Identifies the genuine body and bride of Christ by biblical standards, the overcomers and remnants who are the true house of Israel

 
His Word
"But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9b). A PROPHETIC MINISTRY
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A PROPHETIC PERSPECTIVE
 
 
 

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Bride of Christ, remnant and overcomers of Revelation

The Overcoming Remnant Bride

        My purpose in this material is not to assign dates or to promote yet another theological philosophy. I am attempting to identify the genuine body of Christ which will become the bride of Christ and to show that overcomers and the remnants are one and the same with the bride and that this group is the house of faith of the true Israel.
        Chronological time lines in Revelation are difficult to determine because of the interludes, parentheses, reviews, previews and recapitulations. Only when a time line is clear in scripture will I attempt to identify it.

Foreword

A Virgin Bride

The 24 Elders

The Four Living Creatures

The Two Witnesses

The 144,000

A Great Wonder In Heaven

There Cannot Be Jew Nor Greek

Martyrs And Tribulation

The Bride

The Wedding, Those Called, Those Blessed

God, Through Christ, Will Reign Forever

Rewards Of Christ

The Measure Of The Bride

God’s Eternal Purpose

Persecution, Tribulation And Judgement

Addendum:

The Temple

The Seventieth Week Of Daniel


Foreword
        It has been taught that there is a bride of Christ, which comes out of the body of Christ. The example of Adam is used, Eve being taken out of him and God building her up as his “help meet” (Genesis 2:18,20).
        “Help,” ezer means aid, i.e., help or one who helps.
        This word “help” is not speaking of some inferior kind of assistance. On the contrary it’s used in scripture to describe God Himself as man’s help in Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7,26,29; Psalms 20:2; 33:20; 70:5; 88:19; 115:9-11; 121:1,2; 124:8; 146:5 and Hosea 13:9.
        Strong’s Concordance defines “meet,” neged, as “a front, i.e. part opposite; specifically a counterpart, or mate; usually (adverbial, especially with preposition) over against or before.”
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary comments in this excerpt: “It is used in (Gen. 2:18), where God said He would make Adam “a help meet for him,” or someone to correspond to him, just as the males and females of the animals corresponded to (matched) one another.”
        From the understanding of the original words we see that the female was the counterpart of Adam. Not something less than him and not something more than him.
        Adam and Eve were co-rulers before the fall:
        Genesis 5:2: “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”
        Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
        The essence of the female was in Adam, but he was only one person. God took part of Adam’s side, more literally, flank, and built a woman.
        Genesis 2:21: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;”
        From this one person, God made two persons. Their names were Adam (Genesis 5:2), until after the fall when the male renamed the female “Eve.”
        God took of the “flank” of the man and “made” (Hebrew: built) “he a woman.”
        Genesis 2:22: “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
        Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
        Matthew 19:6: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
        To summarize, God created one male entity that contained the essence of two persons, male and female. He removed part of the one person, the male, and “built” it into another person, female. Without God having “built” the other female person, it would have remained a flank, an isolated part of the male person. These two, male and female, i.e., husband and wife, were now considered to be one person.
        In the concept of the body of Christ, however, we have two different entities involved. There is Jesus, Who is one complete Person. He has given the members of the body of Christ His Holy Spirit and His individual disciples are considered to be His corporate body, of which He is the head. Jesus is in heaven, at the right hand of the Father, and His disciples are here on the earth in different places but connected spiritually.
        God’s eternal purpose is to bring all things together in one, in Christ. He will display His manifold wisdom through this corporate body of Christ, to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies.
        We don’t have one male physical entity containing the essence of two persons, male and female, who is going to become two physical entities, i.e., male and female, and viewed by God as one physical entity because of their relationship as husband and wife, or bride and groom.
        Instead the process will be reversed and the two will become one. We have two spiritual entities, Christ Himself (male) and the corporate body of Christ (also male), who are now separated. (If God was not involved in the “building” of the body of Christ, it would remain in spiritual Babylon, isolated from Jesus.)
        Jesus, the head, in heaven, and the body of Christ, on earth, are going to become one spiritual entity by God’s sovereign choice. In order to do so, the body of Christ will be as the female was in Adam when he was created. This will happen when Christ and His body are united as bride and Bridegroom. That is why the terminology of the same group of saints changes from being a “body” to that of being a “bride,” a “wife.”
        The bride and Bridegroom will be viewed by God as two spiritual entities in their relationship. Scripture says the body of Christ on becoming the bride of Christ will be His servants (literally, bondservants) and will serve Him and will reign with Him for ever and ever.
        Revelation 19:5: “And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.”
        Revelation 22:3-5:
        3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
        4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
        5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
        “Serve” is latreuo which Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines as primarily “to work for hire” (akin to latris, “a hired servant”), signifies (1) to worship, (2) to “serve”; in the latter sense it is used of service” ... “(b) to God and Christ (“the Lamb”), (Rev. 22:3)” ... “to serve, to render religious service or homage.” ... “Notes: (1) The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. A consideration of the above verbs shows that it is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgment to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgment.”
        We do not become “little gods.” We will become redeemed and glorified humanity, and as the body of Christ, we will become the bride of Christ and will be His bondservants, serving and worshipping Him while reigning with Him for ever and ever.
        Romans 12 introduces the concept of the disciples of Christ being one body.
        In the first 4 verses of that letter we are urged by Paul the apostle to dedicate our bodies as pure, holy, well pleasing living sacrifices as our rational, intelligent spiritual worship of God.
        We are told to not conform to the shifting, unstable, short-lived and trendy patterns of this world, but instead we are to willingly transform, i.e., renovate and renew our minds, for the better.
        We are to prove, or test, ourselves in expectation of approval of God’s good, beneficial, well pleasing, complete and perfect will for us.
        We are not to be vain, or arrogant and esteem ourselves beyond what reality dictates but are to exercise restraint in judging our abilities according to the faith God has given us at that particular point in time.
        In verses 4 through 6 Paul tells us that we are one body with many members with different functions and gifts, and corporately we are parts of one another. Paul elaborates on this concept in 1 Corinthians 14:12-27 and elsewhere.
        Those who assemble and congregate with the overcoming remnant body of Christ, which will become the bride of Christ and don’t meet the requirements stated in Romans 12:1-6 are not the body of Christ.
        They are the fake, or “counterfeit” body of Christ spoken of throughout the Bible. They are not the “genuine” body of Christ.
        They profess Christ, and they are visible, but they are nominal Christians, i.e., Christians in name only. They are not disciples of Christ. They are not the body of Christ. They will not become the bride of Christ.
        Matthew 7:21-23:
        21 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.
        22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
        23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
        The “counterfeit” Christians are not doing the will of the Father and they are not pursuing the Fathers eternal purpose. Instead they are pursuing their own agenda’s, their own wills and their own purposes.
        The thesis that the bride of Christ is a smaller portion of believers that comes out of the greater body of Christ is not correct. God doesn’t have first-class and second-class accommodations for His saints in heaven. They are all first-class.
        The differentiation between saints comes in the area of rewards, not “body” versus “bride.” Those who are genuine members of the body of Christ, by reason of having met clearly stated scriptural requirements, will become the bride of Christ.
        The only distinction that can be correctly made is here on earth, between the “counterfeit” and “genuine” members of the body of Christ.
        It’s useless to argue or discuss this with the “counterfeit” members of the body of Christ because they have been sent a strong delusion from God Himself as they do not have a love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 10-12).
        With this understanding, I have attempted to set forth what the book of Revelation says about the overcoming remnant bride.
A Virgin Bride
        The book of Hebrews clearly states, many times, that Jesus is our High Priest.
        In speaking of the high priest in Leviticus, chapter 21 God says in verses 10-14:
        10 And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;
        11 Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;
        12 Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the Lord.
        13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
        14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.
        We can conclude from these scriptures that Jesus, as our High Priest, must marry a virgin.
        There are many times in the Old Testament where God refers to Israel as a virgin. However, it’s equally clear that He also refers to Israel as an adulteress.
        Israel is called a virgin by God in 2 Kings 19:21—Isaiah 37:22; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 14:17; 18;13; 31:4,13,21; Lamentations 1:15; 2:13; Amos 5:2.
        Some commentators have suggested that in some of those verses He did so as they had previously not been violated by invasion from foreign countries.
        However, that doesn’t fit every case.
        It’s my opinion that God did so because He was prophetically addressing the virgin bride of Christ contained within the professing, visible body of Christ which is composed of the nominal “counterfeit,” but also the “genuine,” members of the body of Christ.
        The true, genuine, body of Christ will become the bride of Christ in the new heavens and new earth and contains different constituents from both the physical and spiritual seed of Abraham.
        We read of the wife of the Lamb in Revelation 19:7-9:
        7 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.
        8 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.
        I’ll have more to say on this later.
        9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
        The term “bride” is used in Revelation 21:2,9,10 as being synonymous with the heavenly Jerusalem. The city is described in Revelation 21:9 through 22:5. The bride is mentioned again in Revelation 22:17.
        Holman’s Bible Dictionary makes this comment about brides:
        “The imagery of the bride is used widely in the Bible as a description of the people of God. In the Old Testament, the prophets presented Israel as a bride who had committed repeated adulteries (Jer. 3; Ezek, 16; Hos. 3). The prophets also proclaimed that God was faithful to His unfaithful bride and would restore her (Jer. 33:10-11; Isa. 61:10,62:5). In the New Testament, the bride imagery is used often of the church and her relationship to Christ. The bride belongs to Christ, who is the Bridegroom (John 3:29). In Revelation, the church, as the bride of the Lamb, has prepared herself for marriage by performing righteous deeds (19:7-8). In Revelation 21, the great wedding is portrayed with the church prepared for her bridegroom (21:2,9). Finally, the bride and the Spirit issue an invitation “to come” (22:17). Paul used the metaphor of the bride to indicate his feelings toward the churches he had founded. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul wrote that he had betrothed the Corinthian church to Christ. He wanted to present the church as a pure bride to Christ. The Corinthians were in danger of committing “adultery.” The imagery of the bride is used by various biblical writers, but they appear to have a single purpose. The bridal imagery is used to indicate the great love which God has for His people. For these writers, no image could express better this love than the ideal love between a bridegroom and bride.”
The 24 Elders
        In Revelation, chapter 4, there are 24 thrones around the throne of God, upon which are seated 24 elders, clothed in white raiment, with gold crowns on their heads. “Seats” is thronos; from thrao (to sit); a stately seat (“throne”); by implication, power or (concretely) a potentate. It is also used in Revelation translated as “throne,” “thrones,” “seat,” “seats ” and in Revelation 20:12 as “God.” The text there reads “stand before the throne,” but it was translated in the King James Version as “stand before God.” In Revelation 21:3 the phrase “out of heaven” should read “out of the throne.”
        Revelation 4:2-4:
        2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
        3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
        4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
        “Crowns,” here is stephanos, which is a wreath given as a prize to the winners, or victors in public events. It’s used to signify victory and honor. This word is used extensively throughout the book of Revelation. Another word for “crown” is diadema, a diadem, signifying kingly dignity. The word diadema is used only three times in Revelation. It’s used in chapter 12, verse 3, referring to the red dragon, “having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” In Revelation 13:1, it refers to the “beast” that John saw “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.”
        The last use of diadema in Revelation is in reference to Jesus:
        Revelation 19:11-13:
        11 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.
        12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns (diadema); and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
        13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
        Revelation 19:8 informs us: “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.”
        Based upon the fact the 24 elders have the victor’s crown of gold and are clothed in white raiment we know they are victorious saints who are part of the “genuine” body of Christ which becomes the bride of Christ in the new heavens and new earth.
        The number of them, 24, could be a prophetical device used that draws upon the typology of the reign of king David. In 1 Chronicles, chapter 24 the Levitical priests are divided into 24 rotating divisions. In 1 Chronicles, chapter 25 the singers are likewise divided into 24 divisions of 12 each, for a total of 288.
        However, the Levitical priests in Ezekiel 40:46; 43:19; 44:15; 48:11 are assigned duties as “keepers of the charge of the house” as they caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity. Only the sons of Zadok may approach God and minister to Him. Because of this, I don’t think this is the correct application to the 24 elders.
        The number of them, 24, probably represents the 12 patriarchs and the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. The sons of the 12 tribes are mentioned in Revelation 7:4: “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children [huios, meaning “sons”] of Israel.”
        Jesus told His 12 disciples that in the regeneration, they would sit upon 12 thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. He also said they would eat and drink at His table in His kingdom.
        Matthew 19:28: “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
        Luke 22:28-30:
        28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
        29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
        30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
        “Regeneration,” in Matthew 19:28 is paliggenesia or palingenesia and means literally “new birth.” Some feel it refers to the 1,000 year period of time, others that it refers to the eternal state. Most likely it refers to both.
        In Revelation 11:18 the 24 elders, in praising God say: “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
        We see here an order at the time of judgement of the dead. Four groups of people are named to “give reward unto:” “thy servants the prophets,” the “saints,” “them that fear thy name, small and great,” and “shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
        This same order has parallels in the New Testament, which I’ll discuss later.
        Of the groups mentioned, “prophets,” “saints” and “them that fear thy name, small and great” obviously refer to those who are saved. However, where in these groups the 24 elders fit is unknown. We also see in this some broad categories (for us, but not for God) of those who are saved.
        Apparently the 24 elders have a special place of honor in God’s kingdom and are presented in this prophecy as distinct from, but a part of, the genuine body of Christ which will become the bride of Christ in the new heavens and new earth.
The Four Living Creatures
        Revelation 4:6-11:
        6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
        7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
        8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
        9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
        10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
        11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
        The four “beasts” are better translated as “living creatures.” Their likeness has been identified with the four Gospels: Matthew, the lion, Mark, the calf, Luke, the man, John, the eagle. These four living creatures are similar to the living creatures mentioned in Ezekiel 1:10, which the prophet identifies as cherubims in Ezekiel 10:20-22.
        Living creatures appear also in Isaiah, chapter 6, there identified as seraphims. In this usage of “seraphim” the Hebrew word is serapim, meaning “burning, noble,” which matches their description in Ezekiel 1:13: “As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.” However, in Isaiah they have six wings (as they do also in Revelation), instead of four.
        In Ezekiel each living creature had four faces, in Isaiah the faces aren’t mentioned. However, in Revelation each individual living creature was “like,” or had one of the four faces.
        In Ezekiel 1:10 they are mentioned in the order of the faces of a man, lion, ox and an eagle: “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”
  The Face Of A Man
        The face of a man would indicate the dominion of man over the earth (under Christ).
        Genesis 1:26,27:
        26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
        27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
  The Face Of A Lion
        The symbolism of the lion as the ruling Christ is clear from scripture:
        Genesis 49:9,10:
        9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
        10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
        Revelation 5:5: “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
        Isaiah 11:1,10:
        1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
        10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
        Romans 15:12: “And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.”
        Revelation 22:16: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”
  The Face Of An Ox
        “Ox” in Hebrew is showr, a bullock. “Calf” in Greek is moschos, a young bullock, so the change is not significant. The “ox,” or bullock is known in the Old Testament as a sacrificial animal. We find the same theme of sacrifice in the “calves” in the New Testament:
        Hebrews 9:12,19:
        12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
        19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
        The primary symbolism of the ox/calf is that of the sacrifice of Christ, which redeems those who accept Him as their Saviour and Lord.
  The Face Of An Eagle
        We see a clear reference in scripture between God and an eagle in Exodus 19:4 and Deuteronomy 32:9-12. The eagle is a type of God’s leading, instruction and His fondness and protective feeling for His people as mentioned in scripture (although, in reading the remainder of the chapter in Deuteronomy we see Israel’s disobedience and rebellion against Him).
        Exodus 19:4: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.”
        Deuteronomy 32:9-12:
        9 For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
        10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
        11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
        12 So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
        In Ezekiel the living creatures are presented in sequence as man, lion, ox and eagle. In Revelation they are presented in the sequence of lion, calf, man, and eagle.
   A Prophetic Picture
        Ezekiel paints a prophetic picture of the future dominion of man over the earth (man), to be fulfilled through the coming rule of Christ (lion) because of the sacrifice of Christ to redeem mankind (ox), and the leading, instruction and love of God for His people (eagle).
        The sequence of the listed faces are from God to man, as given to the prophet, but if we reverse them we emphasize man’s approach to God, i.e., we sequence them as how we are to approach God. We must first accept the leading, instruction and love of God for His people (eagle), accept the sacrifice of Christ to redeem us back to God (ox), submit to the rule of Christ in our lives (lion), and in Christ have dominion over the earth through His rule (man).
        Revelation fulfills the prophetic sequence in painting a future picture (for us) of the established rule of Christ (lion), God’s redemption for man by the shed blood of Jesus (calf/ox), dominion of man over the earth, reigning under Christ (man), and the continuing love of God for us as displayed by His leading, instruction, fondness and protection of His people (eagle).
        There are some who think the original sequence of man, lion, ox and eagle listed in Ezekiel is best for them. And that man must take dominion over the earth (man), then Christ can come to rule (lion) a humanly-perfect world, and the sacrifice of Christ (ox/calf) is assigned little value as they, in their own eyes at least, are “little gods,” and the leading, instruction and love of God for His people (eagle) is best displayed through fantasy-land “super-ministers.”
        Scripture is clear, however, that all things come from God and His Christ, and those things springing from human devices are destined to be devoured by the fire of God, and ultimately the lake of fire and brimstone with the devil, the beast and the false prophet, to be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
        As to who or what these four living creatures represent, there are different opinions. It’s evident from their introduction and appearances from Genesis to Revelation they are very powerful, indicated by their activities and closeness to and worship of God. In Revelation 15:7: “And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.” Their authority and responsibility in God’s economy ranges from watchmen of the tree of life to Godly worship to Godly wrath.
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary has this comment: “Cherubim, cheroubim, are regarded by some as the ideal representatives of redeemed animate creation. In the tabernacle and Temple they were represented by the two golden figures of two-winged living creatures. They were all of one piece with the golden lid of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies signifying that the prospect of redeemed and glorified creatures was bound up with the sacrifice of Christ. This in itself would indicate that they represent redeemed human beings in union with Christ, a union seen, figuratively, proceeding out of the mercy seat. Their faces were towards this mercy seat, suggesting a consciousness of the means whereby union with Christ has been produced. The first reference to the “cherubim” is in (Gen. 3:24), which should read “...at the East of the Garden of Eden He caused to dwell in a tabernacle the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned itself to keep the way of the Tree of Life.” This was not simply to keep fallen human beings out; the presence of the “cherubim” suggests that redeemed men, restored to God on God’s conditions, would have access to the Tree of Life. (See (Rev. 22:14)). Certain other references in the OT give clear indication that angelic beings are upon occasion in view, e. g., (Ps. 18:10; Ezek. 28:14). So with the vision of the cherubim in (Ezek. 10:1-20; 11:22). In the NT the word is found in (Heb. 9:5), where the reference is to the ark in the tabernacle, and the thought is suggested of those who minister to the manifestation of the glory of God. We may perhaps conclude, therefore, that, inasmuch as in the past and in the present angelic beings have functioned and do function administratively in the service of God, and that redeemed man in the future is to act administratively in fellowship with Him, the “cherubim” in Scripture represent one or other of these two groups of created beings according to what is set forth in the various passages relating to them.”
  The Four Living Creatures And The 24 Elders
        We read in Revelation 5:8-10:
        8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
        9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
        10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
        The King James Version of these passages has the four living creatures and the 24 elders referring to themselves as “us” being redeemed and made kings and priests. This has been reworded in other translations.
        Verses 9 and 10 of Revelation chapter 5 in the Amplified Bible read: “And [now] they sing a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain (sacrificed) and with Your blood You purchased men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have made them a kingdom [royal race] and priests to our God, and they shall reign [as kings] over the earth!”
        This makes more sense as the four living creatures and 24 elders would not be where they were if they had a prideful and arrogant attitude that boasted about being redeemed and made kings and priests [literally, a kingdom and priests] and reigning on the earth.
        They were, at that time, praising the Lamb, not themselves. While the facts of being redeemed and made a kingdom and priests and reigning on the earth describes the 24 elders, and may describe the living creatures if they do represent all of the redeemed of all of God’s creation, they would not have bragged about it. And since the four living creatures may represent either all redeemed human beings, or angelic beings, they can’t be selectively identified as part of the genuine body, the bride, of Christ.
        John, writer of Revelation, however, could make a statement concerning “us:”
        Revelation 1:4-6:
        4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
        5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
        6 And hath made us kings [read: a kingdom] and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The Two Witnesses
        Revelation 10:9-11:
        9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
        10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
        11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
        The significance of the eating of the scroll is explained in Ezekiel, chapters 2 and 3.
        These verses in Ezekiel chapter 3 give us the parallel to John’s experience:
        Ezekiel 3:3,4,14:
        3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
        4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.
        14 So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
  Prophetic Encouragement
        Ezekiel was given the scroll to eat so that he would speak the word of God, i.e., prophesy, to the house of Israel. John is also commissioned to do the same. “Thou must prophesy again ...” (verse 11).
        This phrase appears to be encouragement from the angel for John.
        John now receives further instructions:
        Revelation 11:1: “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”
        The phrase “and the angel stood” is not in all manuscripts.
        The measuring of the temple in Ezekiel explains the reason for measuring the temple:
        Ezekiel 40:3,4:
        3 And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.
        4 And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
        This reinforces the idea of speaking the word of God, i.e., prophesying, to the house of Israel.
        Ezekiel 43:10,11:
        10 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.
        11 And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.
