Tag Archives: Armageddon

The Scarlet Woman

26 Oct
Introduction

 

Everywhere people are asking the same questions about the modern church. Why does it appear so weak and compromised? Where is the old-time fire and power that marked the church of a generation ago? These are questions which prey on the minds of many Christians as they witness the dwindling influence of religious institutions. Something seems to have gone wrong. Church members spend more time in places of entertainment and amusement than they do in the house of God. There is little firmness of faith, and almost no discipline for those who weakly bend to the indulgent lifestyle of the flesh and the world.

Where can we find courageous pastors who fear not to call sin by its right name? Paul urged the shepherds of his day to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Then, he made this astounding prediction: “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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:2-4.

These words are being fulfilled before our very eyes. Fables are being taught, doctrinal messages are drying up, and millions are turning from truth to pleasing platitudes. Any sermon that demands obedience or self-denial is rejected out of hand as legalistic and judgmental. The voice of rebuke is seldom heard, and pointed preaching which identifies the biblical antichrist is looked upon as harsh and unloving.

Have we overdrawn the picture? I don’t believe any careful observer of the religious scene would contend that we have. Surely Satan is working harder inside the church than he is on the outside, and his plan is to produce the most clever counterfeit of truth that has ever existed. By creating a diabolical parallel system of doctrinal error within the church itself, he has already led millions into a false worship. The nefarious plot was recognized and exposed by the Holy Spirit shortly before the great deceiver began to implement the major elements of his plan in the post-apostolic church.

But before we turn to John’s inspired account of the sordid story in the book of Revelation, let’s read another prophetic description of the spiritual state of that turbulent period. Paul warned: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Acts 20:29. Again, he wrote, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposethand exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.

Paul’s words do not reveal the nature of the apostasy nor the identity of the “man of sin” who would assume the prerogatives of God, but the program would clearly begin to unfold in the early church. Shortly after Paul’s cryptic caution about an antichrist movement within the church, the beloved John began to record his mysterious apocalyptic visions on the isle of Patmos. As the symbols of those revelations have been more clearly explained through comparative study of the prophecies, it is easy to see that John was simply enlarging upon Paul’s earlier oblique references to a developing dichotomy of good and evil within the post-apostolic church.

Without understanding the historical significance of his own enigmatic language, John faithfully described the cosmic controversy between Christ and Satan from it’s very inception. The age-old conflict would finally focus upon the emergence of a counterfeit Christ manipulated by Satan himself, who would seek to destroy God’s law, His government, and His people. In a climactic clash called the battle of Armageddon, the great adversary would consolidate both secular and religious powers of earth against the minority group of faithful loyalists who would refuse to transgress the commandments of God. The antichrist system, under the control of Satan, would be the major force to suppress truth and to seek the death sentence against those who refused to cooperate with the evil confederation.

In his epistles the beloved John had declared, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1 John 4:3. Because he recognized that the “spirit” of that prophesied antichrist was operating in his own day, John cooperated fully with the Holy Spirit by clothing his exposé that power with symbolic lan- guage, unrecognizable to enemies who might have sought to exterminate the inspired record altogether.

 

The Two Sides in Conflict

 

John used a variety of colorful types and symbols to portray the elements involved in the final controversy between Christ and Satan: for example, a dragon, a lamb, and two fierce wild beasts. But the most prominent representation of the two sides centers in the two striking women described in chapters 12 and 17. No words could be found to identify more vividly the nature of the contending forces in this contest. On one side is the pure woman of Revelation 12, clothed in the glory of the sun, wearing a crown of stars, and standing on the moon. Here is represented the true church, the bride of Christ. The prophets had written, “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.” Jeremiah 6:2. “Say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” Isaiah 51:16.

Later, Paul used the same symbolism of the church when he wrote, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2.

On the other side, John wrote in Revelation 17 of the activities of a drunken, scarlet-clothed harlot, sitting upon many waters and holding a golden cup of abominations in her hand. Here is the antithesis of the pure woman of chapter 12. The woman still symbolizes a church, but one which has committed spiritual adultery. Her cup is filled with fornications. According to the Bible, this represents a turning away from Christ and unfaithfulness to His Word. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God?” James 4:4. Although married to Christ, this church has been disobedient to His Word, taken the teachings of the world, His enemy, and therefore become a spiritual harlot. The fornications in the cup would constitute false teachings and doctrines that would be contrary to Christ, the true husband.

Just as the book of Revelation classifies all the world’s inhabitants as ultimately following Christ or the dragon, obeying truth or error, receiving the mark of the beast or seal of God, so it pictures every individual at the end of time on the side of the symbolic harlot or the side of the pure virgin. What a solemn thought it is that everyone reading these words right now will belong to one category or the other. There will be no middle ground. It will be the camp of the saved or the camp of the lost. The prophet looked on one side and saw the wrath of God falling upon those with the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:10, 11). Then, he looked on the other side and declared, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. A faith experience – a Jesus experience – that produces obedience to His commandments, is the chief distinction between the followers of Christ and the followers of the beast.

 

The Harlot System

 

Since most of our study is to focus upon this false religious system which gradually evolved from an early church apostasy, we should read the full description of the “great whore” as given by John. “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” Revelation 17:1-6.

It is no exaggeration to observe that our eternal salvation could well depend upon a proper identification of this corrupt church system. The Revelator declared that “all the world wondered after the beast.” Revelation 13:3. There is no time to assemble the persuasive list of Bible characteristics of the beast power in this study, but it has been dealt with fully in the Amazing Facts’ book entitled The Beast, the Dragon, and the Woman. Here we will consider the contextual evidence of Revelation 17 to identify the fallen woman and her daughters who are assigned the name of “Babylon.”

Let us keep the points in clear, logical perspective as we look at the revealed facts. First, the woman has been shown to represent a religious system, howbeit a false one. Secondly, she is being supported by a dragon-like beast with seven heads and ten horns. Who is this beast holding up the woman? Again, we cannot exhaust the evidence for lack of time, but verse 9 gives us a very strong clue. “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.”

These words strike a very familiar chord. What city is built on seven hills? The old pagan Roman Empire had its center in the city of Rome, which was sprawled across seven hills by the river Tiber. Even though this mystery beast involves much more than pagan Rome, we have sufficient evidence that Rome was definitely a part of that which gave support to the harlot church system. This leads us to the question, what church received support from the pagan Roman Empire? Only one, of course, and that was the Catholic Church, whose papal head also assumed the title Pontifex Maximus, as the direct successor of the Roman caesars.

The second line of evidence which points to the papacy is found in verse 6. “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” History reveals only one church which waged such a frenzied warfare against faithful Christians. Over 50 million martyrs fell victim to the terrible inquisitions of the Church of Rome, according to the most conservative estimates. It was indeed a persecuting church. Multiple evidence, including admissions of the church itself, could be presented to support this particular mark of identification.

Another interesting clue is found in verse 4: “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour.” Anyone who has visited the Vatican can confirm that these are the predominant colors which are in evidence around St. Peter’s Square. Scarlet-robed cardinals are among the most frequent visitors to the papal head of state and church.

John observes further that the woman was “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.” What a contrast to the simplicity of the pure woman of Revelation 12 who has no artificial adornment at all – only the glory of her raiment of light. Throughout the Bible, jewelry and articles of adornment are used symbolically as indications of apostasy and unfaithfulness. (With such negative spiritual connotations, the true Christian should avoid the vanities of such fleshly display and pride.)

In passing, we should also note that the beast on which the harlot sits has ten horns. The angel explained them in these words: “The ten horns … are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: … these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” Revelation 17:12-16.

This prophetic scenario is very interesting indeed. Since the number ten designates earthly completeness, just as seven indicates divine perfection, we can recognize in this prophecy a universal confederacy of earthly governments giving support to the beast for a certain period of time. Just as pagan Rome was one of the major political powers passing on its strength to the papal system we now see at the endtimes a joining together of all the kings of earth in support of Catholic aims. John declared that “all the world wondered after the beast.” Revelation 13:3.

But a change was to take place just before the judgment of the great whore. The earthly kingdoms, apparently, would recognize that they had been duped by the Babylon system and would withdraw their support. The prophetic language leads us to believe that at the very end they violently turn against the woman and “make her desolate … and burn her with fire.”

This helps us understand another symbolic account of the woman’s experience. Although she was seated on “many waters,” those waters were to be “dried up.” Revelation 16:12. The angel explained, “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15.

