Now, pay very close attention here to the picture given in Daniel 12:6-10: The picture is of a river, with two men standing on opposite banks with a third Man (clothed in linen) hovering in the middle and above the river. The picture below gives a more accurate depiction of Daniel 12:6-10 than does the one above by Gustave Doré.
The Scripture here (specifically, verse 8) indicates that Daniel could not comprehend what he was seeing, and so he asked the One hovering over the river, "I don't understand;" and the reply given to Daniel was this:
THE TIME OF THE END IS NOW
BUT we have at last come to the "time of the end," and the meaning of this prophesy is now given to those who are "WILLING TO LEARN" (Daniel 12:10); and so we read:
The prophesy (i.e., Daniel 12:6-10) continues:
Please see below for a synopsis of
The "Court of the Gentiles" is that portion of the Temple OUTSIDE the walls of the structure itself; in the picture above, it is that colonnaded area surrounding the Temple.
In unraveling the meaning behind Revelation 11 - and, for that matter, Daniel 12 and Revelation 14 - it should be understood that these prophecies have been written as parables, as puzzles. Their meaning has been shrouded in a mystery, a seemingly impenetrable haze.
Why? - to protect them from those against whom their message is directed: from governments, peoples, and organizations; and most especially, to protect them from the false religious leaders of today's apostate church, who - if they truly knew what had been written - would destroy the Scriptures if they could. As it is written:
"Therefore I [Jesus] speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear nor do they understand.
"And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive ...' " (Matthew 13: 13-14)
Christian leaders (so-called) from whom the Prophetic Scriptures have been concealed: From top and left to right, Texe Marrs, Tim LaHaye, C. Peter Wagner, Mike Bickle, John Hagee, Francis Frangipane, Pat Robertson, Dr. James Dobson, etc., etc. [Please see our articles, "Luciferic Christianity" and "The God Men of the American New World Order;" please also see "The Superman Theology of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem."]
But parables are surely clever devices, for while their purpose is to obscure truth from some, at the same time their purpose is to reveal truth to others. To some the prophetic Scriptures will always remain an enigma, while to those called according to His purpose, they are a cipher which, with study (II Tim. 2:15), can be unraveled:
"And the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do You speak to them in parables'? And He answered and said to them, 'To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted'." (Matthew 13:10-11)
With all this in mind, let's look now at one of the most remarkable passages of Scripture in the whole Bible, and we speak specifically of Revelation chapter 11:
"Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.
"But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles [In this case, meaning the unbelievers]. And they will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months [3-1/2 years]" (Revelation 11:1-2)
The first thing to notice here is that it is "THE TEMPLE OF GOD, THE ALTAR, AND THOSE WHO WORSHIP THERE" that are being "measured," and this fact is reinforced by the command to -
"... leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it." (Revelation 11:2)
This is a reference to the "Court of the Gentiles" (see picture above) which got its name from the fact that the Gentiles were permitted entrance there - but not to the inner Temple area.
In other words, what the Scripture has in mind here are the so-called "People of God," NOT the unbelievers. It's the "People of God" who are being "measured" or JUDGED.
Good fish and bad fish
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
"Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
"SO SHALL IT BE AT THE END OF THE WORLD: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
"And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:47-50)
And again in Matthew 13:24-30 when He said:
"The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Satan sowing Seeds: by Félicien Rops
"But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
"But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
"So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
"He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
"But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
"Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." (Matthew 13:24-30)
And finally, and most frightening of all, we have Matthew 22:11-13 where a King (Jesus) came to observe the guests who had come to His wedding feast:
"But when the king came in to behold the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding-garment:
"and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless.
"Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 22:11-13)
One must remember here: It is not what a man says he is, but what a man demonstrates himself to be; as the Bible says:
"Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:17-18)
The TRIBULATION OF THE SAINTS: God's people being persecuted by the religious establishment and "cast out" from the community of man.
"'Many shall be purified by great trials and persecutions. But the wicked shall continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are willing to learn will know what it means'." (Daniel 12:6-10)
The Bible says:
"We GLORY in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
"And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5:3-5)
It is precisely to these people - those whose faith has been tried by "much tribulation" - that great POWER WILL BE GIVEN (Revelation 11:3) to prophesy as God's witnesses during the first half of the Tribulation - that period of time referenced in the verses below (i.e., Revelation 11:3-4).