        The temple is shown as a pattern of the totality of God’s ordinances and laws to which the people are to be faithful.
        “Iniquity,” is avon or awon about which Vine’s Expository says in these excerpts:
        “The most basic meaning of awon is “iniquity.” The word signifies an offense, intentional or not, against God’s law. ... “Iniquity” as an offense to God’s holiness is punishable. The individual is warned that the Lord punishes man’s transgression: “But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge” (Jer. 31:30).”
        As a result of this measurement, the house of Israel will be shown, prophetically by John, their guilt of offenses against God’s law and holiness. The element of punishment from God for this is implied.
        An excerpt from Vine’s Expository Dictionary tell us that the “temple” in Revelation 11:1 is “naos “a shrine or sanctuary,” among the Jews, the sanctuary in the “Temple,” into which only the priests could lawfully enter, e. g., (Luke 1:9,21,22).”
        Thayer’s Definition expands on that: “naos—used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies (in Classical Greek it is used of the sanctuary or cell of the temple, where the image of gold was placed which is distinguished from the whole enclosure).”
        However, this same word, naos, is used by Paul the apostle to describe the Spirit filled believers:
        1 Corinthians 3:16,17:
        16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
        17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
        1 Corinthians 6:19,20:
        19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
        20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
        2 Corinthians 6:15,16:
        15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
        16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
        Ephesians 2:21,22:
        21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
        22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
        This would make the symbology of John measuring the temple of God be as the individual believer compares themselves against God’s ordinances and laws.
        That this temple of God is in heaven is indicated by Revelation 7:15; 11:19; 14:15,17; 15:5,6,8; 16:1,7. The altar is also referred to in Revelation 6:9; 8:3,5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7.
  Examine Yourselves
        The reference to the altar suggests we measure ourselves against those who were slain, i.e., butchered as martyrs in Revelation 6:9, whose souls John saw under the altar, and to measure our prayers as mentioned in Revelation 8:3, where the prayers of the saints are on the altar. We are also to measure ourselves as to whether we will receive judgment from God as proceeding from the altar in 8:5 and 9:13-15. This theme is repeated in 14:18-20 as to whether we are part of a harvest of unrighteousness. The altar stands as a testimony that God’s judgements are true and righteous (Revelation 16:5-7).
        2 Corinthians 13:5,6:
        5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
        6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates [unapproved, not standing the test].
        There are three things John is to measure: (1) the temple itself, which is the pattern against which (2) the altar and (3) those who worship in the temple are measured.
        The altar is measured and found to be a valid testimony that God’s judgements are true and righteous as to the unrighteousness or righteousness as reflected in our desire to save our lives or be martyred for the testimony of Jesus. Our prayer lives are also measured, or judged.
        Revelation 11:2: “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”
        This is a prophetic indication that Jerusalem will be ruled by the nations during a 42 month period of time. It’s also a reminder that we are not to judge the unsaved of the world:
        1 Corinthians 5:12 (New International Version): “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”
        John has now apparently measured those who name the name of Christ and compared them to God’s righteous standards. Still prophesying, he now states that God will send “two witnesses,” clothed in sackcloth, to teach repentance and preach righteousness to heal and restore the unsaved and nominal Christians back to their Creator.
        Revelation 11:3: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”
        The word “power” is not in the original. It should read “And I will give my two witnesses ...”
  Two Olive Trees, Two Candlesticks
        Revelation 11:4: “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”
        This is a reference to the two olive trees spoken of in Zechariah 4:3: “And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.”
        Zechariah 4:11: “Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?”
        Zechariah 4:14: “Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
        The original text, however, reads: “These are the two sons of oil, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
        (Paul the apostle may have drawn upon this imagery in Zechariah in his use of a single olive tree as representing the house of faith of the true Israel (Romans 11:16-18)).
  The Candlestick
        The golden lampstand (candlestick) in the tabernacle had seven lamps, each individually fed by a bowl, i.e., there were seven bowls (Exodus 25:31-40).
        The use of the golden lampstand in these scriptures is to recognize the holy things of God the lampstand symbolizes. We are reminded that the lampstand was in the tabernacle and that as priest-believers in the Holy Place we must have the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit, and illuminate the lampstand itself, in recognition of our maturing by the spiritual illumination of the Holy Spirit and the example of Jesus, the light to the world.
        Numbers 8:1-3 (New International Version):
        1 The Lord said to Moses,
        2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the seven lamps, they are to light the area in front of the lampstand.’”
        3 Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lord commanded Moses.
        We are also to illuminate the table of showbread and the altar of incense. These are types of our active participation in the word of God, fellowship with the saints and our prayer life and our praise of God.
        Solomon’s temple had ten lampstands (1 Kings 7:49; 1 Chronicles, chapter 28; 2 Chronicles, chapters 3 and 4), which was in accordance with God’s instructions to David. “All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern” (1 Chronicles 28:19).
        (This may have been a prophetic indicator of a worldly mindset (ten, the number of the world: ten toes, ten fingers, the reward of ten cities, ten virgins, ten pieces of silver (Luke 15:8), and etc.) that crept into Solomon’s rule:
        2 Chronicles 4:7: “And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form, and set them in the temple, five on the right hand, and five on the left.”
        This resulted in the division of Israel into two kingdoms [five, the number of division (either into groups, or division from something): God led Israel out of Egypt in battle array in groups of five. (Exodus 13:18, where the word “harnessed” is from a root meaning “in battle array, arrayed for battle by fives, armed”). David took 5 stones from the brook to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40). The holy anointing oil was made up of 5 ingredients (Exodus 30:23-25). There were five foolish and five wise virgins, five thousand were fed with five loaves, there are five senses, and etc.]:
        1 Kings 7:49: “And the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs of gold ...”)
        In Revelation 1:2 John is shown seven lampstands, which represent the seven ekklesia’s, or assemblies (Revelation 1:20) which were in Asia (Revelation 1:4,11).
        In Zechariah 4 there is one golden lampstand, with a (one) bowl on top of it and with seven lamps on it and seven tubes or channels going from the bowl to each individual lamp. There are two olive trees, one on the right side of it and one on the left side of it. (Zechariah 4:2,3). In verse 12 we are given additional information that there are two olive branches (of the two olive trees) which pour oil (into the bowl) through two golden pipes.
        In verse 4 Zechariah asks the angel, “What are these my lord?” The angel replies that “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. ...” Then the angel gives an encouraging word (prophecy) to Zerubbabel. The angel concludes with the statement of “... Grace, grace unto it” which refers to the completion of Zerubbabels temple through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with God’s grace.
        After this, in verses 8-10 the word of the Lord came to Zechariah. He also prophesied an additional encouraging word to Zerubbabel with a concluding statement “... with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
        Zechariah 4:8-10:
        8 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
        9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.
        10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
        The “seven” refers to the “seven eyes” of the “stone” (a reference to Jesus) in Zechariah 3:9: “For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.”
        This reference to Jesus is confirmed in Revelation:
        Revelation 5:6: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”
        Zechariah’s statement implies that the eyes, the seven Spirits of God, will rejoice when He sees the resumption of the work by Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple.
        This clear reference by the angel to the Spirit of God emphasizes the spiritual strength of the Holy Spirit of God and includes the aspect of God’s grace to His people. God’s power is contrasted to the ineffectual might and power of human beings. The reference to “the eyes of the Lord” by Zechariah implies the fullness, completeness and perfection (seven Spirits) of the might and power of God’s Holy Spirit.
        In verses 11 and 12 Zechariah asks the angel (if we put the two together) ‘what are the two olive branches on the two olive trees?’
        It should be obvious from this that the angel, in answering Zechariah’s first question as to “What are these my lord?” was referring to the golden lampstand with the bowl and seven lamps and seven tubes or channels from the bowl to each lamp.
        The answer to Zechariah’s question (the angel prophesying to Zerubbabel, the power of which causes Zechariah to also prophesy) indicates symbolically, the fullness, completeness and perfection of the might and power of God and His Holy Spirit. Here the power of the word of the Lord, i.e., the prophetic gift is also emphasized.
  Symbology Of The Olive Trees
        The answer to Zechariah’s question about the olive trees and olive branches is that these are the two sons of oil that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
        The scriptural precedent of the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel, in Gethsemane, (which means “oil-press”) a garden near Jerusalem, prefigures the suffering of His true disciples. Jesus struggling in prayer about accepting the cup of suffering handed Him from the Father indicates the meaning of the “sons of oil,” i.e., oil (the anointing) being pressed out (with the pressure of suffering) (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46).
        The two olive trees, with branches (Zechariah 4:3,11,12) are called the “two sons of oil” in verse 14. These two olive trees, the sons of oil, are the source of the oil.
        They feed the lampstand through its branches. The olive oil is ignited by fire and creates light, which represents the presence, power and purpose of God as stated throughout scripture.
        This burning oil provides light for and from the lampstand.
        The two olive trees, also identified as sons of oil, would be anointed human beings, full of the word of God and the Spirit of God (the spiritual source of their oil). With pressure from circumstances of the oil-press of a righteous lifestyle, their anointing is pressed out of them. They speak the word of God (fire) which ignites their oil (anointing).
        This causes them to function as lampstands providing spiritual illumination to the ekklesia of God and to the world. As such they are witnesses of God, speaking the mind and counsel of God as His prophets.
        An understanding of the olive trees, the sons of oil, the oil, the oil-press, the lampstand and the Anointed One, Jesus, adds a new dimension to the statement of Revelation 19:10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
        The Amplified Bible translates the last part of this verse as: ... “For the substance (essence) of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy — the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose ...”
        Prophesying, i.e., speaking forth the mind and counsel of God, is born of pressure and suffering, not from living in the lap of lavish luxury as is falsely taught by many today.
        In Revelation 11:3 the two olive trees, who are also the two sons of oil mentioned in Zechariah, are referred to as “... my [God’s] two witnesses ...” who prophesy, i.e., speak out the mind and counsel of God. In Revelation 11:4 they are also called “the two olive trees.”
        This is explained by the symbology in Zechariah 4. However, in addition to the fact that they are called two olive trees, two sons of oil, two witnesses, and two prophets (verse 10), they are in Revelation 11:4 called “the two candlesticks” [lampstands] that are also standing before the God of all the earth.
  Symbology Of The Candlestick
        In the Old Testament the golden lampstand in the tabernacle is a type of the Holy Spirit and the light to the world, which is Jesus. This light illuminates the table of showbread, a type of the ekklesia of God eating the word of God in fellowship with the saints, and our prayer life and praise of God. In the Gospels Jesus uses the example of a lampstand as our personal witness (Matthew 5:15; Mark 5:21; Luke 8:16; 11:33). In Revelation 1:20, Jesus uses the lampstand as representing the seven churches He has a message for.
        This personal and corporate witness to the world of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus Christ by the saints through the ages may represent the symbology of “the two candlesticks” of Revelation 11:4.
        In Zechariah 4:2 there is one lampstand, probably representing the Old Testament. In Revelation 11:4 there are two lampstands, which represents both the Old and New Testaments.
  Two In One
        In Revelation, chapter 11, verses 5 through 12 referring to the two witnesses as “them,” and “they” the word autos is used, about which Vine’s Expository Dictionary says: ““he himself and no other,” emphatic, e. g., (Matt. 1:21), where the RV brings out the emphasis by the rendering “it is He”; (3:11) (last clause), where the repeated “He” brings out the emphasis; in some cases it can be marked only by a circumlocution which would not constitute a translation, e. g., (8:24); this use is very frequent, especially in the Gospels, the epistles of John and the Apocalypse; see also, e. g., (Eph. 2:14; 4:11; 5:23,27).”
        In verses 8 and 9 the “dead bodies” referred to are singular, except in the second usage of the phrase in verse 9 where it is plural.
        Revelation 11:8: “And their [autos, i.e., “his”] dead bodies [body] shall lie [the word “lie” is not in the original text] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
        Revelation 11:9: “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their [autos, i.e., “his”] dead bodies [body] three days and an half, and shall not suffer their [autos, i.e., “his”] dead bodies to be put in graves.”
        Revelation 11:10: “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them [autos, i.e., “him”], and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these [houtos, “this person here, the same” see definition below] [“the,” hoi, is omitted by the translators] two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary on houtos, ““this, this person here,” is always emphatic; it is used with this meaning, sometimes to refer to what precedes, e. g., (Matt. 5:19), “he (shall be called great)”; (John 6:46), “he (hath seen)”; often rendered “this,” e. g., (Rom. 9:9), or “this man,” e. g., (Matt. 27:58), RV; (Jas. 1:25); “the same,” e. g., (Luke 9:48)” ... “houtos, “this” (person or thing), or “he” (and the feminine and neuter forms), is sometimes translated “the same,” e. g., (John 3:2,26; 7:18; Jas. 3:2); sometimes the RV translates it by “this” or “these,” e. g., (John 12:21), “these” (KJV, “the same”); (2 Cor. 8:6), “this” (KJV, “the same”).”
        That part of the text in Revelation 11:10 should read: “This person here, the same, the two prophets.”
        Revelation 11:5-12 refers to the “two” as being one with the implication of many more than just the two.
        The scriptural concept of two in one with the implication of many more than just the two begins with Adam and Eve, is perpetuated by husbands and wives and will culminate in the genuine body of Christ, the bride, being part of the new Jerusalem.
        Genesis 5:2: “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”
        Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
        Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
        Matthew 19:5,6:
        5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
        6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
        Mark 10:8: “And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”
        Ephesians 5:31,32:
        31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
        32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
        Revelation 21:9,10:
        9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
        10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
        These two witnesses/lampstands are symbols of (1) the source, i.e., the word and the Holy Spirit of God, and of (2) the manifestation of the word and Spirit of God through the prophetic gift of God. The two witnesses represent one corporate worldwide body of prophets who prophesy to those who name the name of Christ and also to those who deny Christ.
  Worldwide Testimony
        That this corporate body is worldwide is clear from the scriptural text:
        Revelation 11:6-10:
        6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
        (Whether this is symbolic or literal language is difficult to determine. Isaiah, speaking of Jesus, uses symbolical language in the same way. Isaiah 11:4: “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” There are, of course, many more such symbolical statements in the Bible. The end result, however, is clearly indicated).
        7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
        8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
        9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
        10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
        They will “smite all the earth.” “The great city” is a reference to Babylon (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10,16,18,19,21), not Jerusalem. It is spiritually called Sodom (a place of great sin) and Egypt (a place of bondage). (In Revelation 21:10 in the King James Version the new Jerusalem is called “the great city,” however the oldest manuscripts don’t have “the great” as reflected in newer translations.) Our Lord was not crucified in Jerusalem, but outside the city: John 19:20 (See also Hebrews 13:12-13): “This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.”
        Excerpted from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary:
        “In the Book of Revelation the world in rebellion against God is called “Babylon.” The Old Testament prophets often prophesied the fall of Babylon, the capital of an empire that destroyed God’s city, Jerusalem, and carried His people away as captives. So in Revelation Babylon is a word-picture for a society which persecuted God’s people but which God will eventually destroy.
        “When the Book of Revelation was written, Babylon may have been a kind of code name for pre-Christian Rome that was built on seven hills (Rev. 17:9) and which was already persecuting the church. Since that time, generations of Christians have been able to identify their own Babylons and have found reassurance in Revelation’s message.
        “In (Revelation 14:8) Babylon’s power to make people resist God’s claims in the gospel is admitted, but its doom is certain. In (Revelation 16:19) Babylon is a “great city” that falls because God remembers its sin and brings His punishment. Throughout (chapters 17-18) Babylon is prominent, pictured as a prostitute because it seduces people away from God with its glamor. But it is a false union which cannot satisfy.”
        Excerpted from New Unger’s Bible Dictionary:
        “Babylon—The Figurative Meaning. In the NT Babylon prefigures apostate Christendom, that is, ecclesiastical Babylon, the great harlot (Rev. 17:5-18). It also prefigures political Babylon (17:15-18), which destroys ecclesiastical Babylon. The power of political Babylon is destroyed by the glorious second advent of Christ (Rev. 16:19; 18:2-21).”
        “... the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies ...” “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them ...”
        Revelation 11:6: “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”
        The word “power” in this verse (twice) is exousia, which would be better translated as “authority.”
  In One Accord
        There are two witnesses because God’s word says there must be at least two witnesses in order to execute Godly justice:
        Numbers 35:30: “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.”
        Deuteronomy 17:6: “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.”
        Deuteronomy 19:15: “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”
        In Revelation 11:5, the word “mouth” is singular, just as it is singular in the above verses from Numbers and Deuteronomy.
        The purpose of this is to imply “one accord” where it is clearly stated in Joshua, where the word “accord” is the same word, peh, “mouth.”
        Joshua 9:2: “That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.”
        The two witnesses/lampstands, as a corporate body of prophets, will speak with one accord. They will prophesy a message of repentance emphasizing that humanity, especially those who name the name of Christ, must measure up to the standards of God. God will establish this new “company of prophets” in the eyes of the world by authorizing them to perform miracles to the same degree of power that He authorized the Old Testament prophets.
        The new “company of prophets” is the mature antitype of the immature type of “company of prophets” in 1 Samuel, chapters 10 and 19. This would include the “sons of the prophets” mentioned in 2 Kings, chapters 2, 4 through 6, 9 and 20.
        The following is excerpted from my book “Prophets And Prophecy:”
        “[The functional priesthood as instituted by God had been severely degraded and the spiritual climate of Israel polluted during the time of the Judges. God was transitioning from the judicial phase (the judges) of His theocracy to the executive phase (the period of the kings).
        “Since Joshua’s time only two prophetic figures are mentioned in Judges, Deborah and an unnamed prophet. According to Paul the apostle this is a period of about “... four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet” (Acts 13:20) The method and message of prophecy was “precious in those days,” i.e., rare or infrequent. Without those speaking His mind and counsel Israel was unrestrained and running wild. We read in Judges 17:6: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
        “Having made His point, God then reestablished and reemphasized the need, function and credibility of prophets that had been first established by Moses and Joshua as He ushered in the transitional period from that of the judges to the kings.
        “The companies and sons of prophets were loud, attention getting (musical company of prophets), reputation and credential seeking young prophets (the sons of the prophets). Their words and counsel were confirmed and performed by God despite their immaturity.
        “They drew attention to themselves and prophesied incessantly and lacked biblical and prophetic maturity. They showed no understanding of the Father’s heart. Their identification as a prophet came from their lifestyle of calling attention to themselves and their ministry (musical prophets) and by heaping upon themselves credentials (sons of the prophets). Which things truly called, prepared and sent prophets do not do, as they do only what the Father shows them to do, say only what the Father tells them to say, and go only where the Father tells them to go.
        “These young prophets were included within this time frame because they were prophets and God did not exclude them because of their immaturity. To hear the voice of a prophet, mature or immature, was to hear the voice of God. This is understood from scripture.]”
  A Famine In The Land
        The historical parallel of this mature antitype in Revelation and immature type of prophets in the Old Testament is very close.
        The functional priesthood of believers has been severely degraded and the spiritual climate of the ekklesia of God is polluted. God is now judging preparatory to executing the time of the King, Jesus Christ.
        There are few true prophets of God today. This will continue as false prophets flourish, as warned by Jesus. True prophetical words from God are rare or infrequent. The institutional churches are unrestrained and running wild, every man doing that which is right in his own eyes. (I am speaking of the doma ascension gift of prophet, not the charisma gift of prophecy).
        Very few have understood the point God has made, much less the need to reestablish and reemphasize the need, function and credibility of prophets.
        A great transitional period is upon us. With the proliferation of loud, attention getting, reputation, credential seeking prophets who don’t understand their scriptural function as described in Ephesians 4, there has to be a change.
        The immaturity displayed by those who draw attention to themselves and prophesy incessantly is discerned by their lack of biblical and prophetic maturity. Few, if any, understand the Father’s heart. They pattern their lifestyle after those in the world, promoting their “ministry,” and heaping credentials upon themselves.
        This may very well be the time of a famine “of hearing the words of the Lord” spoken of in Amos 8:11-14.
        But God will change all that. He is calling, preparing and sending prophets to do only what the Father shows them to do, say only what the Father tells them to say, and go only where the Father tells them to go.
  Grieving Prophets
        Revelation 11:3 tells us the new company of prophets are clothed in sackcloth.
        “Sackcloth” is sakkos; “of Hebrew origin “sack”-cloth, i.e. mohair (the material or garments made of it, worn as a sign of grief).”
        Unger’s Bible Dictionary comments on the figurative use of sackcloth: “Girding with sackcloth is a figure for heavy afflictions (Ps. 35:13; 69:11; Isa. 3:24; 15:3; 22:12; 32:11). Putting off, of joy and gladness (Ps. 30:11; Isa. 20:2). Covering the heavens, of severe judgments (Isa. 50:3; Rev. 6:12). Prophets and ascetics wore it over the underclothing to signify the sincerity of their calling (Isa. 20:2).”
        These new prophets will be grieving and heavily afflicted, having gone through the seven seal judgements and the first six trumpet judgements and the second woe. Because of this they will be true “sons of oil” and witnesses for God.
        There will be no lines formed with excited expectations of “getting a word from the prophet” here. No anticipation of hearing a new word concerning abundant health, wealth, self-esteem, or a prosperous “ministry” or “a new move of God” for the area. Or of a mate God will provide for you because you have found great favor with God. No words confirming prior words by other prophets.
        This will be a company of grieving prophets, obediently speaking only what the Father tells them to speak. The results of having been measured against God’s righteous standards will be proclaimed with repentance as a theme. A list of Godly requirements will be given as a new standard of righteous requirements for the lives of many.
        All in an attempt to reconcile and restore you back to God.
        This new prophetical standard will “torment” those on the earth.
        Thayer’s Definition of “torment” which is basanizo: “(1) to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal (2) to question by applying torture (3) to torture (4) to vex with grievous pains (used of body or mind), to torment (5) to be harassed, to be distressed; used of those who are struggling at sea with a head wind.”
        Nobody will hang around to get their taped prophecy from this company of prophets. It won’t be talked about at lunch that day. It may even spoil some appetites. Not because of repentance, but because of anger and rebellion.
        The prophets still wear their sackcloth and will grieve and mourn instead of dance and they have no gladness, or joy (Psalms 30:11). It will be a time of severe judgements by them, authorized by God. They will be sincere in their undertakings for God.
        This company of prophets will teach repentance and preach righteousness in order to bring about the healing of individuals and nations to restore them back to their Creator.
        The unsaved, who would never go anywhere that they might hear the word of God, will now be forced to hear the Gospel, because of the tremendous miracles this company of prophets is authorized by God to perform.
  Life From Death
        When they have completed their testimony the evil political and religious powers of the world will attack and defeat them.
        After having lain dead in the streets, God will bring them back to life and they will ascend to heaven.