When those waters, of people and nations, turn away from their support, there is truly a drying up of the waters which held the Woman in her position. The details of this future development is impossible to define in detail, but the broad picture stands clearly before us in the language of the prophet.

 

The Harlot’s Golden Cup

 

Now, we need to give closer attention to the contents of the golden cup in the harlot’s hand. We have already established the spiritual nature of those abominable fornications. A church can only commit such infidelities by turning away from the law of her husband, which is Christ. Without question, the cup overflows with unscriptural doctrines and practices. Many of them are easily identifiable because they have been absorbed by other subsequent religious bodies. Of these we will have more to say a bit later.

In the cup can be found sprinkling in place of baptism. Here is a custom never practiced or endorsed by our Lord. When Jesus spoke of baptism, He used a special word that has only one possible definition. It cannot connote sprinkling or a partial effusion of water. It literally means to dip under and totally immerse.

Also included in the cup would be the teaching of Sunday-keeping instead of Sabbath observance. Nowhere in the Bible has God’s great hand-written law of Ten Commandments been abrogated or changed. Jesus kept the seventh-day Sabbath, “as his custom was,” and knew absolutely nothing about the observance of the first day of the week. Luke 4:16. The pagan “day of the sun” was adopted long after the days of the apostles in order to placate the massive influx of Mithraic sun worshippers and their professedly “converted” pagan emperor Constantine.

A major element in the golden cup would undoubtedly be the Graeco-pagan concept that man’s naturally immortal soul flies away at death to either eternal punishment or reward. The truth is that the Bible nowhere speaks of undying souls. Jesus called death a sleep. According to His doctrine, there is an unconscious, dreamless sleep of death in the grave from which all will be awakened in the day of judgment to receive everlasting life or eternal death. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.

Jesus also contradicted another popular fallacy held in the golden cup of abominations. The doctrine of eternal torment in an endless fiery hell has been responsible for turning multitudes away from the gracious provisions of a loving Saviour. Again, the words of Jesus are clear and unambiguous: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.

This text establishes beyond question and on the highest authority that the soul is subject to death. Only the righteous receive the gift of eternal life. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4. “All that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, … And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.” Malachi 4:1, 3.

The consistent testimony of Scripture points to a final execution of judgment upon the wicked in the lake of fire. It will be an eternal death from which there can be no survival or resurrection. Since the soul is not immortal by nature, all the wicked will suffer the fate so vividly described by Jesus, “destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 
The Harlot’s Name
These and numerous other “isms” and perversions of true doctrine may be identified in the mystery cup of the harlot. Every one of them constitutes disloyalty and infidelity to the spiritual relationship which every true Christian should sustain with Christ. This is why the woman carries the name on her forehead “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth.” What a title!

The word “Babylon” denotes confusion. It originated with the Tower of Babel where God confounded their language so that they could not understand each other. We speak of a babbling of voices. God calls this woman Babylon because of her unholy blend of truth and error which causes “the inhabitants of the earth” to be “made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” In other words, the whole world will be contaminated and confused by her teachings.

But now, let’s look at that emblazoned name more closely. Notice that it is obviously a family name, because she has daughters; and they are designated as harlots, just like their mother. Having established that women symbolize churches in these prophetic writings, we now inquire as to the identity of these daughters. Since they are guilty of infidelity also, we must conclude that they are churches which share some of the same false doctrines which constitute spiritual fornication. In other words, they would be drinking out of the same golden cup with its unscriptural potion of pseudo-Christian teachings. Whatchurches could be represented by these daughters? Since the mother has been identified as the Catholic Church, we must look for other religious bodies that came forth from the mother church of Rome and carried with them some of the same confused doctrines of that church.

None can escape the conclusion that those daughters are Protestant churches who have inherited many of the empty traditions of their Catholic forebears. Whether we like it or not, we must admit that many of the most popular doctrines of the established Protestant churches are rooted in that quasi-Christian twilight period when the post- apostolic church was being overwhelmed by pagan influences.

We need only look at one example of the moral law to see how seriously the infiltration affected the teachings of the church, both then and now. With the most explicit words of the Ten Commandments before them, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work,” those leaders of the early church yielded to the political clamor to take in millions of former sun worshippers who did not want to give up their custom of worshipping on the first day of the week- a day they named and observed in honor of their venerable sun-god.

The Catholic Church hierarchy simply changed the day of worship from the seventh to the first day, under the claim that God bestowed such power upon them. Millions of Protestants continue that altered practice, even though it rests solely upon the illegitimate actions of the apostate Catholic system. No human church leaders, whether bishops, priests, or pope, have been given any authority to change the great moral law of the universe, the Ten Commandments.

Isn’t it interesting that the daughters blindly followed the majority practice of the compromised Catholic Church even though they properly identified her as the antichrist power of prophecy? How could this be? Why was it so easy to accept something that was such a flagrant violation of a plain command of God? Perhaps the answer to that question will be more apparent as we ourselves are confronted with a command just as concise and specific. We turn now to the crux of this tremendous prophecy and ask the question: What does God think about this woman and her daughters?

The Call Out of Babylon
The answer is found in the first few verses of Revelation 18. Here also we find the command of God which few are willing to obey in our day. “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:1-5.

A close examination of these verses reveal that a very special message is being proclaimed which will profoundly affect every corner of the planet. Under the symbol of a powerful fourth angel, a warning sounds forth against the counterfeit gospel being communicated through the woman and her daughters. Not only is she spiritually fallen from favor with God, but her wine of deceptive doctrines have placed her in unholy alliance with the kings of the earth. All nations are represented as committing fornication with her by giving support to her false teachings. They use the illicit relationship to their own political advantage, and “wax rich through the abundance of her delicacies.”

But then, suddenly, the call of the fourth angel is cut off by an even more urgent voice which sounds forth from heaven itself. This time there is no doubt about the one whose message rolls from one end of the heavens to the other. God is speaking! And He is speaking to an exclusive group. He addresses Himself to “my people.”

Here are the exact words, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4. Now the picture becomes more distinct. There are sincere people in all of those fallen churches represented by the harlot mother and her daughters. Because they have been faithful to all the light of truth which had been revealed to them, God extends a final invitation of mercy. But what a message! This is undoubtedly the most shocking and revolutionary call to ever fall on human ears.

What does it mean? There is only one answer. Those religious bodies represented by the fallen Babylon system have departed so far from the foundations of Bible truth that God can no longer acknowledge them as His. By choosing the traditions of men over the commandments of God they have disqualified themselves as reliable shepherds of the flock of God. In almost every crusade, members come to me from a variety of churches weeping and asking what they should do about their church or their pastor. Instead of receiving loving counsel and Bible answers, they are being taught to break God’s law. “The ten commandments were nailed to the cross. You don’t have to keep the Sabbath today. You can choose any other day of rest and worship,” they are told.

Apostasy and betrayal has reached its limits when leaders comfort people in their practice of sin. God says, “This is it, my people. You can no longer remain in fellowship with a church that is so spiritually fallen that it teaches you to break my law. Come out of that confusion.” What a fearful and emotional command that is to most people who hear it for the first time, and how easy it is to empathize with their mixed feelings. They love their church. Their fondest memories revolve around its ministry – baptism, marriage, and commitment. And even though they recognize the apostasy and the necessity to separate, it is one of the hardest commands to obey.

How strange it is that the strongest and most condemnatory language in the Bible is used against religious people. Jesus pronounced terrible judgment upon the Pharisees who pretended to be so righteous while violating every principle of truth. Similarly, God speaks again directly from heaven against those who profess His name while willfully transgressing His commandments. His extreme displeasure is revealed toward both religious groups – hypocrites, whited sepulchres, generation of vipers, hold of every foul spirit, habitation of devils, cage of every unclean and hateful bird – these are some of the charges He leveled against them. Are they justified? Why such a scathing reaction against those who were so very religious?

The answer to this question is important. These churches – every one of them – had allowed the popular traditions of
men to crowd out the self-denying truths of His Word and His law. Rejecting the Sabbath of the Lord in favor of a pagan substitute, they had been guilty of condoning sin instead of righteousness. Said Jesus, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9.

Who then is Babylon and her children? Any contemporary church who teaches contrary to Jesus. Errors and “isms” could be multiplied, but the height of abomination was reached by giving deliberate encouragement to the breaking of God’s great moral law. By teaching men to break the Sabbath, the sign and seal of our salvation-rest in Christ, the churches became the spoilers of God’s people. Very soon those same churches will be so bitter against the obedient ones that they will lend their influence to force compliance by religious legislation. To such organizations no true child of God can give support. It would be equivalent to subscribing to the erroneous beliefs and actions of those church groups.

