may be true—Judas, the son of perdition, for example; yet even Judas had more opportunity than most people to choose to serve Jesus).

Rather, it is scriptural that some are predestined to be changed into the image of Jesus and to be His brothers. This clearly is true. It does not suggest the others are lost. Those who are the brothers of the Lord are being prepared so they may minister to the needs of the remainder of mankind.

 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18)

The calling of the nation of Israel as God’s royal priesthood did not signify that the other nations of the earth were lost or even under condemnation. Israel was chosen to represent God so the other nations may have a light by which to walk.

The Ten Commandments, although a covenant with Israel, express moral light by which all men can walk.

Today there is no righteous nation, no nation to which the other nations can look for moral leadership. The only nation on earth capable of moral leadership is Israel. Until Israel receives Christ and assumes its priestly role of providing moral law for mankind, the nations of the earth will stagger about in their own moral vomit.

The moral light of God’s holy law will go forth from Jerusalem, according to the Prophets. But first, Christ must return and establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem. Then the Lord will be glorified in the midst of His ancient people and the Word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. (Isaiah 24:23)

If we can understand that the numerous dealings of the Lord with us are to prepare us to serve the needs of other people, not just in this life but for eternity, and that our destiny is not to go to Paradise in the spirit realm and do nothing for eternity, we may find it much easier to accept the seemingly endless training we are undergoing.

All of history is designed to bring God’s elect to the image of Christ and to oneness in Christ in God. All things are working together for good for those who have been called according to God’s purpose.

The two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation are two lampstands. Christ is one Lampstand. The other Lampstand is the Body of Christ—the witness that will come forth in the last days.

 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:20)

The Glory of the Lord will enter the earth through the working of the Lord God Himself. The gathering of the elect to Christ, and the bringing of the nations of the earth to the elect, will come to pass by the power of God. Our responsibility is to look to God and to be obedient to Him every day of our life. God’s responsibility is to bring to pass the words of His Prophets.

The Body of Christ indeed shall be formed, and the nations of the earth indeed shall come to the Body just as soon as the Body has been made one in Christ and has been filled with the Glory of the Lord. 

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isaiah 43:7)

God knows what He is doing with mankind. From the first century, the Christian Church has, to a certain extent, adopted the viewpoint that Christ has gone back to Heaven and now it is our responsibility to save as many people as we can before the Lord returns.

However, all that has taken place in the earth that is of eternal value has been performed as Christ Himself has intervened in the lives of people, calling and directing them according to His own wisdom and power.

The true and eternal work of the Kingdom of God has been done by the Lord using people who have been faithful and obedient to Him. The lasting work of the Kingdom of God is that which has come to pass according to the words of the Prophets of Israel. The remainder of the Christian accomplishments will not be able to pass the test of fire.

The Lord God knows those who are His. He has called them from the creation of the world. God has sown the wheat while the enemy has sown the tares.

In the closing days of the present age, God will raise up the most powerful witness of all time. Those who are of God will come to that light. The wicked will become angry with God and will reject His Christ. The work will be of God, while that which has resulted solely from the efforts of religious people will be burned away in the coming confrontation between God and His adversary (Revelation 17:16).

 Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. (Isaiah 43:8,9)

The blind and deaf that have eyes and ears are the Lord’s prophets, His witnesses. They are blind and deaf to the values and judgments of the world spirit. They choose to see and hear the Lord. They judge according to what they are seeing and hearing from the Lord. No one can make righteous judgments as long as he is making decisions according to what he sees and hears in the world.

God invites the world to bring forth truth, to give meaning to the chaos of world history, to explain what is taking place today. It is clear to all that the money, wisdom, education, talents, and efforts of the peoples of the earth, when they have attempted to build without the Lord, have produced wars, anguish of heart, destruction, famine, and every other form of human misery.

Let the nations bring forth their witnesses. What has been the result of their forsaking the Lord and attempting to bring forth paradise by human means?

If they cannot demonstrate that they have brought peace and joy, let them admit that God and His Christ are the only Source of peace and joy and of every other desirable relationship, circumstance, and thing.

 Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (Isaiah 43:10)

We are being made the Lord’s witnesses. We are His servants whom He has chosen.

The most important characteristic of the true witness is that he knows God, that He understands there is only one God and that Christ is His Son.

The purpose of the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ is to make each member of the Body a true witness. The ministries and gifts work together with the various experiences into which the Holy Spirit brings us in order to create the knowledge of God in us.

We have spoken before of the difference between the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, and becoming a witness of God. There is a variety of ministries and gifts that Christ has set in His Body. However, the testimony, the witness, is one.

The testimony reveals the one God: His righteousness and holiness; His ways of kindness and mercy; the atonement He has made for us through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross; His will that every human being be in His image and have dominion over the works of His hands; His plan to gather together in one all things in Christ; His almighty power, wisdom, majesty, and glory.

The believers have been given differing gifts and ministries according to the wisdom of the Spirit of God. But there is only one fruit of the Spirit. The one fruit is composed of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. Every believer is to bear the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit of God.

The goal of the exercise of the various gifts and ministries of the Spirit is to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in each saint. The fruit of the Spirit is an important part of the witness of God.

There cannot be a witness of God where there is hatred, misery, unrest, impatience, harshness, a bad attitude, treachery, rashness, presumption, or the unrestrained indulgence of the flesh or soul.

As we have stated, there is a considerable amount of Christian ministry taking place in the world today, but in many instances the witness is weak or lacking altogether.

There are pastors, teachers, and evangelists who are so obviously covetous, who are so manifestly seeking their own glory, that the testimony is nonexistent. Also, there is an abundance of unspiritual "ministry" such as musical entertainment.

While some Christian musicians may be genuine disciples, much if not most of what goes on in the area of Christian musical entertainment is worthless as far as the testimony of God is concerned. The music is performed for the entertainment of surfeited, self-centered, immature congregations.

Sometimes young people find joy in Christ through music. But the true witness comes only as those who are ministering reveal in themselves the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of God. All true ministry flows from the cross, not from the pipe organ or guitar.

There is no higher calling available to a human being than to stand in the Presence of God and show His love and Glory to His creation. God is looking today for those who are willing to be made His witnesses.

In order to be acceptable to God we must be ready to turn toward Him with single-minded devotion, forsaking all others, as it were. While we must remain devoted to our family and fulfill diligently our responsibilities in this world, there is no question as to where the first priority of our life is. It is the knowledge and will of God.

God has given to each member of the Body of Christ a ministry and a gift or gifts. We are to present our body to God as a living sacrifice, proving His will as far as Christian service is concerned. If we minister to the Body the unique contribution that is ours to give, and in turn receive the ministries of the other members of the Body, the testimony of Christ will come to maturity in us.

If we do not use our talents, "burying" them for safekeeping, we can expect to be led away into outer darkness when the Lord appears.

It is possible to use our gifts (especially if they are outstanding in the sight of people) in such a manner that we ourselves do not profit spiritually. Because of our ministry we may gain acclaim in the present world. But when we stand before the Lord we shall have no reward. After having preached to others we disqualified ourselves. Although we ministered with spiritual ability we never became a true and faithful witness of Christ.

In the day when we stand before the Lord the issue will be our righteousness in His sight. If we are unrighteous He does not know us although we may have had one of the most remarkable ministries of all time. The Day that is coming will reveal all that has transpired in the hearts of people. Then those who are the true witnesses of the Lord will have praise of God.

The Apostle Paul was a minister of the Gospel and also a witness of Christ:

 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; (Acts 26:16)

In the preceding verse we have a definition of what a witness of Christ is. A witness of Christ is someone who has seen the Lord, a person to whom the Lord has appeared in some manner.

 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (I John 1:1)

A person can minister from his knowledge, or from the ability that the Spirit has given to him. But no one can bear witness until he has seen something or heard something. He can testify only of what has been revealed to him. A witness of God is a person who stands in His Presence and hears from Him, an individual who knows the Lord.

God is preparing a testimony for the days just preceding the appearing of Christ and His saints. The witnesses who will give the testimony are being formed now, and their preparation includes the revealing to them of the Person and will of God in Christ.

 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (Revelation 10:11)

We who participate in Spirit-filled churches are accustomed to prophetic utterance. We have benefited from those who have spoken to us by the Spirit, building us up, exhorting us to godliness and faith, and comforting us.

The prophecy of the witness. however, is not directed toward building the Body of Christ. Rather, it is a proclamation to the world of the will and eternal purpose of the Lord God of Heaven.

The witnesses do not prophesy "before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" in order to build them up in the Body of Christ. The witnesses prophesy to the peoples and rulers of the earth to inform them of God’s intentions toward mankind.

How kind God is to give this witness! Otherwise the appearing of Christ and His saints would result in the destruction of the peoples of the earth. Because God will send them witnesses before the return of the Lord, many peoples and nations will be ready to enter eternal life.

When Jesus comes, all the nations of the earth will be gathered before Him. The nations that received the Lord’s witnesses, His brothers, will be admitted to eternal life. The nations that did not receive the Lord’s brothers, did not assist them as they gave their witness, will be cast into the tormenting fire.

We have been saved and are being changed into the image of the Lord Jesus so we may return with Him and release the creation from the bondage of corruption, and to do all other things necessary to fill the whole earth with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord. This is the nature of the Kingdom of which the Hebrew Prophets spoke.

Before we return with Him, God will enable us to testify of what soon will come to pass in the world. We shall testify of the return of Christ with His saints to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

We understand, therefore, that there is a difference in the purpose of the prophecy given to the Body of Christ, and the prophecy given to the peoples and nations and tongues and kings. The prophecy given to the Body of Christ is for the purpose of building up the Body to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, whereas the prophecy given to the peoples and nations and tongues and kings is for the purpose of giving them an opportunity to repent, to prepare them for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Measuring the Temple of God.

 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. (Revelation 11:1)

The Temple of God is the Christian Church. During the days in which we are living the Lord is judging the condition of His household.

The "altar" is the Altar of Incense. It is mentioned because it is the people who are pressing past the Lampstand, to speak in a figure, and moving on to the Altar of Incense who will be the remnant that bears the testimony of the closing days of the present age.

To be "at the Lampstand" is to have come as far as the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit-filled life. To press forward to the "Altar of Incense" is to give one’s self to Christ without reservation.

The Altar of Incense is the place of the "cup," the point where we declare to the Lord that we are willing to be poured out to death as He sees fit. We are ready to become part of the Servant of the Lord.

The decision to become part of the Servant of the Lord, to allow God to do with us as He will, to forsake our own individuality in order to become an eternally inseparable part of Christ, may at first be "sweet in our mouth."

As we have stated previously, the outworking of the decision "makes our belly bitter" because becoming a part of Christ requires the crucifixion of our flesh and soul. Our reborn spiritual nature desires to have God enter us and work His will. Our flesh and soul then begin to understand they must die and be resurrected before they can participate in the Kingdom of God. They resist God and cling tenaciously to their old life.

