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The verse-by-verse interpretation of the Book of Revelation found in this book is according the “Historical Interpretation of Biblical Prophecy”. This School of Inter-pretation has as its basis that there is a chronological fulfilment of prophecy. With the Bible in the one hand and the History Book, and even current world events, in the other, you can actually see prophecy becoming history.
By following this line of interpretation, we find ourselves in the good company of the Reformers. They found in the Book of Revelation a prophetic account of the fiery trials through which the true church (the “Ekklesia”) was to pass, and also of God’s judgements on her enemies. This interpretation of prophecy as a fore-telling of actual history, which had been and was being strikingly fulfilled, was largely blessed of God in bringing about the reformation.
The following Bible expositors and men of God, all held to the continuous historical fulfilment of prophecy: Grattan Guinness, E. P. Cachemaille, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, Elliot, Finney, Spurgeon, G. Campbell Morgan, Hudson Taylor, The Waldenses, Wycliffe, John Huss, Jerome, Tyndale, Cranmer, Ridley, Sir Isaac Newton, and numerous others.
It is the author’s deepest conviction that our heavenly Father never intended his true servants to be left in the dark concerning his eternal purpose.
In Amos 3:7 it is written:
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
What God has spoken, will come to pass, and exactly on time, for nothing in this old world has greater power than a prophecy whose time of fulfilment has come. In these days of darkness and danger our faith will be infinitely strengthened when we see how the events described prophetically in the Book of Revelation have been fulfilled chronologically from the time they were written down by John on the Isle of Patmos, until our present day.
The end of all things, as far as this present dispensation is concerned, is at hand. We see the heathen Communistic powers gaining daily in strength and numbers, as well as in military and technical might. In contrast to this, the Christian Nations are becoming more divided decadent and apostate by the day.
Our Statesmen are desperate, and do not know what to do, while their hearts are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven are being shaken - (See Luke 21:25-26).
The Book of Revelation is the summary and climax of all the prophecies of the Bible. It is, as the name implies, a revelation and not a mystery. We believe you will be greatly comforted and encouraged by the reading of this book, that is, if your heart is right with God.
It is always a glorious experience and a wonderful uplift when you suddenly emerge from a condition of doubt and darkness and confusion into clarity and light. This book is going to shed a flood of light upon the whole Bible. The Word of God will assume a new meaning to you, and in very deed it will become:
“A Lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path”.
I want to acknowledge my indebtedness to Miss W. G. Heath for her assistance in checking the original manuscript, and for her very valuable suggestions.
The “Book of Revelation” is deemed by many to be one of the most difficult books in the Bible, but, when properly handled, the whole story can be understood quite easily. It is the summary of the entire Bible, and reveals God’s Plan and Purpose of the Ages, which can be very briefly put as follows:
Where the Book of Genesis tells us how Paradise was lost,
The Book of Revelation tells us how Paradise will be regained.
Being the final Book of the Bible, it will make use of the entire Bible symbolisms, teaching and doctrine. It will complete the picture.
It is a book of symbols, written thus by our wise and loving God, Who, while leaving mankind with free will or free choice, and foreseeing the moves of men and nations from beginning to end, is all the while silently overruling, steering the barque onwards, from the fruitless ways of self-will and false religion into the haven of a world-wide kingdom for his Son in which God’s Will shall eventually be done on earth, even as in heaven - (See Matt. 6:10).
Through this Book of Revelation He displays once again that He alone is God, with power to fulfill his Will; doing also what none others have been able to do: “Declaring the end from the beginning”.
The Apostle John actually witnessed scenes, the events of which were centuries beyond his day. He was unable to describe these scenes in modern terminology, therefore he used language at his command to convey the impression the scenes made upon his mind; hence we read in terms that are pictorial and symbolic, his description of modern events and activities.
Let us visualize those scenes which are so minutely described, and there will pass in review before us, in their sequence, the stupendous fact that the apostle did actually witness our modern times - attending a “preview” of coming events, seeing and hearing actors who had not yet been born, even you and I.
These facts must be kept in mind as we read the prophetic message of Revelation. This Book is a panorama of church and world activities given by God through Jesus to John for our guidance and instruction. The Christian who neglects to study this Book turns away from a vital message, which God deemed so necessary that a special revelation was given to convey these facts to his people. John not only testified to the truth of the message that it was and is of God, but he also spoke of the certainty of the testimony of Jesus. Later on he declares that that testimony is the very spirit of prophecy - (Rev. 19:10).
Daniel and Revelation
The Books of Daniel and Revelation go together, for Revelation is the natural successor to Daniel, just as the New Testament is the complement of the Old Testament.
Concerning the last 2572 years (i.e. from approximately 600 BC to now) in a broad sense, we can say: Daniel gives about the first, one-third in detail, and the second two-thirds in outline.
Revelation gives the second two-thirds in detail.
In other words, Revelation takes us from the First Advent through the Tribulation to Armageddon and the Second Advent, the New Heavens and the New Earth, the Kingdom, the “little season” of Revelation 20:7-15, and then Eternity.
(Are you ready to face all these as the majesty of it all begins to dawn on you?).
And all this is centred around the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, in special relationship to his church and also to his kingdom. We see that it is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” - (Rev. 1:1) as Saviour and Lord of lords and King of kings.
The theme is the completion of God’s work of Restoration (6,000 years) by which man enters into his “rest”. As has been said:
The Book of Genesis began with Paradise Lost;
And Revelation ends with Paradise Regained.
It describes in detail the final struggle of dethroning Lucifer and enthroning Jesus Christ.
See Romans 11:33-36.
There are three main chronological constructions or buildups:
1) Revelation 1-3 (Particularly Chapters 2 and 3):
This runs from 96 AD (when Revelation was written) up to the Second Advent and the Kingdom Age, and concerns the Christian Church, Pagan Rome, and Papal Rome and Christ’s Church.
2) Revelation 4-11 (Particularly Chapters 6-11):
This also covers from 96 AD up to the Second Advent, the Kingdom Age, and concerns Christ’s Church, Pagan Rome, Papal Rome, and Christ’s Kingdom, with special emphasis on Pagan Rome.
3) Revelation Chapters 12-22:
From the First Advent up to the Second Advent and the Kingdom Age, and concerns the Christian Church, Pagan Rome, Papal Rome and Christ’s Kingdom with special emphasis on Papal Rome and Christ’s Kingdom.
And so the Book of Revelation covers more than a period of 3,000 years of World History pre-written. This is wonderful indeed and is absolute proof that it is God-breathed.
Titles and Headings.
There are five main ones:
1) The Seven Letters (1:9-3:22)
2) The Seven Seals (4:1-8:1)
3) The Seven Trumpets (8:2-11:19)
4) The Seven Vials (15:1-16:21)
5) Then Chapters 17-22: The aftermath of the “seventh vial” judgement, and the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth.
Schools of Interpretation.
There are four different Schools of Interpretation:
i) Futurists: Who say that Revelations 4 (or) 6 to 22 is still awaiting fulfilment.
ii) Historicists: Who say that from John’s time there has been a chronological fulfilment in history of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation. We belong to this School.
iii) Praeterists: Who say that all fulfilment of Revelation is past.
iv) Harmonists: Who try to reconcile these different views. These last two are so much in the minority, that we will not consider them any further.
The Futurists believe in a secret coming for Christ’s Own. After the secret coming, there will be a period of 31 years (some say 7) when the Antichrist or Beast shall reign on earth, causing the Great Tribulation. During this period, Revelation 4 to 19 will be fulfilled.
This theory was evolved in the 16th century by a Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest by the name of Ribera to throw dust into the eyes of the Reformers who recognized the Papacy as the “great whore” of Revelation 17, and the Papal Church as the “woman drunken with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” - (Rev. 17:6).
This was enlarged upon by John Nelson Darby who organized the Plymouth Brethren in 1830. It is sad, that today, a large body of Protestants accept it.
The Historicists, to whom we belong, have in their ranks such illustrious names of the past as: Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Knox, Newton, John Wesley, Charles Finney, C. H. Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, etc.
The Historic interpretation is based on fulfilled prophecy; in following it we tread the solid ground of facts accomplished. With the Book of Revelation in the one hand and the History Book in the other hand, we can confirm the chronological fulfilment of the events foretold in the Book of Revelation.
The Futurists predicted that Mussolini would revive the Holy Roman Empire. When his star faded, they said it was Hitler; now they say it is the group of nations comprising the European Common Market with Western Germany soon to emerge as the leader. (This Book was written originally in 1962.)
THE Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
It is the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” and not of John as most people think. It is a Revelation and not the Mystery of Jesus Christ, and it is to show, not to conceal, that which must shortly come to pass.
This Revelation is to his servants, those who love him and serve him.
See: John 7:17; John 12:26; John 14:15,21,23-26.
We read that He “signified it” which means literally that He gave it in signs or symbols, the meaning of which would become clear later as history developed with the passing of time.
This Book is the Revelation of Christ’s triumph:
(a) Over the Nations;
(b) Over Satan (The Antichrist);
(c) Over all opposition.
It is also a revelation of how the saints will reign with Christ, and of the ultimate doom of Satan. That is why the devil and all his servants hate this Book and try their utmost to keep it a mystery. We will also find here a very clear description of the overthrow of the kingdoms of this world and their oppressive systems. We are going to read of the New Heavens and the New Earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
The New City, the New Jerusalem and the New Bride to whom the city belongs, are going to be introduced to us. God will make all things new, and He alone shall be triumphant. It is the Testimony of Jesus Christ, and also bares record of the Word of God - (verse 2).
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
They that read it, hear and keep it will be blessed.
Keep: - Obedience is the key to God’s blessing. To keep means to practice, to repent, to confess, to obey and to acknowledge the LORD. The time is at hand, and even more so today. Let us watch, work, pray and endure as never before.