No wonder then, that God sounds that radical call, “come out of her, my people. You must leave those churches which have rejected my law.” But where should they go when they come out of the fallen churches? Does God want them now to be rootless, with no church, no pastor, and no fellowship? Indeed not. Just as surely as there is a harlot woman of prophecy representing a counterfeit religion, there is also a pure woman who symbolizes the true church of Jesus Christ.

The Woman in White
We only have time for a brief look at Revelation 12 where the exciting history of the true church is recorded. A complete in-depth study is found in the Amazing Facts’ booklet entitled The Search For the True Church.

John begins his narrative of the woman in white with this description: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” Revelation 12:1, 2.

The remainder of the chapter follows the course of this beautiful pregnant woman and her offspring. Standing in the glorious light of the New Testament age, with the symbols of the 12 apostles on her head, she is about to give birth to a baby. A terrible red dragon stands before her to destroy the child as soon as it is born, but the baby boy eludes the dragon. Later, he is caught up to the throne of God. Who was the baby? John declares that he was to rule all the nations of earth; therefore, we must conclude that it was Jesus. He was also the only one caught up to the throne of God.

Afterward, the woman, the true church, fled into a wilderness hiding place for 1,260 days. Since a prophetic day equals a literal year, the woman had to be hidden away for exactly 1,260 years (Ezekiel 4:6). History confirms that the total period of papal civil rule, during which the true saints were persecuted, was from 538 A.D. until 1798 A.D. During those Dark Ages, the Bible was suppressed, and the true church was not to be seen before the world.

Nevertheless, at the end of the 1,260years, or sometime after 1798, the truth was to emerge from its hiding place. John provides a dramatic description of the woman as she would appear at the very end of time, and how Satan would still be trying to silence her witness of truth to the world. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.

This verse contains one of the most exciting revelations in the Bible. It reveals that the remnant, or last part, of the true church will be characterized by obedience to the commandments of God. The scarlet woman of Revelation 17 had turned away from God’s law, rejected the Sabbath, and spiritually adulterated the doctrines with traditions of men. Now the breach is healed and the original truths are being restored by the last part of the pure woman’s seed, the remnant church.

At last, the prophecy of Isaiah will be fulfilled: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth.” Isaiah 58:12-14.

So the whole circle of apostasy has been uncovered. From the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 to the seed of the woman of Revelation 12:17, the true church pressed its relentless warfare against confusion of doctrine. In the final contest, the scarlet woman seemed at times to prevail with a majority support, but the faithful little remnant of the woman in white which “keep the commandments of God” ultimately triumphs. And out of all the fierce beasts portrayed in the book of Revelation, it is the bleeding Lamb who prevails in the end. Through the blood of that Lamb may we all be gathered to Mount Zion, the place of rest and eternal security.

 
 
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Armageddon

22 Oct

By Joe Crews

ISRAEL’S FINAL WAR
The signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty on March 26, 1979, marked an emotional moment in the history of the Middle East. After years of bitter animosity punctuated by military conflict, an Arab nation and a Jewish nation embraced each other with promises of peace.
What did it signify for the little pocket of Zionism whose struggles for survival have drawn United States approval and support? Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, before his death, was unable to provide the security and permanent peace which has eluded Israel since the days of Abraham. The answer to Israel’s dilemma is clearly revealed in the fantastic prophecies of the Bible.
According to the Word of God, Israel will not find true deliverance from her enemies until it is secured for her by the kings of the east. Her last war has not yet been fought. The book of Revelation describes an alliance with some powerful defenders who finally destroy the oppressors of Israel and establish her in eternal security. Those allies are given the enigmatic title “kings of the east” in Revelation 16:12. They actually intervene to deliver Israel during the war of Armageddon, described in the Bible as the final conflict to take place on this planet. All nations will be involved in this battle, but Israel will be the only victor.
Our purpose in this study is to answer a number of questions. What is the nature of that final war of Armageddon? How can all the countries of the world be involved in it? How is it possible for only one group, the people of Israel, to survive this holocaust? Who are the mysterious kings of the east that effect her victory? And finally, how is Israel delivered from her enemies by the drying up of the Euphrates River, as described in Revelation 16:12?
First of all, we need to find out if the present nation of Israel is the same Israel which is designated in the book of Revelation as the people of God. Some tremendous prophecies are found in that book, most of them concerned with saving the embattled remnant group of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Those followers are sometimes referred to as the “tribes of Israel” and spoken of in the context of Jewish customs. Does this mean that the literal nation of Israel—the one which is fighting with tanks and bombs—will completely reverse itself and become Christians? Will they lay aside their Zionist ambitions to kill their attackers and espouse the peaceful principles of the Sermon on the Mount—the one about loving the enemy and turning the other cheek?
Millions of Bible students believe that this kind of spectacular conversion must take place in order for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled. They base their belief upon the prophecies found in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc., regarding Israel’s restoration and final triumph. Are they correct? It is true that the prophets painted glowing word pictures of Israel’s future and recorded scores of promises about her authority over other nations. But is the Israel of the Old Testament the same Israel of the book of Revelation? Were the promises unconditional and irrevocable? Will the literal, fleshly descendants of Abraham turn en masse to the Messiah, be restored as a nation, and saved as a people?
PROMISES TO ISRAEL CONDITIONAL
A careful study of the Bible reveals that those promises of the Old Testament were not unconditional promises at all. Repeatedly, the nation of Israel was warned of the dire consequences of disobedience. Both blessing and curse were set before them, depending on obedience or disobedience. Because of continued patterns of rebellion, God allowed them to be decimated and scattered into Babylonian captivity for seventy years. Many prophets were raised up by God to foretell their return from that captivity. Some modem commentators have made the mistake of applying those prophecies of restoration to some future gathering of Israel. They refuse to see that the restoration spoken of by Isaiah and Jeremiah has already taken place.
There is neither time nor space to record here a fraction of the graphic threats of rejection made to Israel. Over and over God gave warnings like this: “And if thou wilt … do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever … But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments … Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people” (1 Kings 9:4-7).
Finally, as related through the prophet Daniel, God allotted a probationary period of 490 years for the Jewish people to see what they would do about the Messiah (Daniel 9:24). That prophetic time period of 70 weeks (a day for a year, Ezekiel 4:6) began with the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem (Artaxerxes’ decree in 457 B.C., Ezra 7:11) and ended in A.D. 34. In that same year the gospel began to go to the Gentiles, Stephen was stoned, and Paul went forth to begin his unique ministry to the non-Jews. The occasion marked the formal and final separation of Israel from its covenant relationship.
Jesus had explained to the Jewish leaders in the clearest possible language that their rejection of Him would seal their own rejection as the children of the kingdom. “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).
There is no mystery as to why the hundreds of specific Old Testament promises were never fulfilled to Israel. They utterly failed to meet the conditions of obedience. Otherwise, they would have inherited the earth, been delivered from all their enemies, and made Jerusalem the worship center for all nations.
WHO IS TRUE ISRAEL?
The big question is this: Will God’s promises fail just because the literal descendants of Abraham did not meet the terms of the covenant? Were the promises transferred to that other “nation” to whom Jesus said the kingdom would be given? Or must we still put our faith in some future turnaround that will restore national Israel to the divine favor? All those points will be completely clarified the moment we establish one basic rule of biblical interpretation. Without this principle in mind no one can properly understand the books of Daniel and Revelation, nor can we identify the true Israel of today.
Here is the rule: There is a primary, local, literal application of prophecy which points to a future, worldwide, spiritual application. By applying this principle to the Old Testament Scriptures there is absolutely no confusion as to the place of Israel in prophecy and history.
All the glorious promises were primarily aimed toward immediate blessings that God wanted to bestow on the nation. But in a secondary sense they pointed forward to a larger spiritual fulfillment on a worldwide level. Even though the local fulfillment failed when Israel failed to be faithful, the promises were never nullified or withdrawn. They will be honored, but only to that “nation” which Jesus said must replace the Jews as receivers of the kingdom. Who is that nation and people? The New Testament is saturated with the most explicit statements as to who the new Israel is.
Peter describes those “which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God” in these words: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, 10). Here is the new nation which replaces the nation of Israel. The Gentiles who will receive the true Messiah now enter into the New Covenant, ratified by the blood of the cross, and become the true spiritual Israel of God. They who were not God’s people become His “holy nation.”
Will they receive the very same promises that were given to Abraham’s descendants? Indeed, the Bible says that they are counted as the actual seed of Abraham. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Paul makes it even clearer in Romans 9:8. “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Again, Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart” (Romans 2:28, 29).
Notice that true Israel will be characterized by circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh. What is heart circumcision? “Ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). Don’t miss the significance of that text. Just as the Old Covenant was represented by the cutting off of the physical flesh, so the New Covenant would be exemplified by the cutting off of the fleshly nature of sin. In other words, all who accept Christ and are born again are the truly circumcised and the only true Jews. And according to Paul they also will inherit the promises made to Abraham.
After the crucifixion of Christ, there is not one indication that the literal Jews were accorded any recognition as the children of God. It is true that the door was left open through the preaching of the apostles until A.D. 34 , the end of Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy. But from that time on no recognition is given to Israel as a nation. Israel henceforth is God’s people, made up of all those who accept the Saviour, whether Jew or Gentile. The Old Testament imagery and terminology is still used, especially in the book of Revelation, but Israel is now the church.
So we can see that there was no failure of the promises at all. They simply were transferred to the true spiritual Israel, which is the church, made up of all true believers in Christ. And the things that will happen to the church spiritually were foreshadowed by what happened to ancient Israel in a literal sense. Let’s look at a simple example of this principle in operation.
In the midst of Ezekiel’s portrayal of Israel’s victory over her enemies and influence over the nations, he began to describe a magnificent temple that would be built. Several chapters (40-48) are devoted to the precise measurements and physical appointments of that temple. Yet the temple has never been built. Other prophets referred to the program of building or restoring such a temple. Amos prophesied, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11).
Many modern interpreters apply this promise to some future construction of a physical temple. But the Bible principle is that there is a secondary, worldwide fulfillment which is not physical, but spiritual. The New Testament confirms this by explaining how the prophecy of Amos has been fulfilled. “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:14-16).
Please notice how the Old Testament temple prophecies apply to the living church! The physical temple has now become the spiritual temple of the church, made up of Gentiles and all true believers. No one should now be looking for any restored, literal temple to be built. The body of Christ’s church is now the temple (1 Corinthians 3:16), and we are the “lively stones” of that “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).
Some have felt confused because much of the Old Testament terminology is carried over into the New Testament description of the church—words like kingdom, nation, Israel, temple, Jerusalem, Zion, tribes of Israel, etc. Even Christ said to the Pharisees, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, (literal Israel) and given to a nation (spiritual Israel) bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). This is one reason the futurists and dispensationalists believe the book of Revelation pertains to the literal Jew in modem Israel. But there is no cause for such confusion. The explanation had been so clearly made in so many places that the New Testament writer assumed all were aware that the church now replaced national Israel.
THE TWO BABYLONS
As we enter into a study of Armageddon, it is tremendously important to keep this great rule of interpretation before us. The vast confusion on prophecy today stems from ignorance of this principle. Let us repeat once more that the kingdom prophecies given by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., have a double application—one to be fulfilled locally; the other to be fulfilled on a worldwide scale in the last days. And the church takes the place of the nation as God’s true chosen people. With this background we are prepared to study the subject of Armageddon. That world-ending conflict is tied closely to the things we have just stated about spiritual Israel and a secondary application of prophecy. A most amazing parallel exists between what happened to ancient Israel and the events concerning spiritual Israel in the book of Revelation.
Ancient Israel Spiritual Israel
Jer. 50:33,34 Persecuted by Babylon Rev. 17:6
Dan. 3:13 Forced to worship image Rev. 13:15
Dan. 4:30 Called “Babylon the Great” Rev. 17:5
Jer. 51:13,14 Babylon sits on many waters Rev. 17:1
Isa. 44:27,28 Rescued—dried Euphrates Rev. 16:12
Jer. 51:6-8 Called out of Babylon Rev. 18:4
Isa. 45:1 Rescuer called the anointed Dan. 9:25
Isa. 41:2, 25 Both rescuers from east Mat. 24:27, Rev. 7:2