And so we read in Revelation 11:3:
"I will give POWER to my TWO WITNESSES [i.e., those who have been "measured" by God and have DEMONSTRATED their faith (Revelation 11:1-2)] and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days [3-1/2 years - again, the first half of the Tribulation Period], clothed in SACKCLOTH." (Revelation 11:3)
Clothed in sackcloth
NOTE: Sackcloth is a very coarse cloth used to make sacks. It is worn by those who have been severely impoverished - which is precisely the condition of those who maintain their testimonies during the Tribulation: They have been cast out of society. They have been made destitute. These are the ones who can say with the Prophet:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no heard in the stalls - "YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
The prophesy continues:
"These are the TWO OLIVE TREES and the TWO LAMPSTANDS standing before the God of the earth." (Revelation 11:4)
The Two Witnesses: Israel and the church [Please see Chapter VI of the New Antipas Papers, "The Distinction Between Israel and the Church."]
NOTE: This (i.e., Revelation 11:3-4) is a reference to the same two "entities" that the Prophet Daniel saw (Daniel 12:6):
"Then I, Daniel, looked and saw TWO MEN on each bank of the river. And one of them asked the man in linen robes who was standing now above the river, 'How long will it be before the terrors end'?
"He (i.e., Christ) replied, with both hands lifted to heaven ... that they will not end until three and a half years after the power of God's people (Israel and the church) has been crushed [In other words, the last half of the Tribulation Period]. (Daniel 6:7-8)
In connection with all this, one should take note of how the Scriptures identify the "Two Witnesses:" They are compared to -
The OLIVE TREE.
The LAMPSTAND [Candlestick].
These are code words. Ciphers. But ciphers for what? Again, it's really not all that difficult. Almost all biblical scholars agree that the term "Olive Tree" is a Scriptural reference, not to a single individual, but to a whole people and nation - a CORPORATE being or person - Israel (Romans 11). [Again, please see Chapter VI of the New Antipas Papers, The Distinction Between Israel and the Church."]
The same is true with the term, "Lampstand." It is common knowledge in the church that the term "Lampstand" is a Biblical reference to the Church. In fact, in the book of Revelation, the seven Churches (Revelation 1-3) are all represented by a lampstand.
Finally, the Scriptures, as if to emphasize further the corporate nature of the Two Witnesses, represent each single witness with two objects, not one. Why? Why should not the one witness be represented by just one lampstand, and the other witness by just one olive tree? The reason, again, is simple. The number "two" in this case signifies PLURALITY and indicates that the Scripture has in mind here two CORPORATE or PLURAL beings rather than single individuals.
Moreover, these divine corporate beings are referred to SPECIFICALLY as God's witnesses. To Israel, God says:
"But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
"Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled ... Let them bring out their witnesses ...
"'[But] YOU ARE MY WITNESSES', says the Lord, 'And My servant whom I have chosen' ..." (Isaiah 43:1,9-10)
And to the Church, He says:
"... and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
[We URGE you to see Part 5 of Chapter VIII of the New Antipas Papers, "Parables and Ciphers."]
The prophesy goes on:
"And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.
"These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire'." (Revelation 11:5-6)
Now one should carefully note that the FIRE that proceeds from these Two Witnesses emanates from their mouths; the fire is in the words (TESTIMONY) they are speaking; it KILLS - and it kills just as surely as the words from Peter's mouth killed both Ananias and Sapphira, his wife:
"But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit' ... "And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and ... [died]; and great fear came upon all who heard of it." (Acts 5:3, 5)
This is the same kind of "fire" that proceeded out of Stephen's mouth when he testified to the Pharisees and the Sadducees [the "religious establishment" of Christ's time] after he had been brought before them to give an account of his faith:
"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Stephen testifying before the religious establishment of his day.
"Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
"Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
"WHEN THEY HEARD THESE THINGS, THEY WERE CUT TO THE HEART, AND THEY GNASHED ON HIM WITH THEIR TEETH.
"But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
"And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:51-56)
And when the Bible speaks here of the Two Witnesses withholding the "blessings of heaven" we are here speaking concerning the kind of affliction that took hold of Saul when he lost the Lord's blessing:
"Now the Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah TROUBLED him [as a PLAGUE from God]." (1 Samuel 16:14)
NOTE: This is the kind of plague that Revelation 11:5-6 is referencing; it is a spiritual plague and one far more devastating than any physical plague because it has the power to destroy one's soul.