        God speaking to them “Come up hither” really amounts to a rebuke by God to those who celebrated the death of the prophets. God wants them to slowly ascend so they will be seen by those who heard them while they prophesied.
        The result is some on earth will, even at that very late hour, glorify God, i.e., be saved.
  Going Up To Heaven
        The phrase “Come up hither” is the same wording in the text as is used in Revelation 4:1 where John is told to “Come up hither.” The term used in these texts is anabaino, “to go up, to ascend.”
        In John 6:62 and 20:17 Jesus speaks of Himself: “... see the Son of man ascend up ...” and “... I am not yet ascended ...” and “... I ascend unto My Father ...” In Ephesians 4:8-10 the term “ascended” is used in speaking of Jesus. The term used in these texts is anabaino, “to go up, to ascend,” the same word as the one used in Revelation 4:1, speaking of John, and Revelation 11:12 in the phrase “Come up hither” and also “... they ascended up to heaven ...” in Revelation 11:12, speaking of the two witnesses.
        Jesus is also spoken of as having been “received up” or “taken up” into heaven in Mark 16:19; Acts 1:2,11,22; 1 Timothy 3:16. The word used for these phrases is analambano, meaning “to take up” and variously translated as noted. In Luke Jesus is said to have been “carried up” into heaven. Luke 24:51: “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” This is a different word, anaphero, but means the same thing, i.e., “to take up.”
        In Acts 1:9, Jesus is “taken up:” “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” The word for “taken up” here is epairo, meaning “to raise up.”
        The word “rapture” is from the Vulgate translation (Latin) in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In the Greek it’s harpazo, and translated “caught up.”
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary comments on the word we use for “rapture:”
        “The word harpazo, “to snatch or catch away,” is said of the act of the Spirit of the Lord in regard to Philip in (Acts 8:39); of Paul in being “caught” up to paradise, (2 Cor. 12:2,4); of the rapture of the saints at the return of the Lord, (1 Thes. 4:17); of the rapture of the man child in the vision of (Rev. 12:5). This verb conveys the idea of force suddenly exercised, as in (Matt. 11:12), “take (it) by force”; (12:29), “spoil” (some mss. have diarpazo here), in (13:19), RV, “snatcheth”; for forceful seizure, see also (John 6:15; 10:12,28-29; Acts 23:10); in (Jude 23), RV, “snatching.””
        In the Old Testament, speaking of Enoch and Elijah, there are other words used:
        Genesis 5:23,24:
        23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
        24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary has this comment on the word “took,” laqach, “to take, receive, take away.”
        “Of special interest is the use of the verb in the absolute sense: God “took away” Enoch so that he was not found on earth (Gen. 5:24). This meaning of receiving one into heaven to Himself seems to be the force of (Ps. 73:24) and perhaps of (Ps. 49:15).”
        [Psalm 73:24: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
        Psalm 49:15: “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.”]
        2 Kings 2:11: “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines “went up” as alah, “to go up, ascend, offer up.”
        The New Testament, speaking of Enoch, uses yet another term for his being caught up to God:
        Hebrews 11:5: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary says “translated,” is metatithemi, “to transfer to another place.”
        We can see from the many varied uses of harpazo that it isn’t used exclusively with the meaning of being snatched, or caught away, to meet the Lord in the air. The meaning relative to Philip and Paul adds another dimension to this word. And the different Hebrew and Greek words used to indicate what we have come to call a “rapture” indicate that we have limited our understanding of going up to heaven as always being “caught up” by God.
        We know these prophets of God were killed and that their souls were received by God into His heaven:
        2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
        But God wasn’t finished with these obedient prophets. As symbols of the source, i.e., the word of God and the Holy Spirit of God, and of the manifestation of the word and Spirit of God their testimony on earth was completed by what they said and did. God, however, had one more requirement: that they demonstrate to the unbelieving people on earth the power of God over death.
        So, after having ascended to heaven, they had to leave heaven and had to enter into their dead bodies.
        God didn’t want to snatch them up to heaven, but wanted the world to see a living demonstration of the absolute power of His word and of His Holy Spirit. In doing so the totality of the earthly and spiritual testimony of His two witnesses was then completed.
        Grammatically, the ascension of the “two witnesses/lampstands” company of prophets is not a rapture, as they are not “snatched up” as the word for the rapture is defined.
        Because of the different ways in the Hebrew and in Greek languages of making the point to the reader that someone has “gone up into heaven” I think it can safely be assumed that the two witnesses were resurrected and ascended into heaven to stay.
  The Reward Of A Prophet
        There is, here, I think, a hint at what the “reward of a prophet” is.
        In Matthew and Luke Jesus speaks of being blessed when people come against you because of your testimony for Jesus. You are to rejoice because your reward in heaven will be great. He then brings the persecution of the prophets into the picture where the inference is that the prophets suffered in the same way, therefore their reward is great.
        Matthew 5:11,12 (see also Luke 6:22,23):
        11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
        12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
     Later in Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus establishes, or sets, an order, i.e., a prophet, a righteous man, and these little ones. “Little ones” as Jesus uses the phrase throughout the New Testament refers to children and also refers to rank or influence, i.e., great or small.
        Matthew 10:40-42:
        40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
        41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
        42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
        Mark 9:41: “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”
        Luke 9:48: “And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.”
        With the inference that the prophet’s reward is great, then the righteous man’s reward will not be as great as the prophet’s reward. Rewards of those of lesser stature in age, rank or influence will not be as great as the righteous man’s reward.
        This same established order is paralleled in Revelation 11:18: “... and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great ...”
        We see that God took Enoch, who has to be included in any prototypical study of prophets. Elijah went up (by a whirlwind into heaven). Jesus, the greatest Prophet known, ascended into heaven. The two witnesses/prophets also ascended into heaven. This could be an indication of what the prophet’s great reward—or part of a prophets great reward—may be, i.e., a redeemed glorified body prior to the catching away (rapture) of the saints.
        The prophets Moses and Elijah appearing at the Mount of Transfiguration are a further indication of this (Matthew 17:1-4; Mark 9:2-5; Luke 9:28-36). They “appeared in glory” (Luke 9:30-31), signifying glorified bodies. The resurrection of the saints at the death of Jesus in Matthew 27:50-53 may have been prophets being glorified, however this is pure speculation.
        This may be why the two witnesses are not named as “firstfruits” (Revelation 14:4). Instead, God may consider this as a part—or a totality of—a prophets great reward.
        God’s reason for naming the 144,000 as “firstfruits” isn’t stated. Apparently, it has something to do with harpazo, “to snatch or catch away,” a totally involuntary act on the part of those so caught away. To “ascend” or go up to heaven in any of the other ways stated in scripture may sometimes involve the ability to do so, or not to do so. In other words, it’s not something that involuntarily suddenly happens to you.
        God’s predetermined, sovereign, sudden, involuntary act (for you) of catching you up to heaven, with no foreknowledge or participation on your part would be a characteristic of being “caught up,” i.e., a “rapture.”
        In a very real sense, all those who “are Christ’s” are the continuing firstfruits spoken of by Jesus in John 12:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
        This phase of John’s prophecy is part of the second woe, which began in Revelation 9:12 and ends in Revelation 11:14. However, it doesn’t appear to conclude until his statement in Revelation 12:1, where he says, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven ...” which apparently shifts into another phase of the totality of the prophecy of the book of Revelation.
  The Rapture
        Revelation 12:5 is the one and only time in the book of Revelation the word harpazo is used.
        There are some who attempt to explain Revelation 3:10 as the rapture of the ekklesia:
        Revelation 3:10: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
        However, John was given specific instructions in Revelation 1:19:
        Revelation 1:19: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;”
        The seven churches in Asia fall into the category of “the things which are.” It’s not until Revelation 4:1 that John is shown “things which must be hereafter.”
        Revelation 4:1: “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 3:10 is a prophecy to a then existing assembly in Philadelphia, who were told that because they “kept the word of my patience” that Jesus would “keep thee from the hour of temptation.” “Temptation” is peirasmos, meaning trials, testing or temptation. It’s not a reference to “tribulation” which is thlipsis, as pressure, metaphorically, oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits.
        Whatever this peirasmos was “which shall come upon all the world,” it, along with the assembly in Philadelphia, no longer exists.
        There are some who theorize that John was raptured in Revelation 4:1, as a type of the ekklesia of God being raptured.
        Revelation 4:1 (New International Version): “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.””
        There is no idea of a “trumpet” being introduced here as the King James Version would lead us to believe. John had heard the same voice before in Revelation 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet ...”
        John’s experience is an actual experience he had, not a symbolic one.
        John was already in the spirit when he first heard the voice, as of a trumpet. When he was told to “come up,” i.e., to ascend, Revelation 4:2 again says he was “in the spirit” and in front of a throne in heaven. That he went up to heaven, i.e., ascended, is clear from the text. To attempt to apply John’s personal experience of going, in the spirit, up to heaven as an example of the rapture of the ekklesia is illogical.
        Revelation 4:2: “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.”
        John uses the same phrase “in the spirit” two more times:
        Revelation 17:3: “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.”
        Revelation 21:10: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,”
        It doesn’t make sense then that while John is in heaven that there he would be “raptured” two more times. Or that the term could be applied to the ekklesia as being a rapture.
        It’s obvious that John “descended” at some point in time in order to write and deliver the letters to the seven churches.
        To say that since the “church” is not seen on earth after Revelation 4:1 is like saying a car is full of “passengers” but there are no “people” in it. This is an illogical semantical device that uses word symbols to confuse their hearers.
        In Revelation mention is made of those wearing white robes or raiment, martyred saints, the two witnesses and the 144,000. These are all on this earth before they go to heaven. Conventional thinking of the “church” as some sort of building, or organization, or whatever the mindset is, prevents us from understanding that these people referred to are the “church,” i.e., the ekklesia of God, a called out assembly.
        Some see a rapture in one of the two harvests in Revelation, chapter 14:
        Revelation 14:13-20:
        13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
        14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
        15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
        16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
        17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
        18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
        19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
        20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
        There are excellent arguments comparing this passage with Joel 3:11-16 and concluding that Revelation 14:6-20 deals with the judgement of the wicked.
        There are equally convincing arguments stating the harvest is the righteous and the grape gathering is the unrighteous.
        Within the context of Revelation 14:6-20, however, verse 7 tells of the hour of God’s judgment that has come. Verse 8 states Babylon has fallen. Verses 9-11 explain the horrible eternal consequences of worshipping the beast and receiving his image. In verse 12 the saints are encouraged (New International Version): “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” This was spoken of in Revelation 13:7-10.
        The choice implied here is to either accept the mark of the beast or to patiently endure and keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
        In verse 13 a voice from heaven tells John, “... Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
        God, in His mercy, continues to encourage His saints and to offer His salvation to unrepentant mankind.
        In verse 14 we see a figure who appears to be Jesus with a sharp sickle. There is some controversy as to whether this is Christ.
        In verse 15 an angel appears and cries out to Jesus (apparently delivering a message from God the Father since an angel would not issue orders to Jesus) that the time has come for Jesus to reap the harvest, which He does in verse 16.
        In verse 17 an angel now appears with a sharp sickle. In verse 18 another angel appears and cries out to this angel to “... Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.”
        After having done so, in verse 19, the angel “... gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God” where in verse 20 “... blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles ...”
        This symbolic scene shows us Jesus reaping a harvest, and then an angel reaping “the vine of the earth” which is subjected to the wrath of God.
        Joel 3:11-16 greatly parallels the terminology of Revelation 14:14-20, indicating judgement of the wicked in both the harvest and the grape gathering.
        In verse 15 speaking of the harvest of Jesus the word for “ripe” is xeraino, meaning to desiccate; by implication to shrivel, to mature. It’s used elsewhere in the New Testament of “drying up” or “withering.”
        Statements by Jesus, James and Peter use this word xeraino in a bad context:
        John 15:6: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered [xeraino]; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (There is no idea of “men gather(ing) them” in the original, rather the branches are gathered up.)
        James 1:11 “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth [xeraino] the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”
        1 Peter 1:24,25:
        24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth [xeraino], and the flower thereof falleth away:
        25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
        The grapes in Revelation 14:18 are “fully ripe,” akmazo, meaning to be at the prime, coming to maturity, which corresponds to the intent of Joel 3:13 that “their wickedness is great.”
        Because of the use of the word xeraino for the harvest, and the close parallel with the language of Joel, chapter 3, this appears to be judgement of the wicked. In fact, the harvest by Jesus Himself may be judgement upon those who have fallen away from the faith, i.e., those who no longer abide in Jesus. In Revelation 14:18 the angel “which had power over fire” may be an indication that these, like the withered branches of John 15:6, are cast “into the fire, and they are burned.”
        I would not be dogmatic in this conclusion. This could be a second instance of God gathering His people to heaven from the earth, i.e., “going up to heaven.” There is nothing in the Bible to preclude this. The “rapture” has occurred in Revelation 12:5. The firstfruits “unto God and to the Lamb” have been redeemed and are in heaven (Revelation 14:1,4). The beast and false prophet have come into power on the earth. The hour of God’s judgement has come. The group constituting this harvest see themselves as having missed the “rapture.” Their faith has withered and shriveled up and this “harvest of the earth is ripe” (xeraino). The warning has gone forth to not take the mark of the beast because of the horrible eternal consequences. They are looking death in the face, from the beast. The saints are encouraged to be patient. They are reminded that there are blessings from dying in the Lord, and that their works follow them.
        In their determination to hold onto their faith in Jesus in patient endurance in the face of overwhelming odds and certain death, suddenly they find themselves going up to heaven.
        Their faith and patient endurance has brought them a reward they didn’t foresee.
        This fits into the antitype of “firstfruits” of the type in Leviticus 23, particularly verses 10 and 17, regarding two firstfruits. I’ll discuss this later.
        If this is a harvest of the righteous it would broaden the scope of the concept of the antitypical two firstfruits.
        (From Revelation 10:2 to 14:20 there are 2 books (Revelation 10:2,8-10; 13:8), 2 witnesses, 2 olive trees, 2 lampstands, 2 prophets, 2 cities, 2 woes, 2 signs, 2 armies of angels, 2 wings (of a great eagle), 2 beasts, 2 horns, 2 sets of 2 mouths (the mouth of the serpent (dragon), and the mouth of the earth in chapter 12, and the mouth of the beast “speaking great things and blasphemies” in chapter 13, and the mouth of the 144,000 “in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” in chapter 14), and 2 harvests. This series of “2’s” appears to underscore the saints’ need to remain faithful and constant in patient endurance in their witness during this very trying time as revealed in those chapters.)
        Careful reading of the text in Matthew 13 shows this is not the wheat spoken of there.
        In Matthew 13, the parable of the wheat and tares, in verse 30 the tares are bound up in bundles and the wheat stored in Jesus’ barn.
        In Matthew 13:39-43 we read:
        39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
        40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
        41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
        42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
        43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
        Here, Jesus identifies this harvest at “the end of the world” and the reapers as angels. Jesus sends His angels and they gather out of his kingdom, first the offending tares, which are burned up. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
        There is only one scene that this action fits and that is the battle of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20. The only time the offending tares can come against the kingdom of God when it is established here on the earth is that particular time period. And the only time the offending tares are burned up first and the righteous are left to shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. After that it’s “the end of this world” and there is a new heavens and new earth: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1.)
        The devil is bound for 1,000 years and then:
        Revelation 20:7-10:
        7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
        8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
        9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
        10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
        Other references to a “harvest” by Jesus all seem to refer to evangelism.
The 144,000
        The perennial question of the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation has been the subject of much controversy. This group is specifically mentioned in Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-5. In chapter 7 they are here on the earth and the angels of God put a seal upon their foreheads referring to them as servants of God.
        Revelation 7:4: “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”
        The word “children” is huios, meaning “son.” This 144,000, then, is 12,000 sons of the 12 tribes of Israel.
        In chapter 14, the first verse, the 144,000 are with Jesus standing on Mount Zion with His Father’s name written on their foreheads. The “mount Sion” referred to is in heaven, not the earth, as “they sung as it were a new song before the throne (verse 3), and before the four beasts, and the elders.”
        Revelation 14:1-5:
        1 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.
        2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
        3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
        4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
        5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
        Some have commented that this is a different group of 144,000 because the first group was sealed and the second group had the Father’s name written on their foreheads. However, “sealed,” sphragizo means to stamp (with a signet or private mark). “Written” is grapho, a primary verb; to “grave,” especially to write; figuratively, to describe. The word “grave” means to carve out; sculpture; to engrave; incise; to impress sharply and clearly. The very argument made to indicate two different groups is negated by the complementary meanings of the two words. Obviously “seal” was the method and “written” was the result.
        Here the 144,000 sing a new song that no one else could learn. And a curious statement is made about them in verse 4: “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”
        Since the 144,000 are a symbol their representation as virgins is also symbolic.
        Virgin is parthenos, a virgin. Unger’s Bible Dictionary remarks on this passage: “In (Rev. 14:4) it is used in the sense of a man who has abstained from all uncleanness and whoredom attendant upon idolatry, and so has kept his chastity.”
        Fornication is porneia, about which Vine’s Expository Dictionary says: “... is used ... of “illicit sexual intercourse,” ... metaphorically, of “the association of pagan idolatry with doctrines of, and professed adherence to, the Christian faith,” (Rev. 14:8; 17:2,4; 18:3; 19:2); some suggest this as the sense in (2:21).”
        The symbolism of a virgin is probably used to contrast it with Babylon in verse 8:
        Revelation 14:8: “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
        Revelation 17:5: “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
        I’ll discuss the 144,000 in depth later.
A Great Wonder In Heaven
        The Greek word “semeion,” according to Thayer’s Definition means “a sign, a mark, a token (a) that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known (b) a sign, a prodigy, a portent, that is, an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature (1) used of signs portending remarkable events soon to happen (2) used of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God’s cause.”
        This word is translated “wonder” in Revelation 12:1 and 12:3. In Revelation 15:1 it’s translated “sign.” In these verses they are “signs” that John saw in heaven.
        “Semeion,” is also used in Revelation 13:13 translated there as “wonders” in reference to the second beast (the false prophet). In Revelation 13:14; 16:14 and 19:20 it’s translated as “miracles” also in reference to the dragon, or the beast or the false prophet (or all three).
        In the sense that John uses the word, i.e., “signs” which he saw in heaven, it’s used primarily in the sense of “portending remarkable events soon to happen.”
        The events of Revelation 12 are further explained in Revelation, chapters 13 and 14. Revelation 13 expands on the dragon in explaining the beasts. Revelation 14:1-5 expands on the 144,000. Revelation 14:6-13 introduces three angels who proclaim the Gospel, announce the arrival of the time of God’s judgement, the fall of Babylon and warnings against taking the mark of the beast. There is also a call for patient endurance in the faith of Jesus for God’s people and blessings for those who die in the Lord. Revelation14:14-20 describes two harvests.
        (The “sign” in Revelation 15 is also used primarily in the sense of “portending remarkable events soon to happen.” They are expanded upon in Revelation, chapters 16 through 18.)
        Note the contrast in Revelation 16:9-11,21 where men curse God for their pain and in Revelation 16:15 and 18:4 where the righteous are urged to be ready for Jesus and to come out of Babylon. Our God continues to offer His salvation to those who will repent.
        Revelation 12:1-5:
        1 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:
        2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
        3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
        4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
        5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
        In Revelation 12 there are four symbols that need defining: the woman, the man child, the wilderness in verse 6 and “the remnant of her seed” in verse 17. The reference to the “great red dragon” is obviously the devil, represented by the “beast” of Revelation 13.
        John continues to speak of future things and draws heavily upon biblical symbology to paint the background of a vivid picture of “... things which shall be hereafter ...” Many commentators violate this continuity to insert past historical events or the actions of past historical persons. In so doing they arrive at erroneous conclusions by leaps into the past and also by usage of symbols for some things and actual persons for others, i.e., “mixing metaphors.”
  The Woman
        This chapter begins with a strong symbolic picture of the nation of Israel as the woman. (Compare to Genesis 37:9,10 when Joseph related his dreams to his family:
        9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
        10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?).
        The crown upon her head is stephanos, signifying victory and honor. The woman, Israel, has been at odds with God throughout scriptural and natural history. God, however, still sees her as victorious and honors her.
        The term “man child” in the Greek in verse 5 is literally “a son, a male.” Some scholars classify the choice of these words as constituting “bad grammar” in Greek. Especially since “correct grammar” is used in the Greek in verse 13 for “man child,” i.e., a male.
        The point is made that the “bad grammar” was a deliberate choice utilized in order to draw the hearer/reader’s attention to the usage of the same terminology in Isaiah 66 (in the Septuagint version, from which the first century believers read):
        Isaiah 66:7-13:
        7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
        8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children [Hebrew, ben, a son].
        9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
        10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
        11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
        12 For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
        13 As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
        With the symbology of Genesis 37:9,10 and an apparently intentional reference to the passage in Isaiah 66:7 agreeing with the description of the woman and man child in Revelation 12, it’s clear the woman represents the nation of Israel, identified as Zion in Isaiah 66:8.
        Nelson’s Bible Dictionary makes this observation about Zion: “Zion [zie un] (fortification)—the city of David and the city of God. The meaning of the word Zion underwent a distinct progression in its usage throughout the Bible. The first mention of Zion in the Bible is in (2 Samuel 5:7): “David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).” Zion, therefore, was the name of the ancient JEBUSITE fortress situated on the southeast hill of Jerusalem at the junction of the Kidron Valley and the Tyropoeon Valley. The name came to stand not only for the fortress but also for the hill on which the fortress stood. After David captured “the stronghold of Zion” by defeating the Jebusites, he called Zion “the City of David” (1 Kin. 8:1; 1 Chr. 11:5; 2 Chr. 5:2). When Solomon built the Temple on MOUNT MORIAH (a hill distinct and separate from Mount Zion), and moved the ark of the covenant there, the word Zion expanded in meaning to include also the Temple and the Temple area (Ps. 2:6; 48:2,11-12; 132:13). It was only a short step until Zion was used as a name for the city of Jerusalem, the land of Judah, and the people of Israel as a whole (Is. 40:9; Jer. 31:12). The prophet Zechariah spoke of the sons of Zion (Zech. 9:13). By this time the word Zion had come to mean the entire nation of Israel. The most important use of the word Zion is in a religious or theological sense. Zion is used figuratively of Israel as the people of God (Is. 60:14). The spiritual meaning of Zion is continued in the New Testament, where it is given the Christian meaning of God’s spiritual kingdom, the church of God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1); (Sion, KJV).”