You will notice that God’s people had almost the same experience in the Old Testament and the New Testament. They were forced to worship an image and were rescued by someone from the east who dried up the river Euphrates to set them free. Within this broad outline there are scores of other astonishing similarities between the two Israels—one literal and the other spiritual.
It is obvious that the church—God’s people of the last days—will be persecuted and threatened with death just like ancient Israel. In the book of Revelation they are delivered from spiritual Babylon in connection with the battle of Armageddon. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. … And he gathered them together in a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:12-16).
These verses are filled with great meaning. They reveal that three powerful forces will be utilized by Satan in preparing the way for Armageddon. Those three—the beast, dragon and false prophet—stir up the political powers of earth to take part in that war. It is apparent that those three are religious powers, at least in their claims, because they work miracles to impress the governments of the earth. Miracles are only operative within the realm of religion.
Time and space does not allow us to give all the biblical evidence to show how these three symbols incorporate all the modern forms of counterfeit religion. Rejecting the authority of God’s law and choosing the easy traditions of pagan worship pattems, these combined ecclesiastical systems will wield a mighty influence in drawing all the world into the battle of Armageddon.

ARMAGEDDON—SATAN VS. GOD
Before we try to determine the identity of the “kings of the east” and what it means to “dry up the river Euphrates,” we must understand more clearly what Armageddon really involves. The Scriptures picture it as the final decisive struggle which climaxes the age-long war between Christ and Satan. The entire world is involved because the good and evil people are scattered among all nations of the earth. Armageddon represents the all-out effort of Satan to destroy the people who dare to obey God in the face of threatened torture and death.
Armageddon is but the climax of a 6,000 year program by Satan to keep God’s people from being saved. As the adversary, whose self-seeking caused him to be cast out of heaven, Satan declared his purpose to overthrow God and take over His universal government. Listen to his boast in Isaiah 14:13, 14. “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
This incredible claim of Satan exposes the heart of his plan to set himself up in place of God. To subvert the worship of God’s subjects to himself it would seem both natural and necessary for Satan to build his appeal around religion. Working in the guise of counterfeit religious systems and false worship, he has woven a clever composite of truth and error down through the ages. His masterpiece of deception will occur at the end-time when he works through the beast power to enforce a mark of loyalty on every person. Those who refuse the mark will be sentenced to death, and thus, the final obstacle will be removed for Satan to claim all creation as his followers. So reads the blueprint of Satan’s strategy.
GOD DWELLS IN ZION
Now notice, again, where Satan wanted to sit. He said, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Why did he say that? This point is very important. The expression “mount of the congregation” is undoubtedly referring to the holy mount of God’s dwelling place. Throughout the Bible it is spoken of as mount Zion. “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2).
The striking thing is that God’s place, mount Zion, is located in the sides of the north. Now we understand why Satan wanted to sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. That is where God will gather His people, His congregation. Mount Zion is a place of safety. Satan wants to destroy the congregation or people of God. He would penetrate the very elect by his deceptions and take them, along with the throne of God. The psalmist said, “Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion” (Psalm 9:11).
Originally, Zion was the designated spot where the temple was located, in the north part of Jerusalem. Later, it came to be known as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem. It also is applied throughout Scripture to the whole of God’s people. But after the Jews rejected Jesus the term Zion became the designation for the church. Thus in the New Testament it no longer identifies an earthly location, but a people—the people of the church who are scattered throughout the world, or else the spiritual place of God’s presence and protection.
All through the Bible God is described as drawing or gathering His people to Zion where they can be safe with Him. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, … call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation” (Joel 2:15, 16). “For in mount Zion … shall be deliverance” (Joel 2:32). In Revelation 14:1 the redeemed are pictured as having been delivered from the beast power of the previous chapter and are safe in mount Zion. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”
But while God programs a gathering of His people to Himself in Zion, Satan also has a gathering program. It is a gathering of his forces for Armageddon. “For they are the spirits of devils … to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty…. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:14, 16). This gathering is to counteract God’s gathering His saints to mount Zion. Joel also speaks about that same gathering; “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about … Let the heathen … come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat … The Lord also shall roar out of Zion … but the Lord will be the hope of his people” (Joel 3:11, 12, 16).
This is another description of that final conflict called Armageddon. The valley of Jehoshaphat is just another title for the place of battle. It will involve every nation on earth. The “heathen” is a term to describe those who are not God’s people. Satan will marshall the kings of the earth and all the wicked people to oppose the faithful saints of God. The Lord will be involved in the battle (“The Lord shall roar out of Zion”), because He fights for His people. In essence, it is a tremendous contest between Christ and Satan with followers of both sides being involved.  Here is where we get to the heart of the subject. The verse calls attention to the Hebrew word for Armageddon. Apparently, the word is rooted in the Hebrew term “har moed,” which means “mount of the congregation” or “mount of the assembly.” Do you see where this leads us? That same term (har moed) was used by Satan when he said, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation.” This ties the battle of Armageddon to the original threat of Satan to capture and destroy the congregation of God—in mount Zion.
And the final attempt of the evil one to carry out his threat reaches down to the very last events of this earth. John the Revelator described it under the sixth plague. He saw unclean spirits going out to the kings of the earth, working miracles, and gathering them to Armageddon. These are religious forces working on the political rulers and influencing them to destroy God’s faithful ones.
If you want to read the thrilling account of God’s part in Armageddon, study Revelation 19. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war … And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses clothed in fine linen, white and clean … and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:11-15).
Several things stand out in this symbolic picture of Christ and His second coming. The armies of heaven make war and “smite the nations” (Verse 15). These are the nations which were stirred by evil spirits in Revelation 16:14. Christ prevails in this Armageddon clash. Notice that this war is described as treading the winepress of the wrath of God. In Revelation 15:1 the seven last plagues are designated as “the wrath of God.” Since the battle of Armageddon is set up under the sixth plague, and the plagues are called the wrath of God; and since Christ’s army makes war by treading the winepress of God’s wrath, we must conclude that Revelation 19 is a clear picture of Armageddon.
Incidentally, the vials of the wrath of God were poured on the whole earth. “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” (Revelation 16:1). This is why all the nations are involved in Armageddon. The good and evil of all the world will be drawn into it. Since God’s people are scattered in every country, the entire earth is spoken of as being affected by the plagues, one of which is Armageddon.
EUPHRATES DRIED UP
We are now prepared to examine Revelation 16:12 and let the Bible interpret the “drying up of the great river Euphrates” to prepare the way for the “kings of the east.” Whatever these events are, they occur as Armageddon approaches a violent climax.
In order to understand this prophecy, we must refer to the parallel experience of ancient Babylon. Six hundred years before Christ was born, the pagan kingdom of Babylon was the great enemy of God’s people. For 70 years they held the Hebrew people in subjection and bondage. Finally Babylon was overthrown by Cyrus the Mede, and the Israelites were delivered. Cyrus came from the east and captured Babylon by diverting the Euphrates River, thus getting access under the water gates of the channel. God said to Babylon, “I will dry up thy rivers. … Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus … to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut” (Isaiah 44:27; 45:1). God “raised up the righteous man (Cyrus) from the east” (Isaiah 41:2). Cyrus is referred to by God as the “anointed” and “the righteous man.”