Now one cannot say that - even at this late date - the Spirit of God has entirely departed from the "established religion" of our day; it lingers still. But once the Testimony of the TWO WITNESSES begins, the Spirit of God will depart the "established religion" - along with the Lord's blessings - eventually driving the leaders of the "established church" into a state of INSANITY, the same kind of insanity evinced by the Pharisees and the Sadducees when they attacked Stephen after his testimony and GNAWED on him with their teeth.
Now, again, we must pause and remind ourselves what the Two Witnesses are testifying against: They are testifying against the claim of the American New World Order System and the apostate church that supports that system that they are God's representatives on earth. In doing so, they are proclaiming the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM about which Jesus said:
"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." (Matt. 24:14)
The "Gospel of the Kingdom" announces the "good news" that the Kingdom of Christ is close "at hand." This, of course, is not the first time that the Kingdom has been announced to be close "at hand." BUT THE KINGDOM WAS REJECTED BY THE JEWS in fulfillment of the Scripture, that - "... they (i.e., Israel) without us (i.e., the church) should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:40) [Please see Chapter VI of the New Antipas Papers, "The Distinction Between Israel and the Church."] Now, after an interval of some 2,000 years, the Kingdom is once again "at hand!" The so-called "church age" is all but past, and the Jews - once dispersed over the whole earth because of the rejection of their king - have now been re-gathered again to their land. Everything is ready! - and God is raising up a people to proclaim that the Kingdom is again "AT HAND."
The "Gospel of the Kingdom" is God's answer to the fallacious claims of both America and the church that supports America. It has been calculated to rip away the mask of piety that the religious FRAUDS who wickedly justify this system hide behind - for example, Christian leaders such as D. James Kennedy, Charles Stanley and John Hagee - while at the same time revealing the evil, avaricious "money-grubbing" that's really at the heart of the American Empire and that animates ALL those associated with it. [Please see our article, "The Good News of the Coming Kingdom."]
NOTE: One must differentiate between the "Gospel of Salvation" and the "Gospel of the Kingdom:" The first gospel announces salvation to "whosoever will" on a PERSONAL basis; the second gospel announces the "good news" of Christ's coming kingdom based on SOCIAL justice. [We URGE you to see our articles, "The Kingdom of God Is at Hand," "The Principles of the Kingdom," "The Machine verses the Church" and "The American New World Order System Must Give Way to the Kingdom of God."]
Once these frauds - and the system they excuse - are exposed for what they actually are, then the poor can see Christianity for what it really is: God's way of salvation for them, and see Christ for whom He really was - a POOR carpenter who said of Himself:
"... Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Luke 9:58) -
The eye of a sewing needle.
"... Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a (sewing) needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:23-24) [Please see our article, "The Rich Have Seized Control of the Church."]
NOTE: There are, of course, those Christians who have been told by their pastors that "the eye of the needle" through which a "rich man shall hardly pass" (referenced also in Matt. 19:24 and Mark 10:25) is the name of a narrow gate in the walls of Jerusalem, through which a camel, with some difficulty, could actually get through. This is what Father John Neuhaus, a Catholic and the darling of all those evangelicals who today are pressing for a rapprochement with the conservative wing of the Catholic Church -- evangelicals like Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and president of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Charles Colson, head of the International Prison Fellowship Ministry; Steve and Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition; Dr. Richard Land and Dr. Larry Lewis, officers of the Southern Baptist Convention; Mark Noll, of Wheaton College; Glen Cole of the Assemblies of God, etc. -- believes.
But such a contention is so COMPLETELY ridiculous that even Peter Singer (hardly a Christian), clearly sees through this hypocrisy. Writing in the humanist magazine Free Inquiry, Singer sarcastically (but very properly) reveals the "pretense to virtue" of Christians as they squirm to avoid the clear meaning of these Scriptures (i.e., Luke 18:25, Matt. 19:24 and Mark 10:25) - A "PRETENSE TO VIRTUE" UPON WHICH THE OIL ELITES CLEARLY HANG THEIR HATS.
Father John Neuhaus (R) - the darling of such evangelicals as Chuck Colson, Dr. Richard Land and Pat Robertson - and humanist Peter Singer (L).
As Singer points out, there is zero archeological or historical evidence for this interpretation, which can only be traced as far back as the ninth century. Jesus was using a metaphor popular at the time, although one that usually referred to elephants rather than camels. And, moreover, the disciples very evidently understood what Jesus meant here - i.e., that it was impossible for a rich man to enter heaven - because,
"... they were ASTONISHED OUT OF MEASURE (at this teaching), saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?" (Mark 10:26)
To this question, Christ offers a crumb of reassurance: "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Possibly! Maybe! - but the original injunction stands: Christians who want to follow Jesus and inherit eternal life will do well to give all they have to the poor. Hardly an idea calculated to win Christianity the devotion of the rich! Hardly a saying that pastors - who desperately need the support of the rich if they are going to keep up the mortgage payments on their super-churches - can use to persuade "men of wealth" to take a seat on their Board of Trustees as Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas has done with Archie Dunham, the Chairman and CEO of Conoco Oil.