Before God authorizes the latter-rain witness of the last days He first will measure the stature of the Church, of the Temple of God. The Divine judgment will begin with those who are bowed in obedience at the Altar of Incense, because the Altar of Incense is the first furnishing of the Tabernacle that God encounters as He proceeds forward from His place of rest between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory.

All that is in us that truly is of Christ will be strengthened and built upon. All that is in us that is not of Christ will be burned away by the Lord as He prepares us to be His witnesses.

The Lord’s witnesses will inflict various tribulations on the world, as we read in the eleventh chapter of Revelation. They will be acting as the Lord’s judges. Before God will allow them to serve as His judges they themselves must be judged thoroughly. With what judgment we judge, we ourselves shall be judged. This is an immutable law of the Kingdom. No one is able to bring the Divine fire upon others until he himself has been refined in that fire and walks in it continually.

 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Revelation 11:2)

The Courtyard was the area outside the Temple. In the days of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the Courtyard was surrounded by a linen fence. In the Courtyard were two furnishings: the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering and the bronze Laver.

The Altar of Burnt Offering represents the cross of the Lord Jesus. The bronze Laver signifies repentance, water baptism, and the washing of us by the Word of God. We become clean through the Word that is spoken to us because the Word shows us the parts of our personality that are unclean.

The Courtyard, the area outside the Temple, symbolizes the nations of the saved, the sheep nations. The two parts of the Tabernacle, and also of the Temple of Solomon, were the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The Altar of Incense was in the Holy Place but closely associated with the Most Holy Place, speaking of the saints who, though still in the Church Age, are pressing into the very Presence of God.

What is being portrayed in Revelation 11:1,2?

First, we understand that in the days of the seventh angel, God will judge His Church, particularly the remnant who are "worshiping at the Altar of Incense." God will remove what is not of Christ from the members of His remnant, His firstfruits, and will proceed to build Christ in them.

Second, we understand also the part of the Kingdom to be governed by the Church, the nations of the saved, signified by the "court that is without the temple," will not be measured, or judged. The statement that the "holy city" will be trampled by the Gentile nations means the Lord’s people will be harassed by the wicked of the earth.

We see the "trampling" going on today as the moral issues with which all godly people are concerned are thrust aside by the governments of the world. Over the next few years there will be increased persecution of Jews and Christians. Godly people, except those who are "at the Altar of Incense" in their spiritual experience, will be subject to abuse by those who do not fear God. The disciples at the Altar of Incense will be judged by the Lord and then employed as His witnesses of the coming of the Kingdom of righteousness.

It appears, despite temporary victories, that the steady course of the world is toward increased moral filth and lawlessness. Every conceivable form of perversion, every conceivable abomination, is not only practiced but made lawful by the governments. The righteous, the meek of the earth, continually deplore what is being practiced in their countries. The trend is toward Satan’s image, will, and ways.

As the two verses (Revelation 11:1,2) we are examining teach us, God will direct His efforts toward bringing to full stature His testimony while the world continues its unrestrained rush toward Divine wrath.

After the testimony has been given, Antichrist will overcome the saints. Then there will be a period of world peace, but it will not be the peace of God. When the spiritual darkness has attained the fullness of iniquity, Christ and His saints will appear.

When Christ appears, God will turn His attention to the Courtyard. The "holy city" no longer will be trampled by the nations. Rather, the saints of the Lord will go through the earth and compel obedience to the laws of the Kingdom of God.

The meek shall inherit the earth.

The neglecting of the Courtyard and the holy city, which represent the righteous of the earth as well as the Jews and Christians who are not part of the holy remnant, is temporary, continuing only while God gives His attention to the bearing of the end-time witness and the preparing of the firstfruits of the Bride for the return of the Bridegroom.

Notice that the trampling of the holy city proceeds for "forty and two months." Forty-two months is three and one-half years, that is, one-half of the seven-year "week" that precedes the return of Christ with His saints.

Our understanding of the prophetic "week" is that during the first half the saints will give the testimony symbolized by the "two witnesses."

During the second half of the week Antichrist will attack Israel. He will enter the city of Jerusalem and take his place in a rebuilt temple in the Holy of Holies between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory, declaring himself to be the most high God. This is the abomination that creates desolation standing in the Holy Place.

At the same time, Satan will persecute the Church viciously. God will make provision for the Church to flee to a place in "the wilderness" where the Church will be nourished for three and one-half years (whether a literal or a figurative number of years we do not know).

Satan will send forth a "flood" of wickedness in his effort to destroy the woman, the Christian Church. The "earth" will help the woman. Satan will attempt to destroy the Church but the Church will be protected by the Lord.

During the same period of history, Satan will go forth to wage war against the remnant of saints who "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Christ" (Revelation 12:17). It is our understanding that this expression refers to the saints who will give the end-time testimony. They keep God’s commandments and have the testimony of Christ.

The current Christian error that teaches the believers they are not required to keep God’s commandments because they are saved by grace has destroyed the testimony of righteousness that should be given by the Christian churches. In the days in which we are living, God has opened our eyes to this error. We can see that the New Testament is filled with commandments—things we ought not to do and things we ought to do. We know that we love Jesus when we keep His Word, His commandments. This we do, by the strength and wisdom given us by the Spirit of God.

There will be throughout the final "week" a company of saints who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Christ. God is raising up such now and is preparing them to go forth to every nation. They will raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out devils, and proclaim the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Notice carefully that Satan does not make war against the Church, against the "woman" (Revelation 12:17). Rather, Satan persecutes the woman but makes war against those who are keeping God’s commandments.

Why is this? It is because while Satan may be angry with all the Christian churches, it is those who are keeping God’s commandments and giving a true testimony of Christ who represent a terrible threat to Satan’s kingdom. For this reason, Satan concentrates his efforts on them.

We see, therefore, that both God and Satan are directing their principal efforts toward those who are coming to the fullness of the stature of Christ.

A forgiven believer who is on his or her way to Paradise represents little threat to Satan’s kingdom. It is the saint who is conquering sin and keeping God’s commandments who represents such a fearful threat to Satan’s kingdom. Satan wages war with cunning against those who are walking in righteousness and holiness before God.

The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. We know that an individual is entering the Kingdom of God when we see him performing, through Christ’s grace, the will of God. God’s warriors are entering the Kingdom of God now. It is against these that Satan goes forth to wage war.

We understand, then, that Satan will persecute all the true saints, forcing them to flee from the cities of the earth. Satan will fight against those who are preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and bearing witness to the nations of the earth.

Jesus stated that after the end-time testimony has been given the end will come.

 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)

The "end" of what? One "end" that will come is the end of the ability of the Christian people who are not filled with God to practice righteousness in the earth. For, as the Lord stated, "the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4).

How will the spiritual "night" come about? It will come about, as we understand it, as God lifts the special anointing that empowered the saints to shake the whole earth with the Word of God. When the anointing lifts, Satan will be able to "make war with the saints, and to overcome them" (Revelation 13:7).

We believe further that once the Spirit-empowered Word of God has been silenced, Satan will endow Antichrist with the wisdom to enlist the cooperation of the Christian people, deceiving them into supporting His one-world government. There will be severe economic penalties for those who do not cooperate.

Antichrist will assist in the building of the churches and Christian schools of those who are willing to compromise just a bit, who are willing to fall into line with the governmental pressure to seek the welfare of the human race in place of the fervent worship of God.

The enlisting of the support of the Christians will be a subtle attack—and successful! The love of the majority of the believers will grow cold toward Christ. Yet they will be deceived into believing they are serving Christ.

During the second half of the week the saints will be overcome. The Christian churches will flourish throughout Antichrist’s empire, but the Spirit of God will not be in those churches.

The believers of that day will not realize their churches are being conducted by the wisdom, energies, and talents of people, just as today they do not realize much of what is taking place in their churches is being carried on by the wisdom, energies, and talents of people.

The success of the so-called "prosperity" gospel of our time reveals to us how readily the Christian believers can be deceived.

Before Christ returns, a very dark day (spiritually speaking) will come upon the earth. There will be peace and safety, but it will be a peace and safety brought about by a generation of people who have succeeded in overcoming the prophetic Spirit of Christianity and who have cooperated with one another to the point of achieving a universal brotherhood.

In our own day we can see the creation of the world peace and safety that is coming, as the Lord’s people are unable to distinguish between what is of the Spirit and what is of the flesh and soul of Christian preachers, teachers, and believers.

Even today, only those who are sincere and diligent in their seeking of Christ are able to perceive the spiritual death that is entering the Christian churches. Christ is speaking to the individuals who are seeking Him with a pure heart and have ears to hear Him. The majority of believers are continuing in their "togetherness," not perceiving that they are not touching the burning Fire of Heaven.

Therefore, the first half of the "week" includes the giving of the most compelling testimony of all time. During the second half of the "week" the testimony will be overcome and Antichrist will be able to persuade the Christians to work with him in the setting up of a one-world government.

To this point we have been discussing several factors that bear on the witness that will be given during the days of the seventh trumpet, including the preparation of those who will bear witness of the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of Almighty God to all the nations on the earth. Now we shall examine the giving of the witness.

Bearing the witness.

 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)

The above verse is a continuation of Revelation 10:11. John was commanded to eat the little book so he might "prophesy again." John represents the saints. The original prophecy was the Divine witness of the Book of Acts. The "again prophecy" is the witness that will be given by the Lord’s apostles and prophets in the last days.

Just as soon as the Temple of God has been measured, God will empower His witnesses. This is because God’s Temple, the Church, in particular the firstfruits-remnant worshiping at the Altar of Incense, must be measured, be judged so they can be empowered to serve with Christ as the witness of the coming judgment.

The current understanding that views the two witnesses as two patriarchs from the Old Testament is not sound, for four reasons:

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation assumes that the witnesses are present.

It is not reasonable that God would revert to a lesser covenant in order to produce the bearers of the most important testimony ever given to mankind.

There is no Old Testament passage that portrays two persons of the past appearing to the world in the last days.

The fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, in which the meaning of the lampstand and olive trees is given, says nothing about two men of the past returning to the earth and ministering to the world in the last days.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation does not indicate that the two witnesses were raised from the dead, or that they came down from Heaven. If either of these circumstances is to take place in the last days, it certainly is worthy of note. It is not likely that the Scriptures would be silent on such an extraordinary event.

It is not reasonable that God would resort to men from a previous covenant, a lesser covenant, in order to take over the task of testifying of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth—the task that historically has belonged to the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus stated that John the Baptist was the equal of any of the Prophets of the Old Testament but that he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than John:

 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:28)

The reason why he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than those who are born of women is that every member of the Kingdom of God has been born of God. None of the prophets under the old covenant, including John the Baptist, was born again of the Spirit of God.

No person ever was born of God before the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. To be born again is to have Christ born in our heart. This was impossible until the Lord was crucified and rose from the dead—the Firstborn of the Kingdom, of the new creation of God.

We find it difficult to believe God would go back to those who were not born again and select two men to bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom—the Kingdom of those who are born again.