According to the principle of interpretation, the literal account in the Old Testament must be applied in a spiritual sense at the end-time. Thus, we read in the book of Revelation about spiritual Israel (the church) being oppressed by ‘‘Babylon the Great’’ (Revelation 17:5, 6). This Babylon is not a physical kingdom but a counterfeit religious system manipulated by Satan. God’s people are finally delivered from the power of spiritual Babylon by the drying up of the waters of the river Euphrates. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).
The startling similarity to the Old Testament story is obvious, but we must remember that the secondary application cannot be literal. The immediate fulfillment is always literal and local, but the last-day fulfillment reaches worldwide and has a spiritual application only.
So we do not expect a literal Cyrus to dry up a literal river to deliver a literal Israel. We have already discovered that all God’s true people are spiritual Israelites. Now what does the water represent? “The waters which thou sawest … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, andtongues” (Revelation 17:15). In this chapter Babylon the Great is pictured as sitting “upon many waters” (Revelation 17:1). The waters are identified as people and nations who give support to the great Babylon harlot (false religion) who persecutes the true saints (Revelation 17:6).
So the drying up of the waters would represent the withdrawing of support by those people who had been followers of the Babylon system. This is one of the final events that happens just before the coming of Christ. The people recognize that they have been duped, and in a rage they turn on each other. Zechariah describes what takes place under this seventh plague as Armageddon reaches its climax. “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem (God’s people); … And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour” (Zechariah 14:12, 13).
John described the scene thus, “These shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:16).  Just as literal Euphrates in ancient Babylon was turned from an asset to a means of destroying her, so the supporting waters (people) of the spiritual Babylon turn into the means of her destruction. This drying up of support prepares the way for the “kings of the east” to come and deliver the people of God from the hand of Babylon.
WHO ARE THE KINGS OF THE EAST?
Who are these “kings of the east”? Here is one of the most exciting aspects of the battle of Armageddon. Just as God’s place in Zion was located in the “sides of the north,” so His approach is always referred to as from the east. Why? Because anciently Zion was the actual hill north of the city of Jerusalem. Anyone coming from the east had to angle north because of the impassable deserts, and come into Zion from that direction. This is why both north and east are used in the Bible for God’s quarters. “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God” (Revelation 7:2).
Christ will return to this earth from the east. “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27). The “kings of the east” are exactly the same as the armies of heaven in Revelation 19 who triumph over “the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies” (Verse 19). God’s glory was described by Ezekiel as coming from the east. “He brought me to the gate … that booketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east … and the earth shined with his glory” (Ezekiel 43:1, 2).
John revealed the breathtaking majesty of Christ leading the armies of heaven to make war. “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses … And he hath on his vesture and his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:14, 16). What a picture! The kings of the east riding forth against “the kings of the earth” and of the whole world. Spiritual Babylon and all the forces who followed her are destroyed by the King of kings who shall reign forever and ever.
Cyrus, the man from the east, who saved literal Israel from the hands of ancient Babylon, was a type of the “kings of the east” who wouldsave spiritual Israel from Babylon. Just as Cyrus was called the “anointed one” and “the righteous man,” so Jesus was designated by the same titles.
By now we can easily conclude that the second coming of Christ is really the only hope of Israel. God and Christ, the true Kings of the east, will burst upon this world at the midnight of man’s extremity. When the mark of the beast is being enforced and every human plan of escape has dissolved, God’s faithful ones will be snatched from certain death.
ALL EYES ON THE EAST
What a tragedy that millions of Christians are looking in the wrong direction and expecting events to transpire that can never take place. Their eyes are fixed on the east all right, but on the Middle East where hate-filled sons of Abraham try to destroy each other with American and Soviet weaponry. What kind of travesty it would be to expect those political planners and militarists to fulfill the beautiful predictions of Isaiah’s “lion and lamb” world of peace.
True it is that, for a moment, Isaac and Ishmael may stop fighting. It is also true that one of the signers of the agreement is called Israel. But let no one still cling to the empty hope that this Israel has anything to do with God’s true people. They have been replaced by another nation, obedient and faithful—who have come from every kindred, tongue and people. They are the true Israel. They will never take up arms to fight anyone. They will live as Jesus lived and choose death before dishonor.
The frail confederacy of peace signed March 26, 1979, would be less than futile, even if national Israel were still the chosen people of God. Years ago a similar alliance was formed and God appraised it in these words: “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. … For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose. … This is a rebellious people, children that will not hear the law of the Lord” (Isaiah 30:3, 7, 9).
God is looking for those who will trust in right instead of might. To such He will provide deliverance from every enemy through the conquering kings of the east. Let us take our eyes away from the oil fields and politicalintrigues of the east and fix them on the eastern skies, because it is from there that our true allies will save us.
CLOTHED FOR ARMAGEDDON
Now we have been able to harmonize all the verses of Revelation 16:12-16 except that strange verse 15, which appears to be completely out of context with all the others. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the placing of such a verse in the setting of Armageddon? “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Then follow the words, “And he gathered them together into a place called … Armageddon.”
What do proper clothes have to do with preparation for the approaching contest between Christ and Satan? And why is the wardrobe important for the ones waiting for Jesus to come? Revelation 19:7, 8 gives the surprising answer: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Like a searchlight these words illuminate the meaning of Revelation 16:15. Those garments symbolize the righteousness of Christ with which every soul must be arrayed who would be ready to meet the Lord. The battle of Armageddon will be fought over the issue of Christ’s righteousness. Only those who have trusted completely in the merits of Christ’s sinless life and atoning death can triumph with Him over the forces of evil. “And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).
Here is the winning combination which finally will cast down the accuser of the brethren. The saints gained the victory by their simple faith in the sufficiency of the cross. No confidence in the flesh. No faith in the works of the law to justify. His merits alone to cleanse and to empower. So the combination is threefold: 1) faith in the righteousness of Jesus, 2) fearless sharing of the “word of their testimony,” and 3) “they loved not their lives unto the death.” In other words, they would rather die than sin.
When the cross has done this to a person, he can survive all the concentrated attacks of a thousand Armageddons. Demons, fallen angels and Satan himself must flee in terror before the authority of a Christ-filled life. True faith produces full obedience, and therefore, true righteousness by faith includes sanctification as well as justification. Those who would lay down their lives in death rather than disobey God will be the only ones who will refuse the mark of the beast.
Multitudes, with something less than true righteousness by faith, will not feel that obedience to all the commandments is worth dying for. Many will reason that Christ’s obedience has been imputed to them, and therefore they need not be concerned about the works of the law. Such do not understand the full gospel. It is the “power of God unto salvation”—not just forgiving power, but keeping power. We are not just saved from the guilt of sin, but from the sin itself.
So Armageddon and preparation to meet Christ focus on a personal relationship with the Saviour. Clothed in the armor of His righteousness, the saints will prevail even in the face of a death decree. If you do not have the sweet assurance of that spiritual protection now, puton His robe this very moment. Woven in the loom of heaven, it contains no thread of human devising. Shattering the authority of sin in the life, it claims the merits and the power of Christ’s life and atoning death. May this be your experience today.