  The Man Child
        This man child is birthed from the nation of Israel, i.e., physical Israel and is immediately caught up to God and to His throne. This man child is “to rule all nations with a rod of iron ...” (Revelation 12:5). “Rule” is poimaino; “to tend as a shepherd of (figuratively, superviser).” This same phrase and meaning is also found in Revelation 2:27 and 19:15.
        Revelation 2:26,27:
        26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
        27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
        Revelation 19:14,15:
        14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
        15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
        These verses make it clear that the overcomers will rule with Christ.
        Revelation 12:5: “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”
        Therefore this man child must include those that are identified as overcomers by Jesus.
        In Revelation 22:4,5 we read:
        4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
        5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
        This is obviously a reference to those symbolized by the 144,000. In these verses it’s stated that they “shall reign for ever and ever.”
        The overcomers, the man child and the symbolic 144,000 will rule with Christ.
        Revelation 21:7: “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
        “Son” in this verse is huios, which according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary: “primarily signifies the relation of offspring to parent (see (John 9:18-20; Gal. 4:3)). It is often used metaphorically of prominent moral characteristics (see below). “It is used in the NT of (a) male offspring, (Gal. 4:30); (b) legitimate, as opposed to illegitimate offspring, (Heb. 12:8); (c) descendants, without reference to sex, (Rom. 9:27); (d) friends attending a wedding, (Matt. 9:15); (e) those who enjoy certain privileges, (Acts 3:25); (f) those who act in a certain way, whether evil, (Matt. 23:31), or good, (Gal. 3:7); (g) those who manifest a certain character, whether evil, (Acts 13:10; Eph. 2:2), or good, (Luke 6:35; Acts 4:36; Rom. 8:14); (h) the destiny that corresponds with the character, whether evil, (Matt. 23:15; John 17:12; 2 Thes. 2:3), or good, (Luke 20:36); (i) the dignity of the relationship with God whereinto men are brought by the Holy Spirit when they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, (Rom. 8:19; Gal. 3:26).”” A comment is also made that in “Rev. 21:7 (huios) is a quotation from (2 Sam. 7:14).”
        In an excerpt from Nelson’s Bible Dictionary he states: “... The covenant that God established with David demonstrated God’s purpose through David’s family line; David’s ancestors would be adopted as the sons of God in a special sense (2 Samuel 7). David’s line would continue through the centuries, and his throne would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:13). In the person of Jesus Christ the Messiah, this great covenant came to its fulfillment.”
        Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary on this verse in Revelation 21:7:
        “I will be his GodGreek, “I will be to him a God,” that is, all that is implied of blessing in the name “God.”
        he shall be my son–“He” is emphatic: He in particular and in a peculiar sense, above others: Greek, “shall be to me a son,” in fullest realization of the promise made in type to Solomon, son of David, and antitypically to the divine Son of David.”
        God called David a man after His Own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
        It’s apparent that in Revelation 21:7 Jesus is stating that the overcomers will recognize Him as their God, the only source of all blessings, and that they shall be to Him as a son, which is an oblique reference to the special relationship they will enjoy with Him in the same way as those of the offspring of David whose “... house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16.)
        We have the man child, literally “a son, a male.” We have the symbolic 144,000 identified as males “... of all the tribes of the children [Greek, huios, “sons”] of Israel.” The overcomers are identified as “and he shall be my son.”
        This emphasis upon “a son, a male” is for the purpose of stating that these so identified will enjoy a special relationship as scripture reveals in 2 Samuel 7:16.
        This concept explains the statement in Isaiah 49:17,18 where “children” in verse 17 in the King James Version is correctly translated as “sons” and the intent of the verses is correctly expressed in the New International Version in verse 18:
        Isaiah 49:17,18 (New International Version):
        17 [“ ...]Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
        18 Lift up your eyes and look around; all your sons gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.[...”]
        It also explains the statement in Isaiah 62:5 concerning “thy sons marrying thee [Jerusalem]” (Isaiah 62:1-5).
        Some translators and commentators have apparently had problems with the concepts expressed in these verses and have changed the Hebrew word for “sons” to read “builders.”
        The overcomers, the man child, and the symbolic 144,000 are all in the same group. They are constituents of the genuine body, the bride, of Christ. This is clear from scripture.
        Revelation 12:5 explains how these symbolic 144,000 servants of God, identified as 12,000 of every tribe of the sons of Israel in chapter 7, got to be with Jesus (they were “caught up unto God”) as the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:4.)
        “Caught up” in Revelation 12:5 is harpazo meaning to seize or snatch away. The same word is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and has come to be known as the “rapture.”
  The Wilderness
        In Revelation 12:6: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
        In Ezekiel we find the meaning of the wilderness symbol. The “wilderness of the people” in verse 35 is the deserts Israel would have to cross in returning to Israel from Babylon. The intent of the symbology in Revelation 12:6 would be the same.
        Ezekiel 20:35-38:
        35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you [better translated as “judge you”] face to face.
        36 Like as I pleaded with [judged] your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with [judge] you, saith the Lord God.
        37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
        38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
  The Remnant Of Her Seed
        Backing up to Revelation 12:3 and 4 there is also a symbolic picture (identified in verse 9) of the devil. His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. This is the first mention of “the stars in heaven” as a part of the symbolic representation. These are not the stars in her crown, because that would alter the symbology, but the stars of heaven, corresponding to Joseph’s vision in Genesis 37:9,10.
        The third part of the stars of heaven are further identified in Revelation 12:17: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
        There is a reference to this in Daniel 8:9-27. Daniel 8:10: “And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” Daniel 8:14 (also 26) was fulfilled in December 25, 165 B.C. following the sacrilegious acts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Hannukah is celebrated each year to commemorate rededication of the second temple. This appears to be a double reference prophecy, partially fulfilled, with the future “beast” of Revelation 13 identified in Daniel 8:23-25.
        Zechariah 13:9 appears to be another double (or more) reference prophecy fulfilled under the Romans and during Word War II, which may, or may not, apply here literally. It does, however, provide the purpose for the selection of the “third part.”
        This is the “third part of the stars of heaven” remnant of Revelation 12:4,17 about whom God says “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:9).
  An Ages Old War
        The picture is clear: the woman is Zion, or natural Israel, i.e., the physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac, as she has developed, or evolved at some future point in time, as John saw her.
        The man child, who the woman gave birth to, is the fruit of her spiritual womb over thousands of years. The man child is formed from Old Testament saints who were overcomers, i.e., the remnants, and the saints of all ages who were the overcoming remnant. These are the ones who are mentioned as “and the dead in Christ shall rise first” in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. The man child also includes the New Testament saints who are overcomers, i.e., the remnants “who are alive and remain” (alive at the time of the rapture) which is the symbolic 144,000 firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb.
        The man child is “a son, a male” (Revelation 12:5)
        The symbolic 144,000 are sons: “... of all the tribes of the children [Greek, huios, “sons”] of Israel” (Revelation 7:4).
        The overcomers are sons: “... and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7).
        The bride, the Lamb’s wife, the new Jerusalem has 12 gates about which is said: “And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children [huios, i.e., sons] of Israel” (Revelation 21:12).
        “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14). The twelve Apostles of the Lamb were all males, i.e., sons.
        The wall of the city is 144 cubits: “And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel” (Revelation 21:17).
        This emphasis upon “a son, a male” is for the purpose of stating that these so identified will enjoy a special relationship with God as scripture reveals in 2 Samuel 7:
        2 Samuel 7:11b-16:
        11b ... Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house.
        12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
        13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
        14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
        15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
        16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
        The symbolic 144,000 are firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:4). They are raptured in Revelation 12:5. These “firstfruits” are the New Testament overcoming remnant saints “who are alive and remain” at the time of the rapture. We can infer from 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 that those mentioned as “and the dead in Christ shall rise first” includes Old Testament overcoming remnant saints, and the overcoming remnant saints of all ages who have died in Christ and that they will be raptured together with the symbolic living 144,000.
  Firstfruits
        The scriptural type of firstfruits of Leviticus 23:9-17 is generally acknowledged by most commentators to have been fulfilled by Jesus as the antitype. Or you may prefer to call it shadow and substance. This is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24:
        1 Corinthians 15:20-24:
        20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
        21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
        22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
        23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
        24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
        Verses 23 and 24 give us more details stating that each person “in his own order,” i.e., first, Christ the firstfruits, after that they that are Christ’s at his coming (the dead in Christ first, then those who are alive and living), and then comes the end
        As stated previously, all those who “are Christ’s” are the continuing firstfruits spoken of by Jesus in John 12:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
        The firstfruits of Leviticus 23:9-20 encompass the first harvest (barley, in its natural state) and the second harvest (wheat, in a processed state, i.e., two loaves of bread) separated by a period of time of fifty days (Pentecost) and are really two separate “firstfruits.”
        This type of firstfruits explains the antitype expressed in the man child which is comprised of the overcoming remnant saints of the Old Testament and the New Testament era’s.
        The “end” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:24 is that time when the unrighteous are resurrected at the end of the 1,000 year period. Prior to that the overcoming remnant saints killed during the reign of the beast will have been resurrected (Revelation 20:4-6). The end is further explained as being that time when Christ has emerged victorious over all who have attempted to assume first place as rulers, exercising their human authority and power. The final end comes when death is destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).
        The symbolic 144,000 will go through the first six seal judgements. Then they are sealed as servants of God in their foreheads by the angel in Revelation 7:3.
        At the seventh seal, the fifth trumpet, the abyss (bottomless pit) is opened:
        Revelation 9:3: “And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.”
        They cannot, however, harm the symbolic 144,000:
        Revelation 9:4,5:
        4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
        5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
        The (sealed) symbolic 144,000 then go through the seventh trumpet and second woe before they are raptured.
        There is also a remnant of a third of natural Israel who God sovereignly chooses to be purified and refined by warring with the devil.
        Then those left of Israel, the natural seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are protected by God as they flee to a safe place of God’s provisions. In that wilderness or desert place, God will rule over them and judge them. This will be for the purpose of bringing them into the bond of the covenant. He will purge out the rebels and the transgressors.
  Sealing
        There are some who claim that all Christians are already sealed with the Holy Spirit, quoting Ephesians (and other verses) as the authority for their statement:
        Ephesians 1:13,14:
        13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
        14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
        Ephesians 4:30: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
        2 Corinthians 1:21,22:
        21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
        22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
        Ezekiel, chapters 8 and 9 if carefully read and understood explain the purpose and intent of the “seal.” Ezekiel 9:4 reads: “And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”
        Jesus makes note of “sealing” requirements in John 6:26-29:
        26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
        27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
        28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
        29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
        In his last letter to Timothy Paul the apostle gives us a clear understanding of the responsibility of those “that nameth the name of Christ.”
        Many today name the name of Christ as some kind of magic formula, thinking it wards off evil in their life and earns for them eternal life with Jesus.
        If you name the name of Christ you are responsible before God to depart from iniquity, i.e., unrighteousness and injustice.
        2 Timothy 2:19: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
        In 2 Timothy 2:14 through to 2 Timothy 4:8 (which I strongly suggest reading again) Paul discusses being a good steward of the things of God, sanctified, and a servant. He also talks about those who name the name of Christ falling away from the faith, false teachers, the last days, and urges Timothy to continue faithfully in the things he has learned from Paul.
  The Abrahamic Covenant
        God made a unilateral, or unconditional covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4. Abraham was promised land, specifically Canaan, as shown to Abraham in Genesis 13:12-17.
        Abraham was also promised “seed” or descendants who will make a great nation.
        The “seed” aspect of the Abrahamic covenant is further expanded upon by the Davidic covenant. 2 Samuel 7 confirms God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:6: “And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.”
        God also promised Abraham that “I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” In verse 3 God states a condition for being blessed by Abraham in that He will bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him. God also states that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
        The blessing aspect of the Abrahamic covenant is expanded upon by the New Covenant which is stated in Jeremiah 31. In this New Covenant, God internalizes the Mosaic law in His people. He establishes a different, new relationship with His people “for they shall know me” “... I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” as stated in verse 34.
        This covenant is restated, or confirmed to Abraham in Genesis 15:1-21, 17:4-21, 22:15-18. It’s also confirmed to Isaac in Genesis 26:3-5,24 and Jacob in Genesis 28:13-15, 35:9-12.
        Throughout these covenants and their promises we must realize the scriptural truth that Israel is the vehicle through which they will all be fulfilled.
        Despite the problems God has had with the disobedience of the nation of Israel, He will fulfill His promises for the sake of His name.
        Ezekiel 36:22,23:
        22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
        23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
        The totality of Abraham’s “descendants” will come into a fullness in the 1,000 year period and the new heavens and new earth.
        We see in Revelation 12 how God is working out the details for the fulfilment of His covenant with Abraham.
        In the events of Revelation 12 God “raptures” the overcoming remnant saints of all ages. Then He deals with one group of natural Israel by a “wilderness” judgment. He deals with the other group by having the devil war against them as a purging and cleansing process.
        The big picture here, of course, is the age old war between the devil and the overcoming remnant saints of God with details provided of what we are to expect in the future.
        In God’s dealings with part of natural Israel, the “beast” of Revelation 13 is an instrument of God’s punishment and judgment. This follows an historical scriptural pattern.
        I strongly suggest reading Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-33. Note in Leviticus 26, verses 18, 21, 24 and 28 where God mentions punishment in terms of “seven times.” These punishments, plagues and chastisements have been suffered by God’s people throughout the Bible and secular history. They will finally culminate in the series of four “seven times” in the book of Revelation., i.e., seven seals, seven trumpets, seven plagues and seven bowls.
        These last two, the seven plagues and seven (vials) bowls, appear to be a double measure of God’s judgment and wrath:
        Revelation 15:6-8:
        6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
        7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
        8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
        Revelation 16:1: “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.”
        Revelation 21:9: “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
        In Revelation 15:8 it seems that the seven plagues were separate from the seven bowls by the use of the word “fulfilled” which is teleo, meaning, “to complete, finish, bring to an end.” Then in Revelation 16:1 the angels are instructed to pour out the bowls (vials) upon the earth. However, in Revelation 21:9 the seven bowls (vials) were “full of the seven last plagues.”
        This “double measure” of judgment and wrath is perhaps explained in Isaiah 51:17-20:
        17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
        18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
        19 These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?
        20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God.
        In Isaiah 51:21-23 God reassures Israel “... thou shalt no more drink it again: But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee ...” This finality and retribution of enemies places this “double measure” judgment and wrath at the time of the beast and Babylon.
There Cannot Be Jew Nor Greek
        Galatians 3:28,29 (The Interlinear Bible, Jay P. Green, Sr.):
        “There cannot be Jew nor Greek; there is no slave nor freeman; there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are of Christ, then you are a seed of Abraham, even heirs according to promise.”
        Because of the confusion created in our minds concerning the natural descendants of Isaac and the ekklesia of God, we continue to separate what we consider “Jew” from what we consider to be “Gentile.” This preconceived mindset prohibits us from realizing that God has only one ekklesia, i.e., the house of Israel and the house of Judah, which constitutes the totality of Abraham’s seed through Isaac.
        “Gentiles” have simply been grafted into the existing house of faith of the true Israel.
        What we refer to as the “church” has no place in God’s economy, other than as a spiritual Babylon by which He tests our loyalty to Him and His word. (I discuss the evolvement of the institutional church in my article “God by the Spirit of Jesus Christ will build an assembly”).
        In Daniel 12:1 we read:
        1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
        “Trouble” here is tsarah, and according to Strong’s Concordance means “ tightness (i.e. figuratively, trouble); transitively, a female rival.” Brown, Driver, Briggs Definition is “(1) straits, distress, trouble (2) a vexer, a rival wife.”
        I personally find the meanings of “a rival wife” significant. A rival wife is clearly the apostate institutional churches, if one cares to read that into it.
        “People” in these verses is am about which these excerpts from Vines Expository Dictionary says: “... represents a familial relationship. ... may signify those relatives (including women and children) who are grouped together locally whether or not they permanently inhabit a given location: ... may refer to the whole of a nation formed and united primarily by their descent from a common ancestor. ... may also include those who enter by religious adoption and marriage. The people of Israel initially were the descendants of Jacob (Israel) and their families: “And he said unto his people [Egyptians], Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we” (Exod. 1:9). Later the basic unity in a common covenant relationship with God becomes the unifying factor underlying am. When they left Egypt, the people of Israel were joined by many others: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle” (Exod. 12:38). Such individuals and their families were taken into Israel before they observed the Passover: “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land...” (Exod. 12:48). There is another mention of this group (perhaps) in (Num. 11:4): “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, ...””
        In Daniel 12:1, the prophet is not singling out the descendants of Isaac. The intent of “thy people” includes the house of faith of the true Israel. When we apply this scriptural truth to the book of Revelation as it pertains to the symbolic 144,000 it eliminates much confusion.
        God recognizes His ekklesia as all the overcoming remnant saints throughout the ages.
        However, God has reserved a special place in His heart for the patriarchs of natural, physical Israel which extends to their sons and daughters of today and tomorrow. Paul says, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). Paul reveals how God will deal with national Israel at some future time.
        The blindness (partial hardening) of Israel is “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
        However, because of its favored status with God natural Israel will continue to have the opportunity to be saved. In this sense, then, natural Israel is still holy and consecrated unto God.
        Like it or not, those of natural Israel—however God defines them in His divine wisdom—will have to become “spiritual” Israel, i.e., members of the household of faith of the true Israel (in accordance with Paul the apostle’s scriptural definition of a Jew). They must be overcoming remnants, and by faith, accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah in order to enjoy the special relationship with God as scripture reveals in 2 Samuel 7 and obliquely referred to in Revelation 21:7.
        By biblical definition those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord of our lives are now Jews and we are the constituents of the true house of Israel. Argument against this biblical truth is fruitless. Only God truly knows the answer to the question of what constitutes “natural Israel.”
        God has a timetable for dealing with natural Israel and God has a timetable for the living stones of the house of faith of the true Israel. Dispensationalist and covenantal theological views contain and exclude truth, contradict each other, and each uses the theology of the other in certain points to bolster their argument. As such they are unacceptable, inappropriate and irrational in explaining God’s eternal purpose.
        The promises of God to natural Israel and the promises to the true house of Israel will be fulfilled according to God’s timing, in His way. Neither identity has “replaced” the other. The details of the working dynamics of this spiritual process are known only to God.
        God uses natural things many times as a precursor of that which will occur in the supernatural (1 Corinthians 15:46). So it is with the natural and the true Israel. There is a relationship there and should be understood as such. To think that one “replaces” the other is flawed logic.
Martyrs And Tribulation
        Revelation 6:9-11:
        9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
        10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
        11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
        “Slain” is sphazo, a primary verb; to butcher (especially an animal for food or in sacrifice) or (generally) to slaughter, or (specifically) to maim (violently). They appear to have been martyred for their faith.
        These martyrs of Revelation 6:11 are probably part of the “great multitude” spoken of in Revelation 7:9: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”
        We see in Revelation 7:13,14 this “great multitude” came out of great tribulation:
        13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
        14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
        In the original text, however, the phrase “the great tribulation” is used.
        This is a confusing term, especially for preconceived theological mindsets.
        Strong’s Dictionary defines “tribulation,” thlipsis, as pressure (literally or figuratively). Thayer’s definition expands that to: (1) a pressing, a pressing together, pressure; (2) metaphorically, oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits.
        In the following verses the same word “tribulation” is used, in some verses translated as a different word.
        Matthew 24:9,21,29:
        9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted (thlipsis), and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
        21 For then shall be great tribulation (thlipsis), such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
        29 Immediately after the tribulation (thlipsis) of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
        Mark 13:19,24:
        19 For in those days shall be affliction (thlipsis), such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
        24 But in those days, after that tribulation (thlipsis), the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
        John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation (thlipsis): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
        Acts 14:22: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation (thlipsis) enter into the kingdom of God.”
        2 Corinthians 1:3,4:
        3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
        4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation (thlipsis), that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble (thlipsis), by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
        2 Corinthians 4:17: “For our light affliction (thlipsis), which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
        2 Thessalonians 1:4: “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations (thlipsis) that ye endure:”
        Revelation 1:9: “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation (thlipsis), and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
        Revelation 2:9: “I know thy works, and tribulation (thlipsis), and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
        Revelation 2:10: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation (thlipsis) ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
        Revelation 2:22: “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation (thlipsis), except they repent of their deeds.”
        Matthew 24:21 is “great tribulation,” Matthew 24:29 is “the tribulation,” Mark 13:24 has the article “the” and should be “the tribulation,” Acts 14:22 is “much tribulation,” 2 Corinthians 1:4 is also “the tribulation,” Revelation 1:9 and 2:9 are also “the tribulation.”