Also, it is not possible that those who only were born of women, who had not been born again of Christ, could be symbolized by the golden Lampstand. The golden Lampstand always symbolizes Christ or the Church of Christ—that which is born of Him and is part of Him.

The Prophets of the Old Testament were anointed flesh. Each member of the Body of Christ is a part of God. Therefore the members of the Body of Christ can be portrayed by the golden Lampstand. Gold, in the Scriptures, typifies Divinity, never humanity.

No Old Testament passage suggests that two individuals from the old covenant will be raised from the dead (or brought down from Heaven) in order to bear witness, in the closing days of this age, of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The absence of such a passage is a most important consideration because the New Testament always is supported by the Old Testament.

The writers of the New Testament constantly employed the Old Testament as the authority for their doctrine. Any teaching that cannot be found clearly in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is to be regarded with caution because both Testaments are in agreement.

The Old Testament does state that Elijah will come before the Day of the Lord. Jesus Himself declared that John the Baptist was Elijah. This statement establishes two facts: the first is that Elijah has come already; the second is that God speaks in mysteries such that we do not know what He means until the event occurs.

Who would have thought that God did not mean Elijah himself would come but that a different individual would appear in the spirit and power of Elijah?

The strongest argument against the two witnesses of Revelation portraying two men from the past is that the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, which is the Old Testament antecedent of the symbol of the olive trees and lampstands, tells us what the vision means; and it has nothing to do with two patriarchs from the past.

Referring to the golden Lampstand and the two olive trees on either side of it:

 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:4-6)

What is the meaning of the Lampstand and the two olive trees?

It is that the Temple of God will be completed "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit."

If the vision of the two lampstands and the two olive trees means two men will return from the past and bear witness of the Kingdom of God, there should be some indication of this in the answer given here by the angel. There is no suggestion of two men appearing on the earth in the last days. Rather, the vision means God will restore His Temple by His Holy Spirit rather than by the abilities of the flesh of man.

There is no message more urgently needed in the days in which we are living. It appears that every form of Christian work, from the feeding of the poor to the carrying of the Gospel to the nations, is being performed by the abilities of people, with a heavy emphasis on money.

Seldom do we hear of anyone who is trusting in God’s Spirit to accomplish God’s work, although most Christian organizations say that what they are accomplishing is by God’s Spirit and that it is the Lord who is guiding them.

The vision of the two lampstands and the two olive trees means God will cause the Gospel of the Kingdom to be brought to the ends of the earth by His Spirit rather than by the wealth, or valor, or strength, or any other capability of the flesh of man. God’s Spirit will accomplish in a short period of time that which earnest Christian people have not been able to perform in the two thousand years of the Christian Era.

The "two witnesses" will "prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days." As we have stated, the kind of prophecy they will give is not for the purpose of building up, exhorting, and comforting the members of the Body of Christ. Rather, the prophesy is addressed to the unsaved, telling them of the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, and warning them to receive Christ as Savior and Lord and to be baptized in His name as a sign of their willingness to enter His Kingdom.

Twelve hundred sixty days equals three and one-half years, reckoning a year as 360 days. Three and one-half years is the first half of the prophetic "week" of years, the week during which the highly placed angel of Revelation, Chapter Ten governs the events on the sea and on the earth. As soon as the seven-year period has been concluded, the seventh angel will sound and the Kingdom of God will be here (Revelation 11:15).

The two witnesses are "clothed in sackcloth." Here again we see one of the needs of the Christian witness of our time. The witness of today is apt to be clothed in expensive finery. The trend is toward great sums of money, large, impressive buildings, expensive cars, popularity, hundreds and thousands of people in attendance.

In some instances the famous of the world are invited to share in the Christian enterprises so the worldly people will recognize that events of importance are transpiring.

The whole effort is of the flesh. Vigorous persecution soon will bring an end to the efforts of the Christians to win the world by outdoing it in wealth and finery.

The true witness of the last days will be clothed in sackcloth. It will be given by the humblest of people who, as in the case of Elijah and John the Baptist, make no attempt to impress the wealthy of the world. Rather, they return from the wilderness where they have been taught of God. They care nothing for the wealth or prestige of this world but rely on the Spirit of the Lord.

There will be little about the Lord’s saints that appeals to the fleshly desires of men. As John the Baptist, they will cry, "Repent; for the Kingdom of God is at hand." They will be untouchable by the influential of the world, caring neither for money nor recognition by people nor status nor for their own lives. They will build no organization, neither will they leave monuments to their own name.

Their natural home is "in the wilderness," "in sackcloth," with God. This is where they gain their strength and comfort. It matters little what people think of them and they do not expect support from organized Christianity. Their only concern is that God’s will is performed. After God’s will has been accomplished they are ready to go to Christ in Heaven, for the present world is a prison to them.

This is the true condition of God’s prophets of the last days and they are being prepared now. It will require an enormous amount of preparation before we Christians will be able to return to the ways of Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. Yet, these are the kind of people who will walk with Christ and bear witness of the Kingdom in the first half of the prophetic "week."

Perhaps, dear reader, the kind of life we have just described appeals to you. You have a desire to get alone with God, to know Him, to represent Him among mankind. If so, why don’t you tell the Lord that such is your desire. Tell Him that you want to come away with Him, to learn of Him, to be hidden in His secret place. God will receive all true hearts who have a longing to know His Person. He will prepare all who come to Him to bear the double portion of His Spirit in these days.

The world is waiting to see and hear the Person of God. Organized religion has done a lot of good, but there only is so far that God will allow the enterprises of men to go. The earth-shaking testimony of the last days is reserved for those who are willing and prepared to walk in the sackcloth of repentance and humility, concerned only that God has His way, content to know Him and to be with Him, caring nothing for the approval or ways of the present world.

If that sounds like something you would like, tell the Lord about it. He will be glad to receive you for He looks for such to worship Him.

 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth. (Revelation 11:4)

First, let us consider the two olive trees.

We notice, in the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, that the "golden oil" of the Holy Spirit flows from the two olive trees into the bowl, and from there into the seven lamps. The two olive trees, or branches, are "the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:14).

The golden Lampstand represents the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has the Spirit without measure. God has anointed Him above all others because He loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.

Speaking of the Lord Jesus, the Father proclaimed:

 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalms 45:6,7)

The Lord Jesus has been anointed with the golden oil that flows from the two olive branches. The term Christ means "anointed with oil."

There can be no question that the golden Lampstand of Zechariah 4:2 portrays Christ. The golden Lampstand is a type of Christ. Neither is there any doubt that Christ stands by the Lord of the whole earth. God the Father, who is the Lord of the whole earth, has established Christ as the Heir of all things—Heir of the whole heaven, and Heir of the whole earth.

The Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation had to be supplied with oil during each twenty-four hour period. The Lampstand of Zechariah had a continual supply of oil, needing not that the priest of God enter the Holy Place and fill the seven lamps with oil.

So it is true that our Lord Jesus has the Spirit of God without measure:

 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. (John 3:34)

If the two anointed ones (sons of oil) are the source of the double portion of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that abides eternally on our Lord Jesus Christ, it cannot be true that the two olive trees are two individuals from the Old Testament; for it is not possible that Christ receives the Holy Spirit from two men.

It is much more likely that the two "sons of oil" are two heavenly beings who act as sources of God’s Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit appears in the Book of Revelation as "seven Spirits" before the Throne of God ((Revelation 1:4), and as a "pure river of water of life" (Revelation 22:1).

The symbolism of the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah refers no doubt to God’s Spirit as a witness (in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established) as well as to the double portion of power that has been reserved for the last days.

Jesus promised us we would work His works, and greater works, and we know that His Word in this regard will be fulfilled abundantly in the latter rain outpouring of God’s Spirit on the saints.

The Levitical feast of Weeks, that we know by the name of "Pentecost," was characterized by the number two.

 Ye shall bring from your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. (Leviticus 23:17,20)

On the feast of Pentecost, two loaves baked from the flour of the wheat harvest were waved before the Lord.

The number two symbolizes the witness, and also the Pentecostal power ("not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit").

We understand, therefore, that the Holy Spirit of God abides without measure on Jesus so He may possess the fullness of power and by this power bear witness of God.

 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. (John 5:36)

The Lord Jesus is the "faithful witness" of God (Revelation 1:5).

The vision of the Lampstand and the two olive trees means God will build His Temple, His House, by the unlimited power of His Spirit rather than by the efforts of human beings, and all the work of witnessing will be accomplished by God’s Spirit.

The two olive trees represent the double portion, the unlimited anointing of the Spirit of God. Those who bear this anointing, as did Elijah and Elisha (who themselves bore witness by the grace of Christ), stand before the God of the earth.

Now, let us think about the two lampstands "standing before the God of the earth" (Revelation 11:4).

As we have stated, the Lampstand in the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah symbolizes the Lord Jesus Christ—He who has the Spirit of God without measure. Now we have a second Lampstand standing before the Lord of the whole earth.

If the first Lampstand is Christ (and the solid-gold Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation long has been considered as a type of Christ, the Anointed One of God), what scriptural basis do we have for a second "Christ"?

We have stated previously that the "mystery of God," of Revelation 10:7, is the bringing forth of Christ in the saints. We know that the Christian Church is the Body, the fullness, the counterpart, the complement of Christ:

 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22,23)

The Church is the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ. As such, the Church is the complement of Christ. She is Him in the sense of being an enlargement and glorifying of Him. The Church is the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 1:23).

Perhaps the best portrayal of the relationship between the Lamb and His Wife is found in the relationship between Adam and Eve. Eve was a complement of Adam. Eve was formed from Adam. All that Adam needed to complete him as man was found in Eve. Eve was the fullness of Adam.

The second Lampstand is the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church was not in existence in the days of Zechariah but will come to fullness of stature in the days preceding the appearing of Christ and His saints. The mystery of God, which is the bringing forth of Christ in His saints, will be completed in the days when the seventh angel begins to sound.

The original statement of the Lord to His Apostles is as follows:

 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

This promise and commission never have changed. The Holy Spirit is to come upon the Lord’s messengers and empower them to bear witness to every inhabited area of the earth.

It is the responsibility of the Christian saints to bear witness to the peoples of the earth, and Christ has promised to give them of His anointing so they may fulfill this responsibility.

The power of God came upon the Apostles of Christ during the first century and they bore witness of the resurrection of Christ and of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The witnessing power of the Holy Spirit has been present throughout the succeeding centuries, although not with the same power and revelation that was true of the original Apostles of the Lamb.

The Old Testament Prophets inform us that there will be an outpouring of God’s Spirit in the closing days of the present age. There will be a "double portion" in the last days. The symbolism of Elijah and Elisha emphasizes the portion of the Spirit and then the coming double portion of the Spirit:

 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:28,29)

Again:

 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5)

The Book of Acts was a "former," or fall rain, a rain for the planting of seed. There have been sporadic "winter" rains throughout the Christian Era. There must come a "latter," a spring harvest rain if the planting of the earth is to come to maturity:

 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23)

We understand, therefore, that the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation is describing the hour when the maturing saints are given the double portion of the Holy Spirit so they may perform the "greater works" that have been promised to them by the Lord Jesus (John 14:12).