The Rider on the white horse

18 Oct

Revelation 19 KJV

19:1-5 Triumphant Praises to God: Revelation 19 begins with a picture of the redeemed saints in heaven singing triumphant praises to God with all their hearts. They are praising God for the justice and righteousness of His judgments on Babylon and for salvation from sin and from the power of Satan. All the heavenly beings join their voices proclaiming “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” All heaven is filled with unutterable joy in the love of God and with rejoicing at the eradication of evil from the universe.

 

19:6-9 The Marriage Supper of the Lamb: The announcement is made, “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.” Here Christ receives His kingdom, which is called “His Bride” (Revelation 21:9), and is symbolized by the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:9-10.

She is clothed in “fine linen, clean and white.” The “fine linen” is the righteousness of Jesus which He gives to all who receive Him as Lord. The hosts of the redeemed are the citizens of His glorious kingdom. Thus “His Bride,” Christ’s Church and Kingdom is symbolically clothed in “the righteousness of the saints.”

The saints take part in “the marriage supper of the Lamb,” vs. 9. All heaven rejoices in a glorious celebration as Christ receives His kingdom.

19:10 The angel tells John to “worship God” only. Angels and prophets are both created beings, servants of God trusted with a common task, to bring prophecy, called here “the testimony of Jesus,” to mankind

19:11-16 The Feast of the Birds, Armageddon: Next, John sees a vision of Christ’s Second Coming that deals with the wicked. Christ appears on “a white horse” as the Conquering King. He comes with the “armies” of “Heaven” to “judge and make war.” His eyes seem to pierce to the heart of each person, for He knows every thought and word and action of their lives. His vesture has on it the “blood” of the victory He won at Calvary; that accomplishment ensured His triumph now in the battle of Armageddon.

The “sharp sword” and “rod of iron” signify victory over His enemies. Jesus comes to smite the wicked nations, who have waged war against Him, His saints and His church. He has laid aside his priestly garments and put on “crowns” and kingly attire; He is coming as “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS

19:17-18 When the battle of Armageddon is over and the wicked are all dead, an angel invites “all the fowls” to “the supper of the great God” that they “may eat the flesh” of the wicked. While the saints partake of the “marriage supper of the Lamb,” the wicked become a feast for the birds at “the supper of the great God.” May we all accept Christ’s gracious invitation to live and dine with Him in Heaven.

19:19-21 “The beast,” the Papal Roman Church system, along with “the false prophet,” apostate Protestantism, are “cast alive into a lake of fire.” The rest of the wicked are slain and left to be eaten by the birds; no one is left alive.

 

 

Who will worship the Antichrist?