        Acts 14:22 indicates the saints must go through “much tribulation” to enter the kingdom of God. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 counsels the saints that God will comfort us in “all the tribulation” so we may be able to comfort others which are in “all tribulation.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 tells us our “light tribulations” will result in “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” In 2 Thessalonians 1:4 the saints are commended for their “patience and faith in all your persecutions and the tribulations” they endure. John, in Revelation 1:9, is our brother, and companion [i.e., partaker] in “the tribulation.” In Revelation 2:9, the church in Smyrna suffers “the tribulation” and poverty. They also face the prospect of prison, more tribulation and are urged to be faithful unto death in order to receive a crown of life from Jesus.
        Revelation 2:22 says that Jezebel and her followers shall suffer “great tribulation.”
        Scripture is clear there will be a period of time which Jesus refers to as “the great tribulation” in Matthew 24:21,29 and Mark 13:19,24.
        The references by Jesus and others to “the great tribulation,” “to be afflicted” (thlipsis), “the tribulation” (thlipsis), “affliction” (thlipsis), “[the] tribulation” (thlipsis) are not limited to only one specific period of time. The same term “(much) tribulation” is also used to indicate personal suffering by individual saints of God apart from a particular period of time.
        The entire first chapter of 2 Thessalonians gives us the perspective of Paul the apostle.
        2 Thessalonians 1:6-8: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation (thlipsis) to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled [(thlibo, “to crowd, to afflict”) from which we get thlipsis] rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
        When the angel tells John in Revelation 7:14: “... These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” it does not preclude tribulation, in a general sense, of the saints of all ages who have suffered tribulation in their lives. It does, however, refer specifically to the time of Jacob’s trouble.
        Revelation 7:15-17 (Amplified Bible):
        15 For this reason they are [now] before the [very] throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His (temple) sanctuary; and He Who is sitting upon the throne will protect and spread His tabernacle over and shelter them with His presence.
        16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun smite them, nor any scorching heat.
        17 For the Lamb Who is in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to the springs of the waters of Life; and God will wipe every tear away from their eyes.
        They are, literally, “face to face” before God. There is day and night, a temple and God is a tabernacle over them. This description doesn’t fit the new Jerusalem. (In Revelation 21:3, in the new Jerusalem, the tabernacle of God is with (all) men, i.e., mankind, not just those who suffered great tribulation). This is comfort and consolation limited to the 1,000 year period for those who suffered great tribulation.
        That the “great multitude” mentioned in Revelation 7:9 (which includes the martyrs of Revelation 6:9-11) had “palms in their hands” is significant. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary says about palm branches in this excerpt: “Palm branches were considered a symbol of victory (John 12:13; Rev. 7:9).”
        In Revelation 15 and 20 there are those who “had gotten the victory over” the beast. “... gotten the victory ...” is, nikao, overcome. These referred to are overcomers, which I’ll discuss in the next section.
        Revelation 15:2: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”
        This is the same group later mentioned in Revelation 20:4-6:
        4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
        5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
        6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
        Revelation 2:11: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
        This emphasizes they are the same overcoming group mentioned in Revelation 15.
        That they were martyred and suffered tribulation is to be inferred although the text doesn’t specifically say so.
  Worthiness
        Typology of the old Testament indicates that our High Priest, Jesus Christ, must marry a virgin. That would eliminate (spiritually) most, if not all, of the saints. However, scripture makes it clear that we are made brand new and reconciled to God when we are in Christ:
        2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
        Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”
        God has sovereignly selected those He considers as “virgins” in the symbology of the man child, which is composed of overcoming remnants of all ages (past) and the symbolic living (at the time of the rapture) overcoming remnant 144,000. Those overcomer remnants of Revelation 15:2 and 20:4 are included, as are overcoming remnant saints who die during the 1,000 year period (I’ll discuss this group later). This is the virgin Israel to whom He spoke prophetically as mentioned earlier.
        In 2 Thessalonians 1:11, the phrase “... would count (you) worthy” is axioo; to deem entitled or fit. Thayer’s Definition expands on that meaning: (1) to think meet [suitable, proper, qualified], fit, right (2) to judge worthy, deem, deserving.
        An excerpted comment from Vine’s Expository Dictionary informs us that axioo “is used ... of the estimation formed by God ... favorably, (2 Thes. 1:11), “may count (you) worthy (of your calling),” suggestive of grace (it does not say “may make you worthy”).”
        Excerpting from the Jamieson, Fausett and Brown Commentary we read:
“count you worthy
–The prominent position of the “You” in the Greek makes it the emphatic word of the sentence. May you be found among the saints whom God shall count worthy of their calling (Eph 4:1)! There is no dignity in us independent of God’s calling of us (2Ti 1:9). The calling here is not merely the first actual call, but the whole of God’s electing act, originating in His “purpose of grace given us in Christ before the world began,” and having its consummation in glory.”
        The point to be made here is the emphasis on you fulfilling God’s expectations of you as a disciple of Christ. Revelation 19:7 reads: “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.” The phrase “hath made (herself) ready” is hetoimazo; to prepare. Additional comment is made in Strong’s Dictionary that it “refers rather to internal fitness.”
        Regardless of how good you look on the outside you are responsible for making yourself to be judged worthy and deserving by God, by making yourself suitable, proper and qualified—on the inside—in His eyes.
The Bride
        The 24 elders on thrones with gold crowns, those wearing white robes or raiment, the saints martyred in Revelation 6:9-11, apparently grouped in with those in Revelation 7:9-17, the two witnesses company of prophets, the man child of Revelation 12, the saints of Revelation 15:2, 20:4 killed by the beast and the righteous saints who die in the 1,000 year period are the overcoming remnant and the genuine body, the bride, of Christ.
        As mentioned before, the 24 elders could represent the 12 patriarchs and the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. As such they have a special place of honor in God’s kingdom and are presented in this prophecy as distinct from, but a part of, the genuine body, the bride, of Christ.
        I’ll have a focused discussion on the “overcomers” later, also the “remnant” of the nominal body of Christ. All of these genuine Christians who constitute the genuine body, the bride, of Christ are members of the household of faith of the true Israel.
        We have read in Revelation 19:7-9:
        7 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.
        8 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.
        9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
        Revelation 21:9: “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
        The word “bride” is numphe, “from a primary but obsolete verb nupto (to veil as a bride; compare Latin “nupto,” to marry); a young married woman (as veiled), including a betrothed girl; by implication a son’s wife.”
  Overcomers
        “Overcometh,” “overcome” and “overcame” in the following verses is nikao meaning to conquer, overcome, prevail.
    Jesus Is An Overcomer
        John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
        Revelation 3:21: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
        Revelation 5:5: “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
        “... hath prevailed ...” is the same word, nikao, overcome.
        Revelation 17:14: “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
    Faith In Jesus Overcomes
        1 John 4:4: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
        1 John 5:3-5:
        3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
        4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
        5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
        The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary on 1 John 5:4,5 reads:
        “4. For—(See on 1Jo 5:3). The reason why “His commandments are not grievous.” Though there is a conflict in keeping them, the sue [an appeal or petition for justice] for the whole body of the regenerate is victory over every opposing influence; meanwhile there is a present joy to each believer in keeping them which makes them “not grievous.”
        whatsoeverGreek,all that is begotten of God.” The neuter expresses the universal whole, or aggregate of the regenerate, regarded as one collective body Joh 3:6; 6:37, 39, “where BENGEL remarks, that in Jesus’ discourses, what the Father has given Him is called, in the singular number and neuter gender, all whatsoever; those who come to the Son are described in the masculine gender and plural number, they all, or singular, every one. The Father has given, as it were, the whole mass to the Son, that all whom He gave may be one whole: that universal whole the Son singly evolves, in the execution of the divine plan.”
        overcometh—habitually.
        the world—all that is opposed to keeping the commandments of God, or draws us off from God, in this world, including our corrupt flesh, on which the world’s blandishments [flattering and pleasing speech or attention that appeals to us by demonstrating affection and kindness in order to win our hearts by enticing us] or threats act, as also including Satan, the prince of this world (Job 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
        this is the victory that overcomethGreek aorist, “ that hath (already) overcome the world”: the victory (where faith is) hereby is implied as having been already obtained (1Jo 2:13; 4:4).
        5. Who—“Who” else “but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God:” “the Christ” (1Jo 5:1)? Confirming, by a triumphant question defying all contradiction, as an undeniable fact, 1Jo 5:4, that the victory which overcomes the world is faith. For it is by believing: that we are made one with Jesus the Son of God, so that we partake of His victory over the world, and have dwelling in us One greater than he who is in the world (1Jo 4:4). “Survey the whole world, and show me even one of whom it can be affirmed with truth that he overcomes the world, who is not a Christian, and endowed with this faith” [EPISCOPIUS in ALFORD].”
        John appeals to the saints’ sense of Godly justice to habitually overcome every opposing influence from the world, the flesh and the devil by our faith in Jesus Christ. In our belief that Jesus is the Son of God, we identify with Him, becoming one with Him, knowing He abides in us and that He is greater and stronger than he that is in the world. Believing, in faith, in Jesus and identifying with His victory we become partakers with Him in overcoming.
        Failure to deny those things of the world, the flesh and the devil that appeal, threaten or otherwise attempt to involve us, and which weaken our belief and faith in Jesus, and our identity with Jesus, the Son of God, will snatch the victory out of our hands.
        Revelation 2:7: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
        Revelation 2:11: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
        Revelation 2:17: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
        Revelation 2:26: “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:”
        Revelation 3:5: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
        Revelation 3:12: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
        Revelation 3:21: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
        Revelation 12:11: “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 15:2: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”
        “... gotten the victory ...” is the same word, nikao, overcome.
        Revelation 21:7: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
  The Overcoming Bride
        Overcomers are to habitually overcome the appeals of the world, the flesh and the devil and continue to identify with Jesus as the abiding Overcomer in us, Who is greater than he that is in the world. Failure to deny those things of the world, the flesh and the devil is a denial of belief and faith in the overcoming power of Jesus. Faith in Jesus, the Son of God, is the instrumentality by which overcomers become like Him.
        Overcomers will eat of the tree of life, won’t be hurt by the second death, and will eat of the hidden manna, get a white stone with a new name on it and have power over the nations. They will be clothed in white raiment, and their names will remain in the book of life.
        The overcomer becomes a pillar in the temple of God, which is God Himself, and shall never be put out. Revelation 21:22: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” They will have written on them the name of God, and the name of the city of God, “which is new Jerusalem,” which comes down out of heaven from God. This statement is made in anticipation of the event as stated in Revelation 21:2. And they will have the new Name of Jesus written upon them.
        Overcomers will sit with Jesus on His throne, they shall inherit all things, and because they recognize God as the only source of all blessings, they will have a special relationship with Him as did the offspring of David, established forever.
  The Purity Of The Bride
        The whole concept of Jesus and His bride being one, is holy, awesome and beyond human comprehension. The Creator of the heavens, the earth and all that is in them, will become one with His creation. That’s why there is a “bride” concept. Only a pure, righteous, cleansed humanity, without spot or wrinkle, can be considered to be one with the Creator.
        God wants those who have not allowed themselves to be overcome by the tribulation and pressures of the world, the flesh or the devil. He wants those who have overcome, not been overcome.
        God wants those who stand upon His truth and His righteousness. Those who maintain their faith in Him, and total dependency upon Him and continue to be obedient to Him. Those who have been misunderstood, treated unfairly, unjustly, attacked, rejected, and abused at the hands of others who defend a perverted version of the Gospel by more lies.
        The God of heaven will not unite Himself with any “sweet young thing” that comes along, no matter how attractive on the outside. No, He will only consider those He deems worthy. Those that have “made themselves ready” by painstakingly repenting of those things that hinder their walk with their God, and who obey His command to: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15).
        And in Luke 13:24-27: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.”
        Note that in the verses in Matthew He immediately warns of false prophets, and in Luke of workers of iniquity.
        There are many who continually commute on the human highway that Jesus describes as “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat ...” They continue to commit adultery and fornication with those they feel to be so very attractive on the outside. And they are ready, willing and able to commit spiritual adultery and worship their idols of man-made “righteousness” and theological concepts.
        These are false prophets and workers of iniquity, appealing to their man-made gods to use their powers to broaden the lanes of their self-built wide gates and broad highways. Little do they know that their casual approach to Him Who created them, “leadeth to destruction.” We are not talking about a few who name the name of Christ because “many there be which go in thereat ...”
        We need the four living creatures to constantly remind us that our Lord God Almighty is holy: “... and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).
        Leviticus 21:7,13-15:
        7 They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.
        13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
        14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.
        15 Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the Lord do sanctify him.
        A holy God requires a holy bride. He will not accept the slovenly, untidy, flippant, presumptuous, self-assured, sexually promiscuous conduct of a mercenary whore instead of a pure, biblically righteous, virginal bride without spot or wrinkle to be one with Him, and to delight in for all of eternity.
        A Christian husband and wife should be attracted to the Spirit of Christ within their partner (spiritual attraction). If not, they had no business getting married. They must learn to appreciate their differences in how they think, feel and choose (i.e. the differences in the makeup of their minds, emotions and wills—the soul). Their love for each other must include spiritual and soulical attraction in addition to physical attraction. If not, they had no business getting married. They will desire each other in a sphere of totality and will express that desire in a physical union. This brief time of actually being one flesh during that sexual union will continue to be pursued and repeated. If not, they had no business getting married.
        That’s what the bride of Christ is. We are attracted to our spiritual Creator, our God, and to His spiritual essence and we are awed by His presence and power. He is attracted to the Spirit of His Christ in us. We recognize and appreciate the way that God thinks, feels and chooses, although we don’t thoroughly understand it. God recognizes our unique differences and is willing to incorporate those differences in thinking, feeling and choosing into Himself. Both we and God long for the day when we will be in a permanent spiritual union with Him which will last for all of eternity.
        That is what God has for us, His creatures. He longs for us to be a body of overcoming remnants and to become His bride. Today, it’s our choice as to whether we will be a genuine Christian and part of the bride of Christ by overcoming as Jesus overcame. It’s our choice as to whether we stay in spiritual Babylon or come out of her and become overcoming remnants.
        But many in the churches of today either have lost sight of, or never had, a proper understanding of their personal responsibility in their matrimonial relationship with their Creator and God.
        Instead, they are focused on promoting different denominational purposes and values, different aspects of what they consider to be “ministry.” A thousand different paths are pursued in a vain attempt to appease a God they don’t understand. Their perceived spiritual goals include exclusive pursuit of the spiritual gifts of God, or money, or “their” ministry, or any number of other peripheral issues as if that’s all there is. They have no clue as to what God’s love for us involves and how we are to respond to His love by our love for Him.
        If we cannot scripturally relate to God with our spirits, our souls and our bodies as overcoming remnants we will lose our virginal purity in His eyes and cannot be His bride.
  The Bridegroom And Bride As Warriors
        When Jesus goes to war against those who oppose Him, those who are called, chosen and faithful will be with him.
        Revelation 17:14: “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
        In Revelation, chapter 19, the Lamb’s wife is mentioned as having made herself ready. She is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, which fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
        Revelation 19:7,8:
        7 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.
        8 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.
        Verse 8 tells us the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. This is best understood as fine linen which is clean and white. In a description of Babylon in Revelation, chapter 18, verse 16 reads:
        Revelation 18:16: “And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!”
        Babylon considered itself to be “clothed in fine linen” also, however, it was not clean and white. This speaks of Babylon’s self-deception and hypocrisy in considering itself to be righteous.
        In Revelation, chapter 19, Jesus judges and makes war and His armies follow Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. We are here still obviously referring to the bride.
        Revelation 19:11-14:
        11 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.
        12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
        13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
        14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
  The Heavenly Jerusalem
        The new heavenly Jerusalem and the bride it contains will remain eternally. This is a partial antitype of the types of Adam and Eve, who were co-rulers before the fall (Genesis 1:28; 5:1,2). The genuine body of Christ, now identified as the bride of Christ—the heavenly Jerusalem—consists of those who are spiritual virgins by reason of their spiritual re-birth and righteous lifestyle, constantly cleansed by the blood of Jesus. A lifestyle maintained despite tremendous pressure, persecution and promises of the pleasure of sin. The new heavenly Jerusalem, the bride, speaks of a permanent relationship, in this instance, the eternal state.
        Also there is that which defies description: that of the beauty of the bride in the eyes of the Bridegroom, the excitement of her being, the allure of that which promises joy, satisfaction, fullness of life and a joint eternal adventure never previously embarked upon.
        The statement in Revelation 22:15 (see also verse 11) is simply a restatement of those who have their part in the lake of fire in Revelation 21:8,27. “Dogs,” in Revelation 22:15 is kuon, “a dog, metaphorically, a man of impure mind, an impudent man” which describes the fearful, unbelieving and abominable stated in Revelation 21:8. Some have attempted to interpret it as being “outside” the new Jerusalem which would defile it if that were true.
        Revelation 22:15: “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
  Raiment And Robes
        We read in Revelation 22:14: “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.”
        The phrase “that do his commandments” is corrected in other translations to “wash their robes (or garments).” “That do,” is pluno; a prolonged form of an obsolete pluo (to “flow”); to “plunge,” i.e. launder clothing.” “Commandments” is stole; equipment, i.e. (specifically) a “stole” or long-fitting gown (as a mark of dignity).
        Throughout the book of Revelation there is reference to “robes” and “raiment” as being white or washed in the blood of Jesus (thus becoming white). Those wearing white robes or raiment are the genuine body, the bride, of Christ. Those wearing white robes are clearly identifiable as the body, the bride. Those wearing white raiment are included because overcomers and the 24 elders (part of the body, the bride) wear white raiment (Revelation 3:5; 4:4).
        These verses in Revelation use the word “robes,” stole, a long garment:
        Revelation 6:11: “And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
        Revelation 7:9: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;”
        Revelation 7:13: “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?”
        Revelation 7:14: “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
        Revelation 22:14: “Blessed are they that do his commandments,” [read: wash their robes] “that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
        The 24 elders who sit on thrones wear gold crowns and white “raiment.”
        In addition to these 24 elders, those wearing white robes or raiment are the genuine body, the bride, of Christ. They are comprised of other groups of those overcoming remnant saints in Revelation 6:9-11 who had been slain, i.e., butchered as martyrs for their faith in Jesus. They were told in verse 11 “... that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” These are part of those in Revelation 7:9-17 who came out of “the great tribulation” and overcoming remnant saints of all ages who have suffered similar tribulation. The two witnesses company of prophets (although not mentioned as wearing white), and the man child of Revelation 12 are also part of the body, the bride, as are the overcoming remnant saints of Revelation 15:2, 20:4 killed by the beast, and the overcoming remnant saints who die during the 1,000 year period. I’ll discuss the concept of overcoming remnants later.
        “Raiment,” himation, an outer garment is used in a more general sense in Revelation and worn by Jesus Himself in Revelation chapter 19, verses 13 and 16 (there called “vesture.”)
        Revelation 3:4: “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments (himation); and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”
        Revelation 3:5: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
        Revelation 3:18: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
        Revelation 4:4: “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”
        Revelation 16:15: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments (himation), lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
        Revelation 19:13: “And he was clothed with a vesture (himation) dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
        Revelation 19:16: “And he hath on his vesture (himation) and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
The Wedding, Those Called, Those Blessed
        We saw earlier the genuine body of Christ, i.e., the bride of Christ, identified as those represented by the 24 elders, those who wear white robes or raiment, those saints martyred in Revelation 6:9-11, apparently grouped in with those of “the great tribulation” mentioned in Revelation 7:9-17, the two witnesses/lampstands company of prophets, the man child of Revelation 12, the saints of Revelation 15:2, 20:4 killed by the beast, and the righteous saints who died during the 1,000 year period. These are overcoming remnants which I’ll discuss later.
        In Revelation 19:7-9 we read:
        7 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.
        8 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.
        9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
        The sequence of events is not clearly stated in these verses. It sounds as if the marriage ceremony and the marriage supper of the Lamb has taken place. However, it’s not until Revelation 21:2,9,10 and 22:17 that there is a consummation in the sense that the new Jerusalem and the bride, the wife of the Lamb are announced. It would be after this time that the wedding supper of the Lamb, the Bridegroom, takes place in the new heaven and new earth.
        If this is so, then the marriage of the Lamb mentioned in Revelation 19:7 speaks of a preparedness on the part of the betrothed bride (verse 8), not the marriage and consummation.
        Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, in these excerpts, comments: “In biblical times, a betrothal for marriage was a binding agreement that set the young woman apart for the young man. The agreement was voided only by death or divorce; one could not get out of the betrothal in any other way.” ... “Once at the groom’s house, the couple was ushered into a bridal chamber. The marriage was consummated through sexual union as the guests waited outside. Once that fact was announced, the wedding festivities continued, with guests dropping by for the wedding feast. Usually the wedding party lasted for a week.”
        The overcoming remnant saints who have died during the 1,000 year period will, and must, complete the genuine body, the bride, of Christ in the new heavens and new earth before the marriage can be consummated at the Bridegroom’s house (Hebrews 11:16,40).
        Hebrews 11:16: “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
        Hebrews 11:40: “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
        Under the law other provisions were made about the marriage and the consummation:
        Deuteronomy 20:7: “And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.” This would not apply to Jesus because He could not “die in the battle.”
        Deuteronomy 24:5: “When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” This would apply, which is another reason the marriage to the bride is not consummated just before they go into battle.
        Jesus fulfilled the law and would not violate His own commands.
        Some commentators try to synchronize end-time events with traditions of a New Testament Jewish wedding and/or Old Testament feasts. Jesus utilized many such examples to convey a clear meaning to His hearers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are exact parallels.
        Since the consummation of the marriage and the subsequent wedding supper takes place in the new heavens and the new earth, it would make sense that “they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” would be the nations and their kings (and their citizens, or subjects) mentioned in Revelation 21:22-27.
        However you identify or define this group, it’s clear that are not the bride of Christ.
        Revelation 21:22-27:
        22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
        23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
        24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
        25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
        26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