What is needed today as never before is the power of the Holy Spirit. If we are to bear witness to the ends of the earth we must have the double portion of the Holy Spirit. We have been commanded to pray for rain in the time of the latter rain, and today is the time of the latter, harvest rain.

 Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. (Zechariah 10:1)

Truly, as it says in Zechariah 10:2, we live in a day when "the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams."

We are in a day of false voices in the churches of Christ. Far too much emphasis is being placed on the significance of money in the Kingdom of God. Money (mammon) is the god of the churches of our day. Money is an idol, a false god. Money cannot spread the Kingdom of God.

Consider Elijah or Elisha or John the Baptist. Each of these three men was an important forerunner of the latter-rain witness of the last days. What role did money play in their testimony? Did they find it necessary to acquire sums of money so the "work of the Lord" could be carried out?

Some will say, "Money was not as important then as it is now."

That is not true. From the days of Balaam and before, money has been the alternative to the power and faithfulness of God. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, was afflicted with leprosy because of his covetousness. Achan brought disaster on Israel because of a similar motive.

The true witnesses of the Lord always have been and always will be free from the influence, the taint, of money. Their testimony depends on the resources of the Holy Spirit of God.

It appears we must learn all over again that the work of the Kingdom is not performed by human ability or by money but by the Spirit of the Lord. Is there a more needed emphasis in the day in which we are living?

The Lord Jesus never presented money as an important tool in the spreading of the Gospel. Christ’s comments concerning money caused the Pharisees to scorn Him because they were covetous. The Lord did not teach that money was the power that would establish in the earth the testimony of the Kingdom of God. In fact, money was the only heathen God against whom Jesus warned, saying, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).

The two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of Revelation constitute a testimony of the Kingdom of God to the whole earth—a testimony that relies on the Spirit of God.

Consider John the Baptist. Can you imagine John saying to those who came down to be baptized, "If every one of you will give me a denarius I will be able to get out the Word of God to all Judaea"?

Or, imagine Elijah pleading for shekels. "If everyone would set aside each month just a small portion for me I would be able to bring the Word of God to Jerusalem, Samaria, Tyre, and Sidon."

At once we see how ridiculous such statements would be. The stature of these distinguished witnesses would shrink until they were just ordinary men who were attempting to put across their particular beliefs.

One fact that causes John the Baptist and Elijah to stand as towers of righteousness and power is that they were free from money. They relied on the Spirit of God to bring forth the testimony of God’s Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose.

It may be difficult for us to believe the same condition is true today. The revival in Wales, and the revivals under Finney, praying Hyde, and other servants of the Lord, show us that the Lord’s ways are the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Lord Jesus Christ does not change. The witness of God always comes forth as holy people pray and God pours out His Spirit.

Organizations of our time mention the need for holy prayer and the Spirit of God. One may notice that the real emphasis is on money. "If we do not have money the work of the Kingdom of God ceases." This is an abomination and accounts for the spiritual deadness that is prevalent. It is time for us to return to the Lord.

God desires to pour out His Spirit in the last days to an unprecedented degree. God is looking for those who will set aside their own efforts and seek His face. This does not mean we cease our service in the Body of Christ. It does mean we look increasingly to the Lord for all things and trust no longer in money, music, or in any other device of the flesh.

The Lord has declared, in Zechariah 10:3, that His anger is kindled against the shepherds, the leaders of the flock of God. Therefore the Lord Himself will visit His flock and make them an army. This will take place in the days of the outpouring of the latter rain. Many choruses that we sing tell of the army of God. God has an army, and it is time to take the Kingdom of God. The Spirit of God is singing this truth to us for we are in the days of the latter rain.

The Lord Jesus and His Church (the two Lampstands that stand before the God of the earth) will go forth under an unlimited anointing of the Spirit of God (the two olive trees) to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the people of the earth as a witness of God’s Person, will, and eternal purpose. This most astounding of all testimonies will be given before the appearing of Christ from Heaven.

After the worldwide testimony there will be a period of peace and safety during which mankind attempts to rule the earth without God. God’s true prophetic witnesses will have been silenced during this time. Suddenly the witnesses of all ages will be revived, standing on their feet. The world will behold the Glory of God in them. Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in the heaven and the Lord’s witnesses will ascend to meet Him in the clouds.

This is our understanding of the events of the closing days of the present age.

The Lord Jesus is looking for men and women, boys and girls, who will walk with Him. The trend today is for people to join together in order to accomplish the work of the testimony by human effort. This never has been the way of the witness of God. The witness of God throughout the Scriptures has consisted of one individual who was walking with God.

So it is today. Jesus is looking for individuals who will draw near to Him and come to know Him. Nothing on earth equals the joy of walking with the Lord Jesus. To know Him, to seek Him, to sense His nearness, to hear from Him—this is the most wonderful life one can live.

The Lord is preparing such people for Himself. He will go forth with them, baptizing them with the fullness of His Spirit. He and they (the great Person and the little person; the Elephant and the mouse) will walk through the earth. They will bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They will heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, and proclaim the Kingdom. The great Person provides the wisdom and strength. The little person is the bodily presence in the earth. The two are in agreement. It is a time of joyous fellowship.

This to our way of thinking is the fulfillment of the vision of the two witnesses, of the two olive trees and two lampstands of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The Christian Church, the Body of Christ, is to be a golden Lampstand standing before the God of the earth. The Christian Church is to be the Prophet of God among men.

The authority of the witness.

 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth from their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. (Revelation 11:5)

We are not told what message God’s witnesses will preach. It is the opinion of this writer that their message will be identical to that of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. The message is: The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News. He who believes and is baptized in water shall be saved. He who does not believe shall be condemned.

The message will be a simple one declaring the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, bringing the Good News that whoever will receive Jesus, being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, will receive the forgiveness of his sins. It will be, we believe, a message of repentance. All must repent of their ungodliness and turn to the only Lord and Savior, Christ.

Such was the message of Christ and such was the message of His Apostles.

Although it is not stated in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, we believe the proclamation of repentance in Jesus’ name will be accompanied by miracles of healing, casting out devils, raising the dead, and many other signs and wonders more powerful than any yet seen on the earth. It will be the time of the greater works that Jesus promised.

This is the Christian message that will be preached before the coming of Christ. It will not differ from the proclamation that was given in the beginning. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom that is to be preached in the last days, not a new gospel or a strange, different doctrine:

 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)

Now something has been added. The enemies of the witnesses are consumed by fire coming from their mouths. Also, the saints have the authority to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy and to plague the nations in other manners. In spite of what fell on Ananias and Sapphira, and on Elymas (Acts 13:11), we ordinarily do not associate the Christian Gospel with works of destruction.

Why will this authority be added to the witnessing Church?

It was not so when the Apostles walked with Jesus. Neither He nor they brought down the judgment of God on men (Luke 9:54-56).

They were the forerunners of the two thousand years of the Church era. Throughout the Church era the Lord’s saints have been teaching, healing, and performing works of mercy. It was fitting that the witnesses of the Church era not bring down the wrath of God on men. Christ’s witnesses have revealed the Divine mercy to mankind and have borne witness of the blood of atonement.

On many occasions the Lord’s saints have been tortured and sent to their deaths, having been commanded by the Lord not to resist evil men but to bear in their bodies the sufferings of Christ. The world has become accustomed to the meekness of the Christians.

The testimony of the witnesses of the coming of the Kingdom of God will be different because they will be portraying the coming of a kingdom that will be established on the earth by violence.

When the Kingdom of God comes, the sons of God will march throughout the earth. The wicked will be ground to powder beneath their feet. Satan himself will be crushed beneath the "bronze feet" of the saints of the most high God.

 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)

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)

Because the Kingdom of God will be established on the earth with violence, bringing upon the nations the rule of the rod of iron of Christ and His brothers, the witnesses of the coming of the Kingdom will exercise the same power of plagues and destruction that characterized the testimony of Moses and of Elijah and Elisha.

We Christians may be repulsed by the prospect of bringing harm to people. We must consider we are near to the greatest change that ever has come upon the earth—the change from the rule of man to the rule of the Lord. It is the will of God that both the Church and the world be warned of the change that is upon us and to be prepared as much as possible.

The Day of the Lord is at hand, and it is not a pleasant prospect for those who sin or for those who are accustomed to doing whatever comes into their mind, not being in submission to the rule of Christ.

The Scriptures, plus what we can observe of the behavior of the people of our day, reveal with clarity that mankind (including the believers in Christ to a certain extent) is not ready to submit meekly to the will of the God of Heaven. God’s rule in the earth must be established by force. The two witnesses will give the nations some idea of the suffering that is to come upon all who resist the rule, the will, of God and His Christ.

Change—utter, radical, total, change—is upon us. The Day of Judgment is at hand. We Christians are being judged in advance so we may bear witness of what soon is to fall upon the earth. The true witnesses of the last days will be authorized to bind and to loose, to retain sins and to forgive sins. They will possess the key of David, the keys of the Kingdom.

Although the witnesses will be overcome when their testimony has been completed, according to the will and plan of God, while they are bearing witness they will be full of the authority and power of God to demonstrate among men the rule of the Kingdom.

 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth from their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. (Revelation 11:5)

The God of Heaven will be with His witnesses. Any individual who attempts to prevent their testimony or to harm them in any manner will be dealt with by the Lord. The persecutor will not die a normal death, He will die by the intervention of God.

 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from Heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. (II Kings 1:10)

Since the new covenant has to do primarily with spiritual gain and loss, it is not impossible that the killing of people will be spiritual, that is, God’s witnesses will bind the wicked in their sins so they no longer will be able to reach the Lord in prayer.

In the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira we do have a precedent, in the New Testament, for the physical slaying of the disobedient by the "fire" coming from the mouth of Christ’s witness.

Notice the Divine authority that was given to the Apostles of the Lamb:

 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:22,23)

Consider this most extraordinary authority that came to them upon their receiving of the Holy Spirit from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the same authority employed by the Lord Jesus Himself. The Pharisees objected strongly to Christ’s claim to be able to forgive sins, recognizing that God alone possesses the authority to forgive sin.

However, there is no doubt that Christ intends for this same authority to be exercised by apostles whom He has chosen and filled with His Holy Spirit.

The concept of possessing the authority to retain sin, that is, to deny entrance to the Kingdom, may be a new thought to us. But such authority will be held by the saints who bear witness in the last days.

The Christian Church has fallen so far from its original stature that it nearly is inconceivable to us that Christ would entrust such ultimate authority to men whether or not they are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is a vain argument to claim "they had it back there but it is not for us today." There is no scriptural basis whatever for the teaching that the greater works of God are behind us, that the power of God exercised in the past is needed no longer. Christ stated that many who are last shall be first, meaning, we believe, that some who are last in time will be first in the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is progressing. The glory of the latter house will be greater than the former. Christ has kept the good wine until now. The latter rain, the greatest of all revivals, has been kept for the closing days of the present age.

