“The Revelation of Jesus Christ
|The Omega Letter Intelligence Digest|
Vol: 147 Issue: 19 - Thursday, December 19, 2013
Note: Jack poses a good question for us to consider as we see what is befalling the world. J.L. Robb shares a current example in his column, "A Duck Dynasty Christmas". The war of Christmas and Christ continues and it is our duty to share the Good News in the midst of all the bad.The formal name for the last book of the New Testament is ''The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St John'' and not ''The Book of Revelations,'' or ''Revelations'' or ''The Apocalypse of John.''
John himself never titled the Book he penned while in exile on the Isle of Patmos. The Book was titled by Jesus Christ Himself:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by his angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)The word “revelation” is the English equivalent to apokalupsismeaning, “unveiling” or “lifting of the veil” which is why it is also sometimes called the Book of the Apocalypse.
The Lord divided the Book into two parts; “the things which areand the things which shall be thereafter.” (Revelation )
The first part of the Book is written to the seven churches; identifying them as the “things which are.”
At the time of John’s exile, there were seven major churches in Asia Minor; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. (Interestingly, all seven were located in modern-day Turkey, which is 99.8% Muslim, according to the CIA Worldfactbook.)
If the “things which are” referred to those seven specific cities, then we would now have to be centuries into the period Jesus identified as the “things which shall be thereafter.”
Jesus concludes His revelation about the “things which are” with a cryptic message, intended not for the natural man, but understandable only to those already indwelt by the Holy Spirit:
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation )
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians )At that point, there is a jump from the “things which are” to John’s hearing a trumpet, and a voice telling John that what comes next are “the things which shall be thereafter.”
“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1)John says in the next verse that “immediately I was in the Spirit” and the next thing he saw was “a throne set in heaven.”
Let’s stop here for a second and summarize. The Book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is not addressedto John, it is sent to John. It is addressed to the ‘servants of Jesus Christ’ – look at it again.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by his angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)Who are the “servants of Jesus Christ?” Ummm, lessee. Angels? Nope? Individuals? Maybe, but Jesus said of individual believers,
"Henceforth, I call you not servants, but I have called you friends.” (John )The servants of Jesus Christ are the individual Churches that exist within the Body of Christ.
The Book is distinctly divided into two parts; not three, not five, not fifteen or eighteen, but just two. The first division is identified as the things which are.
The second division is what “shall be thereafter.” Which leaves the obvious question remaining.
Jesus assigns specific characteristics to each of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor which correspond historically with seven distinct epochs within the Church Age.
For example, the first of the Churches mentioned, Ephesus; bold in resolute endurance, discerning, intolerant of departures from the faith, this is the Apostolic epoch.
There was Smyrna, battling nobly with trials and danger, in the midst of poverty and suffering but rich in faith and good works. The Age of the Martyrs.
Then comes Pergamos, married to the world. This church epoch began with the Emperor Constantine declaring Christianity to be the State Church of Rome.
The Church at Thyatira was condemned for its continual sacrifice and the introduction of new doctrines, corresponding historically with Dark Ages. (Purgatory, indulgences, and the Inquisition).
Sardis was the ‘dead’ Church, as it had become by the time of the Reformation. Sardis gave way to the period of revival following the publication and distribution of the Word of God to the common man.
The period from the Reformation in the 15th century to the end of the 19th century, was the epoch of the Church of Philadelphia. This was the 'missionary church' that took the Bible to the New World, to darkest Africa, to China and the far corners of the earth.
The end of the Philadelphia Church Age coincided with the 'Enlightenment' in Europe, brought about by 'modernist' thinking near the end of the 19th century which ushered in the Laodicean Epoch, the era of Church history that unmistakably corresponds with the time in which we now live.
From Philadelphia to Laodicea, distinguished for its worldly riches, its high-toned profession and spiritual pride; yet lowest in the scale and standard of all, neither cold nor hot — a religion of boasting words, but devoid of moral strength — "poor, blind, and naked."