JOHN to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne.
Note that these seven churches are not in Judea or Jerusalem, but in Asia. This Asia of Bible times is where modern Turkey now is, as can be confirmed by reference to any Bible Map. This is of the utmost importance to note that the message of Revelation is not to the Jews, but to those who were “in Asia”. The people amongst whom these “seven churches” were; were none other than the House of Israel, or the Ten Tribes of Israel who were distinct from the House of Judah from whom the Jews come.
For this distinction see: Jeremiah 3:6-8; 1 Kings 12; Psalm 114:1-2; Ezekiel 37; Zechariah 11:7-14; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 etc.
By this time many from the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin had also joined up with them.
These ten tribes who had been taken captive into Assyria - (see 2 Kings 17) between the years 741-721 BC, had never yet been restored to Palestine. At the time of Christ, only the Jews were there, thus the ten tribes had no share in crucifying the Lord Jesus. They were therefore not responsible for the terrible curse, which the Jews brought upon themselves when they cried out:
“Away with him, away with him, crucify him” - John 19:15.
“His blood be on us, and on our children” - Matthew 27:25.
At the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, these so-called Ten Lost Tribes found themselves in the area of “Asia”, and its surroundings. See how James and Peter wrote to these same people in:
James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9-10; (Cp.Hosea 2:23; Hosea 1:10)
Hosea 2:23; Hosea 1:10;
23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.
10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
This is the whole Message of Hosea: Israel, the adulterous and unfaithful wife of Jehovah, cast off, but ultimately cleansed and re-instated. His message can be summarized in these two words: Lo-ammi, “not my people”, and Ammi, “my people”.
“My People” is an expression which is used in the Old Testament for Israel as nation exclusively. “Israel” in Hosea means the Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom in contra distinction to Judah (the tribes Judah and Benjamin) who comprised the Southern Kingdom and remained loyal to the House of David. Read 1 Kings 12:1-21.
We will explain this in further detail in our exposition of the Book Hosea.
See what the Jewish Historian, Josephus, had to say about them in the year 70 AD - “There are but two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) subject to the Romans; while the Ten Tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” (Book ll: Chapter 5 paragraph 2).
In the Apocrypha Esdras writes as follows:
2 Esdras 13:39-40,43;
39 And whereas thou sawest that he gathered another peaceable multitude unto him;
40 Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea (Hosea) the king, whom Shalmanasar, king of Assyria, led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land.
43 And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passages of the river.
During the course of history, these Ten Tribes, under various names, moved across Europe and, eventually developed into the West European and kindred Nations, of whom we, white people in this country, form a part. This Message of the Book of Revelation was thus addressed to the House of Israel (as distinct from the House of Judah) to encourage them during the succeeding centuries of their tribulation.
Paul, in his missionary journeys, went after these people, who had become divorced from their faith and their God, and who had become as Gentiles during the course of centuries. He searched them out to tell them about the Promises of God which are without repentance - (Romans 11:29). To the Corinthians, for instance, who are generally accepted as heathen, he wrote as follows:
1 Corinthians 10:1-4;
1 MOREOVER, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
These words can only be applied to literal Israel, and yet Paul says to these so-called heathen Corinthians that those Israelites of Moses’ time were their fathers. We can trace this same tremendous fact through the other Epistles as well.
It is of the utmost importance in these days, that we also should go to our own people (the most of whom are the literal descendants of these so-called Lost Ten Tribes of Israel) to prepare them for their glorious destiny as the People of God. Satan knows this truth and that is the reason why he stirs up the heathen today to thwart the Plan of God. He did the same in the time of Daniel. Read for example Daniel 1O. We will examine this thoroughly in our Book on Daniel.
Unless the West (the true Israel of God) does not return to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then leads the world back to him, there is no hope for the human race.
People, who try to interpret the Book of Revelation without this important key, will never be able to unlock its secrets. A clear understanding of its message is therefore, vital in these days of decision and destiny. The West must cast away her idols, repent of her escapism and pleasure seeking and return to God and accept her responsibility as God’s instrument for bringing Christ to the nations and the world back to Christ.
The Seven Spirits.
Read verse 4. This is the Holy Spirit. See Isaiah 11:2 where these are defined in connection with Christ’s Millennial Reign on earth when the “wolf shall dwell with the Lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together – v 6,
- - - - and the lion shall eat straw like the ox – v 6” - (See Isa. 11:1-9).
The Kings of the Earth.
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.
The Kings of the earth, “first begotten of the dead”.
When Lazarus, the widow’s son, etc, were raised, they were still in their mortal Adamic bodies. But Jesus arose in his Glorified Resurrection Body. This is the kind of body all who qualifies for the First Resurrection, will have during the Millennium and eventually, all who attain to eternal life.
See: 1 Cor. 15:42-54.
Those who qualify for the First Resurrection - (see Rev. 20:6), will reign with Christ on earth for the thousand years’ (millennial) reign.
See Rev. 5:10; Rev. 3:21; Matt. 5:5.
Hence He is called the Prince (Ruler) of the kings of the earth. This has been made possible because He “loved us and washed us in his own blood” – (v 5). Compare: Exod. 19:5-6; Gen. 12:1-3; 1 Peter 2:9-10.
This will become clearer still when we come to Revelation 21 and 22.
Note carefully that Bible Salvation is through the shedding of Blood - (Cp. John 3:16; Heb. 9:22), involves a washing, not a covering up; is salvation from sins. There is no salvation while living in sin. We are not saved in our sins, but from our sins.
The Second Coming of Christ.
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
The Second Advent: This is in a very definite and literal manner the return of the Lord Jesus himself. It will be visible (with the natural eye).
See: Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16; Hab. 3:3,4-6; Zech. 14:3-9; Rev. 16:18; Hag. 2:6; Matt. 24:27; Dan. 7:13.
“Behold” - Exclamation of wonder and surprise at such a magnificent sight. It will be a glory unsurpassed – (See Matt. 24:27-31).
“He cometh” - Unsaved one, unsanctified one, unprepared one, unconcerned one, unbelieving one, take heed and repent;
“With Clouds” - This most likely refers to literal clouds. It may, however, point to the clouds of judgement that will precede and accompany Christ’s Second Coming when this earth will be judged by fire, and the “whirlwinds” of God.
Please read: 2 Peter 3:10; Jer. 23:19-20; Jer. 30:23-24; Ezek. 1:4; Isa. 66:15-16; Nahum 1:3-6.
Please note, Jeremiah says, “in the latter days ye shall consider (understand) it perfectly” - (Jer. 23:20). The hydrogen bombs with their fire and clouds of smoke shooting 80,000 feet up into the air, do make us understand it perfectly.
Prepare to meet thy God - (Amos 4:12).
There are some who understand the clouds to signify all the hosts of the redeemed ones who will accompany our Lord Jesus and his angels, at his coming.
Please read: Rev. 19:11-14; Acts 1:9; Eph. 4:8; Jude v 14.
“Every eye” - It will be total consternation, great shame and everlasting contempt for all the rejecters of Christ, blasphemers, disobedient, the backsliders and all the unfaithful shepherds. The wailing will be awesome and pitiful.
Where do you stand?
In line with so many other Scriptures, it means that Christ’s Coming will come upon a world wholly unprepared.
See: Rev. 16:15; 1 Thess. 5:1-3; Matt. 24:50-51; Matt. 22:11-14; Matt. 13:41-43.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
This shows the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ - (Cp. with v. 17). There cannot be two firsts and lasts, showing that Jesus and the Father are one. This is a great mystery, but that makes him all the more God – (see 1 Tim. 3:16).
The Lord Jesus Visits John.
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Pat-mos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
The Lord Jesus visits John:
“Brother” - We can only be brothers in a spiritual sense through Christ – (See John 1:12). There is no such thing as the universal Fatherhood of God. The Lord Jesus even said to the Pharisees who were always persecuting him that they had the devil as their father – (See John 8:44).
“Companion in Tribulation” - The Lord Jesus said to his disciples:
“ - - - - In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” - (John 16:33).
Also read: Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12.
“In the Kingdom and Patience of Jesus Christ” - This is the Messianic Kingdom promised to the Lord Jesus Christ through the angel:
32 “ - - - - and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob (12 Tribes of Israel) forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” - (See Luke 1:31-33.)
Those who shall reign with him - - - - -,
(See Rev. 3:21; 2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 11:35)
- - - - shall be in their glorified bodies, but it will be here on earth - - - ,
(See Matt. 6:10; Zech. 14:9; Isa. 11:9)
- - - - over a literal Israel,
(See 2 Sam. 7:4-29; Ps. 89:3-4,27-37).
“Patience” - Jesus was patient when He was slandered, maligned, vilified, mocked, jeered at and reviled. We cannot reign in the kingdom without this patience – (See also 1 Peter 2:21).
“- - - - - Patmos” - John was banished to this lonely island off the coast of that “Asia” where the seven churches were, to whom this message was addressed (by the cruel Roman Emperor Domitian) because he had not denied the Word of God and was not afraid to witness for Jesus Christ. The desolate places of life may bring the Divine Presence very near to us. Tribulation and Revelation generally go together.
This Revelation of Jesus Christ is ours, because one lonely and loyal follower of the Nazarene was willing to suffer tribulation, rather than to compromise with the world, the flesh and the devil. John, with all the martyr’s down the ages, who had to suffer persecution for Jesus’ sake, could truly say: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me”.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.
The Lord’s Day here, is the Christian Sabbath, the first day of the week, and must not be confused with “the Day of the Lord” which is the time of Judgement reaching its climax in Armageddon and the Second Coming.