        27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
        The nations of them which are saved will bring their glory and honour into the new Jerusalem (verses 24 and 26). Those mentioned in this passage are not the overcoming bride.
         The genuine body, the bride, of Christ contains the man child (comprised of those overcoming remnants symbolized by the sealed, living 144,000 and the dead in Christ overcoming remnants of all ages) and Revelation 3:12 states: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
        In Revelation 21:24, speaking of the city, the nations and the kings of the earth “do bring their glory and honour into it.”
        In the phrase “no more out” in Revelation 3:12 “no” is ou me; a double negative strengthening the denial; not at all. “More” is eti; “yet,” still (of time or degree). “Out” is exo; out (-side, of doors), literally or figuratively.
        The bride will, more literally, “not at all go out,” i.e., emphatically, never leave the city, so they will never, as do the nations and the kings of the earth, experience bringing their glory and honour into it, or enter in through the gates into the city.
        This phrase concerning the nations being saved is not in all manuscripts. If we take it out scripture is not violated, as they would not be in the new heavens and new earth and have access to the new Jerusalem if they were not saved. However, they are not among those who will never leave the city because they are mentioned as entering it.
        In the eternal state, i.e., while in the new heavens and the new earth, Jesus says in Revelation 22:12-14:
        12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
        13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
        14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, [read: wash their robes] that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
        “May have” is esomai, which according to Thayer’s Definition is “future first person singular of “to be.” The word “right” is exousia, meaning authority. One group of biblical scholars translates the phrase as “so that there will be to them authority over the tree of life.”
        The verse would then read: ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes so that there will be to them authority over the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city.’
        The emphasis is on the authority over the tree of life. It’s understood you would have to enter in through the gates into the city in order to get to the tree of life.
        Jesus, in this statement, is obviously not speaking to the overcoming remnant bride, the new Jerusalem, because their robes are washed white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14), they eat freely of the tree of life (Revelation 2:7) and they won’t ever enter into the city because they will “not at all go out.”
        He is not talking to the genuine body, the bride, of Christ, who have accepted Him as Saviour and Lord, and those who will, because He has qualified the results of washing their robes white in His blood as then being able to “enter in through the gates into the city.” This implies they will not become overcomers, or remnants or part of the bride, which will “not at all go out.” It would, in fact, relegate all those who subsequently believe in Him and accept Him as Saviour, into the category of “nations” and their “kings” or their citizens, or subjects.
        So the statement is best understood as being “future” from the point of view of the new heavens and new earth, not “future” from the point of view of John when he wrote it down.
        Revelation 21:26 states: “And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it” speaking of the nations and their kings in verse 24. Revelation 22:2 says “... and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations ...”
        Since the nations and their kings are already entering in through the gates into the city I think it can be understood that they are availing themselves of the leaves of the tree for healing. Based on that, it’s my opinion that the statement of Jesus in Revelation 22:14 is intended for those who are citizens, or subjects, of the nations and their kings.
        Revelation 21:27 is clear in stating that: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
        This implies that those referred to in Revelation 22:14 are written in the Lamb’s book of life, but some have not yet washed their robes white and don’t have access to, or authority over, the tree of life.
        These appear to be those citizens, or subjects, of the nations and their kings who are still in their natural bodies and who are now living in the new heavens and the new earth.
        Apparently there is a provision for them to be granted authority over the tree of life. The biblical wording is clear, however, the full meaning is not clearly stated.
        This may be an indication of God’s provisions for them to be able to “walk with God” after a “season of time” (365 years?) as Enoch did in Genesis 5:23,24, after which God “took him.” Or as the New Testament states in Hebrews 11:5, he was “translated,” meaning “to transfer to another place.”
  The 1,000 Years
        In Revelation 20:4 we are told: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded [Greek, literally “to cut with an axe”] for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
        Revelation 20:5,6:
        5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
        The phrase “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” is parenthetical and refers back to “and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” in verse 4, which is the first resurrection.
        6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
        The angel had said in Revelation 14:13: “... Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
        This is probably a reference to Revelation 16:15 and 18:4:
        Revelation 16:15: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
        Revelation 18:4: “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.”
        Even in the midst of terrible times here on earth, God still urges repentance of sin and acceptance of His salvation.
        During this time of the beast it appears that people are still getting saved and that they suffer horribly when they refuse to worship the beast and take his mark.
        These overcomers are beheaded by the beast regime (Revelation 15:2, 20:4). It’s stated that those who are blessed include: “the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth” (Revelation 14:13), those who “keepeth his garments” (Revelation 16:15) and “he that hath part in the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:6).
        These overcomers “that hath part in the first resurrection” who refused to worship the beast and take his mark are “blessed” in the sense that they will be resurrected before the 1,000 year period begins. They will receive glorified bodies, just as all the raptured saints already have. As a further blessing, they will begin to reign with Christ (during the 1,000 year period) ahead of the other members of the genuine body of Christ who will become the bride.
        Matthew 19:30 (See also Matthew 20:16; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30): “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”
        (Those “which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9) are also blessed, but this a different group with a different blessing.)
        After the end of the thousand years and when there is a new heaven and a new earth the wife and bride of Christ will be formally identified as such (Revelation 21:1,2,9,10; 22:17).
God, Through Christ, Will Reign Forever
        Luke 1:30-33:
        30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
        31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
        32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
        33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
        Revelation 11:15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
        Revelation 11:17: “Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
        Revelation 19:6: “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
  King David Reigns Under Christ
        It will be during this 1,000 year time period that David—under Christ—and the remnant overcoming saints will rule the earth. This is made clear in the following scriptures, although some “spiritualize” the mention of David as being only an antitypical reference to the Messiah, Jesus. I suggest reading the entire passages of scripture of which I have quoted only a few verses in order to indicate the rule of David during the 1,000 year period in order to satisfy yourself that they are not taken out of context.
        Isaiah 55:3,4:
        3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
        4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
        Jeremiah 30:8,9:
        8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:
        9 But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
        Ezekiel 34:23,24:
        23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.
        24 And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.
        Ezekiel 37:24,25:
        24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
        25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
        Hosea 3:4,5:
        4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:
        5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.
        Amos 9:8-15:
        8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord.
        9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
        10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
        11 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:
        12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this.
        13 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
        14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
        15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.
        This scripture is quoted in the New Testament:
        Acts 15:16,17:
        16 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:
        17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
Rewards Of Christ
  The Last Are First
        Revelation 20:4-6:
        4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
        5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
        6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
        These are the same as those in Revelation 15:2, and will be rewarded by reigning during the 1,000 year period, before the rest of the body, who will become the bride, begins reigning.
  Eternal Reign
        In Revelation 22:3-6 the symbolic 144,000, part of the man child, are mentioned in verse 4 as having God’s name in their foreheads. In verse 5: “they shall reign for ever and ever.”
        3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
        4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
        5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
        6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
        Those represented by the 24 elders who are on thrones with gold crowns, those who wear white robes or raiment, those saints martyred in Revelation 6:9-11, apparently grouped in with those of “the great tribulation” mentioned in Revelation 7:9-17, the two witnesses/lampstands company of prophets, the man child, the saints of Revelation 15:2, 20:4 killed by the beast and the righteous saints who die during the 1,000 year period are the overcoming remnants and will also rule “for ever and ever.”
        Overcomers, i.e., the genuine body, the bride, habitually overcome the appeals of the world, the flesh and the devil and continue to identify with Jesus as the abiding Overcomer in us, Who is greater that he that is in the world. They deny things of the world, the flesh and the devil and maintain their belief and faith in the overcoming power of Jesus. Through their faith in Jesus the overcomers become like Him. Overcomers of the world, the flesh and the devil will eat of the tree of life, won’t be hurt by the second death, will eat of the hidden manna, get a white stone with a new name on it and have power over the nations. They will be clothed in white raiment, and their names will remain in the book of life. In Revelation 3:12 the overcomer becomes a pillar in the temple of God, which is God Himself, and shall never be put out. Revelation 21:22: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” They will have written on them the name of God, and the name of the city of God, “which is new Jerusalem.” They will have the new Name of Jesus written upon them, will sit with Jesus on His throne, shall inherit all things, and will have a special relationship with Jesus as did the offspring of David, established forever, as “sons” of God.
        Some will sit upon thrones. Revelation 3:21 reads: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Does sitting upon thrones and those who sit with Jesus in His throne mean the same thing? Or is there a significance in this terminology that’s not clear? There appears to be no answer from scripture.
  Priests, Nations And Kings
        Revelation 1:6: “And hath made us kings [read: a kingdom] and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
        Revelation 5:9,10 (Amplified Bible): “And [now] they sing a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain (sacrificed) and with Your blood You purchased men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have made them a kingdom [royal race] and priests to our God, and they shall reign [as kings] over the earth!”
        Revelation 20:6: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
        We see in these verses that the saints are a kingdom and are priests to our God from out of “... every tribe and language and people and nation ...”
        Revelation 11:15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
        This verse is correctly translated in many other versions as “... the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ ...”
        Every member of the genuine body, the bride, of Christ is a subject of the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ. Every such saint is a priest to God forever and will also reign over the earth forever. However, scripture states that those beheaded by the beast will begin to reign 1,000 years earlier, after which time each such saint becomes the corporate bride of Christ.
        In Revelation 21:24-27 the nations and their kings speak of Christ’s rewards (Revelation 2:23; 22:12).
        24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
        25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
        26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
        27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
        There will be nations and their kings, who will have citizens, or subjects.
        The symbolic 144,000 (part of the man child, all constituents of the body, the bride), sealed in their foreheads are mentioned in Revelation 22:3-5, in that “they shall reign for ever and ever.” Since they are “to rule [read: tend as a shepherd] all nations with a rod of iron” and also will never leave the city, apparently they will shepherd the nations through the kings of the earth when they “... bring their glory and honour into ...” the new Jerusalem.
The Measure Of The Bride
        What are the identifying marks of the genuine body, the bride, of Christ? Answer:
  Sovereign Election
        (1) God sovereignly elects those He so desires to be His genuine body, the bride, i.e., those included in the representation of the 24 elders, the symbolic 144,000 of the man child, overcoming remnants of all ages, the martyred and tribulation saints and those beheaded by the beast, and the righteous saints who die during the 1,000 year period. God also sovereignly elects His gifted prophets as represented by the two witnesses company of prophets. God has His reasons for sovereign election, as shown by His selection of the sons of Zadok to minister personally to Him, and relegating the other Levitical priests to serving and being in charge of the temple. God’s sovereign election is influenced by how we exercise our human responsibility.
    Zadok
        Ezekiel 40:46; 43:19; 44:15; 48:11, speaking of the millennium temple, states that only the sons of Zadok may approach God and minister to Him. The other Levitical priests are assigned duties as “keepers of the charge of the house” as they caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity.
        Why are the sons of Zadok selected over the other Levites?
        Zadok (his name meaning “righteous”) was a high priest to David and served jointly as high priest with Abiathar. Zadok was loyal to David when David’s son, Adonijah, attempted to take over David’s throne. After the death of David, Abiathar was dismissed from the office of high priest by king Solomon and Zadok was then the only high priest. When this happened the priesthood was restored to the line of Eleazar, a son of Aaron. It also fulfilled the prophecy to Eli in 1 Samuel 2:31-33 and 1 Kings 2:26,27. This prophecy to Eli was brought on by the misconduct of his sons as stated in 1 Samuel 2:22: “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
        An excerpt from Holman’s Bible Dictionary tells us: “In later days Ezekiel declared that the priests who were sons of Zadok were the only faithful ones at the time of the Exile, and that they only would be allowed to serve in the ideal future Temple. This statement agrees with the genealogies of Chronicles which list only two families as far as the captivity—David of Judah and Zadok the descendant of Aaron through Eleazar. The returning priests, including Joshua son of Jehozadak (1 Chron. 6:15) and Ezra (7:1-7), were of the line of Zadok which lasted long into the intertestamental period. The line of Ithamar after the removal of Eli’s family was of less importance. The Zadokites to a degree lived up to their name as righteous priests of the Lord.”
  Personal Effort
        (2) The most important thing about preparing to be the genuine body, the bride, of Christ involves your self-effort in fulfilling God’s expectations of you as a disciple of Christ by making needed internal changes. This is the exercise of our human responsibility.
        The “Sunday go to meeting” suit, tie and shined shoes does not impress God. “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).“... his wife hath made herself ready.” After having made herself ready then it “was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white” (Revelation 19:7,8).
        Do you walk with Jesus as an overcomer, declaring victory, because your character is righteous and Jesus calls you worthy (Revelation 3:4,5; 7:9)?
        Do you accept the leading, instruction and love of God for you (eagle), accept the sacrifice of Christ to redeem you back to God (ox), submit to the rule of Christ in your life (lion), and understand that only in Christ can you have dominion over the earth through the rule of Christ (man)?
        As a new creature in Christ, will you maintain your patience and faith in all the persecutions, oppression, affliction, distress and tribulations that you must go through to enter the kingdom of God?
        Are you willing to examine yourself and be measured against those who will be butchered as martyrs? And measure your prayer life and your just judgement from God against His righteousness? And face the guilt of your offenses against God’s law and holiness and His punishment? Will you stand the test of being in the faith as once delivered to the saints?
        Is your lifestyle a manifestation of the word of God and the Spirit of God as its source?
        Do you fancy yourself to be a prophet, speaking out whatever you discern or perceive about others, or do you grieve and obediently speak only what the Father tells you to speak? Are you attempting to reconcile and restore those who name the name of Christ back to their God and Creator? Do you speak God’s righteous standards to those who God tells you to speak repentance to? Does your prophetic utterance “torment” those who are disobedient to God?
    A Subject Of The Kingdom
        God has made the saints a kingdom and priests unto Him (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6.)
        Do you consider yourself to a subject of the kingdom of God, i.e., do you acknowledge God’s rule and voluntarily submit to it?
        It has always been God’s desire for His people to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
        Exodus 19:6: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
        However the people of Israel feared the proximity of God and failed to exercise their responsibility, and in doing so negated their priestly authority.
        Exodus 20:18-21:
        18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
        19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
        20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
        21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
        Subsequently the Aaronic priesthood was chosen for this purpose as recorded in Exodus, chapters 28 and 29 and Leviticus, chapters 8 and 9.
        The word “kingdom” in Exodus 19:6 is mamlakah, concerning which excerpts from Vines Expository Dictionary says the meaning is “kingdom; sovereignty; dominion; reign.”
        “The basic meaning of mamlakah is the area and people that constitute a “kingdom.”” ... “Mamlakah also denotes Israel as God’s “kingdom”: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” (Exod. 19:6). The Davidic king was the theocratic agent by whom God ruled over and blessed His people...” “Close to the basic meaning is the usage of mamlakah to denote “king,” as the king was considered to be the embodiment of the “kingdom.” He was viewed as a symbol of the kingdom proper: “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you” (1 Sam. 10:18); in Hebrew the noun “kingdoms” is feminine and the verb “oppress” has a masculine form, signifying that we must understand “kingdoms” as “kings.””
        “The function and place of the king is important in the development of the concept “kingdom.” “Kingdom” may signify the head of the kingdom. The word further has the meaning of the royal “rule,” the royal “sovereignty,” and the “dominion.””
        “All human rule is under God’s control. Consequently the Old Testament fully recognizes the kingship of God. The Lord ruled as king over His people Israel (1 Chr. 29:11). He graciously ruled over His people through David and his followers until the Exile (2 Chr. 13:5).
        “In the New Testament usage all the above meanings are to be associated with the Greek word basileia (“kingdom”). This is the major translation of mamlakah in the Septuagint, and as such it is small wonder that the New Testament authors used this word to refer to God’s “kingdom”: the realm, the king, the sovereignty, and the relationship to God Himself.”
    Spiritual Sacrifices
        Excerpted from Nelson’s Expository Dictionary:
        “The office of priest was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The Son of God became a man (Heb. 2:9-14) so that He might offer Himself as sacrifice “once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). Hence, there is no longer a need for priests to offer a sacrifice to atone for man’s sin. A permanent sacrifice has been made by Jesus Christ through His death on the Cross.”
        However, New Testament writers mention spiritual sacrifices in conjunction with our holy priesthood:
        1 Peter 2:5: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
        1 Peter 2:9 (Amplified Bible): “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
        Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
        Philippians 2:17 (New International Version): “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.”
        Philippians 4:18: “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.”
        Hebrews 13:15,16:
        15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
        16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
        “Communicate” is koinonia, which includes sharing, socializing and supporting those in need. The phrase “is well pleased” is euaresteo; to gratify entirely.
        As a priest unto God are you ready, willing and able to offer up the spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ?
        Do you declare the wonderful deeds of God and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of the darkness of your lifestyle and into His marvelous light?
        Are you, and your lifestyle, really a holy living sacrifice acceptable to God?
        Is your sacrifice and service coming from your faith, such that Paul the apostle would be glad to pour out his life’s blood for you?
        Do you give sacrificially to those who teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and who are in need—a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God? (In Philippians 4:18, Paul the apostle was in prison and obviously in need. But note that in verse 16 the church at Philippi had sent financial gifts to Paul at least twice before: “For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.”)
        Do you praise God continually, and do good and practice sharing, socializing and supporting those in need and gratify and please God?
    Martyrdom
        Are you willing to be butchered, as a sacrifice, because you obey the word of God and it is evidenced not only in what you say with your mouth, but also with what you communicate with your lifestyle? (Revelation 6:9: “... slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.”)
        Will you overcome the devil and his crowd by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony? And not love your life so much that you would do or say anything not to die?
        Are you prepared to pay the price to get the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name?
        Do you make an effort to clean up your lifestyle, cleaving to righteousness, and are you willing to go hungry and thirsty, and to endure the hot, blazing sun and suffer pain to the point of tears?
        Revelation 7:13-17:
        13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
        14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
        15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
        16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
        17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
        Have you given up your physical and spiritual adultery and idolatry in your willingness to follow Jesus and give up the things this world has to offer you (Revelation 14:4)?
        Having been called, i.e., invited, by the gospel of the kingdom of God and of His Christ, have you been chosen out and selected by Him because of your close association with God, and have you been faithful, i.e., trusting in and trustworthy of, the things of God? (Revelation 17:14)?
    A Lifestyle Change
        You will have to expend self-effort to make yourself ready and walk in righteousness of character and victory as an overcomer. You must acknowledge God’s rule and voluntarily submit to it and make your lifestyle a willing sacrifice as you obey the word of God in thought, word and deed. In that sacrificial lifestyle you must be willing to suffer deprivation, hunger, thirst, the scorching heat of the sun and agonizing pain to the point of tears. And abandon the things of this world, and any thoughts, and activity, of physical or spiritual adultery and idolatry. You will have to stay in close fellowship with God, through His word and His Holy Spirit, trusting in Him and being trusted by Him.
    Servanthood
        Throughout the book of Revelation it speaks of the servants of God and of those who serve him. Some may think that is the lowest classification, when compared to those who have thrones, and who reign with Him.
        Let’s review the words of Jesus:
        Matthew 18:1-7 (See also Mark 9:34-42 and Luke 9:46-48):
        1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
        2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
        3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
        4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
        5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
        6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
        7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
        Matthew 23:11,12:
        11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
        12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
        Luke 22:24-26:
        24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
        25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
        26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
        Jesus said, in Luke 12:37: “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.”
        The greatest prophetical enactment Jesus ever demonstrated was at the Last Supper when He removed His outer clothing and wrapped a towel round His waist, poured water in a container and washed and dried His disciples’ feet.
        Then Jesus said, as recorded in John 13:12-20:
        12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
        13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
        14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
        15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
        16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
        17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
        18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
        19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
        20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
        The disciples, i.e., learners, supporters and imitators of Jesus are to “be converted” (Matthew 18:3) which is strepho; to twist, i.e. turn quite around or reverse (literally or figuratively), and to humble themselves. They will know that if they exalt themselves, they shall be eternally abased, and if they humble themselves they will be eternally exalted. If they want to be human “kings” they will exercise lordship and authority over others. If they want to be greatest and chief in God’s economy they will assume the role of a junior and serve others.