The tares of wickedness are coming to maturity. The wheat of righteousness will come to maturity at the same time. Has there ever been a time in history when the Presence, the revelation, the power of God have been needed more than in the present hour?

With this pattern and need in mind, it is indefensible to relegate God’s major works to the past.

If God’s Spirit-filled witnesses of the last days are given by the Lord the authority to retain sins and to forgive sins, they will possess the power of spiritual life and spiritual death. Those who seek to harm them will be smitten with spiritual death. This interpretation of Revelation 11:5 would be in keeping with the spiritual nature of the Book of Revelation.

If what we have presented is the true interpretation we can expect spiritual death to fall on whoever resists the Lord’s testimony of the last days. Those of us who have been Christians for a long time have seen this kind of judgment take place in the lives of people.

Individuals who have turned against what the Spirit of God clearly is performing, having been warned and having had a chance to consider their actions, have died spiritually. Spiritual death is not an instantaneous process, it is something like the death of a large tree. It is a withering to death, as it were. It is a prolonged, true death, a separation from the Life of God.

We have no doubt that Christ’s witnesses of the last days will possess the authority from Christ to forgive sins and to retain sins: that is, to save alive spiritually and to kill spiritually. Once again we see the need for the saints themselves to be judged by the Lord. Enormous authority and power will be given to those who bear the Divine testimony in the period preceding the Day of Christ.

We know from the Hebrew Prophets that there will come a time when the rulership of the world is given to the saints of God. The two witnesses will reveal, in advance of the actual coming of the Kingdom, the rule of the saints over the nations of the earth. This rulership will include the power of spiritual life and death.

To the Body of Christ have been given the keys of the Kingdom of God. Whatever the saints bind on the earth will be bound in the heavens. Whatever the saints loose on the earth will be loosed in the heavens.

We are so accustomed to the wicked governing the earth that it is difficult for our eyes to bear the light that is dawning on the horizon. The earth belongs to man—that is the Divine decree. In Christ we are learning how to be ruled by God, and then how to rule. All things have been put under the rulership of man. A person must have Christ crowned absolute King in his heart before he is able to govern the creation as the Lord God intends for it to be governed.

While people literally may be slain by fire coming from the mouths of the witnesses, we think it is more likely that both the fire and the death are spiritual. This is true also for the other plagues that the two witnesses will bring on the rebellious. The spiritual interpretation is more in keeping with the symbolic visions that abound in the Book of Revelation.

Natural events and spiritual events often follow parallel courses. There may be a natural as well as a spiritual fulfillment of many of the passages. It is easy to become confused and inconsistent, in the Book of Revelation, when attempting to describe literal fulfillments proceeding in chronological order. The riches of Revelation are gained when the Holy Spirit gives the spiritual significance of the vision.

The concept of the saints possessing the power of spiritual life and spiritual death is related to the Divine blessing and curse associated with Abraham:

 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)

It may be upsetting to some to think of this kind of authority being given to individuals. However, it is a fact that the keys of the Kingdom have been given to the members of the Body of Christ. It is they who will rule, and they will rule with a rod of iron. The last-day witnesses will reveal in themselves the coming rule of the Kingdom of God over the peoples of the earth.

Those who receive the witnesses as being from God will be blessed. They will be rewarded in that Day when the Lord Jesus judges the nations. Those who do not receive the witnesses have spurned Christ. Those who have harmed the witnesses have harmed Christ. Those who have harmed Christ have harmed God. Whatever is done to Christ’s witness is done to Christ, and whatever is done to Christ is done to God.

 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matthew 25:45)

"Ye did it not to me "!

There is an important Kingdom principle here. The Kingdom of God is God dwelling in Christ dwelling in the saints. What is done to a member of the Body of Christ is done to Christ, and what is done to Christ is done to the Father. All are One through the Spirit of God. This is the nature of the holy city—the city destined to rule the creation of God forever.

All who would enter eternal life, having their portion on the new earth, are obliged to accept the fact that the people whom Christ sends represent Him. They are His ambassadors. It is not possible to reject them and to accept Christ. The more the witnesses dwell in Christ the more true this becomes.

 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. (Matthew 10:7,18,40)

As we approach the coming of the Lord, the rule of the saints appears on the horizon. The two witnesses will announce the coming of the Kingdom. Then, after a brief rule of Antichrist, the Kingdom will be here. The saints are being prepared to rule in Jesus. The peoples of the earth must be made ready for the rule of the saints.

 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)

It is no wonder that it is said of the witnesses: "These two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth" (Revelation 11:10). The peoples of the earth will not be overjoyed with the prospect of being forced to do the will of God. But they will have no choice because to resist God’s witnesses is to come under condemnation.

 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. (Revelation 11:6)

Again, it appears there will be a literal fulfillment of each of these plagues, as in the testimony given by Moses and Aaron—two forerunners of the two witnesses of the end-time. Such plagues will guarantee the crumbling of every manmade wall that keeps out the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Some of the largest nations of our time employ their power to keep out the apostles of Christ. Such nations will be powerless when God gives His ambassadors authority over water.

James uses Elijah as a model to teach us to pray:

 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. (James 5:17)

Three years and six months symbolizes the first half of the prophetic "week," during which the earth-wide testimony will be given. James is speaking of Christians praying for a literal drought.

The world is not accustomed to having cause to fear the prayers of the saints.

There also is a spiritual application of the authority over water.

 Water represents life. Rain symbolizes the Spirit of God. Blood speaks of the life of the flesh, of corruption and death.

Perhaps the shutting of heaven that it rain not, the turning of waters to blood, and the smiting of the earth with plagues, refer to control over the spirit realm.

One of the greatest problems of our day is that there is no judgment in the house of God. The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit operate in the midst of carnality and self-glorification. Also, there are numerous activities in the churches that never were instituted by the Holy Spirit.

The average church-attender has no method of distinguishing what is of God and what is not of God. The people are moved by soulish music and think they are being blessed spiritually. Evangelists come and collect large amounts of money, drive expensive automobiles, wear the most expensive clothes. Yet their spirit of persuasion is so great that people who never will be able to afford such cars or clothes give of the little money they do have. It is an abomination.

These lovers of their own bellies are the representatives of Christ in our day. They are all that Christ has to work with.

One of the great needs of the hour is for true prophets to appear who have the authority to dry up every so-called "work of God" that is not true to God, and to deliver to Satan those who are living in sin. The obvious need of today is not as much for the peoples of the world to have more suffering as it is for the spiritual climate of the Christian churches to be purified. This may be what is meant by the sixth verse of Revelation, Chapter 11. The way of the Lord must be made straight before He returns. The high places must be brought down and the valleys lifted up. The rough places must be made plain and the crooked straightened. Surely the Lord is not referring to the mountains and valleys, the trails and paths, of the material world. He is speaking of the spiritual mountains and valleys, trails and paths.

How will the spiritual mountains, valleys, and pathways be prepared for the Lord unless God gives His witnesses the spiritual authority to straighten out the enormous spiritual confusion that exists?

While we see a need for the literal fulfillment of verse six we see also a need for a spiritual fulfillment. There is a great need to set in order the spiritual structure of the Kingdom of God. Confusion and anarchy reign among the believers of today, with each individual doing what is right in his own eyes.

Two witnesses. Before any new work of God begins in the earth He always provides two witnesses of what is to come. The two witnesses embody in themselves the characteristics of the new age.

Adam and Eve were the first two witnesses. They embodied in themselves the characteristics of the race of mankind that soon was to fill the earth.

Abraham and Sarah were the next pair of witnesses. They portrayed in themselves the Church—those who are called out by the Lord to be His kings and priests over the race of mankind.

Moses and Aaron signaled the next major change, the next move toward the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Moses and Aaron represented the giving of the holy Law of God, making known to mankind the righteous ways of the Lord.

The Father and the Son were seen as One in Christ, but in actuality two Persons were bearing witness. The coming of the Father and the Son brought to mankind the light of the knowledge of the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of God.

The Apostles and the Holy Spirit bore witness to mankind of the eternal life that is in Christ and in none other. Every person who has been born on the earth must come to Christ if he or she would pass from death to life.

Notice what has been given thus far:

The physical form of mankind.

The division of mankind into the Church and the remainder of the peoples of the earth.

The proclamation of the righteousness and holiness of God.

The revelation of the Person of God to mankind.

The bringing of eternal life to mankind.

Two witnesses have appeared when each of these five stages was to be inaugurated, and the witnesses revealed in themselves what was to come. They personified the coming stage of development.

The Kingdom of God, the rule of God, soon is to come to the earth. The will of God shall descend from Heaven in the form of Christ and His Body. The Lord Jesus and His saints will enter the earth and compel obedience to the laws of God.

There will be a war at that time because of the refusal of earth’s peoples to be governed by Christ and His saints. One scarcely can imagine the indignation of the proud inhabitants of the earth when they are informed that they must obey God’s moral laws or be smashed to pieces.

The two witnesses, Christ and His saints, who will announce the entrance of the rule of God into the earth, will portray in themselves the Day that is coming. They will bear witness with the fullness of the authority of Christ. They will demonstrate what the peoples of the earth can expect to be true of conditions on the earth in the near future.

This is why it is necessary that the saints be given the authority over spiritual life and spiritual death, why all "waters" will be under their authority, and why it will be necessary for them to "smite the earth with all plagues." They are announcing what is to come and are demonstrating the characteristics of the new day.

The two witnesses of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, Christ and His saints, will also reveal the oneness of the saints with the Father and the Son. The Father through Christ through the saints will govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth throughout the Kingdom Age.

The final two witnesses will be God, and His Christ—Head and Body, His Tabernacle. God and His perfected Anointed Servant will govern all the creation of God for the ages of ages of eternity. God and His eternal Temple will come down from Heaven to be established on the new earth, announcing the seventh day of eternity, of rest in the Presence of God.

Overcoming the witness.

 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)

No spiritual power can harm the witnesses of the Lord until God is satisfied that the whole earth has seen, has heard, and has felt the authority and power He will delegate to His saints in the Day of the Lord. The Divine testimony will be protected by the Father until it has been given perfectly and completely.

We have no doubt that the "beast that ascendeth from the bottomless pit" is Antichrist. Here is an excellent example of what we mean by the symbolic, spiritual nature of the Book of Revelation. Revelation describes Antichrist as a beast who comes up from the abyss. What mankind will see, no doubt, is a capable, charming, and persuasive administrator—the type of person that any industry would pay a large sum to have as its chief executive officer.

After the earth-wide testimony has been given, a war will be waged against the saints of God.

"The beast . . . shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them."

The glory and power of the latter-rain revival will be so great, we believe, that a majority of the peoples of the earth will be converted to Christianity. God will pour out His Spirit on all mankind.

We have seen "mercy drops" in the revival in Wales, in the Pentecostal revival, in the Indonesian outpouring, in the miraculous events in Nagaland, and in other outpourings of the Spirit that have occurred during the last two or three centuries. But never has there been the equal of that which will take place on the earth before the coming of the Lord.

The prevalence of Christianity (all the nations of the earth having seen and heard the testimony) will be followed by the falling away of which the Scriptures speak.