May God grant that more of his children will hallow the Lord’s Day and keep it holy, that they too, may be in the Spirit (Holy Spirit) and allow the Lord Jesus to reveal himself to them and show them what He wants them to do. Instead, most are so busy with secular things (Sunday newspapers, secular books, amuse-ments, etc.) that they do not give the Lord an opportunity to speak.
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
The Lord re-affirms his Deity announcing his absolute authority. Notice to whom He addresses himself; to the seven churches in “Asia” by name. O! yes, He was speaking to our own forefathers, the Ten Tribes: How blessed, how solemn, how imperative that we should hear what the Spirit says to the churches at this, the end of the age.
12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
In Old Testament days, a seven-branched Golden Candlestick always stood within the Tabernacle to give light in the darkness. Here, however, this symbol is used to depict the true church through which the Spirit of God should flow to lighten Israel and the world. Jesus himself stands in the midst of it, the “Great High Priest” Who had redeemed Israel, thereby making their future return possible; and Who was now desirous of building a perfect church or reigning Election, in co-operation with which He will one day “reign over the House of Jacob” for ultimate blessing to all mankind. He needs a very faithful and perfect church for this purpose.
(Cp. Matt. 16:18; Eph. 5:26-27).
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17 And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.
We might well compare this vision given to John with the similar glorious vision of the resurrected Saviour which Saul (Paul) saw on the way to Damascus - (Acts 26:13-18).
See: Dan. 7:13-14; Isa. 9:6.
The whiteness also speaks of purity and perfection of character.
Compare: 1 Cor. 15:25.
We see the Lord in his Mighty Power to heal, quicken, empower, illuminate and inspire the elect.
“Girt about the breast with a golden girdle” - (v 13). At his first advent, He was girt with a towel, a sign of humble service.
Compare: Matt. 20:28.
Now: a golden girdle - the King, the Judge: On earth the towel was around the loins, the symbol of a slave, but in this vision, it is a golden girdle about the breast, which is symbolic of a Ruler, King, Lord, Judge.
“Eyes - - - flame of fire” – (v 14). He wept on earth over Lazarus and Jerusalem, but here: flashing fire - searching, piercing, penetrating, and judging.
See the Parable of the Marriage Supper for the King’s Son – (Matt. 22:1-14), particularly v 11; “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment”. Fearful it was for that person because he was cast out into outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Our God is a “consuming fire”:
We see God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, putting a Cherub on guard with a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. He appeared to Moses in the burning bush and to Israel on Mount Sinai in flames of fire and a thick cloud of smoke. On the Day of Pentecost, it was in Tongues of Fire. In the church his judging fire is burning, for, judgement must begin with the House of God; and this is why he says to the lukewarm Church of Laodicea: - “I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
The “brass” of – (v 15) speaks of judgement upon his own people.
The “voice as the sound of many waters” - signifies the mighty indomitable victorious power of the risen Son of God.
In Matt. 11:28 it was the soft compassionate voice with the invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. But here it is the voice of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
“In his right hand seven stars” - The right hand represents the place of honour, dignity, power and might.
The seven stars are the ministers of the seven churches - (v 20). This signifies preachers, ministers, messengers, pastors, witnesses etc.
See Daniel 12:3;
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
In God’s hand - obedient, shining in the dark, representing the heavenly country at a foreign court. Compare John 16:33.
“And out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword” –
We read in Hebrews 4:12;
For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword - - - - ”.
Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us - (John 1:14).
In Rev. 19:15-16, we read of him who sat upon the white horse:
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Read also Isaiah 63:1-4.
“His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” - (v 16). On earth He had no form nor comeliness and no beauty that we should desire him - (Isaiah 53:2), but now: The glorified and exalted Christ is walking among the seven candlesticks, his church upon earth, and He is the discerner of every thought and intention of the heart.
“The First and the Last” - (v 17). Compare this with the Alpha and the Omega of – (vv 8,11). Here again the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is acknowledged. He is God manifest in the flesh, there cannot be two firsts and two lasts, there is only one, and that is God.
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Jesus is the only One who can make that claim. All others who have died can only say “I have lived but am now dead”. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death - (1 Cor. 15:26) and Jesus has conquered death. His Name be praised forever and ever.
“Hell” (v 18) is Hades here in the Greek, and means the place of the departed, the place where the spirits of those who have died outside of Christ, are found at present.
“Death” (v 18) means the first death, that is the death of the body.
Please read: 1 Cor. 15:26,54-57.
The state of everlasting condemnation, where all who are disobedient to the Son, will find themselves - (See John 3:36) is called the second death, of which we will see more in Revelation 20.
19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Here we find another proof that it was on the Christian Sabbath that John re-ceived this revelation. He saw the things “which are”, that is, which were already happening in his time, and the things which, as far as he was concerned at that moment, shall be hereafter, in other words, in the future. He was therefore not transported in the spirit to the Day of the Lord, that is Armageddon, to be shown only those things that were to happen then. No, while he was in deep communion with the Lord on the day of Rest, the Lord revealed to him in a few moments of time the Chronological flow of history from his time up until the Consummation of the Age (or this dispensation) at the Second Coming of Christ.
(See our Study: “The Great Tribulation”).
The “seven” stars were the seven ministers of the seven churches of “Asia” in the time of John, and the seven candlesticks were the seven churches. They were also representative of the seven church periods that would succeed one another from John’s time until the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will see in these seven churches an exact reflection, or picture, of each Church Period right across two millenniums between the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This period is also known in Scripture as “the last days” - (See e.g. Heb. 1:2). As we shall now proceed to see, John was commanded to write to each of these individually, and to pass on to them, for their respective churches or conger-gations in Asia, the particular message, which the Lord Jesus dictated for each in turn.
The Seven Churches
(Revelation 2:1-29 and Revelation 3:1-22)
The number seven in Scripture is symbolic of completeness and perfection. Take, for example, the fact that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh day. In thus addressing these seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3 to the seven literal churches in Asia at that time, the Lord was also speaking to the church in its seven-fold development from John's time right up to the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was thus a complete mes-sage of warning, instruction and encouragement to the church for the entire period of its existence.
To all the seven churches Christ says: “I know thy works”.
The meaning of their names will also imply their nature and indicate the periods they represent.
1. Ephesus - (Rev. 2:1-7)
Period: Approximately 30 to 96 AD.
Representing the zeal of the Primitive Church as it was in the time of the apostles.
In the Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians, we find the highest teaching concerning the church. We see in Acts 19:1-6 how that the original church at Ephesus was founded when the disciples were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit, thus becoming a truly Apostolic Church. Here we see the richness and the power of the early Apostolic Church as a whole.
1 UNTO the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And has borne, and has patience, and for my names’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”
But see the sad complaint against even this wonderful church:
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Let us take heed.
They were warned to repent (otherwise they would be removed).
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
The warning must have been ignored, because their particular “candlestick” (typifying their church, see Revelation 1:20) has long since been removed out of its place.
The church is there to radiate the light of the Everlasting Gospel in all its beauty and clarity; and if it does not, it is not fulfilling its calling, and must be removed. What are your own position, dear reader, and that of the church to which you belong? We will come back to this in verse 7.
In the meantime read the following as well: 1 Tim. 3:15; Matt. 5:16.
They did not repent, and their candlestick was removed; the church was broken up in 96 AD. This is sad indeed! The Apostle Paul very solemnly warned them against this about 36 years before when he called from Miletus for the elders of the Church of Ephesus. He warned them with tears to tend the flock over which the Holy Spirit had set them.
Read for yourself this very touching and tender scene in Acts 20:17-38.
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
The word Nicolaitanes comes from the two Greek words “nikao” and “laos” which mean, to overcome the people, or the laity. It was the evil practice of a priestly caste lording it over the “flock” which had begun to rear its ugly head, dividing an equal brotherhood into “priests” and “laity”.
(Matt. 23:8; “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren”).
This is contrary to the Spirit of Jesus, who was as a humble servant amongst his brethren and has commanded his followers to do the same. No wonder He hated it.
See: 1 Peter 5:2-3; Matt. 24:49; Matt. 18:1-11; Matt. 20:24-28.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
The Overcomers are promised immortality, for they are those who will reign and rule with Jesus in the restored kingdom. Such are, therefore, to have access to the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of God, where there will be peace, joy, and happiness forever.
Compare with this: Gen. 2:19; Rev. 22:2,14.
This is the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Lukewarm Christians will be excluded. The non-fruit-bearing branches will be taken away.
Compare: Rev. 2:5; John 15:2; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 9:27.
Obedience is essential: Heb. 5:9; 1 John 2:17; John 14:15,21; Matt. 7:21; John 9:31; Rev. 22:14; James 4:17; Acts 5:32; John 14:23; 1 John 3:22; James 2:17; Phil. 3:13-14.
Note well: The receipt of the Crown of Life is dependent upon the recipient being “faithful even unto death” - (Rev. 2:10).
2. Smyrna - (Rev. 2:8-11)
Period: Approximately 64 to 313 AD.
Pagan Persecution and The Martyr’s Church.
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Smyrna was a very beautiful city in those days, situated about 35 miles north of Ephesus. This church represents the period of bitterness and sorrow. The decree issued by Nero in the year 64 AD, to declare the Christians a prohibited group and to wipe them out, ushered in this period. Many Christians were tried and tested and purified like pure gold during this period of bitter persecution in which the heathen did their utmost to completely wipe out and destroy the Christian Faith.
Polycarp, one of the well known Church Fathers and Bishop of Smyrna, was one of the many martyrs’. The Jews incited the mob to seize and accuse him and force him to state openly whether he was a Christian or not. He was given the choice to burn some incense in honour of Caesar, or if not, to be burnt at the stake. Immortal was his reply: “Eighty six years long have I served Christ, and never has He done me any harm. How can I now deny my King who has saved me?” While the flames were slowly enveloping his body, he prayed the following prayer: “I thank Thee that Thou hast accounted me worthy of this day of this hour, that I might have a share with the martyrs’ in the cup of Christ”.