The center of the Church of Laodicea isn’t Jesus, but rather, it is what its name implies; Laos, (people) and dike meaning, “decision” -- or the "Church of the People’s Decision".
The name wasn’t chosen by accident. If ever there was a generation of Christians to whom that description fits, it is thisone.
At the Church of Laodicea, Jesus isn’t inside, but stands on the outside and knocks, waiting to be invited in.
Given our perspective of 20/20 hindsight, there are but two possible conclusions concerning the period of time Jesus said would be identifiable as the “things which are.”
It either refers to the historical period in which these seven specific churches existed in Turkey, in which case we have been living in the period “which shall be thereafter” for about 1200 years now, or it refers to the period from the Apostolic era to the conclusion of the Church Age at the Rapture.
If it means the former, then it became irrelevant the moment that the churches in those cities ceased to exist. Doesn’t it? Can it mean anything else? What is left?
If the Revelation of Jesus Christ to His servants is to have any meaning to His servants, then it logically follows that His message to the Churches was a continuing message relevant to the entire Church Age, and not just to seven long-lost church communities in Asia Minor.
The Church Age is the period that encompasses the "things which are". That which “shall be thereafter”is the Tribulation Period, which begins when John hears a trumpet, and the voice of an angel, and the scene instantly shifts from the physical to the spiritual and relocates in heaven.
That event is specifically identified as the commencement of the “things which shall be thereafter.”
We’ve gone the long way to get where I wanted to go, but that was because I wanted to ensure as air-tight a case as possible. There are many well-meaning and sincere Christians that believe that this generation of Christians will be present for all or part of the Tribulation Period.
But the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ specifically divides itself into the physical here and now and the spiritual thereafter. The “here and now” ends with translation, alive, into the spiritual hereafter.
This occurs before the opening of the first seal, (antichrist) beforethe ride of the next three horsemen, (War, Famine and Death)before the moon turns into blood and before the seventh seal pours out the Wrath of God.
FIRST comes the Trumpet (the Rapture). Then, two chapters later (suggesting some element of time has passed) comes the onset of the Tribulation Period.
No matter what kind of Scriptural gymnastics one resorts to, there is no way for the “things which are” to also be the “things which shall be thereafter.”
The “things which are” include the Church at Laodicea all the way up to when the addressees of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ find themselves in the Spirit before a Throne set in Heaven. AFTER that comes the “things which shall be thereafter”.
The dividing line imposed by Jesus can only be in one place – the place where JESUS divided it. At the Rapture – and it doesn’t fit anywhere else.
If it fit at the sixth seal, then that is where Jesus would have divided His Revelation. If it fit at the first seal, (the revealing of the antichrist) then that is where Jesus would have divided His Revelation.
But Jesus divided it at the conclusion of the Laodicean Church epoch. The Apostle Paul described the conclusion of the Church Age from the perspective of Planet Earth.
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)The Apostle John described it from the perspective of Heaven:
“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1)Both Apostles are describing the same event from different perspectives!
Note also that John is in Heaven for some time before the first seal is broken – and therefore, so is the Church, or the symbolism is meaningless. John witnesses the events that precede the breaking of the first seal – and so does the Church.
So the indwelt Church cannot be both present on earth when the first seal is broken AND present in heaven to witness the breaking of the first seal.
Here is what that means. From where we sit, we are so close we almost think we can identify the antichrist – there is a whole new sect of Christians emerging that believe they already have.
But the Bible clearly tells us the Rapture comes first. So if we are so close we can almost identify the antichrist, the Rapture of the Church is that much closer.
And with all the chaos and war and upheaval and financial and natural disasters coming upon us, the Apostle Paul says of the Rapture;
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians )Words of comfort. Not words of terror. There is a difference. It would be far less comforting to me if I believed it was addressed only to the survivors of the first six judgments.
And it would make far less sense.
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