        Jesus, Himself, has given us an example, that of a servant unto His disciples. He also said that He wasn’t speaking to everyone, but knew that there would be those who “hath lifted up his heel against me.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary says about the word “heel,” pterna “... is found in (John 13:18), where the Lord quotes from (Ps. 41:9); the metaphor is that of tripping up an antagonist in wrestling.”
God’s Eternal Purpose
        God has an eternal purpose as stated in Ephesians:
        Ephesians 1:10: “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”
        Ephesians 3:10,11:
        10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
        11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
  Man’s Purpose
        In Genesis 11:1-9 we read the story and fate of the tower of Babel.
        “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). Up until this time “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (Genesis 11:1).
        Man wanted a religion, i.e., godliness, “... and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven...” a reputation, i.e., renown, “... and let us make us a name ...” and a relationship, societal unity, without God “... lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
        God saw the city and the tower in verse 5 “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (verse 6).
        In verses 7 and 8 of Genesis 11 God confounded their language and scattered them abroad from thence. Man has continually attempted to resurrect his own religion (godliness), reputation (renown), and relationship (societal unity), without God, ever since.
        Genesis 11:7-9:
        7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
        8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
        9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
        “Babel” according to Strong’s Concordance means: “confusion; Babel (i.e. Babylon), including Babylonia and the Babylonian empire.” Excerpts from Brown-Driver-Briggs’ definition states that Babel or Babylon means “confusion (by mixing).”
        “Confound” is balal; “a primitive root; to overflow (specifically with oil.); by implication, to mix; also (denominatively from 1098) to fodder.” Brown-Driver-Briggs’ excerpts gives its meaning as “to mix, to mingle, to confuse, to confound.”
        The phrase “scatter them abroad” is puwts); “a primitive root; to dash in pieces, literally or figuratively (especially to disperse).” Excerpting from Brown-Driver-Briggs’ expands that meaning: “to scatter, to be dispersed, to be scattered.”
  The Result Of Man’s Purpose
        God deals with man’s continuing self-centered efforts to resurrect a human religion (godliness), reputation (renown), and relationship (societal unity) without Him by sending him into a place of mixed confusion and scattering their group over the face of all the earth. So that it can be said of them that “... they left off to build the city” i.e., they stopped their human attempts to organize a religion, create a reputation and establish a relationship, i.e., societal unity, all without including God. So that man will cease his efforts to build man’s tower of religion, and thwart his desire for a reputation and relationships without God.
        There is an added dimension to this principle, i.e., a limitation upon the time spent in this place of scattered, mixed confusion. God’s will and purpose for His people is clear. Each individual had to make a decision to either come out of the place of confusion and scattering, or stay there and absorb the society, culture, political, economic, religious systems and language of the environment they found themselves in.
        The truth of this is seen in the diaspora, or dispersion of Israel from its homeland when, once again, “... from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” And confounded their language over an approximate 500 year period under Babylon, Persian, Greek and Roman rule resulting in the Old Testament having to be translated into Greek. Jeremiah prophesied the exile would be for 70 years and then they would be free to return to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:2).
        This scriptural principle is still in effect to this day. We can see this in the multiplicity of religious denominations that name the name of Christ as their head, none of which speaks the language of the others.
        The majority in today’s institutional churches remain in spiritual Babylon. They have absorbed the societies, cultures, political, economic, religious systems and language that they found themselves in. Romanism, paganism and human traditions remain at the foundation of their man-made glass, steel and brick buildings. Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone of the foundation of the ekklesia is given token acknowledgment while they continue to practice, perfect and perpetuate their humanly organized kingdoms.
        “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness”” (2 Timothy 2:19 (New International Version)).
  The Overcoming Remnant
        Like those in historical Babylon, God calls out the overcoming remnants of those who are His and have turned away from wickedness. History shows that many prefer to remain in Babylon and in fact only about 50,000 returned to build God’s temple, the gates and walls of Jerusalem and reinstitute His law. (Ezra, chapter 9 through chapter 10:1, typifies the hearts of God’s overcoming remnants.)
        God’s overcoming remnant throughout history is commissioned to rebuild the temple of God, i.e., bring healing and restoration to the individual, to rebuild the gates and walls of Jerusalem, symbolic of the new Jerusalem and all it represents in scripture, and to reinstitute God’s law by proclaiming the kingdom of God and His Christ, Who fulfilled the law.
        A distinguishing characteristic of the overcoming remnant body, the bride, of Christ, is disregard for human traditions, desiring instead the kingdom of God, i.e., acknowledging God’s rule and voluntarily submitting to Him. They also seek to please God instead of man. Also lacking is any attempt to dignify, distinguish, glorify or honor themselves, attributing and proclaiming those characteristics instead as belonging to God and His Christ.
        The institutional churches and the overcoming remnant ekklesia’s of today are alike in that they are both fragmented and scattered. Many denominations exist within the institutional church system. Many overcoming remnants are equally, if not more so, split and divided.
        Many of the overcoming remnants are in some type of home meeting, many of which are unrelated to other home meetings. Some overcoming remnant home meetings, of course, are community-minded and are attempting to establish a community, or network.
        Not all home meetings are overcoming remnants. Many who are discontented with the institutional churches have left for a variety of reasons. They meet in homes and since they have no other model than the place they left, they attempt to adopt that same system in their living rooms. Because of this they get the same undesireable results as the institutional churches.
        These are not overcoming remnant ekklesias. Some may fellowship on the basis of their mutual suffering and abuse at the hands of authoritarian institutional church leaders. Many of these, sadly, will never get beyond that stage of fellowship. There are myriads of doctrinal approaches in these home meetings.
        Other overcoming remnants have exited institutional churches, never to return to that type of controlling abuse. While some may attend some type of home meetings, many more simply continue without being a part of any home ekklesia that assembles. They remain unconnected with any formal or informal assembly of other Christians. Other overcoming remnants are actively looking to start or join a true New Testament home assembly. Unfortunately, they find the same divisions among home churches as they encountered in the institutional church, also some are overcoming remnant ekklesias, and some are not. So the great “church search” has no end for many.
        There is no clear line separating institutional churches and overcoming remnant ekklesia’s as far as gathering together in local assemblies. Each mindset is found in both camps.
        There are others who have “tried” and “quit” Christianity for a variety of reasons. I’m not including those in this discussion.
        From these extremes of the institutional church and overcoming remnant ekklesia’s there is a middle line, or way, or road, however it may be expressed. Both the institutional church and overcoming remnant ekklesia’s have groups within them that are going to further extremes and also those that are moving towards a middle line.
        With this broad overview of the religious scene today, I want to relate the total of all the churches and ekklesias of God to the Old Testament Israel that was dispersed and sent into exile into Babylon for seventy years. And the relative few of the overcoming remnants who returned to bring healing and restoration to the individual (rebuild the temple), to teach and preach the symbolism of the new Jerusalem (rebuild the gates and walls), and proclaim the kingdom of God and His Christ, Who fulfilled the law (reinstitute God’s law).
        Israel and Judah (the totality of Israel) are symbolic of the totality of the institutional church and the overcoming remnant ekklesia’s. Captivity represents Babylon (a place of mixed confusion and scattering), the punishment for spiritual ignorance, adultery and idolatry. The Restoration is symbolic of the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in enlightening our spiritual eyesight as to the truth of God’s word. Those so restored are the overcoming remnants.
        The majority in the institutional churches are in captivity, a place of mixed confusion and scattering, for their spiritual ignorance, adultery and idolatry. Some will exercise their choice to continue to remain in spiritual Babylon. Those who remain in Babylon will become the apostate church, which will be predominant in the last of the latter days.
        Others will exit their spiritual Babylon as overcoming remnants, some to return to the institutional church, some to a home ekklesia and some who will not be part of either. Others will have select associations, some will start a home assembly. Some home meetings are “independents,” some are community-minded and most have doctrinal differences, resulting in the same divisions to be found in the institutional church.
        The institutional church and the overcoming remnant ekklesia’s are having little, if any, effect in accomplishing God’s eternal purpose to bring all things together in one so that God’s manifold wisdom is displayed through His ekklesia.
        The relative few of the overcoming remnants, however, are dedicated to bring healing and restoration to the individual, to teach and preach the symbolism of the new Jerusalem, and proclaim the kingdom of God and His Christ, Who fulfilled the law.
        Their lack of success is due to the predominance of the paganized, Romanized, traditionalized, institutionalized man-made personal kingdoms of “pastor-kings.” And their many followers who love to have it so. The resistance they encounter in attempting to change a controlling, human organization that promotes self-centeredness, deadness and bondage to a systematic set of rules into a Godly living organism of love, life and liberty is unimaginable.
        Like Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah and others, today’s overcoming remnants will face ridicule, anger, conspiracies, hindrances, deceit, the rubbish of men’s traditions and will have to be prepared to fight their enemies. Despite the disagreement, disharmony, dissension, distractions and delays, they will succeed in their task.
        Sadly, however, we have to look at the historical biblical record from Zerubbabel’s temple remnant to the New Testament hypocrites, from multiple thousands to 120 followers of Jesus, and from Acts 2 to the seven churches in Revelation. There we see an established pattern of mankind continuing to turn away from God to self.
        The overcoming remnant’s reward comes not from what they may or may not accomplish in their lifetimes, but upon their righteous relationship with their Creator, and their efforts to bring others to repentance, and to return to the righteous paths of God, and to bring healing and restoration to God’s people.
        In the institutional churches, especially, there is no “... unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Instead, there is division between the institutional churches and the home ekklesias, and also within each of these there are further divisions. Many continue to be “... children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).
        Overcoming remnants make a great effort to be speaking the truth in love, growing up into Christ, and recognizing Christ as the head of His ekklesia. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). But the same can’t be said for most institutional churches.
        Obviously, the whole professing body is not “... fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).
        The institutional church is a living demonstration unto the principalities and powers in the heavenlies of a humanly organized, divided, ineffectual and self-centered bunch that make a mockery of God’s word.
  Man’s Predicament
        The overall view, the big picture, is that the totality of the churches and ekklesias are not polarized in unity around the truth of God’s word, not bound together in love that reproduces in the image and likeness of Jesus, not fellowshipping, i.e., sharing and socializing with one another and supporting those in need. The institutional churches much more so than the overcoming remnant ekklesias. We fail miserably at manifesting God’s wisdom through the collective churches and ekklesias, so we are clearly at odds with Gods’s eternal purpose.
        If that’s not lifting up our heel against Christ, and treating Him as an antagonist in tripping Him up as in wrestling I don’t know what is.
        How long will it be “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:13-16.)
        Despite a lack of abundance of fruit because of tremendous opposition, mostly from the institutional churches, individual and corporate efforts by overcoming remnants will produce for them sweet rewards.
  God’s Solution
        We don’t have the answer to our predicament but God does—part of which is Babylon and all it entails. Out from spiritual Babylon will come the overcoming remnant body, i.e., bride, which will continue to pursue God’s eternal purpose. The institutional church has missed the mark, and will become the nucleus for the apostate church of the last of the latter days.
        And every person that names the name of Christ will be tested and judged according to God’s wisdom and judgement.
        Those who claim to be God’s people continue to judge each other as to who is doing right in God’s eyes. So man’s wisdom, divisiveness, selfishness and social cliques are at the core of such judgement.
        God’s solution is much simpler. His tests are a place of mixed confusion and scattering to determine if you prefer that environment over His laws, ordinances, statutes, commandments and precepts. And if you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Then comes persecution and tribulation, great and lesser, to continue to test obedience to and love for Him.
        God’s love, grace, mercy and wisdom are at the core of God’s judgement. Only God, in His wisdom, has the authority and power to uphold that which is good in His Godly justice.
        After a new heaven and a new earth and the new Jerusalem, John says in Revelation 21:4,5:
        4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
        5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
        We are still in the former things, not the new things. We will continue to have tears, death, sorrow, crying and pain. Like it or not, every person who names the name of Christ will be tested and go through trials and ordeals. They will suffer persecution and tribulation. We will all go through the ordeal that Jesus went through in having our humanity tested:
        Matthew 26:39: “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (See also Matthew 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 18:11).
        We will all have to take up our cross, and follow Jesus:
        Matthew 16:24-27 (See also Matthew 10:38; Mark 8:34-38; 10:21-27; Luke 9:23-26; 14:27-35):
        24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
        25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
        26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
        27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
        Our humanity will be tested, and we will have to take up our cross daily, deny ourselves, follow Jesus, lose our lives for His sake, and thereby save it, and be obedient to Him unto death. And constantly reminding ourselves, “... nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
        The Old Testament is very clear that God tests His people in order to determine if they love Him and obey His commands.
        Paul the apostle makes it clear we are not tested beyond our ability to endure it.
        1 Corinthians 10:12,13:
        12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
        13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
        The phrase “to be tempted” in verse 13 is peirazo. According to this excerpt from Vine’s Expository Dictionary it “signifies (1) “to try, attempt, assay” ... in (1 Cor. 10:13), where the meaning has a wide scope, the verb is used of “testing” as permitted by God, and of the believer as one who should be in the realization of his own helplessness and his dependence upon God.”
        God has given us free will and will continue to allow us to make our own choices. There is a price to pay, however, in not recognizing God’s word as truth and receiving the love of His truth. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
        We are seeing this scriptural truth being manifested stronger and stronger in today’s institutional churches.
        1 Timothy 4:1,2:
        1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
        2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
        “... shall depart ...” is aphistemi; to remove, i.e. (actively) instigate to revolt; usually (reflexively) to desist, desert, etc. Those that have “fallen away,” i.e., revolted against the true faith of God, will come under the control of demonic spirits who will seduce them and teach them doctrines of demons. Quoting from Vine’s Expository Dictionary the word “hypocrisy,” is hupokrisis and “primarily denotes “a reply, an answer” (akin to hupokrinomai, “to answer”); then, “play-acting,” as the actors spoke in dialogue; hence, “pretence, hypocrisy.”” These hypocrites, now revolting against the true biblical faith, will be like actors speaking from a script written by demons, because their consciences are seared by their sinful lifestyle.
        Scripture says these lying actors will depart from the faith, not from the “church.” Institutional churches are full of them. Where else can they go to teach their demonic doctrines?
        2 Timothy 3:1-5 (Amplified Bible):
        1 But understand this, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble—hard to deal with and hard to bear.
        2 For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.
        3 [They will be] without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman), relentless—admitting of no truce or appeasement. [They will be] slanderers—false accusers, trouble makers; intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.
        4 [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.
        5 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it—their conduct belies the genuiness of their profession. Avoid [all] such people—turn away from them.
        In verse 5 “... form... ” is morphosis; formation, i.e. (by implication) appearance (semblance or [concretely] formula). Obviously, Paul is speaking of institutional churches that look good on the outside, like they have piety, or godliness, i.e., are devoted to God, but “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess” (Matthew 23:25.) The companion passage in Luke 11:39 reads: “And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.”
        In the two verses “extortion” and “ravening” both are the same word, harpage, which according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary “denotes “pillage, plundering, robbery, extortion” (akin to harpazo, “to seize, carry off by force,” and harpagmos, “a thing seized, or the act of seizing”; from the root arp, seen in Eng., “rapacious”; an associated noun, with the same spelling, denoted a rake, or hook for drawing up a bucket); it is translated “extortion” in (Matt. 23:25; Luke 11:39), RV, KJV, “ravening”; (Heb. 10:34), “spoiling.””
        In Matthew 23:25 “excess” is akrasia; want of self-restraint. In Luke 11:39 “wickedness” is poneria; depravity, i.e. (specifically) malice; plural (concretely) plots, sins.
        The religious establishment of institutional churches today looks just like the real thing, but inside they are involved in calculated and secret evil and unlawful plans that are contrary to God’s love, grace, mercy, wisdom, judgement and justice (sins). The self-appointed leaders of these organizations take their follower’s possessions unlawfully and prevent them from obtaining possessions (plundering and robbery). These unbiblical “king-pastors” pressure, manipulate and intimidate their people in order to get their money, possessions and time (extortion). As a result these “leaders” and their followers have degrading and immoral habits and practices (depravity) in their lifestyles because of lack of self-control. They are continually hatching their evil plots to bring pain, injury and mental and physical stress to those with whom they have to do (wickedness).
        Jude 1:3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
        The phrase “should earnestly contend for” is epagonizomai which, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary “signifies “to contend about a thing, as a combatant” (epi, “upon or about,” intensive, agon, “a contest”), “to contend earnestly,” (Jude 3). The word “earnestly” is added to convey the intensive force of the preposition.”
        In an excerpt from Nelson’s Bible Dictionary this comment is made: “Finally, in the New Testament, faith can refer to the teachings of the Bible, the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In modern times, faith has been weakened in meaning so that some people use it to mean self-confidence. But in the Bible, true faith is confidence in God or Christ, not in oneself.”
        It is readily apparent to anyone who faithfully reads and studies God’s word that the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints has been replaced with a humanly-oriented counterfeit teaching in order to make it acceptable to willfully sinning human beings. Human beings who want to continue to willfully sin while deceiving themselves that they are doing God’s will.
        When Christ addressed the seven churches in the book of Revelation, He commended some, but had to give clear directions for them to repent. The same sad state of affairs continues to this day.
        Do we want to continue to miss the mark or will we hear Paul the apostle as he exhorted Timothy?
        1 Timothy 6:20,21 (Amplified Bible):
        20 O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! Turn away from the irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination.
        21 [For] by making such profession some have erred—missed the mark—as regards the faith. Grace (divine favor and blessing) be with you all! Amen—so be it.
Persecution, Tribulation And Judgement
        John, the writer of the book of Revelation, has obeyed Christ in writing the things which he has seen, the things which are and the things which shall be hereafter. The themes of rebellion against God and His word and of persecution and tribulation and judgement are clear.
        Also the rewards for personal righteousness.
        Revelation 1:3: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
        The book of Revelation is best understood as prophecy “the words of this prophecy.” This is restated in Revelation 22:7,10,18,19.
        Jesus is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11), and the things that John wrote are faithful and true (Revelation 21:5; 22:6).
        God’s prophetical word does not fail. God’s eternal purpose will be accomplished. Through the institutional churches and His overcoming remnant ekklesia. We are seeing a falling away, and there is coming persecution, tribulation and judgement.
        And there are rewards for personal righteousness.
  A Righteous Lifestyle Requires Effort, Toil and Strong Labor
        The Bible is clear that there are differing categories of those who are saved, mentioned in Revelation 11:18 as “prophets,” “saints” and “them that fear thy name, small and great.”
        There are also degrees of rewards for the saints according to their works, or deeds (Matthew 5:12; 6:1-18;10:41,42; 20:1-16 (where “hire” is misthos, reward, in verse 8); Mark 9:41; Luke 6:23,35; John 4:32-38 (where “wages” is misthos, reward, in verse 36); 1 Corinthians 3:8,14; 9:17,18; Colossians 3:23,24; 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 John 1:8; Revelation 11:8).
        Paul, the apostle, spoke of this in Romans 2:5-11 (New International Version):
        5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
        6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”
        7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
        8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
        9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;
        10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
        11 For God does not show favoritism.
        Jesus emphasized one’s “works” in the book of Revelation:
        Revelation 2:23: “And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins [used of the inmost thoughts, feelings, or purposes of the soul–Thayer’s Definition] and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”
        Revelation 14:13: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
        Revelation 22:12: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
        The words in those verses for “work,” “works” and “deeds” are ergon; from a primary (but obsolete) ergo (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication, an act.
        The word “labours” in Revelation 14:13, above, is kopos; a cut, i.e. (by analogy) toil (as reducing the strength), literally or figuratively; by implication, pains.
        We see that our works or deeds involve toil, effort and action and this is further clarified by Jesus in mentioning “labours” which involves using strength, sometimes involving pain.
        We in our human wisdom tend to minimize putting any real effort into our lifestyle by making an effort to toil and labor with our strength, even to the point of pain.
        To understand just how serious Jesus is about our works and labor look at Revelation 20. This is the great white throne judgement after the 1,000 year period.
        Revelation 20:12,13:
        12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
        13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
        These people are judged entirely “according to their works.”
        Your eternal destiny will be greatly influenced by your works.
        How much more so, then, should we put an effort to toil and labor with our strength, ignoring our earthly and temporal pain? “For our light affliction (thlipsis, i.e., tribulation), which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18.)
        Many make it a practice to proclaim their great authority in Christ, while ignoring their much greater responsibilities. Concentrating on our responsibilities as learners, supporters and imitators of Jesus Christ as His disciples is the only way we will have true authority in Christ.
        There are those today who identify themselves as the remnant, the overcomers, the bride of Christ, the members of the house of faith of the true Israel. However, that determination cannot be made by any human being. We must rely on God’s wisdom to reveal those things to us in His timing.
  God’s Justice Is Perfect
        God doesn’t think like we do. Jesus made it perfectly clear that the first shall be last; and the last shall be first (Matthew 19:30; Mark 10:31), which is illogical to our human way of thinking.
        We must realize that in His love God will continue to display His grace and mercy to us. And that we who name the name of Christ will be more than satisfied with God’s wisdom and judgement, and in His ultimate justice for all of mankind.
Addendum:
The Temple
        There are many who have read into Jesus’ references to the “abomination of desolation” spoken of in Daniel, that another earthly temple must be built by the Jews on the temple mount in Jerusalem. References in the New Testament to a “temple” have been misunderstood and misapplied. The use of the word “temple” is used allegorically and of the believer himself. It’s also used to describe the temple of God in heaven in the book of Revelation and the new Jerusalem. Statements by commentators say there is no temple in Revelation 21:22: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” Question: Is there a temple in the new Jerusalem? John looked for a “temple” there—which means he was looking for a physical building with a familiar look of a typically built temple. What did he say? “I saw no temple therein.” Meaning he didn’t see a familiar looking physical building. What was his next statement. “... the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple.” What does that mean? It means there is a temple in the new Jerusalem and that temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.
        The only other temple here on earth is the temple spoken of in Ezekiel, chapters 40 through 47. In chapter 43 it’s clear that God will enter the temple through the east gate. Then in Ezekiel 43:7 the text reads: “And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.”