God knew their works, and their tribulation, and poverty, and declared them rich in faith. He counseled them to remain faithful unto death, and He would give them a crown of life. By reminding them that He himself had died, but was alive for evermore, He encouraged them by giving them the assurance of the resurrection from among the dead. This indeed made them courageous and triumphant to die the martyrs’ death, being fully assured that a glorious reward awaited them on the other side. What awaits you, dear reader?
The name Smyrna means myrrh, or anointing oil. The oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit by whose strength alone the church of that time was able to survive those terrible persecutions. We only need to think of the labyrinths of the Catacombes of Rome in which thousands of Christians lived and died, because it was the only hiding place from the cruel persecution of the heathen. We can still see today, the Colosseums and Arenas where tens of thousands of bloodthirsty heathen spectators made sport by casting the Christians to wild beasts to be devoured, or where they burnt them at the stakes. Thousands of Christians were covered with pitch or bitumen, and then set alight to serve as torches to light up these arenas of death.
The myrrh was used to prepare the dead bodies for burial, like for example in the case of Jesus. It was a sweet smelling spice, which gave of its sweetest smell; the more it was crushed and ground to powder. Is this not a most beautiful symbol of those persecuted Christians whose mutilated and crushed bodies were that sweet smelling savour which gave to the Christian Faith its immortal and invincible testimony? It is therefore not surprising that historians are in hearty agreement that this was one of the main factors, which led to the conversion of the heathen to Christianity. It is very sad indeed that we are prepared to sacrifice so little for our faith in these days. In this fact is found the basic explanation as to why our faith has so little convicting power in our times!
Historians calculate that about 10 million Christians died the martyrs’ death during the persecutions in the time of the Caesars of Rome. By this they tried to crush the Christian Faith in its infancy, but it had exactly the opposite effect. The blood of the martyrs’ served as the seedbed of the church. Did not our Lord Jesus say: “Upon this rock (that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?”
The word “martyr” is derived from the same Greek word, which in many places in the Bible is translated as “witness”. The true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ witnesses, or testifies, by his life, or, if needs be, by his death, for him. Shall we not rededicate our lives to him, and get the myrrh and the anointing oil of the Church of Smyrna back into our lives? Then we shall once again be able to testify for him Who has loved us and has given himself for us, by living or dying, in this dark hour of deadness and worldliness in the Christian Church on the one hand, and of militant upsurging of the heathen, on the other hand.
“And ye shall have tribulation ten days”, - (v 10): The church went through ten persecutions under ten different Caesars, during that period.
They were: 1. Nero; 2. Domitian; 3. Trajan; 4. Marcus Aurelius; 5. Severus; 6. Maximum; 7. Decius; 8. Valerian; 9. Aurelian; 10. Diocletian.
Of these ten the last, namely the one under Diocletian, was the most fearsome. It took place in the period 303 to 312 AD. In Prophecy a day is often taken for a year - see Num. 14:33-34; Ezek. 4:6.
In the year 303 AD the Caesar issued a decree ordering all Christian Churches to be destroyed, the Scriptures to be burned, and all the Christians to be killed. This fearful persecution ended ten years later when Constantine, who accepted the Christian Faith in the year 312 AD, became Caesar in the following year.
Foxe writes as follows in his famous book on the Martyrs’:
“The Christians were in all parts of the Empire driven from their habitations, and tormented in their bodies; racks and prisons, axes and halters, fire and wild beasts, scalding pitch and melting wax, sharp stakes and burning pincers, were but some of the methods of their treatment”. Christ comforted and encouraged this Martyr Church by reminding them that he had also died, but that He is alive for evermore”.
As in Rev. 1:17-18 the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is here in verse 8 affirmed - there couldn’t be two first and lasts.
See also 1 Corinthians 15:20;
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
This same type of Jew is referred to in the Letter to the Church of Philadelphia in Rev. 3:9. As in the case of Polycarp where it was Jews who insisted on his death, so it was the same with the Lord Jesus Christ: it was a certain type in Jewry who demanded his death and shouted:
“Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” - (John 19:15).
“His blood be on us, and on our children” - (Matt. 27:25.)
After the Resurrection it was they who bribed the Roman soldiers with money and told them to keep it quiet, and to spread false reports about it. It was they who resisted the proclamation and spreading of the gospel so vehemently in the days of the New Testament; who tried to wipe it out, and where they could not succeed, to falsify it. Throughout the ages there is abundant evidence that in all revolutionary movements of which the ultimate aim is the wiping out of Christianity, Jews have initiated, or inspired, or directed them.
Karl Marx and the founders of Communism were Jews. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was financed by a Jewish Banking Firm of America. In our own country, many of the names that have been prominent in Communist activities have been that of Jews. Think for instance of such names as a Goldreich and a Wolpe in the Rivonia case in 1964.
This will not be so difficult to understand if we know the background of the explanation. The chief aim of Communism is to wipe out Christianity completely; about that there ought not to be any doubt, because any Communist wilt be the first to confirm it. Where will the Jew, whose aim is the same, find a better comrade to achieve his ideal, than in Communism?
But the explanation becomes clearer still, and far more appalling when it becomes clear that we can trace it right back to the Garden of Eden. We cannot go into full detail in a Study like this; it will have to wait for a Study of its own. Briefly, however, the position is this:
After the fall of Adam and Eve, God said to the serpent (Satan):
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel - (Gen. 3:15).
The seed of the woman is Christ, and Satan did bruise his heel when He was nailed to the Cross on Calvary; but there also the Lord Jesus by his atoning death for our sins and by his resurrection, bruised Satan’s head.
But who was the human agent used of Satan “to bruise Jesus’ heel”? It was that section among the Scribes and Pharisees who incited the crowd to shout - “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” - (John 19:15). Who were they! They were the element in Judah who was of non-Israel descent, and whose descendants are today the leaders in world Zionism. They are largely of Esau extraction and have also inherited from their father (Esau) the hatred for his brother Jacob. A little more than one hundred years before Christ, the Jews of that time by force incorporated the whole Idumean race, which was the descendants of Edom, the grandson of Esau. The cruel Herod who had the infants killed in the time of Christ, descended from them, so did Annas and Caiaphas. (By this cruel deed Herod had hoped to kill the infant Jesus).
It was of this type of whom Jesus said:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” - (John 8:44).
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children (descendants) of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers. how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
Jesus never “told anybody off” or called them “names” just to hurt them. Where He called them serpents and vipers, it was because that is exactly what they were, the descendants of the serpent, the devil. It was the same old trail, which originated in Eden:
“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed - - - - - ” - (Gen. 3:15).
John speaks in 1 John 3:12 of Cain who was of that wicked one, that is, he was the seed of the evil one, the devil.
In this way we can follow this seed throughout the Bible. Thus it was in Esau to make him wrestle with Jacob even before they were born - (Genesis 25), and to make him despise the Birthright, which carried the responsibility of bearing and caring for the seed of the woman, namely Christ - (Gal. 3:16). This seed eventually became prominently lodged in Judah, and divided that tribe into the good and the bad figs of Jeremiah 24:1-3,9.
The bad figs element was later joined by the Idumeans of Esau descent, as has been already stated. This is the fig tree that was cursed by our Lord Jesus never ever to bear any fruit again:
“- - - - Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away” - (Matt. 21:19).
It is remarkable that from that time onwards the Jews as a Nation or as a Group, have never brought forth any fruit, but only evil. Neither will they ever again as a Nation bring forth any fruit, except where they will be re-united with the Ten Tribes at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, according to Ezekiel 37.
Ninety percent of Jewry today consists of this Esau type. The genuine Jew of pure Israelite stock looks like his West European kinsman. He is also a lovable charming personality. He is of the Sephardim type, whereas the Esau type is the Ashkenazim, who are the greater majority and have the typical nose, the round head, the more stocky build, and cannot by right claim any Israel descent. They are as such the actual modern Esau masquerading as Jacob in order to, right now, immediately before the Second Coming of Christ, steal back the Birthright from Jacob, and thus prevent the rightful Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, to take the Throne according to Luke 1:31-33. This is why they play such a leading part in world Communism. If you will allow the Holy Spirit to reveal this to you, there awaits you one of the most thrilling Revelation you could ever receive in this final hour of this dispensation.
These are therefore the people who say they are Jews, but are not, but who lie, and are the synagogue of Satan, the seed of the serpent of Gen. 3:15.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Note it is the devil that throws them into prison, that is, it is he who is behind the whole pagan anti-Christ system. It is he who inspires and directs them. In John 14:30 the Lord Jesus calls him the prince of this world (system); the same in John 12:31 and John 16:11.
In Luke 4:5-8 Satan offers Jesus all the kingdoms of this world if He would fall down and worship him.
In 2 Cor. 4:3-4 the Apostle Paul calls Satan the god of this world. This is therefore a fact on the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and of Paul who was inspired by the Holy Ghost. The devil usurped this power on the day when Adam sinned and thereby handed the authority which God had given unto him (Adam), over to Satan. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, had to buy it back with his blood. This is the reason why all those who truly stand out for Christ, like the Church of Smyrna, have to suffer such bitter persecution. And it will remain so until Satan is finally bound for a thousand years. We will see more of this when we come to Revelation 20.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Note again the promise to the Overcomer.
There are three deaths mentioned in Scripture:
(1) The state of the unsaved in their separation from God while yet alive.
See: 1 Tim. 5:6; “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth”.
Eph. 2:1; “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins”.
For such a person there is always the way open to repent and be converted and receive eternal life.
(2) Physical death, that is the death of the body.
(3) The second death, which comes after the first death (that is the physical death) and means everlasting separation from the presence of God, and is identical with the lake of fire.