 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (II Thessalonians 2:3)

The "falling away" is the rejection of lawful authority by the citizens of the large cities of the earth. People will be free to do whatever they want. Such unrestrained freedom, the freedom to commit every conceivable sin against the Lord God, is the end-product of the philosophy of democracy. In the closing days of the Church Age, man will become his own god.

People will be so joyful and content they will be caught off guard. They will be open to the supreme deception. Antichrist will be a Christian, no doubt, who will possess the shrewdness to see the possibility of uniting, in the name of peace, the adherents of the various religions.

Even today, if any world leader would present himself as the champion of all religions, particularly of Christianity, he would gain the support of many millions of people. However, the peoples of today are not quite ready for such a spiritually filthy person to become head of a worldwide government.

If there should be a destructive war in the near future (which appears to be probable), and then an earth-wide spreading of the Christian Gospel, it is not unlikely that the peoples of the earth, fearing another war, and being softened by the influence of the Gospel, would be ready for the combining of all religions in the name of peace. This is a possibility particularly if Antichrist emphasizes, as he no doubt will, that the purpose of all religions is to promote righteousness and morality (in human terms), feed the poor, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and, in general, better the condition of all people everywhere.

Antichrist’s "mark" may be presented as the only means by which all people can be guaranteed a share in the blessings of the earth. Christian believers who, in the present circumstances, would resist to death the taking of any mark in their forehead or on their hand, may then accept such a mark if it were presented as a necessary part of a world culture that was at least partially Christian in name and had as its goal the betterment of the welfare of the needy of the earth.

Although many Christian people would not accept such a world religious leader today, many others would. When Antichrist subsidizes the Christian churches in the name of human welfare, numerous Christian believers will believe the Kingdom of God is here.

There is a spiritual principle that operates such that when the believers have no major problems they will not seek God. They sit down to eat and drink and rise up to play. They quickly turn to lust and moral perversions.

Revelry and lust will fill the earth after the latter-rain revival because many of the tensions that have divided people will have been eased. The world will appear to the Christians to be a much friendlier place in which to live. The sense of peace and well-being that will pervade the atmosphere will have its inevitable effect on the believers: they will turn to the pursuits of the flesh.

There will be an effort to change all laws and rules so no human being is denied what he wishes. We see this tendency today. If a law is causing people to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced in any manner, the approach is to attack the law. If the government is making people uncomfortable, the approach is to change the government. If conscience is making an individual uncomfortable, the psychologist changes the standards of behavior. If the Scriptures are making people uncomfortable, the ministers change the Scriptures.

The "rights" of people come first. This is the nature of Antichrist. It is the rise of man-centered lawlessness—the spirit that will bear the fullness of its hideous fruit before the Lord returns.

Christian people are distressed because of this trend but in many instances they do not pray enough, or walk in the Spirit enough, to be aware of the enormous potential for evil that is present when the rights and welfare of people are elevated in this manner. In some ways such an emphasis appears to be "Christian." This is how the religion of human welfare will be presented by Antichrist.

It will be in a humanitarian, libertarian, democratic environment that Antichrist will be able to present himself as a Christian leader whose goal is to capitalize on the recent revival by bringing "Christian" peace and prosperity to all.

In an atmosphere of "togetherness," of compromise, of working with human means toward human ends, the prophet is perceived as an enemy. Antichrist will bring about a human-centered climate in the Christian churches until the churches themselves will drive out the prophets. Those who are able to perceive spiritually what is taking place will be forced to flee for their lives.

Antichrist will overcome the saints not only by persecution but by the abundance of lawlessness. Only a remnant will be able to survive spiritually. The love of the majority of the believers will grow cold, not because of persecution but because of the abundance of immorality. It is the hour of temptation and it will test all who dwell on the earth.

Most Christian people will fall spiritually.

 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many [of most] shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)

The reader may wonder how it is that the witnesses can be slain if the witnesses are Christ and His Body.

Consider: if the holy Father was dwelling in His Fullness in the Lord Jesus, then when Jesus was crucified the Father was crucified. How can one crucify the Creator of the universe?

Remember that the vision of the two witnesses represents the double portion of the Holy Spirit on the saints—saints in whom Christ is dwelling just as the Father dwelled in the Lord Jesus. The "two witnesses" are people. Revelation, Chapter 11 is a symbolic vision of the testimony of the Christian Church.

In the wealthy nations of today the witness of Christ already has been overcome by Antichrist. We are in a period of rebellion against authority. If we would speak of the current spiritual deadness in the manner in which the Book of Revelation speaks of events on the earth, we would say that the witnesses of Christ have been slain by the Beast who comes up from the abyss.

Because the believers in the wealthy nations are the representatives of the Lord Jesus, it is true that Christ Himself has been "slain" in the sense that His witness in the earth has been overcome by lawlessness.

Notice this principle:

 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (Matthew 25:36)

When the saints are naked, Christ is naked. When the saints, are sick, Christ is sick.

The popular interpretation of the two witnesses is that they are two prophets who have been raised from the dead or who have come down from Heaven. How, may we ask, would Antichrist be able to slay two prophets who have been raised from the dead or who have come down from Heaven? Obviously we must look for a spiritual interpretation.

While the Scriptures do not state in any passage that two men from the past will appear supernaturally in the last days and then be slain, the Scriptures do state clearly that the saints of God will be overcome in the last days.

 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:25)

It is not possible to truly overcome a saint except by seducing him or her to sin. However, part of the overcoming of the Christian testimony will be accomplished as the saints are violently forced from the cities of the world, silencing their voice. The basis for this action will be the rise of lawlessness in the cities of the earth. The lawless will attack the saints, driving them from civilization and sometimes killing them.

The silencing of the testimony is the removing from the path of Antichrist what presently is hindering his full expression. When the Spirit-filled, prophetic testimony has been driven from the cities of the earth, the way will be open for the man of sin, of lawlessness, to come to full revelation as man making himself God.

 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let [hinder], until he be taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7)

Antichrist, a Satan-possessed man, will claim to be the only true God. The saints of today may be aghast at this thought, but the concept is working already in the wealthy nations of our time.

The saints will be overcome; the love of the majority will grow cold:

 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. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:7,8)

"It was given to him."

It is God who will give Antichrist the opportunity to make war with the saints and to conquer them. It is God who will give Antichrist authority over all tribes and tongues and nations. He will do so in order to purify the Bride of the Lamb, and to demonstrate to the heavens and the earth the folly of serving Satan.

All who dwell on the earth will worship Antichrist, except for the individuals whose names are written in the Book of Life.

Only those who remain steadfast in the Lord Jesus will not have their names blotted from the Lamb’s Book of Life.

 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)

God will give Antichrist the opportunity to conquer the saints. The saint who instead conquers Antichrist will have his name kept in the Book of Life.

No saint can be finally conquered unless he himself permits it. Although God gives Antichrist the opportunity to conquer the saint, it is only as the saint can be seduced to sin that he can be overcome. No other authority or power in Heaven or on the earth is as great as that of the Lord God. It is He who guards each Christian. Satan himself cannot pass through the angel of the Lord, the angel who protects the individual who fears the Lord, unless that person can be deceived into sinning.

Notice the following:

 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

It is not the hour of tribulation but the hour of temptation, of testing that presents the danger to the saints. The Lord Jesus is able to guard every saint from the temptations of the period of lawlessness that is coming after the revival. But He will guard only those who have guarded the Word of His patience. Those who bear their cross patiently after the Lord Jesus are the ones whom He will guard throughout the period of lawlessness.

God tempts no man. It is only as we allow ourselves to practice lawlessness that Antichrist can gain control over us. The way to keep from slipping into lawlessness is to crucify the passions and desires of our flesh.

It is our personal cross that is the key to safety during the time of deception. If we crucify our flesh, through the grace that Christ gives us, we will have eyes to see the Lord and ears to hear His voice. If we yield to the passions and desires of our flesh and soul we will be blind and deaf (Galatians 5:24; II Peter 1:9).

Most of the Christians will be conquered by Antichrist during the age of lawlessness, the hour of trial. There will be those who escape all that comes to pass and who will stand in complete victory before the Son of Man:

 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)

That the Lord Jesus is not speaking in the above verse of escape from physical suffering and death, is revealed in the preceding verses of the same chapter of Luke:

 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brothers, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. (Luke 21:16-18)

The saints will be betrayed, put to death, and hated of all men. Yet, there will not a hair of their head perish. They will be put to death but not a hair of their head will perish! Obviously, the Lord does not consider physical death as representing harm. Physical death, the Lord Jesus is saying, cannot cause a hair of the saint’s head to perish. Every hair will be raised in the day of resurrection.

Luke 21:36, which speaks of our escaping all these things that will come to pass, is referring to our spiritual deliverance rather than our physical deliverance. If throughout the age of lawlessness that is coming we are able to stand in spiritual victory before the Son of Man, every hair of our head will be raised into incorruptible life in the Day of Christ.

Physical torture and death cannot harm a saint of God. The physical torture and death, suffered for the Gospel’s sake, add to the saint’s victory and glory.

An abundance of ease, prosperity, and lawlessness indeed can bring great harm to the believer. When we are living in ease, abundance, and pleasure we do not seek the Lord. When we do not seek the Lord we soon are living in the soul and the flesh. To live in the soul and the flesh is to live in eternal death.

The two witnesses will be conquered and killed. Their death will come by an abundance of prosperity and lawlessness, by economic penalties, and by violence when all else fails.

God’s two witnesses, Christ and His Church, already have been overcome and killed in the wealthy nations of our day. The Christian churches are preaching material prosperity—that the saints should possess wealth and power in the present world. The believers have been overcome already and are near to eternal death.

Remember, Antichrist is not an opposite of Christ, such as is true of the Communists. Antichrist is the imitation of Christ. He will conform himself to Christ’s image as far as it is possible for him, with Satan’s help, to do so. The only thing he will not do is take up his cross and follow Jesus. In this he resembles the Christians of today. They try to be like Jesus as much as possible (in some respects) but they refuse to take up their cross and follow Him.

To Antichrist will be given permission to wage war against the saints and to conquer those whom he can.

The works that God has assigned to the present age will not have been completed until the power of the saints has been crushed:

 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter [shatter] the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)

The "time, times, and an half" represents the three and one-half years of the second half of the prophetic week—the hour of trial that will cover the world. The power of the saints will be shattered by the abundance of ease, prosperity, and lawlessness.

 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 shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:25)

"By peace shall destroy many"!

Antichrist will destroy the saints by peace. Antichrist is exceedingly crafty, having been given the wisdom of Satan. Satan has learned from human history that persecuting the saints makes the Church strong but that the believers can be overthrown by material ease and pleasure.

As we have stated previously, those who do stand for God will be driven forcibly from the cities of the earth. However, the employment of force against the believers represents a defeat for Antichrist’s policy. He hopes to accomplish much more by persuasive cunning—entreating the Christian people to live in peace and to devote themselves to the betterment of mankind.