14 Oct
Who Will Worship It?
In the past few years we’ve seen a remarkable fulfillment of several apocalyptic prophecies. It has been exciting, thrilling, and faith-building to witness. But it also is sobering, for fulfilled prophecies indicate that the remaining last-day prophecies are soon to follow.
Unfortunately, some Christians do not want to face the coming reality of the prophecy of Revelation chapter 13. “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy, . . . and all the world wondered after the beast . . . . as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:1-3,15-17).      This is a frightening prophecy indeed. It predicts that a coalition of religious and political powers will align under the leadership of the Antichrist beast to cast the world into a boiling caldron of affliction. There will be a great time of trouble unlike the earth has ever seen before (Daniel 12:1). Some students of Bible prophecy have even suggested this tribulation will be worse than we can imagine.
With the future so bleak, we can easily appreciate why some have chosen to remain ignorant about last-day events. Many of those who have sought to learn about it are so fearful of living during the beast’s reign of terror that they have become easy prey for false doctrine. The prevalent false teaching that promises a pre-tribulation rapture appears attractive against the backdrop of Armageddon and the mark of the beast. But ignorance and false doctrine will leave their victims destitute and lost as these fig-leaf garments dry and crumble under the withering blast of the final tribulation.
The desire to live in peace and security is understandable. Few of us, in our introspective moments, feel capable to stand for God and His truth when demons will overrun the earth. But despite these natural fears and aversions, we must not chase after promises of peace and safety that are not founded upon the sure Word of God. While we should focus on the love of God for sinners and the true security that comes from making Him Lord and Savior of our life, we should also give attention to the warnings of the Spirit concerning the last days.
The Scripture injunction we should heed most is that which warns us against worshiping the beast. Consider these sobering facts. All who worship the beast will forfeit the precious experience of eternal life with Jesus in a glorious new world (Revelation 13:8). They will be inflicted with the extremely painful and fearsome seven last plagues (Revelation 16:2). And finally, they will suffer utter destruction in the fires of hell (Revelation 14:9-11). Without question, we do not want to be found worshiping the beast in the days to come.
But what assures us we will not be in this group? Mind you, it is no small group. Revelation 13:3 says that “all the world wondered after the beast.”
Although helpful, mere knowledge of the beast’s identity will not guarantee escape. Judas knew Jesus as the Messiah, yet he betrayed Him. Similarly, many of those who understand last-day prophecies will ultimately find themselves on the side of the beast. Knowledge definitely isn’t enough. So how can we be on the winning side when all the dust settles? Who will worship the beast? And what can we do now to keep from being part of that group.
The Final Conflict
First, we must understand that the final conflict will be over worship. All inhabitants of earth will be divided into one of two camps before the end—those who worship the beast and those who worship the Creator. Creature worship versus Creator worship will be the issue to divide the world. Everyone will have to make a choice regarding whom they will worship.      How will the whole earth be brought to make this choice between the creature and the Creator? The Bible predicts a time when the beast will gain immense political influence. From this position of authority, he will force people to worship him. Those who refuse will be economically boycotted and eventually sentenced to death. “And he had power to . . . cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all . . . to receive a mark . . . that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:15-17).
As the beast seeks to enforce worship through force, God mercifully warns people against the beast and urges them to worship Him as Creator. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. . . . And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:6-10).
The scenario is clear. In the last days, the entire world will be squeezed between the two cosmic forces. There will be no neutral ground, no demilitarized zone. Everyone will have to make a decision whom they will serve and worship.
The Battle Over Worship
This last conflict over worship is actually the grand finale to a long drama that began in heaven before man was even created. The author of rebellion inaugurated this “creature versus Creator” war when he coveted the Creator’s throne. Lucifer, a created angel, decided his superior beauty and intelligence qualified him to better rule the universe than his Creator. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, . . . For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). Working with stealthy deceit, he launched his campaign for the affections of the angels and was successful in attracting one-third of them (Revelation 12:4-9). Demanding the adoration due only the Creator, these created angels tried to bully their way onto God’s throne. This forced God to take drastic measures. Revelation 12:7 records, “There was war in heaven.” To protect the existence of the universe, God forcibly removed Satan and his angels from heaven.
But this was only the beginning of Satan’s campaign for worship that would last thousands of years and cost millions of lives. Cast to earth, Satan next solicited Adam and Eve’s worship and service. And it is by understanding our first parents’ test over worship that we learn how to keep from worshiping the beast in the last days.
Why did Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree? Simply because she lacked trust in God. She trusted the serpent’s word more than her Creator’s. Adam also distrusted God, but unlike Eve, he was not deceived _(1 Timothy 2:14). Adam’s decision to eat the forbidden fruit was a conscious, deliberate choice. He couldn’t dream of life without Eve. Worse yet, he didn’t trust God to come up with an acceptable solution to deal with Eve’s disobedience that would leave him happy throughout eternity.
Our first parents’ distrust led them to disobey. And their disobedience became an act of worship of the serpent. You see, worship and obedience are synonymous. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Romans 6:16). When tempted by the devil to bow down and worship him, Jesus revealed that the act of worship is married to service and obedience. “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10).
When Adam and Eve trusted the lies of the serpent above the command of God, they entered into creature worship. They truly worshiped the beast. The last conflict in the world merely brings man full circle to retake Adam and Eve’s first test. Will we obey and worship the beast or obey and worship the Creator? Both the first and last tests of this world’s history contain the same elements: the serpent and his lies, worship, obedience versus disobedience, and the penalty of expulsion from the kingdom of God. Mankind’s path back to the tree of life ultimately retraces the steps of our first parents and passes through the corridor of the same test: will we trust God enough to obey Him? Only those who trustingly obey God will enter the pearly gates. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).
Adam and Eve’s worship of the beast laid the foundation for all false worship. Examine any false religion and you will find it is based upon distrust and disobedience of God. Paul makes this point in Romans 1:21-25, NKJV: “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but . . . exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Whenever we know a Bible truth and refuse to obey it out of thankful hearts, we worship the creature instead of the Creator. We have put our own opinion and feelings above the revealed will of our Creator God.
Secular Humanism
The age in which we live has normalized this false religion of self-worship. We even have a name for it—humanism. Thousands of years ago, God predicted this humanistic movement. It is symbolized in prophecy both as the king of the south (Daniel 11:40) and as the beast from the bottomless pit (Revelation 11:7-10). When the French Revolution fulfilled this prophecy it deified man’s reason and established the foundation for the pseudo religion of secular humanism. The belief that man’s reason is sufficient to answer life’s most profound questions and needs, and that there is no God or moral absolutes, forms humanism’s axis. This belief system has largely controlled the affairs of man from the 1790s to the present day. According to Revelation 11:8, it has two key characteristics—Egypt’s atheistic unbelief in the true God, and Sodom’s immorality.
Secular humanism’s atheism and immorality have gained a strong position in the United States. Humanism also controls most of America’s government programs, institutions of higher learning, the training of grade-school children in public schools, the homosexual movement, etc. Consequently, America is now reaping the same whirlwind of degradation that France did in the wake of its Revolution. For lack of moral fiber, the United States is unraveling at the seams.
The current epidemic of homosexuality, adultery, crime, and other debasing actions should not surprise us. The Bible states this as the inevitable result of exalting man’s reasoning above God’s truth. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, . . . without natural affection, . . . Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:28-32).
Religious Humanism
Neither has the Christian church escaped the permeating influence of humanism. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in its document “Human Sexuality and the Christian Faith” (December 1991), challenges its members to evaluate prejudices against homosexuals, insisting that “what we personally find offensive is not necessarily sinful.” Furthermore, it says, “We must distinguish between moral judgments regarding same-sex activity in biblical times and in our own time.”
The task force formed to make this document said upon release of the 1993 edition, entitled “The Church and Human Sexuality: A Lutheran Perspective” (October 1993), that “it recognizes that many Lutherans take literally the biblical condemnations of homosexuality . . . But the task force urges Lutherans to challenge such attitudes. It argues that ‘responsible biblical interpretation’ strongly supports the acceptance and even blessing of same sex unions and emphasizes what it says is the preeminent biblical command—to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 1
The United Methodist Church has also had panels convene to decide whether homosexuality is a sin. Though the proposals to loosen church strictures on homosexuality were rejected, the 1991 panel did agree that biblical references to sexual practices should not be viewed as binding “just because they are in the Bible.” 2
The church that has probably departed furthest from God’s Word on this topic is the United Church of Christ. It allows homosexuals to be ordained to ministry. 3
This issue is only one among many for which churches are placing their own reasoning above God’s commands. Although they have many sincere and dedicated members, these church organizations are as guilty of humanism as are the secularists. They are simply following “religious humanism” instead of “secular humanism.” Unfortunately, people who continue to support humanism under the guise of Christianity will be part of that group who will say to Jesus in the judgment, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” Sadly, Jesus will say to them, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” They will learn too late that religious humanism is insufficient to save the soul. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Another area in which the Church has unashamedly followed humanistic principles is in the choice of Sunday as a day of worship. The Bible clearly says that the seventh-day Sabbath, Saturday, is the day upon which God’s people are to gather for weekly worship and rest from their work. Interestingly, the Catholic Church says that Saturday is the true biblical Sabbath and that Sunday worship is based not upon God’s Word, but upon the traditions of men. In his book Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, Monsignor Segur admits Sunday-keeping “not only has no foundation in the Bible, but is in flagrant contradiction with its letter, which commands rest on the Sabbath, which is Saturday.” 4 Other Catholic writers concur. “The word, ‘Sabbath,’ means rest, and is Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Why, then, do Christians observe Sunday instead of the day mentioned in the Bible?. . . the infant Church changed the day to be kept holy from Saturday to Sunday . . . it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text in the Bible.” 5 “We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” 6
Of course, non-Catholics have their own reasons for keeping Sunday. But the facts of history and Scripture are stubborn things. They unquestionably testify to the accuracy of what these Catholic authors assert. The Catholic Church did change the day of worship, and the Bible doesn’t authorize it. With all due respect to Sunday-keepers churches and pastors who spin fine-sounding arguments for why the fourth commandment doesn’t need to be obeyed are following faulty reasoning as flimsy as spiders’ webs. All reasons for disobedience which man can amass have one thing in common. They are founded upon humanism. They place the reasoning of men above God’s plain commands.
The Humanistic Little Horn