See: Revelation 20:14; “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death”.
3. Pergamos - (Rev. 2:12-17)
Period: Approximately 313 to end of the Age at the Second Coming.
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write: These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But 1 have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
Pergamos was a city situated about fifty miles North-east of Ephesus, and Jesus called it the city where “Satan’s seat is”. It was the Capital of the Asia of that time (modern Turkey). It was therefore a very important city in several respects, and also the centre of the heathen religion. The temple of Aesculapius, the heathen god of healing, was also in that city. The sick from all over the heathen world of that time came to that city for healing.
The emblem of Aesculapius was the serpent. To the Christians the serpent had always been the symbol of Satan. There were also many other heathen temples there. The worship of these heathen gods was always accompanied with great immorality, drunkenness and sexual excesses. In the city the custom of Caesarworship was also practiced in its most intense form. Yes, indeed, Satan had his “throne” in this city. The name “Pergamos” means “married to power”.
Constantine succeeded the cruel Diocletian in the year 313 AD as the Emperor of the Roman Empire. This was after the church had gone through more than two centuries of the bitterest persecution by the Roman Caesars, in which Satan did his utmost to completely wipe out the Christian Faith. In his last decisive battle Constantine had a vision of the Cross in the heavens, and underneath it was written: “By this you will conquer”. And he did conquer, he accepted the Christian faith, and became Caesar.
He immediately issued the Decree of Milan in the year 313 AD by which he gave recognition to the persecuted Christians, and he declared the Christian Faith the State Religion of Rome. From that moment onwards, the church came under the protection of the State. What a tremendous turn of events! After more than two centuries of all the fury of hell being unleashed upon the church, now to be protected by the same State which tried to wipe her out! The church became “married” to the State, and thus to the “world”.
This robbed her of her spirituality, the Holy Spirit, the pure, sensitive white dove that would not put its foot on anything unclean. The church by becoming thus generally accepted and popular, ceased struggling, lost its virility and vitality. This paved the way for further decadence and falsification in the ensuing years. (Dr. A. J. Gordon says that the First Church was full of virility and variety, and that in, any of their meetings a miracle could take place at any moment.) Will those days ever come back again? I believe they shall: In the fires of affliction that will soon come upon us when the heathen hordes from the east and north descend upon us, the Christian World, a mighty revival will break out, in which the experience of the First Church will even be surpassed.
Are you ready for it? Oh, Lord, hasten the day! “Lord bring back those happy days, when the Holy Ghost fell in every place; and the Love of God shone on every face, Lord, bring back those happy days”.
The heathen began to pour into the church without being converted, only because it now was the State Church, and it was the “in” thing to do, namely to belong to the State Church, (So sadly reminiscent of the exact position in the Western World today) they brought with them their heathen religious customs. In this way many of their idolatrous practices became part of the Christian Church, and thus their abominations became grafted into the pure worship and service of the Church of God. False doctrines were injected into the life of the Church of Jesus Christ with a corresponding loss in spirituality.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy; the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, discerning of spirits; the working of miracles, healing and faith, disappeared. The fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness and long suffering, which were so beautifully in evidence in the lives of the first Christians during the days of their persecution, began to disappear.
(Read F. W. Farrar's two books: “Darkness and Dawn” and “Gathering Clouds”). The Offices of the Holy Spirit: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are almost unheard of, and instead of that we have a “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men” - (Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7).
The holding of excessive and debauching Christmas celebrations began to come in. The first Christians never celebrated the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, but proclaimed his Death and Coming again, each time when they partook of the Lord’s Supper. Infant sprinkling, “Easter eggs” (the egg and the tree were always the heathen symbols of fertility), “hot-cross buns” and dozens of other customs and practices all of heathen origin entered the Christian Church with the heathen “convert”. This paved the way for the Roman Catholic Church with its abominable idolatrous systems, with the Pope as the so-called Vicar of Christ on earth. We shall still see much of this in that which is to follow.
In thus addressing this church, our Lord is represented as possessing a sharp sword with two edges - (v 12). Thus only in the power of the Word of the Spirit, the twoedged sword, can men rightly divide the word of truth.
“Where Satan’s seat is” - (v 13).
For further light on this phrase we can declare that, with the fall of Babylon, that great city - (See Daniel 5), the Chaldean Mysteries transferred their seat from Babylon to Pergamos, and later on again to Rome. This is a deep and fascinating study. The old Babylonian Priests, magicians and exorcists, were masters at their craft. It is impossible to go further into this in a study such as this. We recommend the following two books for further reading on this subject:
“The Two Babylons” (Or the Papal Worship proved to be The Worship of Nimrod and His Wife) by Alexander Hyslop. Publishers: Partridge & Co., London.
And “Between Christ and Satan” by Dr. Kurt Koch.
Read also Eph. 6:12 and take it literally.
The Lord refers to the Church of Pergamos as dwelling “where Satan’s seat is”. Not only was Pergamos the seat of Satanic power and influence, with her wicked systems and Satan worship, but the church of that time had now become popular at the court of the adversary. Mention is made of Antipas the faithful martyr (or witness); the words martyr and witness are translated from the same Greek word “martus”. It is taken that the word Antipas has been taken from the two words anti, against, and pappas, pope or father. (According to Dakes Annotated Reference Bible it is taken to be an unknown Christian who became known by his martyrdom for Christ.) There is a book called The Acts of Antipas, which makes him the bishop of Pergamos and states that he was put to death by being enclosed in a burning brazen bull. But apparently it is a reference to all the faithful martyrs who had to forfeit their lives because they testified against “the mystery of iniquity” (the Papal system which by then had already begun to rear its ugly head).
The Doctrine of Balaam.
Verse 14: Balaam taught Israel to sin through worldliness, immorality and idolatry. See Numbers 22:15-17;
15 And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.
16 And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:
17 For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people”
1 AND Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
3 And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
Another fact which very few people seem to realize is, that history has a way of repeating itself. Balaam corrupted Israel by his suggestion that the Moabites should invite the Israelites to their pagan feasts. This led not only to the Israelites beginning to worship their gods with all the attendant immorality, but also to intermarriage between the Israelites and the Moabites and the other heathen nations who also took part in these feasts, like for instance the Midianites.
In this way Israel was led into, not only spiritual adultery, but also to the adulteration of their pure Israelite bloodstream. Both of these God hated.
This is exactly what is taking place again today, where there is not only a general falling away from the pure Christian faith among the Western Nations, but also a tremendous drive for integration and mixed marriages. It is all with one set purpose, and that is to wipe out all faith in the one true living God, from off the face of the earth.
As the Israelites of Balaam’s day were the only people who were entrusted with the Message of the Living God, as opposed to the dead idols of the heathen nations, so today, the Western Christian Nations (who are predominantly of the white Anglo-Saxon Celtic and kindred stock) are the only guardians and custodians on earth of this same faith. Destroy them, either by annihilation or by mixing their blood, and you have done away with God’s earthly channel through whom He has purposed to work here on earth.
By the way, you will come across it again further on in this book, there are strong indications from both prophecy and history, that the Chinese of today are the descendants of the Moabites of the Bible, and the Japanese of the Ammonites.
In his footnote to Rev. 2:14 Scofield says the following in his “Reference Bible:” “The ‘doctrine’ of Balaam - (confer 2 Peter 2:15 note; Jude, v 11, note) was his teaching Balak to corrupt the people who could not be cursed - (Num. 31:15-16; Num. 22:5; Num. 23:8), by tempting them to marry women of Moab, defile their separation, and abandon their pilgrim character. It is that union of the world and the church which is spiritual unchastity - (James 4:4). Pergamos has lost the pilgrim character and was ‘dwelling’ (v 13) ‘where Satan’s throne is’, in the world - (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11).
Balaam was a type of priest or prophet that was out for what he could get, not for what he could give. It was a period of spiritual idolatry and adultery that continues up till this day. Whereas Pagan Rome, in the Pantheon at Rome, had worshipped the goddess Venus as “Queen of Heaven” with her child, and had also venerated Jupiter as a god, so during the early centuries AD, the weakening church again used the Pantheon at Rome and brought some of the very same pagan images into their worship, pretending to use them this time to symbolize the Virgin Mary with Child; and to symbolize Peter.
You see this reproduced exactly in the magnificent St. Peter’s Church in Rome in this huge semi-circle with Mary and Child at the centre; the other niches for the saints are a replica of the niches for the other gods of the heavenlies as it was in the Pantheon (From Gr. pan-all and theos - god) of Pagan Rome. As the heathen bowed down before those images, so today the Roman Catholics bow down before the images of the “saints”.
This Christianized form of idolatry, the more subtle, because it was more plausible than the old pagan rites, readily paved the way for the ensuing “Thyatira” period which continued to practice similar Christianized idolatry throughout the dark middle ages.
It is therefore no wonder that the Church of Pergamos lost her Testimony, and that the glory of the Lord that had rested so mightily upon her in the beginning, departed from her. Let us in this generation take warning from these Scriptures which are also written for our learning, upon whom the ends of the ages are come (See Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).
The Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes
“So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. which thing I hate”. (v 15). That which in Ephesus was only deeds - (Rev. 2:6) had become in Pergamos a doctrine, the lording of the clergy over the laity. A priest or a pope that had the power either to open or close heaven to the poor layman. certainly had him in his power.
Read: 3 John 9 and Matt. 23:8-9.
Such church dictatorship is of Satan and is anti-Christ; beware of such systems and let us have nothing to do with them.
Gordon Lindsay in his book on Revelation quotes the following from the book “All Things New” by Arthur Bloomfield: “When a church leaves its first love, it begins to turn attention to ecclesiastical power and influence. When its leaders talk about ‘church loyalty’ they are actually demanding loyalty to themselves, while they are leading the people from the Bible. The movements of the churches to enhance their political power and social prestige by union, federation, and worldly alliances are the deeds of the Nicolaitanes. It is the effort of the church to restore by its own method what it has lost by forsaking God’s method.”