 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. (Daniel 11:32-35)

This will take place at the time that the abomination that makes desolate is established in the holy place: that is, at the time that Antichrist declares himself to be God and sits between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory in the Most Holy Place of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus warned the Jews to flee from Jerusalem when that takes place. Flee! Flee! Flee! It is not a day to consider how one may survive. It is a day to flee into the wilderness and hide there until the God of Heaven renews the spiritual life and strength of His Church.

 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: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing from his house: (Matthew 24:15-17)

The reason many Christians will be slain spiritually by Antichrist is that they will not flee when they see Antichrist claiming to be God. They will do then as they do today. They will stop and attempt to figure out some means by which they can retain their faith in Christ and still live in the comforts to which they have become accustomed.

The slightest hesitation in that day will cause the believer to perish spiritually. The slightest indecision will result in his spiritual downfall. He has neglected his salvation in the day of peace and now he does not possess the spiritual strength and decisiveness to flee. He cannot blame God for his delusion.

God is warning us today to seek first His Kingdom, trusting Him to provide the necessities of life. (This does not mean we are to quit our jobs.)

God is warning us to prepare spiritually for the terrors and deceptions that lie just ahead of us. Many Christians are dallying, hoping that the prophesied trouble will not come until they have had a chance to spend their retirement years in peace, retaining all their comforts and pleasures (although one may notice that retired people are not always comfortable and in pleasant circumstances!).

They are "foolish virgins" and will be caught off guard in the day of trouble.

Antichrist will be given spiritual authority and power. He will have power even to interfere with our prayers unless we are in a strong place with God.

 And from one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. (Daniel 8:9,10)

While we do not understand the full significance of the statements of the above verse, it is apparent that Antichrist will have powers that can reach into the spirit realm, into the realm of prayer, and bring pressure to bear there. Only those who are living in the heavenlies with Jesus, being seated with Him far above all spiritual rulers and powers, will be able to walk in fellowship with Christ during the darkest of hours.

The Christians who are not walking in the Spirit of God will be conquered easily by such spiritual cunning and power. They will be as straws in a hurricane during the age of lawlessness that will follow the latter-rain witness.

Antichrist will be able to change the customs and laws of mankind and will overcome the resistance of the saints:

 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:25)

The "time and times and the dividing of time" (above) is the age of lawlessness, the second half of the prophetic week according to our understanding of the Scriptures.

No man will be able to go forth with the Gospel witness during the age of lawlessness. It is the hour in which no man can work. It is the "end" that will come to the earth after the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached to every nation for a witness.

Only the true Church, the true saints, those who have borne their cross after Jesus in patient hope, will be able to survive spiritually. The Lord will keep His almighty hand on them because they have kept the Word of His patience. They have been in the Lord’s prison and have waited patiently for Him to deliver them.

They have "died in the Lord" and "their works do follow them."

 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. (Revelation 14:13)

The spirit of the churches of our day is not always one of patient waiting on Christ. Rather, it is a spirit of going out and doing things "for Christ," using the energies, wisdom, and talents of the flesh, depending on money for the power to accomplish the work.

How many are there today who are waiting patiently on Christ, doing only what He is guiding and empowering them to do? These are the ones who are building in themselves the strength to stand during the hour of darkness that is at hand.

 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)

It is our understanding that the "dead bodies" are the Christian institutions, churches, and schools that will abound during the reign of Antichrist. They are "dead bodies" because the Spirit of God is not in them. To the believer who is not walking in the Spirit there will be no indication that these are not thriving Christian institutions. Only the true saints will be able to detect the absence of the Spirit of God.

The church of Sardis is, we believe, an example of a "dead body:

 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Revelation 3:1)

"Thou has a name that thou livest, and art dead."

The Christian institutions of the age of lawlessness will have the reputation among believers of being alive, but in the sight of God they will be dead.

Numerous Christian churches of our day are dead although they appear to be alive. They are growing in number. They are full of lively Christian activities. There is an abundance of music, programs, Gospel efforts. As far as one could tell they are blessed of God.

Christ knows that what is taking place is not of the Spirit of God. The services consist to a great extent of the activities of Christian flesh and talents. The people are living careless lives, being preoccupied with their physical survival, their pleasures, and their achievements in the world.

They believe sincerely that they are serving God but they have no intention of getting on their face before the Lord and seeking Him to the extent that they can hear His voice. They do not have time to seek the Lord diligently, although there is time for an abundance of activities and Christian fellowship.

Such churches, whether or not they are Evangelical in doctrine and emphasis, are dead even though they have a reputation for being alive.

What has slain them? Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem.

888"Sodom" represents the lusts of the flesh. Any Christian who yields to the lusts of his or her flesh will die spiritually. An incorrect interpretation of the Apostle Paul’s doctrine of grace is being presented today in the Christian churches. As a result of this misunderstanding the believers are continuing in the lusts of their flesh. They are in spiritual death.

"Egypt" speaks of the lusts of the eyes. The Christian churches of today waste millions of dollars building monuments to the ambitious men who lead them. Such men are building their own kingdoms, although they may protest that the monument they are constructing is "for the glory of God."

How easily the uncrucified soul and flesh are deceived! There is no spiritual life in ornate Christian edifices. Spiritual life exists only in the heart of the crucified believer, in the heart of him or her who patiently is bearing his cross after the Lamb of God.

Ornate buildings serve only to distract attention from the actual priorities of the Kingdom of God. The prophet of God is out of place in kings’ palaces but he is at home in the wilderness with God.

"Jerusalem" symbolizes the pride of life. The scribes and Pharisees crucified Christ because their position was threatened. They were proud and became envious when they saw the popularity of Jesus of Nazareth. Had they been humble of heart they would have loved Jesus, for Jesus is humble.

The scribes and Pharisees were accustomed to being prominent among the Lord’s people. Such spiritual pride always results in spiritual death. Spiritual pride is of Satan. The true servants of the Lord are meek and lowly in heart. They are comfortable performing the most menial of tasks. If theirs is a position of leadership and prominence their heart remains unchanged. They always are ready to serve in the lowly place because their heart is like the heart of God.

The dead bodies of the witnesses will lie in the street of Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life on the part of the peoples of the world, and on the part of the believers themselves, will wage war against the saints and overcome them. This will take place in the period of ease, prosperity, and lawlessness, the hour of darkness, that will follow the worldwide, latter-rain revival of the "two witnesses."

 And they of the people and kindreds [tribes] and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. (Revelation 11:9)

We may recall that the Philistines did not slay Samson. Rather, they employed Delilah to destroy Samson’s consecration to the Lord, the consecration represented by the long hair of his Nazirite vow. Then they blinded him and put him to work grinding at the mill in the prison.

Not content with this, they called Samson to a public assembly to put on a show for them.

The story of Samson is a strong prophecy of the Christian church, its loss of God’s Presence, its blindness, its being an object of mockery, the return of its consecration (Samson’s hair growing back), and its final triumph by its death.

The nations of the earth will not destroy the Christian institutions, as the Communists do, but will preserve them as a reminder of their conquest of the Divine witness.

Even today we notice the beginning of a trend to mock the Christian religion. In the United States of America there is pressure to remove all aspects of the Scriptures and prayer from the public schools, including the history of the creation; manger scenes and crosses from public areas; invocations from graduation ceremonies; and so forth. The federal government is supporting artists who create the most blasphemous works imaginable.

However there is not, in the democratic nations, any substantial movement to get rid of all the aspects of Christianity. Rather, there is a tendency to hold Christianity in derision and to attempt to bring bothersome aspects of it under government control. This is the work of Antichrist. It is the wisdom of Satan, who has perfect wisdom (seven heads).

There currently is a movement in legal circles, in the United State, to analyze the vulnerability of churches to lawsuits. Satan’s object in this is to expose those who bring conviction upon sinners, making them the objects of lawsuits. This tactic no doubt will cause the majority of preachers to make sure that nothing they say seriously disturbs their listeners. The true servants of the Lord never will cease warning people of the consequences of sin, and will be sued or sent to prison unless the Lord protects them.

In order to survive, the ministers of the Gospel will be forced to go wholly with the Lord or wholly with people; to become hot or cold. The pastors and teachers who are neither wholly for the Lord nor wholly for people will be ruined. The way of the Lord shall be made straight and, in some instances, it will be Satan who makes the way straight (by causing pain to the Lord’s elect).

 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. (Revelation 11:10)

The destruction of those who remind men of their accountability to the God of Heaven always causes merriment on the part of the lawless. Notice how the taking captive of Jesus, the greatest of all witnesses, brought peace to Pilate and Herod:

 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. (Luke 23:12)

As soon as the Christian witness has been destroyed from the cities of the earth, the wicked will rejoice. Now man is free to do what always has been in his heart: that is, to practice in the earth all activities in which his flesh and soul find pleasure. All restraints will be cast off. Mankind will give itself over to unrestrained orgies. In that day, the demons will feast richly on the lusts of the flesh of men and drink deeply of lawless human life. Cannibalism and bestiality will be commonplace.

The "rock" music of today, which claims millions of addicts, extols the glories of Satan, of Hell, of death, of every form of orgy, of oblivion, of the destruction of Christ and His cross.

Men will exclaim, "Peace and safety finally have come to the world," even though their environment is a wasteland of destruction of every desirable aspect of human life. This type of demonic blindness can be witnessed in America today. The large cities of America are in a state of anarchy as far as crime is concerned. One would be far safer walking at night in a jungle than in a large American city. But the government goes ahead as though it is America’s finest hour. America not only is proceeding as though it were a crowning example of social harmony, peace, safety, and freedom, it is seeking to enforce its form of government on other countries.

At the present time, the mayor of the nation’s capital is asking help from the national guard because the city’s police are unable to prevent the daily murders. Washington D.C. is filled with drunkenness, drug abuse, and violence.

America has become a debtor nation and is being taken over by foreign investors. But one would think, from the actions and statements of the political leaders, that the country is in sound financial condition. "There is nothing to fear. Prosperity and peace are just around the corner!" The President is governing a rapidly disintegrating nation but does not appear to recognize this.

 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (I Thessalonians 5:3)

Peace and safety finally will come to the world, but it will be a peace and a safety apart from the God of Heaven. There is no true peace and no true safety apart from God.

By this time, the tormentors, God’s prophets, His saints, have been overcome. But this is not the end!

The seventieth week of Daniel, the seven-year period when the seventh angel is about to sound, has now been completed.

 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27)

We can observe, from the above verse, that people will come to know the Lord throughout this period. In the midst of the week, that is, after three and one-half years, public worship (the sacrifice and the oblation) will cease in the cities of the earth. Then will the man of sin work abominations in the earth, the result of which will be moral, spiritual, financial, intellectual, artistic, desolation, just as is true in America today.

The world will be given over to revelry and lust. Lawlessness will prevail until God declares that lawlessness has attained maturity and is ready for judgment. The righteous character of the saints, which is Christ in them, will attain maturity at the same time. The wheat and the tares will come to harvest together.