God wants us to flee from humanism. Repeatedly, He has warned us against its deadly influence and shown how it would infiltrate the church. Using the symbol of a little horn in Daniel chapter 7, God predicted the Antichrist would be humanistic. “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, . . . and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8). Notice that it is not the eyes of the Spirit that are on this little horn, but “the eyes of man.” Here we see that Antichrist lacks true spiritual discernment and sees life only through human eyes.
His criterion for truth is “What do I think?” instead of “What does God command?” This is anti-Christian. Jesus taught that our will is to be held in subjection to God’s will. He prayed to His Father, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
Christians seek to look at things from God’s vantage point (2 Corinthians 4:18). They do not base their decisions purely upon earthly considerations, but rather upon the eternal foundation of God’s truth and sovereign will. Christians ask only two questions—“What is God’s truth?” and “What are His promises?” Then they obey the one while claiming the other.
Because the Antichrist looks at things through humanistic eyes, he is led to some fearfully bold actions. He makes declarations that are counter to God’s truth. “And he shall speak great words against the most High . . . and think to change times and laws” _(Daniel 7:25). The ultimate expression of his humanism is to make people think God’s law has been changed.
He has especially attacked those laws which exalt God as Creator—laws such as the second and fourth commandments. The second commandment forbids the making of graven images and bowing down to them. The devil’s age-old war against the Creator has used the little horn to target this commandment. During the Middle Ages, the papal church compromised the second commandment and introduced graven images into Christendom. Today, Catholic catechisms omit the Bible’s second commandment, thus turning people away from their Creator.
Another law that has been “changed” by the little horn is the fourth commandment, which also exalts God as Creator. It establishes a weekly memorial to the Creator by commanding worship and rest from secular pursuits on the seventh-day Sabbath, Saturday. As we’ve already seen, the papacy readily admits it initiated this bold act. Amazingly, the papacy has been very successful in accomplishing the objective of making people think times and laws have been changed. Much of the Christian world has accepted the change of the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week, Sunday.  The apostle Paul also understood the humanistic foundation of the Antichrist—“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the second coming] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4).
The man of sin, the Antichrist, assumes God’s place over the church. He declares himself to be God and that he has the power to institute doctrine, even if it is contrary to the Bible. This again is humanism—humans setting themselves up as a higher authority than God.
God’s True Believers
Fortunately, God still has people in all churches who trust their lives implicitly to Him in obedience. In fact, He has a message tailor-made to warn everyone of these compromises of truth and attacks against His Creatorship. This warning, known as the three angels’ messages, is found in Revelation 14:6-12.
The first angel’s message commands people to worship God as the Maker of “heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Verse 7). God wants people to reverse the compromises of the Middle Ages. He wants us to obey all His commandments—especially those that honor Him as Creator. But obedience cannot come from our own strength. It must be rooted in faith in Jesus.
Let’s face it—Saturday is one of the busiest days of the week. Consequently, it takes a special faith relationship with God to obey Him and keep it holy. Because true obedience can be accomplished only through faith in Jesus, the three angels’ messages are called the “everlasting gospel” (Verse 6).
This threefold message calls all to be righteous by faith. Righteousness simply means “right doing”—doing what God has commanded. This righteousness must come from Christ through faith. And faith is an active ingredient. Faith works. “But wilt thou know 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:20-22).
Faith works by love. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). What God really wants to produce in response to the everlasting gospel of the three angels of Revelation 14 is righteous people who have learned to love and obey Him. The love of God must shape their lives and become the controlling influence in all of their decisions. They will obey God as Creator because they know He loves them and is worthy of their worship and obedience.
This experience of righteousness by faith is what God requires in this hour of earth’s history—the judgment hour. The first angel’s message announces, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:7. We live in this judgment hour that was prophesied to take place right before Jesus returns.
Notice that God wants us to worship Him as Creator during the judgment hour. Just what does this mean in a practical, everyday sense? Peter makes the answer obvious. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God . . . Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” _(1 Peter 4:17-19).
The experience God wants His people to have in the judgment hour is one of truly trusting Him as Creator and committing themselves to Him by doing His will. He wants them to be convinced of His faithfulness and to obey Him based on this conviction. Such persons God calls “saints” in Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” God’s saints have learned by experience that He keeps His promises. They’ve learned that He loves them unconditionally. He accepts them where hey are and gives them His power for victory and obedience. God’s saints have settled into the truth that God is a faithful Creator.
Just how might we demonstrate such faith and trust? In everyday life, we are all faced with choices where we understand God’ s will but are tempted to do the opposite. Let me illustrate in very practical terms how a person might reveal a lack of faith and trust. Let’s say a person is offered a job doing something that is not in harmony with Christian standards. Under temptation, he reasons: “I need a job, and this one is available. Should I take it? If I don’t, my bills won’t get paid. My house may be repossessed. It will put undue strain on my marriage if I’m unemployed. I can’t make it without this job.”
This type of thinking doesn’t factor the Almighty God into the equation. It focuses on the problem instead of God. Like Elisha’s servant, it sees only the enemy and not God’s host of angels who are all around, ready to help and deliver (2 Kings 6:8-17).
Unfortunately, many of us are tempted to make the same mistake. Even though we worship God on the weekend, we live according to the dictates of our own reasoning during the week.
Here is a point that is often stumbled over in this humanistic age—it is never acceptable to compromise truth. Why? Because compromise means we don’t believe God is adequate to take care of us. It means we think He is untrustworthy. What a statement we make about what we think of God when we compromise His truth!
God is calling for a different order of things. We must remember that He will provide a way for us to obey if we wait patiently for Him. With faith, even when we are severely tested we will be able to say: “I will wait upon my God to provide a way whereby I can obey Him. In the meantime, I will not compromise truth.”
Can our Creator provide jobs for the unemployed that will not require them to compromise truth? Can He provide a Christian companion for the single? Can He heal damaged marriages and relationships? Yes! Our Creator is not limited. He is infinite in power and resources. But sadly, all too often we limit Him. We are impatient. We do not wait upon the Lord to provide His solution in His own time. In some situations, His solution may not become tangible until Jesus comes. But the person with real faith in God’s infinite goodness can be satisfied even with this.
The Seal of God
This brings us to a crucial point that is absolutely vital for all who desire to avoid worshiping the beast to understand. The question of who will worship the beast is not simply a future issue. Daily we make decisions based upon whether or not we trust and obey God as our Creator. The cumulative effect of these decisions forms our characters. And the final conflict between the beast and God will reveal what character we have developed.
Did you catch this all-important point? It is so very practical and vital that I want you to fix it firmly in mind. Daily we make decisions based upon whether or not we trust and obey God as our Creator. The cumulative effect of these decisions forms our characters. And the final conflict between the beast and God will reveal what character we have developed. This is what the seal of God and the mark of the beast are all about.
The mark that we receive in the last days, whether it be God’s seal or the beast’s mark, will be the outward evidence of the type of inner character we have chosen to develop. Those who receive the seal of God have “set to their seal that God is true” and trustworthy _(John 3:33). They’ve learned to trust God as their Creator and Ruler in the little things of everyday life. Therefore, they are ready to face the larger tests of life. On the other hand, those who receive the mark of the beast _have lived lives of self-sufficiency and disobedience. Day by day they have brushed aside the still, small voice of God’s convicting Spirit as inconsequential. Little did they realize they were forming their ultimate destiny by choosing to disobey what they considered at the time to be “little things.” Because they have followed the beast’s principles of self-sufficiency it will be an easy matter for them to receive the mark of the beast.
Make no mistake about it. We are now living in the time when our daily decisions are no small matter. We all have a date with destiny when we will reap the character our choices have sown. Right now we all need to set ourselves on a path to consciously and deliberately settle into the truth that God is love and can be obeyed. If we neglect to gain this experience, we will find ourselves worshiping the beast along with most of the world.
The ultimate end-time expression of our having been sealed with God’s seal or marked with the character of the beast will be manifested in whether or not we keep God’s seventh-day Sabbath. The devil has especially contended with God’s Sabbath because it proclaims God’s rights and authority as Creator. Therefore, the Sabbath will become the visible line of demarcation between those who take God at His word and those who follow humanism to rationalize into oblivion God’s claims upon their lives.
Sabbath-keepers Forsake God?
Unfortunately, even among God’s current commandment-keeping people are those who will ultimately forsake the God of the true Sabbath that they now observe. How can this be? It will happen because they’ve not made God the Ruler of their entire life. Yes, they currently keep the Sabbath. But there is more to honoring God as Creator than simply going to church on the proper day. Those who live for self, whether they attend church on the Sabbath or not, will eventually find themselves opposed to the Sabbath when world conditions heat to a boiling point and bring them to the very last moments of time.
The large majority who will forsake God’s commandment-keeping remnant in the last days won’t come to this point overnight. They will have followed their self-will down this path for some time. Are some being deceived right now to think that since they know the objective truths of the gospel, the Sabbath, the sanctuary, and of man’s nature in death, etc., that this is going to be sufficient to save them? It certainly will not be if at the same time they are imbibing anger, bitterness, jealousy, or disobeying God in something that He has revealed to them. What is truly humbling is that we all are prone to make this fatal mistake. How important it is that we seek the Lord with all our hearts for His mercy and grace to give us a supreme love for Him and a faith which will obey implicitly!
Right now, we live in a time conducive to following God in all things. Relative peace and security still are ours. Revelation 7:1-4 says that this time of peace is for the sealing of God’s people. As we’ve already seen, the seal has everything to do with whether we trust and obey God by faith. Now is our day of opportunity to settle into the truth that God is trustworthy. We can obey Him, and He will take care of us. Each day God is giving us opportunities to develop godly character. But, eventually, the winds will blow. The time of trouble, such as no man has ever seen, will arrive. Then we will reveal character—not develop it. Let us praise God for the daily test and trials that try our patience and faith in God. These are the greatest blessings He can send us when we consider what He is preparing us to face. Never resent God’s providences. Seek Him with your whole heart and walk in faithful obedience, no matter how trying the circumstance.      Remember that the journey from following God to following the beast takes more than just one step. Slowly and almost imperceptibly is this road traveled. Nearly everyone would balk at the suggestion that he or she might someday worship the beast. But in the end, many will find it an automatic response to worship the beast. It will be the inevitable fruit of their cumulative daily choices.
On which side will we be in the end? Will we worship the beast or the Creator? The answer depends upon the daily decisions we make regarding the place of God in our life. Today is the day to commit 100 percent to Jesus and to gain, through obedience, an experience in trusting Him as Creator. Will we worship the beast or the Creator? It’s our choice. Today.
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