“The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes is a trend that usually shows in a denomination after its pioneer days are over. The headship of Christ is ignored and organi-zation (some organization is necessary) is substituted for God’s power”, - (Gordon Lindsay).
Verse 16: Verses 12 and 16 both mention the “Sword” of Truth (literally the “broad-sword”, described by Dr. Young as a “brandishing weapon”), which must either cut out falsehood, or else cut away those practicing it. Read John 15:1-6.
The Individual Overcomer.
Verse 17: As to each of the seven churches, so also here the promise is made to him that overcometh, thus to individuals from those churches. It is therefore very encouraging to know that, no matter how apostate the conditions of the churches have been right down the ages, there have always been the ones here and there who have remained true to the Word of God and faithful and loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ. As in the days of Elijah, God has always had his faithful remnant who have not bent the knee to Baal. When we look back down the corridors of time, we can see them. Our own White South African Nation has a part of its origin firmly linked to the Huguenots who sacrificed everything, even their very life, for the sake of their faith in God. But the roll of honour that will be read in the Final Day is not completed yet. May our Heavenly Father grant that you, who are now reading these words, will not flinch when it shall be required of you to have your name inscribed on that roll of Overcomers. But we shall see more of this when we come to Rev. 6:9-11. Sombre and challenging is the statement of verse 11, that the number of those who are yet to be killed (for their faith) is not yet complete. Everyday, somewhere on earth, the martyrs’ are still dying for Jesus. In the waning light of this dispensation, the shadows are beginning to fall also across our own country. There is no room for complacency, on the contrary, where there is smoke, there is a fire, and there are enough columns of smoke around to warn of many fires that are smoldering underground.
The white stone speaks of a pledge or a symbol of Covenant Relationship with Christ through his blood - (Rev. 1:5-6). The new name signifies a change in character and standing - (2 Cor. 5:17-21) when his bloodwashed children enter into a new and intimate relationship with the Father. Those who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ will share in the glory of his throne when He comes in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Summary of the Pergamos Period:
The lessons we have learnt from this Period are of a very solemn nature. The Christians were very glad when Constantine came to conversion and made the Christian Faith legal. But they should not have looked up to him as their protector and benefactor. They then took their eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ, and began to fraternize with the heathen, their former enemies and persecutors. They should have kept their standard for conversion and of holiness.
The fires of persecution of the Smyrna Period had a purifying effect, so much so that this church was the only one with whom the Lord could find no fault. Satan calculated that he would completely wipe out this church by means of cruel persecution, but he made a very big mistake. It had exactly the opposite effect. When one martyr died, two stood up in his place. Superficial Christians who only wanted to taste the great benefits of the Christian Faith, but otherwise still wanted to continue with their sinful and shallow lives, without persecution, could not stand up to the challenge of Smyrna.
This kept the church of this period pure. But after the Edict of Constantine, the Christian Faith became popular. Tens of thousands were admitted to the church, without having experienced a real change of heart. They still clung to their idols and BabyIonian and heathen practices, and tried to mix it with their Christian Faith. (Modern Revivals, beware!). It was not very long before the doctrines of the First Church became so warped, that the Apostles would have hardly recognized it. The way was thus paved for the establishment of an apostate and harlot church. (In Biblical terms spiritual harlotry means to depart from the only True God, and to follow after strange gods). We will see much of this in the chapters that are yet to follow.
4. Thyatira - (Rev. 2:18-29)
Period: Approximately 606 to 1866 AD.
Papal supremacy. (The triumph of Balaamism and Nicolaitanism; a believing remnant).
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; these things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
The word “Thyatira” means “continual incense” and has reference to the bruising of incense to cause a fragrant smell. Here is a distinct hint that the Thyatira Church represents the Roman Catholic Period of Church History. The message is from the Son of God not the son of Joseph or the son of Mary, or the son of man!
As we have already seen in verse 14, a worship of the Virgin Mary began to creep into the Christian Church, often putting her first and her Babe, Jesus, second. This subtle duplicity was the foundation of the subsequent Roman Catholic supreme exaltation of Mary, which God will not accept. The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, must be put first always.
Thyatira was also a very important and prosperous commercial centre. Lydia, a seller of purple came from this city - (Acts 16:14). Purple dye was extremely expensive and some believe that Lydia was a merchant princess. Historical evidence on inscriptions found in the vicinity shows that Thyatira possessed more trade-guilds than any other comparable city in Asia. These trade-guilds presented Christians with a real problem. No one could hope to be a prosperous trader unless he was a member of these guilds. But, the trade-guilds were intimately associated with the worship of heathen gods. Its members ate meals offered to idols and poured out wine as a libation to the gods. Could a Christian partake of meat offered to idols? These guild-feasts often were carousels where the grossest immoralities occurred. Christians would have to make a decision. If they attended these feasts they would protect their business and insure their prosperity. If they refused, they would be faced with poverty and perhaps bankruptcy. (Lindsay.)
Is it not also the case today in a great measure? How many trade organizations are there not today to which the businessman is compelled to belong if he wants to make a success of his business? And what of the great evil that is often practiced at their “feasts”? The servant of God who is out and out for the truth often experiences the greatest persecution from within his own congregation, coming from those members who refuse to step out of those organizations for the fear of loss to their business. Only the grace of God can keep an honest servant of God in the Ministry today - (See also Rev. 18:4).
In addressing this church, our Lord is represented as having eyes like unto a flame of fire and feet like unto brass. With his eyes He is searching out the truth. His feet denote the irresistible treading out of judgement. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Just as the original true church apostatized into becoming the Roman Catholic Church, so here also the original church in Thyatira had once been faithful, but it evidently began to trust in “works” rather than in simple “faith” in the fully accomplished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. This went from bad to worse, until in the time of Martin Luther, salvation became a matter or works, penance, fasting, counting of beads, saying hail Mary’s, performing pilgrimages, and so on. Luther tried to find peace of soul in doing all these things, but he could not. Finally in his long search for light he discovered the long forgotten truth of the “finished work” of Christ, and that “the just shall live by faith”.
The fact that some would die for the sake of their faith during this Thyatira Church Period, had been foreseen. This is why the Lord said, “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first”. But even much of this zeal had degenerated during their worship into mere ceremony.
Who is “Jezebel”?
Notwithstanding I have few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Condemnation is pronounced upon this church for suffering the woman Jezebel to teach. Jezebel, the heathen wife of Ahab - (see 1 Kings 18:13), King of Israel, represents idolatrous, pagan worship and thus signifies the union of God’s people with idolatry and evil. In Revelation 17 and 18, the Roman Catholic System is depicted as a “woman” with names of “blasphemy”, seen sitting upon or dominating the nations of the Roman earth (area within the boundaries of the Roman Empire), and “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs’ of Jesus” - (Rev. 17:6). Historians give the total of those who lost their lives fighting either directly or indirectly against the doctrines of Papal Rome as no less than 50 million - (See Dr. Grattan Guinness: “The Approaching End of the Age”, 5th Edition, page 212.)
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication: and she repented not.
22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
The Church of Rome came to power with Popes usurping the authority and position of Jesus Christ. The teachings and doctrines emanating from this source have polluted the entire stream of religious thought.
In the Lutheran Reformation Period, “God gave her abundant witness of the truth, giving her time to reform from her fornication” or wrong use of power: but the lure of pomp, ceremony, picturesque idolatry, and power was far too tempting, and was too much for her to lay down; so she continued in her evil ways, even torturing and burning thousands of the Reformers at the stake, men and women who would gladly have helped her, and led her into God’s ways of love and peace.
After giving her a just warning, God finally judges her. We shall see in Revelation 8 how He first judged Pagan Rome for its wickedness; and again in Revelation 16 how He judges Papal Rome later likewise, pouring upon her his “vials” full of wrath and indignation at the end of the age.
“We are standing at the very door of this final judgement; it is not only the Roman Catholic Church that is going to be judged, but each and every organization and individual that are still following in the original steps of disobedience to God’s Word in accordance with the Great Commission of Matt. 28:16-20.
Death is also pronounced upon her children. They are those political Christian Institutions, which are imitating Rome’s Nicolaitan example and teaching her doctrines. The result of these judgements is that all Christendom is to know that her works are evil. Where do you stand? Is the Word of God your final authority?
24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
There were those in the Thyatira Church, like those in the Roman Catholic era of the dark Middle Ages also, who stood firm against the tide, following and worshipping the Son of God only. During this period, the idolatrous Papal System exercised many inquisitions and martyrdoms against the Christians, revealing the depth of their hatred and accusation. The Lord Jesus, however, exhorts the faithful to “hold fast” until He comes.
Who Will Rule the World?
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Again, the reward for the Overcomers is to share, ultimately, in the reigning glory of the Lord Jesus Christ when he receives the Kingdom of Israel from his Father. In the Dark Ages, Papal Rome held unfettered power over the nations, but Jesus promises the martyrs’ that the time will come when the tables shall be turned - (Cp. Psalm 72:7) and when righteousness will be vindicated, and subdue every edifice of unrighteousness.
The Morning Star.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The Lord Jesus himself is the Morning Star - (Rev. 22:16). He thus gives unto the overcomer nothing less than himself. This includes Jesus Image, the Gift of the First Resurrection - (Cp. 1 John 3:1-3). He again offers to all Overcomers of all churches to be fellow-heirs with him when He comes to take over the Throne of his father David - (Cp. Psalm 72:8; Luke 1:32-33). How exquisitely sweet this promise is to all who have to empty the bitter cup of persecution for the Name and Sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Sardis - (Rev. 3:1-6)
Period: Approximately 1517 to 1789 AD.