All that was spoken by the Hebrew Prophets concerning the present age will have been completed. Heaven and earth will have witnessed the end result of disobeying the Father’s Word and wisdom. What began as Paradise has now ended as an infernal agony.

A once idyllic environment has become a burning, raucous playground of demons. Men and women, boys and girls, are being dragged by demons into depths of foulness. Superheated passions are running uncontrolled in the streets. There is no rest, no place of quiet. Satan-possessed man is able to do as he pleases but no longer is able to control himself.

Murder, rape, every form of perversion, treachery, profanity, greed, wild, unceasing, earsplitting, jungle-beat music, maniacal, screaming laughter, is pervading every dwelling of the cities of the earth. All that we see in seed form today has come to maturity. Those who long for righteousness, peace, and joy have had to flee to the saints in the wilderness, forfeiting the "security" that the government provides. Sodom and Gomorrah have risen from the ashes and are dancing amidst the chaos.

From Eden to Hell. This has been the result of disobedience to God. Let every inhabitant of the heavens, of the earth, and of the regions under the earth, weigh carefully the consequences of rebellion against the Father’s love and wisdom.

The object lesson now has been completed. It is time for the seventh angel to sound, announcing the Day of the Lord—the coming to the earth of the rule of God and His Christ.

The resurrection of the witness.

 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (Revelation 11:11)

The entering of the Spirit of life into the witnesses is the resurrection of the dead, as set forth in I Thessalonians, Chapter Four and I Corinthians, Chapter Fifteen.

First Corinthians, Chapter 15 states that the resurrection of the dead will take place at the last trumpet. We have come to the sounding of the seventh, or last trumpet, and there is no other resurrection described. Therefore it appears that Revelation 11:11 is referring to the first resurrection from the dead: that is, the resurrection of God’s royal priesthood (compare Revelation 20:4-6).

We think that what is portrayed here is a miraculous reviving of the Christian testimony in the earth.

"Great fear fell on them which saw them."

The resurrection from the dead will include the transforming of the mortal bodies of the living saints from corruption into incorruptible life. The peoples of the earth will behold this transformation and will see also the shining bodies of those saints who have returned from Heaven with the Lord Jesus.

All of the saints of all time will appear on the earth in a state of transfiguration. It is not surprising that fear will fall on the onlookers!

The reviving of the Christian testimony in the earth will take place at the midnight hour, at the time of the world’s darkest spiritual night. It will be the most dynamic testimony of Christ ever given, and the peoples of the earth who have not participated in the orgies of the cities will come to the light of God now visible in Christ-filled saints:

 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:2,3)

Now will the purified Church be made one in Christ in God. Now will the peoples of the earth believe God has sent Christ and loves the saints as He loves Christ. Now will the world see that the glory that God has given to Christ, Christ has given to His saints.

This is the day of visitation for the world, and the people will glorify God and His Christ because of what they are beholding in the saints.

The ascension of the witness.

 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11:12)

The once-scorned witnesses have now become an army, and that army will be called up to the Commander in Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Body will be called up to the Head. The Bride will be united with the Bridegroom.

Blessed is every one who is called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Woe! Woe! Woe to the enemies of the Lamb! They soon will see the Lamb descending from Heaven with His saints—all of them on God’s white horses of war. The Battle of Armageddon will be joined and the wicked of the earth will be crushed beneath the onslaught. The fury of the living God will be unleashed on the lawless. Not one tongue raised against Christ will survive in the earth. The whole world will be cleansed of wickedness in that Day.

The enemies of God’s witnesses will be filled with rage. There is nothing they can do. God has spread a table for His saints in the presence of their enemies. At one time the saints were at the mercy of the wicked. Now the saints are in control and the wicked will answer to God and His Christ for every deed of lawlessness they have practiced. The courtyard of God’s Kingdom will then be measured.

The saints are being judged thoroughly in the present hour. The world and the worldly Christians are going about their self-willed way. In the Day of Christ the situation will be reversed. The saints will be rejoicing in glory while the world and the worldly Christians are answering to the Lord for their sins and self-will.

The sight of the resurrection and ascension of God’s witnesses of every generation will fill the wicked with terror. What will fall on the wicked after the saints rise to be with the Lord will be even more terrifying. The wrath of God has been stored up for thousands of years, awaiting the coming of this Day. Woe to those who have practiced lawlessness in the earth! Woe to those who have not assisted Christ’s witnesses! They are facing the fiery Gehenna.

God cannot be mocked. Every word, deed, thought, and imagination will be brought to judgment in the Day of the Lord.

The Presence of the Lord.

 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God through Christ through the saints. The saints have borne a faithful witness of the coming of the Kingdom, and now the Kingdom is here. The last trumpet has sounded. The Lord soon will descend with His saints to the Mount of Olives, and after crushing His enemies will ascend to the Throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. There He will be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords in the presence of the millions of His saints.

No power on the earth or in the heavenlies can prevent the establishing of the Kingdom, the rule of God on the earth. Those who attempt to rebel will be crushed. The day of gentle entreaty is past. It is time for the government of the rod of iron.

Each ruler and leader will come and vow obedience to Christ or he will be thrown into outer darkness. What God has promised to Christ and to Christ’s saints has come to pass in accordance with every word of God.

Review

Let us review briefly the order of the events that will take place during the days of the seventh angel, "when he shall begin to sound."

First, the saints must be prepared for their role in the worldwide witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and for the unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will support the witness. Also, the saints must be prepared for the return of their Lord from Heaven. The work of the first six trumpets, the eating of the little book, the measuring of the Temple of God, of the Altar of Incense, and of those who worship in the Temple, will all play a part in preparing the saints.

After the saints have passed through a period of judgment with the Lord He will fill them with His spiritual riches:

 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. (Joel 2:24-26)

The above passage will be fulfilled before the return of the Lord Jesus. It speaks of the restoration of the Spirit of power and of revelation that has been lost to the Christian Church since the first century. God has been restoring the glory from the time of the Protestant Reformers. Each stage that is restored is preceded by a time of judging of the saints and is accompanied by bitter persecution.

We can look for a season of blessing to come upon us just as soon as the present work of judgment has accomplished its goal.

The spiritual riches of the Kingdom will be restored to the saints. There will be an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all mankind. This latter-rain outpouring will accompany and assist the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom for a witness to all the peoples of the earth:

 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (Joel 2:28)

"Whosoever will" may come and drink of the water of eternal life for it will be given without cost. The Holy Spirit says, "Come and drink." The Wife of the Lamb says, "Come and drink." Whoever chooses to do so may drink freely of the water of life in that day. It is the time of the latter-rain on the maturing harvest of the earth, and all who desire to may drink their fill of the Glory of God.

The outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in such abundance will result in the conversion of the majority of the peoples of the earth.

After God is satisfied that the testimony has been given completely He will withdraw the power that protected the witnesses. Antichrist now will have access to the saints to test them.

The reader may have noticed this pattern in his own life or in the life of a friend. There may come a season of blessing and revelation, but often such seasons are followed by a testing of what has been given. Have you found this to be true? We believe this pattern will happen over the whole earth in the days immediately preceding the coming of the Lord with His saints.

God’s witness in the earth will be overcome by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem).

The overcoming of the Divine witness will clear the way for Antichrist to sit in the rebuilt Temple of God in Jerusalem between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory. He will state that he is the only true and living God, the God of Heaven. All will worship him whose names are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life. All restraint will then have been removed so Satan can be expressed completely in the Antichrist.

It may be difficult for us to understand how Christian people ever could agree to worship Antichrist. This is because we do not understand the spiritual nature of things. Many—perhaps most—of the Christian believers in the wealthy nations of today worship money. If you asked them if they worship money they would become indignant. This is because they think of worship as bowing down at an altar, whereas "worship" is that to which one gives his heart.

The believers of today are under the delusion that they will recognize Antichrist because of the graphic symbolism in the Book of Revelation of the beast rising out of the sea. When Antichrist takes his seat between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory it will appear to be the most natural thing in the world. He no doubt will do this under the guise of showing his love for all the religions of the world—or something of this kind.

The lukewarm believers will worship Antichrist without realizing what they are doing, just as they worship money today without realizing what they are doing. Not to do so will result in severe economic hardship. To "worship" Antichrist under the conditions existing in that day will appear to be the sensible, reasonable thing to do. The worship will be disguised so carefully that only the most prayerful saints will be able to perceive what is taking place.

But very great torment awaits the Christian who falls into the trap of worshiping Antichrist!

 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 14:11)

The overcoming of the Christian witness will result in a spiritual night in which no Gospel work can take place in the cities of the earth. The true, Spirit-filled saints will be in hiding in the remote places of the earth. There will be some "Lots" who, while they cannot muster the strength to make the decision to leave the cities, will remain in a state of vexation in the insanity of civilization.

Being a "Lot" is a dangerous risk to take with one’s soul. Also, it may be recalled that Lot fled and then lived in disgrace with his daughters, bringing forth Moab and Ammon. Lot’s inheritance was wretched.

The "tares" will come to maturity. The Lord’s "wheat" also will come to maturity. Then Christ (in the saints) and Antichrist (in the wicked) will be facing one another in the earth, and God and Satan will be facing one another in the spirit realm.

There will be no place for the human being who attempts to serve both Christ and Antichrist, both God and Satan.

The way of the Lord shall be made straight.

The holy will be holy and the filthy will be filthy. The lawful will be lawful and the lawless will be lawless. The godly will be godly and the ungodly will be ungodly.

Suddenly the Spirit of life will come upon the perfected remnant, the purified Christian Church, the Wife of the Lamb. The bodies of the saints will be changed from mortality into immortality.

The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens.

The army of Christ will stand on its feet on the earth. The army of the Lord is holy, invincible, tested, wise in the ways of the Lord, obedient to the Lord Jesus. These are Christ’s conquerors, His "mighty men" of all ages.

Then the Commander in Chief will call up His army to Himself. The soldiers of Christ will ascend into the sky as a cloud of witnesses. The peoples of the world will be terrified at the sight of the shining warriors, realizing that the Christian witness was true and that the Day of Judgment of which the saints spoke has now arrived. There is no one who is able to deliver them from God’s hand.

The Lord’s prayer has been answered. The Kingdom of God has come to the earth. The will of God now shall be done in earth as it is in Heaven.

Today is the day of the blowing of the trumpets of God. God has begun with the judgment of those who are closest to Him. Even the righteous will be saved with difficulty during the present era of judgment.

Many who serve God in this hour will be first in the Kingdom of God. The enemies and the temptations are great. The spiritual darkness hangs heavily upon us. The demonic power is strong. Multitudes of Christians have access to a comfortable life in the flesh.

Where are those who will forsake their life in the present world, take up their cross, and follow Christ without wavering? These, and these alone, are the true Christians. These, and these alone, are the true disciples, the true saints of God. These, and these alone, will stand true throughout the "days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound."

Will you relinquish your life in the present world, counting yourself as crucified with Christ?

Will you take up your cross, remaining in the prison in which God has placed you?

Will you turn your eyes toward Jesus, forsaking all others to follow Him alone?