        In addition to this the text is clear that animal sacrifices and other religious observances related to the law, including circumcision, will be established. The Levitical priests are relegated to a position below that of the Zadokites.
        If God Himself inhabits the temple, He would never resort to the blood of animals as sacrificial animals—for His saints—because that would tacitly express the thought that the shed blood of Jesus, His only begotten Son was not sufficient. This is obviously a basic doctrine. Contradicting, or negating it would invalidate Christianity itself.
        Since God will “dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever” in this temple and the temple in the new heavens and new earth is God Himself, this temple can only be a forerunner of the new Jerusalem. Apparently there is a spiritual dimension to this temple in Ezekiel.
        The only place in time this temple in Ezekiel can be placed is the 1,000 year period.
        And then the question arises as to why the reestablishment of some provisions of the law?
        In the events of Revelation, chapter 12 God raptures the overcoming remnant saints of all ages, deals with one group of natural Israel by a “wilderness” judgment and deals with the other group by having the devil war against them as a purging and cleansing process.
        Of the two groups left on earth, God will judge and purge one group and the devil will purge the other group. The second group, the third part of the stars of heaven, will probably be martyred during the time of the reign of the beast.
        In God’s covenant with Abraham he was promised land, “seed” or descendants who will make a great nation. God also promised Abraham that “I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” Israel is the vehicle through which these promises will all be fulfilled, despite the disobedience of the nation of Israel.
        The totality of Abraham’s “descendants” will come into a fullness in the 1,000 year period and the new heavens and new earth.
        These natural descendants of Abraham, through Isaac, will be among those who God has judged in the “wilderness” mentioned in Revelation, chapter 12.
        Some of this group may accept Jesus by faith in Him as their Saviour.
        Others of this group will not have accepted Jesus as their Saviour by faith. Only after they see Him with their very own natural eyes do they then accept Jesus as the Messiah.
        It’s this natural group that will continue on into the 1,000 year period. However, there is a problem in that they will not have accepted Jesus as their Saviour by faith—only when they saw Him personally and visibly.
        But God’s promises to Abraham will have been fulfilled, and those of the nation of natural Israel who did not accept Jesus by faith will have to serve Him under the (modified) Law. In the millennium temple of Ezekiel. With a distinction between the Levites and the Zadokites.
        Those Jews who wait to accept Jesus upon His personal, visible return will not be a part of the overcoming remnant bride. They may be part of the nations and their kings and implied citizens, or subjects spoken of in Revelation 21:24-27:
        24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
        25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
        26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
        27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
        Unger’s Bible Dictionary comments on Herod’s Temple:
        “Herod’s Temple. The Temple as it existed after the captivity was not such as would satisfy a man as vain and fond of display as Herod the Great; and he accordingly undertook the task of rebuilding it on a grander scale. Although the reconstruction was practically equivalent to an entire rebuilding, still this Temple cannot be spoken of as a third one, for Herod himself said, in so many words, that it was only intended to be regarded as an enlarging and further beautifying of that of Zerubbabel. After the necessary preparation the work of building was begun in the eighteenth year of Herod’s reign (20 or 21 B.C.). The Temple proper, in which priests and Levites were employed, was finished in a year and a half, and the courts in the course of eight years. Subsidiary buildings were gradually erected, added to through the reigns of his successors, so that the entire undertaking was not completed till the time of Agrippa II and the procurator Albinus (A.D. 64). For our knowledge of the last and greatest of the Jewish Temples we are indebted almost wholly to the works of Josephus, with an occasional hint from the Talmud. The Bible unfortunately contains nothing to assist in this respect.”
        Paul the apostle is quoted as proof that a new temple will be built:
        2 Thessalonians 2:3,4:
        3 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;
        4 Who opposeth and 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.
        Paul is simply alluding to Old Testament scriptures which incorporate that same thought:
        Isaiah 14:13,14:
        13 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:
        14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
        Ezekiel 28:2,6,9:
        2 Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:
        6 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God;
        9 Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.
        Daniel 11:36: “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.”
        There is no reason to attempt to interpret his allegorical description of the thoughts and ambitions of “the son of perdition” outside of the clear scriptural references. Paul also uses the same word “temple” in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 allegorically in other scriptures:
        1 Corinthians 3:16,17:
        16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
        17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
        1 Corinthians 6:19: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
        2 Corinthians 6:16: “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
        Ephesians 2:20-22:
        20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
        21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
        22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
        My point is that in our attempts to focus upon the building of another temple in Jerusalem, we have sidestepped valid principles of understanding scripture by a random assortment of unrelated verses and created an unscriptural assortment of straw men.
        With all the different straw men’s theological opinions, each camp continues to try to knock down the other straw men that are vying for competition.
        If the expected temple fails to be built and no one signs a seven year peace treaty with Israel and the expected broken treaty is not realized, many will be tremendously shaken in their faith.
        These straw men of foundational sand set aside the priority of God’s eternal purpose for human ego fulfillment of who is right. As inheritors of the kingdom of God, we have a responsibility to our Creator to fulfill Him, and His purposes, not our own purposes.
        This sand upon which foundational faith is built will begin to erode in the earthly and spiritual tide of latter times events. Many will depart from the faith. Others will continue to fabricate straw men to accommodate their followers.
The Seventieth Week Of Daniel
        Within theological circles there is much debate about the seventy weeks spoken of by Daniel. Some feel Daniel’s prophecy and the prophecy of the book of Revelation have been fulfilled. Others teach that it’s been partially fulfilled. And there are many other variations upon that theme.
        If it has been fulfilled then it would have to have been symbolically. If that’s so, then those who think Jesus has come and gone back to heaven and the Great White Throne Judgement is behind us are either in their symbolical new heavens and new earth or in their symbolical lake of fire. So if they are happy with their symbolical “done deal” then I hope they’re happy with where they symbolically are.
        In an article about the seventy weeks of Daniel, Unger’s Bible Dictionary makes this comment: “It is thus apparent that (Dan. 9:27) is a battleground between the various millennial schools of eschatological thought.”
        Daniel 9:26,27:
        26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
        27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
        The truth is that nobody really knows what it says in the text. Different manuscripts, interpretations, different pre-, post-, mid- and etc., predetermined theological mindsets simply continue to play semantical chess in a fruitless attempt to checkmate each other.
        There appear to be two rational arguments in this theological free-for-all. One is that there is only one week of seven years left of the seventy. The other is that there is only one-half week, or 3 1/2 years left of the seventy.
        Arguments for both of these positions are very good.
        When the book of Revelation is approached from either one of these two mindsets, the interpretation of prophecy of the book of Revelation is interpreted from the point of view of that mindset.
  A Known Time Line
        There is a time line laid down in Revelation that should be clear:
        Revelation 11:3-7:
        3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
        4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
        5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
        6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
        7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
        These two witnesses will “prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
        Then “when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”
        They will prophecy 1,260 days, or 42 months here on this earth and then “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit” will kill them.
        Who is this beast?
        Revelation 13:1: “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.”
        In Revelation 17:1 we read: “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:”
        Revelation 17:7,8:
        7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
        8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
        This beast is obviously the same one as in Revelation 13:1 that came out of the sea. There is different terminology because the symbolical meanings of “sea” and “bottomless pit” are meant to be different (but complementary).
        There is an “angel of the bottomless pit,” and there is “another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb.”
        Revelation 9:11: “And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.”
        Revelation 13:11: “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.”
        Neither of these is ever referred to as “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.”
        So the beast that kills the two witnesses is identified in Revelation 13:1.
        Revelation 13:5 says about this beast: “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”
        The two witnesses will prophecy 1,260 days, or 42 months here on earth and then “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit” will kill them. “... and power was given unto him [the beast] to continue forty and two months.”
        It should be clear that these are not the same 42 months and when the two witnesses complete their 42 months testimony, the beast will kill them and he will have power 42 months. This is a total of seven years.
        There are some who teach that the “antichrist” is identified in Matthew 24:5,24, Mark 13:6,22 and Luke 21:8. In these verses Jesus is speaking of those who will come in His name and those He calls “false Christs.”
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary says about the antichrist: “antichristos can mean either “against Christ” or “instead of Christ,” or perhaps, combining the two, “one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ” (Westcott). The word is found only in John’s epistles, (a) of the many “antichrists” who are forerunners of the “Antichrist” himself, (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 John 7); (b) of the evil power which already operates anticipatively of the “Antichrist,” (1 John 4:3).
        “What the apostle says of him so closely resembles what he says of the first beast in (Rev. 13), and what the apostle Paul says of the Man of Sin in (2 Thes. 2), that the same person seems to be in view in all these passages, rather than the second beast in (Rev. 13), the false prophet; for the latter supports the former in all his Antichristian assumptions.
        “Note: The term pseudochristos, “a false Christ,” is to be distinguished from the above; it is found in (Matt. 24:24) and (Mark 13:22). The false Christ does not deny the existence of Christ, he trades upon the expectation of His appearance, affirming that he is the Christ. The Antichrist denies the existence of the true God (Trench, Syn. Sec. xxx).”
        In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the “man of sin” is also called the “son of perdition.”
        2 Thessalonians 2:1-9:
        1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
        2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
        3 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;
        4 Who opposeth and 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.
        5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
        6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
        7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
        8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
        9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
        In Revelation the beast is referred to as going “into perdition.”
        Revelation 17:8,11:
        8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
        11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
        The antichrist, who is the “man of sin,” and the “son of perdition” appears to be the leader or ruler of the symbolic beast system of Revelation 13.
        The false Christs and those who come in Jesus’ name are not the antichrist who is introduced into the biblical account in Revelation 13.
  An Unknown Time Line
        As mentioned before, the two witnesses will have gone through the seven seal judgements and the first six trumpet judgements and the second woe. This is before they start their 42 months testimony, which is followed by the beast’s 42 months being in power.
        There is apparently an undetermined period of time for the seven seal judgements and the first six trumpet judgements and the second woe to take place. This is followed by two consecutive 42 month, i.e., 3 1/2 year, periods of time for a total of 7 sequential years.
        The description in Matthew 24:4-8 (see also Mark 13:5-8; Luke 21:8-11) by Jesus closely parallels the first four seals of Revelation 6:1-8. Jesus describes this time in Matthew 24:8 as “the beginning of sorrows,” more literally “birth pains.”
        In Matthew 24:9 Jesus says: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted [thlipsis, i.e., tribulation], and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
        Jesus continues in Matthew 24:10: “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.”
        Excerpts from Vine’s Expository Dictionary explain the word “offended.” “... is skandalizo, from skandalon “offense”, signifies “to put a snare or stumblingblock in the way,” always metaphorically in the NT, in the same ways as the noun, skandalon, originally ... “the name of the part of a trap to which the bait is attached, hence, the trap or snare itself, as in (Rom. 11:9), RV, ‘stumblingblock,’ quoted from (Psa. 69:22), and in (Rev. 2:14), for Balaam’s device was rather a trap for Israel than a stumblingblock to them, and in (Matt. 16:23), for in Peter’s words the Lord perceived a snare laid for Him by Satan ... In [the] NT skandalon is always used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way ...”
        Mark 13:9-13 and Luke 21:12-19 express the same thoughts with some differences in description and personal counsel.
        This also closely parallels the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:”
        In Matthew 24:9 they shall “deliver you up,” i.e., treacherously delivered over to prison or judgement by previous brothers and sisters in the Lord. To be “afflicted” (thlipsis), by pressure, tribulation and persecution. You will be killed and hated by all (the) nations.
        Something has caused those who Jesus speaks of in these verses to become prejudiced against the word of God, so that it places obstacles in their way and they can’t act upon their faith in God’s word. The result is that they fall away from the faith. And “betray,” i.e., treacherously deliver over to prison or judgement their previous brothers and sisters in the Lord.
        Let me depart from the text for a moment to illustrate how the cause of this is stated in Matthew 24:11.
        In Matthew 24 Jesus describes the results of what happens in verse 6 and then states the cause in verse 7.
        Matthew 24:6,7:
        6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
        7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
        In Mark 13, verses 7 and 8 we find the same thing: the result in verse 7, the cause in verse 8.
        Mark 13:7,8:
        7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
        8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
        In Mark 13, the same conditions exist: verses 9-13 reflect the results of what is described as the cause in verses 21 and 22. However, the parenthetical statement by Jesus concerning the “abomination of desolation” in verses 14 through 20 has to be removed in order to connect the verses.
        Mark 13:9-22:
        9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
        10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
        11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
        12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
        13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
        (14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
        15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
        16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
        17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
        18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
        19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
        20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.)
        [Parentheses mine]
        21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
        22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
        Now, back to the text I was discussing:
        In Matthew 24:9,10 we find the same sentence structure, i.e., first the results in verses 9 and 10 and then the cause in verse 11.
        Matthew 24:9-11:
        9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
        10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
        11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
        False prophets are the cause of this prejudice, obstacles and apostasy which brings pressure, tribulation, persecution, hatred and death to the true saints of God who were “slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).
        Matthew 24:11-14 (Also Mark 13:21-23):
        11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
        12 And because iniquity [read: lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
        Jesus leaps ahead in time, summarizing His thought:
        13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
        14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
        Jesus has completed His thread of thought in Matthew 24:14. Having done so, He now interjects a parenthetical warning into His main thought:
        Matthew 24:15-22: (Also Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21:20-24)
        15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
        16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
        17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
        18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
        19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
        20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
        21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
        22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
        Jesus now refers back to His statement in Matthew 24:11 concerning the proliferation of false prophets:
        Matthew 24:23-28:
        23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
        24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
        25 Behold, I have told you before.
        26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
        27 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.
        28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
        Matthew 24:29 (Also Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27):
        29 Immediately after the tribulation [thlipsis] of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
        Jesus continues His thought concerning false prophets (Matthew 24:11,12) by stating what will happen after that time (Matthew 24:23-28). His reference to “Immediately after the tribulation of those days” in Matthew 24:29 refers to the days of the false prophets (Matthew 24:9(-12)), not to the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) of “those days” of Matthew 24:22.
        “Those days” of Matthew 24:22 “shall be shortened.” From our historical point of view those days were shortened. Jesus had finished talking about that period of time being shortened and then had expanded His statement about false prophets and now refers to those same days of false prophets.
        The description in Matthew 24:29 is very similar to the opening of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12.
        Excerpted from the the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary on Revelation 6:12:
        “12. As Re 6:4, 6-8, the sword, famine, and pestilence, answer to Mt 24:6, 7; Re 6:9, 10, as to martyrdoms, answer to Mt 24:9, 10; so this passage, Re 6:12, 17, answers to Mt 24:29, 30, “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven; then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming”; imagery describing the portents of the immediate coming of the day of the Lord; but not the coming itself until the elect are sealed, and the judgments invoked by the martyrs descend on the earth, the sea, and the trees (Re 7:1-3).”
        Jesus again leaps ahead in time, summarizing His thoughts in Matthew 24:30,31:
        30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
        31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
        My intent in all this is to remove the parenthetical warning about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20 and Luke 21:20-24 and skip over it. It is now ancient history. Then connect the texts just before and after these passages and read it as one contiguous block of text.
  Define A Time Line
        In Matthew 24:15-22 it’s clear that Jesus is speaking of the then existing temple in Jerusalem:
        Matthew 24:1,2:
        1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
        2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
        Mark 13:1,2:
        1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
        2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
        Luke 21:5,6:
        5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
        6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
        The text in Luke also specifies that Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies at the time of its desolation and that the people will fall by the sword and taken captive into all nations:
        Luke 21:24: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
        Luke 21:20: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”
        In Luke 19:41-44 we read another account by Jesus of the same event:
        41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
        42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
        43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
        44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
        In Matthew 24:20 the reference to the sabbath day has no significance to Jews today. If necessary to conduct mobile warfare on a sabbath, no one would call a halt to the activities.
        In Luke 19:43, the word “trench” is charax, which according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary is “primarily “a pointed stake,” hence, “a palisade or rampart,” is rendered “trench” in (Luke 19:43), KJV (RV, “bank,” marg., “palisade”). In A. D. 70, Titus, the Roman general, surrounded Jerusalem with a palisaded mound (Tyndale, 1.c. renders it “mound”). The Jews in one of their sorties destroyed this charax, after which Titus surrounded the city with a wall of masonry.”
        There is sufficient convincing evidence from history that this prophetic utterance by Jesus was fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The significance, however, of the Vespasian/Titus siege and destruction of Jerusalem in relation to the 70th week of Daniel is hotly debated.
        One camp says Vespasian and Titus “confirmed” the Mosaic covenant to the Jews at the beginning of the siege. The word for “confirmed” is translated “strengthened” in some translations, which is its primary meaning. So the meaning would be that of telling the Jews that the Greek authorities would allow the Jews to continue their observance of the Mosaic law as Roman citizens. But after 3 1/2 years they were forced to destroy the temple because the people continued to resist them rather than accept Roman rule. They identify the “prince that shall come and destroy the city and the sanctuary” of Daniel 9:26 as Titus. And that in Daniel 9:27 he “confirmed” covenant (there is no article “the” in the original) with many for one week and in the midst of the week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease (because he had to overcome the resistance of the people and the temple was destroyed).
        Another camp says the “prince that shall come and destroy the city and the sanctuary” refers to Jesus. And that Jesus “confirmed” covenant for one week and in the midst of the week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease by His death, making animal sacrifices invalid.
        Yet another camp says the “prince that shall come and destroy the city and the sanctuary” is the antichrist, who is the leader or ruler of the symbolic beast system of Revelation 13, who is yet to be revealed. Advocates of this camp state first, that a new temple will be built upon the site of Zerubbabel’s temple that was lavishly refurbished by Herod, and that the beast will make a brand new covenant, not related to the Mosiac covenant, with the nation of Israel and after 3 1/2 years will break the treaty he originated and then the tribulation will begin.
        This is the most popular and the least plausible of the scenarios because:
        It assumes the historical evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. has no place in fulfillment of prophecy for the Jews. (This was an historical event recorded as one of the most awful times known to mankind. Estimates of the slaughter run from 500,000 to 2,000,000 human beings. Researching this period of time will be a real eye opener for many.)
        It also assumes that a new Jewish temple will be built where the Dome of the Rock is now located, or very close to it. Chances for that happening are slim and none. Again, history is our witness. The Dome of the Rock is a tremendously sensitive religious and political issue. Changes in supervision of this piece of real estate will cause greater upheavals of violence. Attempts to build a Jewish temple there would probably result in an openly declared state of war.
        It also assumes some type of “peace treaty” will be originated and written at some future time by the antichrist, i.e., leader or ruler of the beast system of Revelation 13:1-8, who is also the “man of sin” and “son of perdition” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (see also Revelation 17:8-11).
        It further assumes this “peace treaty” must be broken by the beast after 3 1/2 years. Since he only has power for 42 months, i.e., 3 1/2 years, (Revelation 13:5) this idea lacks credibility. The whole concept of this beast from Revelation 13:2 is that he comes on the scene as extremely hostile, swift and mobile (“like unto a leopard”), powerful (“as the feet of a bear”), and vocal (“as the mouth of a lion”). In the first mention of him speaking: “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:6).
        And, of course, there are variations upon those different themes.
        Arguments as to whether there remains of Daniel’s seventy weeks only one week of years, i.e., seven years, or 3 1/2 weeks, i.e., 3 1/2 years does not make much difference.
        If it’s a full seven years, then start your mental calculations from the inception of the testimony of the two witnesses.
        If it’s only 3 1/2 years, then start your mental calculations from the time of power of “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.”
        The end result of the fulfillment of the prophecy of the book of Revelation will be the same either way.
  Real Time
        Jesus said: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
        Everything we need added to us comes from seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness as the first priority of our lives.
        With that understanding theological minds at odds with one another today can be better utilized in the professing body of Christ as elders, shepherds and overseers of the flock as they provide living examples of the outcome of their being a disciple, i.e., a learner, follower, imitator and supporter of their Teacher, Jesus Christ.

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