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.
Sardis, like the others, was yet another of the original churches in Asia where, as Peter shows us, Lo-ammi Israel (the Ten Tribes) was scattered – (Hosea 1 to 2). It was situated about 30 miles southeast of Thyatira, and another great commercial centre in “Asia”. It was very well known for its loose living and immoral standards.
The name “Sardis” means “to escape”. It signifies an escaping from a very dangerous position or condition. It signifies symbolically the period in Church History known as the Reformation, initiated under the leadership of John Buss, Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and others.
Because it symbolizes a Reformation Church, one should have imagined that it would have been alive and on fire for Jesus. This unfortunately was not the case and hardly any of the true Apostolic Truths of the Bible were restored, as for instance:
The Baptism of believers by immersion;
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the sign of speaking in other Tongues;
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit according to - 1 Cor. 3 12:4-11; Eph. 4:7-16;
The Great Promises of God to Israel;
Divine Healing; the teaching concerning the Second Coming of Christ;
The Restoration of All Things - (see Acts 3:19-26) and still many more.
Yes indeed, they did break away from Rome, and thus had a name that they lived, but in actual fact had retained so much of Rome, that they were “dead”.
We see thus very clearly in:
Be watchful, and , strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Hence the sharp rebuke from Him who “Hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars”.
The Church of Sardis had great need of the Ministry of the Holy Spirit in all his fullness, and Christ would have done it for them if they had only asked him for it. Seven is the number of perfection.
Isaiah 11:2 gives us the seven attributes of the Spirit of Christ, and please note that this is spoken in connection with Christ’s Second Coming to set up his Millennial Reign here on earth:
2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Gordon Lindsay writes as follows about the Church of Sardis:
“William Newell in the ‘Book of Revelation’ remarks; Nothing could describe Protestantism (of that time) more accurately! As over against Romanish night and ignorance, she has enlightenment and outward activity: the great ‘State Churches’ or denominations, with creeds and histories, costly churches and cathedrals, universities and seminaries, boards, bureaus of publication and propaganda, executors of organized activities, including home and foreign missions.
All these activities are very far removed from the Apostolic Pattern with its manifestation of the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit. God’s Church must be a holy church, a Holy Ghost Church, not a social club designed to entertain civilized and educated sinners. Thousands in the cold formalistic churches of Protestantism know absolutely nothing of the experience of the new birth. Most of the churches which originated from the Reformation had very little of the spiritual power of the Apostolic Church. Often they were narrow and bigoted, and in many cases carried on persecutions against minorities, which were as wicked as those of the Spanish Inquisition” - (Lindsay).
Arthur Bloomfield describes it thus:
“Sardis is a mighty church with a great name. It shook off Jezebel, but retained many of its forms and trappings. Its reform was not perfect. Ceremonies, liturgy, ecclesiastical attire, candles, attars, processions, soft music, anything that produces a synthetic spiritual atmosphere is a substitute for, and therefore a replacement of the Holy Spirit. These things stem back to the Roman Catholic Church, not the Apostolic Church, and they hark back to Babylon, not Pentecost.”
Remember therefore how thou has received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
In Revelation 16:15 Jesus said:
Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
In Matthew 24:43 He said:
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 the Apostle Paul said:
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 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.
Those that are not watchful are caught off their guard by the thief, but not those that are ready and have their lamps burning and have extra oil (the Holy Spirit) in their vessels.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: For they are worthy.
“Even in this period there were also the Overcomers. The Pentecostal Apostolic Flame, proclaiming all the counsel of God - (see Acts 20:27), was kept burning amongst the Waldenses and Albigenses in their hiding places deep in the mountains of Southern France and Northern Italy. The Papal troops sometimes wiped out whole communities and towns of these brave heroes of the Faith. They too were faithful unto death, and shall in that Day receive the Crown of Life.
This period is well known for its rich harvest in those who were martyred for their faith. This was also the period of the cruel Inquisition as well as of the Translation of the Bible into the language of the people.
Martin Luther and others faced the organized wickedness of the times, such as the notorious sale of indulgences giving the purchaser, as it were, a concession beforehand to sin. Gross immorality flourished. It is a matter of history that several popes of the times sired illegitimate children. The reformers lifted up their voices against the evils, sounding a clarion call for the Reformation. George Fox, John Knox, Zwingli and others stood against popery and all its perversions, at the jeopardy of their lives. Not a few, including Savanarola and John Huss, became martyrs to the cause.
Christ promised, these would walk with him in white and their names would not be blotted out of the Book of Life. Christ's message to the Sardis Church was that men must turn from sin, and live holy and separated lives, if they wished to have a part in the Book of Life” (Gordon Lindsay).
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Here once again, precious promises are given to those who overcome. O! May the Lord grant that more of his children would take him at his word, and strive for this High Calling in Christ Jesus our Lord! This victor’s crown and laurel wreath was of the utmost importance to the first disciples; they gladly died in the faith because of this promise.
Please read the following Scriptures yourself: Phil. 3:8-14; 2 Tim. 2:11-12; Heb. 11:35; Rev. 3:21.
The white raiment is the garment of righteousness, which was purchased for us by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Luke 12:8 and Matt. 10:32 the Lord Jesus promised that He would confess the names of those who confessed him before men, before the Father and the holy angels. If you believe it, and do it, the promise is also unto you! The fallen nature of man is forever seeking the approval and the applause of man, but the honour of God, that he seeketh not. What a happy day that will be in heaven and on earth when the Christian World will once again take God at his word literally. Truly, those who overcome in this way, will take part in the First Resurrection, will reign with Christ a thousand years, will have their names written in the Book of Life, and the second death will have no power over them.
The Lord Jesus warns those who only obey God in part, saying in his Sermon on the Mount - (Matt. 7:21-23) that, when they come and say, “Lord, Lord” He will have to turn and say “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness)” - (Matt. 7:23; Luke 13:27). These people, though Christians in name, were breaking far too many of God’s laws and commands to be of use in his service in the high example of leading others into God’s perfect ways of Truth and Righteousness. They were not found perfect before God - (Rev. 3:2).
God told Moses:
“- - - - - Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” - (Exodus 32:33).
Among the last words of the Revelation the warning is repeated:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city” - (Rev. 22:19).
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Notice again that the Lord here speaks to the churches, not to the unconverted world; and that it is only the real “Overcomers” in the churches whom He will claim in the First Resurrection as his trusted reigning Executive for the Kingdom Age. The others will have a lesser reward later on.
Those who still have a spiritual ear will be receptive to the Message of the Holy Spirit. Slowly and imperceptibly the original church began to rely more on human methods, intellect and practices, and less and less on their dependence on the Holy Spirit. The things of the “flesh”(human nature) are always more acceptable to unregenerate man than the operation of the Holy Spirit. There is always the danger to all believers of all ages that:
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh – (Gal.3:3)
The whole natural or unregenerate man, spirit, soul, and body.
The urgency of this warning is emphasized by the fact that it is repeated to each of the seven churches:
(1) Ephesus – Rev. 2:7; (2) Smirna – Rev. 2:11; (3) Pergamus – Rev. 2:17;
(4) Thyatira – Rev. 2:29; (5) Sardis – Rev. 3:6; (6) Philidelphia – Rev. 3:13;
(7) Laodicea – Rev. 3:22.
6. Philadelphia - (Rev. 3:7-13)
Period: Approximately 1789 AD to Second Advent.
Liberation: The faithfull church.
Philadelphia was situated about twenty-eight miles southeast of Sardis. It was a very strategic city in those days, and was considered to be the gate to the East. As a result of being thus situated, it was considered ideal to serve as a mission city.
The name Philadelphia means “brotherly love”; it is therefore not without significance that this represents the Church-period of missionary zeal and effort of the past century. This is a period during which many of the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit as manifested in the First Church, were rediscovered. Some of these were the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the sign of speaking in other tongues, divine healing, the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the five offices of the Holy Spirit.
Rome (mystery, Babylon the Great) for centuries had caused God’s people to be subjected to spiritual and physical bondage, worse than that of the Egyptian bondage of Israel. The Reformation was the beginning of the removal of the fetters that bound God’s People Israel (the White Western Protestant Nations).
Following the French Revolution, there came a new period of Christian activity, which began, with the organization of Missions and Bible Societies. The Bible Societies “kept the Word” by making it available and accessible and the Mission Societies disseminated it, thus showing “brotherly love”. It is of the utmost importance that it should not be considered accidental that all these Societies were centered in Western and Northwestern Europe and their kindred people across the seas. They are the modern descendants of the so-called Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. (This aspect is dealt with in another series of Studies that can be obtained upon request from the author). This is a fulfilment of the Lord’s promises and commission to Israel, as for example in:
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.
Have you ever thought of it that the Jew has now for at least the past 2,000 years not been showing forth the praise of the Lord? But God’s Word has to remain true, has it not, that it was to be Israel who was to be doing it? And seeing that the Western Nations have been showing forth the Lord’s praise for these past centuries, can you not see them as the literal Israel of God busy with their age-old assignment? Does the Christian World not err on this point because it does not know the Scripture, neither the power of God? - (Matt. 22:29). Perhaps Jesus will also have to say to us, what He said to those on the road to Emmaus:
“- - - - - O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” - (Luke 24:25).
Please be sure to read the following Scriptures:
Isaiah 54:1-3; Isa. 43:10-15; Isa. 44:1-2,6-8,21-24.
God made his People lsrael his witnesses! Which other nations, except the White Western Protestant Nations, are sending out the Word of God across the face of the earth? The graves of the missionaries across the past centuries, standing as monuments of light in foreign heathen lands, of which nations are they? You can answer that for yourself. And now I am asking again: Did God not says that Israel would be his witnesses? Let us take God at his word.
During this Philadelphia-Period, there was also the awakening to Second Advent expectations as it was in the First Church in the days of the Apostles. At the same time thousands of the true children of the Lord came to the glorious awakening to the fact that the White Western Protestant Nations are the modern descendants of the House of Israel.
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
The key is the symbol of power and ownership.
The authority usurped by Rome had now passed into the hands of his true church. Here we have our Lord as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, holding the power to David’s Kingdom and throne, summoning Israel, his people, to rise to kingdom tasks. One of those assignments was to be “His salvation to the ends of the earth” - (Isa. 49:6; Matt. 6:10; Luke 1:31-33; Luke 1:67-80; Luke 2:30-32).
I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Because this task would be completed during the period of the activity of this church, an open door is set before them. The book that Rome closed was now to be opened and given to the entire world. The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic and kindred people have taken the Scripture and published it in more than 1,000 different languages, and the gospel has been preached to the ends of the earth.
During this long, but glorious history, it was sometimes the lonely individual (with little strength) who with heroic courage and unquenchable faith, stood for the Name and Sake of the full counsel of God. O! May our Lord give us the grace and strength in these days, when we are so near to the end of this Period, to say with the Apostle Paul:
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” - (Acts 20:27).
Behold I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
We have already seen in our exposition of this synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie, as given in Revelation 2:9, who they really are, when we expounded the Message to the Church of Smyrna.
Please also read Jeremiah 24.
It is very important to note and bear in mind that the same element that was present in Judah, in the time of Christ, and nailed him to the Cross, is still active today. This will remain so until:
And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn - (Zech. 12:10).
For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion - (Joel 3:21).
This will take place in the fires of Armageddon, which will be the prelude to the Second Advent and the Thousand Year Reign of Peace of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
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.
The trial of faith could not discourage those of Philadelphia, for the Lord promised to keep them from the hour of temptation (trial) which would come upon all the world, to try those that dwell therein. As the end of the age approached, this church would find the light of prophecy burning brighter until the dawn of the New Day.
And this is exactly the experience of every seeking child of the LORD. Scripture is unfolding more and more in these days to those whose hearts are set upon knowing the will of the LORD in truth. The fulfilment of prophecy is its own best exposition. Now that we are beginning to enter the final phases of fulfilment of prophecy, things which, until recently were still obscure, are now becoming clear.
Behold I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
It costs something to stand for the “truth”, sometimes even your life. It also costs something to light a lamp and to keep it burning. There are many cruel and evil winds that with hurricane force and relentless violence will do their utmost to blow out the light.
This was the position of those who stood for the “truth” during this Philadelphia-Period. In its representative period in these very days in which we are now living, we can look for no better example than Godless Communism going about with satanic hatred and cunning in its endeavour to wipe out Christianity and all who truly stand for it.
It is only those who have to sacrifice much for their stand, who can appreciate the sweetness of the words:
“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown”. With the Apostle Peter we say that we will stand firm, by thy grace O Lord, no one else has the words of Eternal Life!
Thank the Lord, each of the seven letters to the seven churches ends with the promise of a wonderful reward to those who overcome; in this case the promise is a crown. Our God is no man’s debtor, praises his Name!
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
The Overcomers are to become pillars in the temple of God, occupying positions of support and power in the restored kingdom. They will be citizens of the new Jerusalem receiving the new name of God and will reign and rule with Christ - (Cp. Rev. 19:12). Thus they are to be like He is, co-heirs in that kingdom.
A pillar performs a very important function in a building, because it has to support the building. This is exactly what all those do who stand out, and out for the Name and Cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Gal. 2:9 James and Peter and John are referred to as pillars in the “first church”. The Minister of a church which has such men and women upon whom he can lean and look to for support at all times is blessed indeed.
I believe that a person continues his life in the “Here-after” along the same lines and in the same direction as he lived it here on earth; except that on the other side it is without limitation. If your life on earth was wicked, on the other side there will be no restraint to curb your evil tendencies, it will just continue and never be satisfied, dreadful and abominable forever. The saved ones on the other hand, will be forever free from all the handicaps that stood in their way, all the temptations, and they will be free to live according to those things, which their heart always desired, but could never reach, because of their earthly imperfections. It is true, you see, that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also; hold that fast which thou hast !
The Overcomers will be citizens of the New Jerusalem (which will be described to you in detail in the last chapters of this book) and will receive their new names from the Lord, and will reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. They will therefore be as He is - (Cp. 1 John 3:2) and co-heirs also in that kingdom which is coming. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth”.
The Resurrected Church is to rule in the midst of a Restored Israel during the Millennium, and to stand as its crowning glory in the Age beyond:
27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD, do sanctify Israel - - - -
(The literal nation, not the church, which is sanctified already, otherwise it is not the church, the “Ekklesia”, the Body of Christ.)
- - - - when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
This is literal, and cannot be spiritualized.
Read the whole of Chapter 37 to get the context.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The Spirit again calls the churches to realize the immense privilege offered to such of its members as prove faithful, and them who overcome, that they may share with their Lord Jesus the honour and glory of serving and reigning until the Restoration is completed – (See 1 Cor. 15:24-28).
7. Laodicea - (Rev. 3:14-22)
Period: Approximately 1850 until the Second Coming of Christ
Stagnation: The final state of apostasy - The lukewarm church.
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
The City of Laodicea is situated about 40 miles south of Philadelphia. It has been said that the Laodiceans were so well off that they needed no help from God or man. Today, Laodicea is a city of ruins. It is almost not necessary to describe the Church of Laodicea in detail in my own words. The words our Lord Jesus spoke to the church was so direct in their import that no one can misunderstand them. They are certainly very much applicable to the church (church in name only) of these very days in which we now live.
The Power of the Laity.
The word “Laodicea” means the “power of the Laity”. It is the seventh and last period mentioned, depicting the condition of the organized church at the close of this present evil age. Now the ministers are being dictated to by the laity:
2 Timothy 4:3-4;
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
How the tables are often turned! In the Church of Ephesus with her Nicolaitanes, of Pergamos with her Balaamites, and Thyatira with her Jezebels, it was just the other way round.
In the days when the early church had to struggle against Pagan Rome, and even die for her faith, she was virile and overcoming as the result of her struggles. It was also just the same in the days of her conflict with Papal Rome. It meant something to be a Christian in those days! O, how we almost envy her purity and faith!
But the Church of Laodicea is neither hot, nor cold, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, while she walks hand in hand with the world. Whosoever is a friend of this world is an enemy of God. Because she is lukewarm the Lord declares He will spue her from his mouth. This church lacks the conviction and zeal of the early Christians. Fashion, ritual and ceremony have taken the place of true spirituality.
This is the church where the Laity dictates, and where the minister could not dare to preach anything that the people would not like to hear, where the teaching from the pulpit must fit in with the taste of the pew. This is lukewarm, half warm and half cold, divided between Christ and the world; not willing to give up pretension and claim to the heavenly, and yet clinging close to the earthly - having too much conscience to cast off the name of Christ, and too much love for the world to take a firm and honest stand entirely on his side. There is much profession, but very little faith; a joining of the ballroom to the communion table, of the opera with the worship of God.
And it is self-satisfied, boastful and empty. Having come down to the world’s taste, and gained the world’s praise and patronage, the Laodiceans think they are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing. Such splendid and endowed institutions. So much given for magnificent charities! Such an array in all the attributes of greatness and power. What more can be wanted? (Gordon Lindsay quoting from Seiss).
Proud Organized Religion.
17 Because thou sayest, l am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear: and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Organized religion today has become proud in its complacency and modernism and content with its pomp and ritualism, not knowing its spiritual nakedness. Satisfied with the past, content with the present and supported by powerful political-ecclesiastical organizations, the members of this church have neglected the Word and the Truth.
The church has lost the anointing and miracle-working power and virility possessed by the apostles and their followers. They are counseled to buy from the LORD gold, tried in the fire (v 18), and to repent (v 19).
One of the great truths to be rediscovered and stood for, cost what it will is the restoration of Israel and the awakening to her identity and responsibility. Blind to these truths and in opposition to Scriptural teaching regarding the kingdom, the church is failing to recognize God’s Plan and Purpose concerning his people.
The Laodicean Church is to witness the signs of an age coming to a close, but, blind to reality, they are condemned for failure to understand the times in which they live. She is therefore unable to carry out her great commission.
Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Here is the modern tragedy!
Jesus Christ actually outside the organized church, knocking for admittance! Today, many of Christ’s called-ones, inspired by him with love and understanding and with their anointed messages proclaiming his Blood-bought forgiveness and the soon coming of his kingdom, are excluded from the organized church.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
As with all the other Church Dispensations, the Lord Jesus still offers to the Overcomers here the “prize of the high calling”, which is to be called out and glorified by him in the First Resurrection, to stand with him in his kingdom as a reigning one in his perfect Resurrection Image of Immortal Splendour.
The theme of these chapters -- the rewarding of the Overcomers -- appears in many other Scriptures.
Please read prayerfully the following:
Rom. 8:14-17,24; Phil. 3:11; 2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 11:35; Matt. 17:2.
And there is an important point to note in verse 21 regarding the “throne”.
As Dr. Scofield says in a footnote in his “Reference Bible”: “This passage, in harmony with: Luke 1:32-33; Matt. 19:28; Acts 2:30,34-35; Acts 15:14-16, is conclusive that Christ is not now seated upon his own throne. The Davidic Covenant, and the promises of God through the prophets and the Angel Gabriel concerning the Messianic Kingdom await fulfilment”. We believe that this fulfilment is now at the very door.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Note yet again, that this message is “unto the churches”. To be granted to share reigning honour with the Lord Jesus is a very high privilege indeed; not offered to ungrateful lukewarm Christians, but to real Overcomers who love him in unflinching service and obedience!
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