The Gospel of the Kingdom foretells the coming kingdom of Christ that will entail social justice and equity between and among all men. The kingdom being proclaimed here will be a kingdom grounded in social justice for ALL mankind, a world of equity where men are not divided up between the "owners of capital" on the one hand and "labor" on the other hand, and where men and women are not divided up on the basis of their race or even their gender (Gal. 3:28); where the rich do not oppress the poor; where every man has equal access to God; where privileges cannot be bought by the wealthy; where there are no death squads, no poverty, no torture, no hunger, no disease, and no room for oppressors of any kind. [Please see our article, "Capitalism and Christianity."]
The poor that the American New World Order System is oppressing in the Third World for the sake of "good nutrition" in the United States. Please see our article, "The American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary Archipelago."]
Very obviously, such a kingdom would be TOTALLY at variance to the world we now live in and with the American New World Order System that now prevails on the earth - especially the kind of world we described in our recent article, "The Horror of John Dimitri Negroponte and everything He Represents." [Please see that article plus our article, "Algeria: A Study of the Dreadful, Two-Tiered Economic System the U.S. Is Promoting Among Its Muslim Client-States."]
A world based on social justice where the rich do not oppress the poor; a world where there are no John Dimitri Negropontes (the American responsible for running death squads in Central America and later Iraq), no Liamine Zerouals (the dictator of Algeria - an American stooge) and no Augusto Pinochets (the former dictator of Chile - also an American stooge)? - that's what the Gospel of the Kingdom is announcing.
So successful are the Two Witnesses in ripping away the mask of piety behind which the American New World Order System hides itself that after three and a half years of failure (i.e., during the first half of the Tribulation) insofar as defending itself against their testimony, the Antichrist is forced to MAKE WAR WITH THEM.
NOTE: Now one must be very careful to distinguish between the testimony of Israel and the church insofar as the American New World Order System and the apostate church that supports that system. The testimony of Israel is PHYSICAL in nature and relates to the PHYSICAL claim of both America and the apostate church to the Holy Land; the testimony of the church, on the other hand, is SPIRITUAL in nature and relates to the SPIRITUAL claim of both the American Empire and the church that supports it to be representatives of God's Kingdom on earth. [Pease see our article, "The Superman Theology of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem;" please also see the second article in this series bearing on the Tribulation Period: "The Tribulation: Part 2 - Preparing Israel to Give Testimony."]
"Now when they finish their testimony [at the conclusion of the first half of the Tribulation], the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
Now note carefully here what the prophesy is saying: Specifically, that the Antichrist will make WAR with the Two Witnesses. What does this exactly mean? We begin to get an idea when we examine the word chosen by the Scriptures in reference to the term, "War:" Polemos. There are several other Greek words that the Scriptures could have chosen, specifically, Phoneuo (meaning "murder") and Mache (meaning "battle"); but the word chosen is Polemos (meaning "war").
Then there is the Greek word Mache. The word mache means battle. A battle is a single isolated engagement between two opposing armies which - though it can be terribly intense in and of itself - is limited in time and space.
Finally, there is the Greek word Polemos which implies a whole SERIES of battles fought over a much longer period of time and over a much greater stretch of territory. While the scope of killing implied by mache is obviously much greater than what is implied by the word phoneuo, the scope of slaughter implied by polemos is that much greater still than that which is implied by mache. These distinctions are observed by Trench [New Testament Synonyms], Thayer [Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament], and Vincent [Word Studies in the New Testament.]
And now we come to verse 8 of Revelation 11:
"And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually [which in this sense is better translated as "allegorically" (NEB)] is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." (Revelation 11:8)
Now note carefully that this passage of Scripture is labeled SPECIFICALLY as being "allegorical." That means we need to pay very close attention to what is being said. Note that this term is used in connection with the city in which the bodies of the two witnesses lie. The city is referred to "AS THAT GREAT CITY CALLED SODOM AND EGYPT WHERE OUR LORD WAS CRUCIFIED." (Revelation 11:8)
BUT Jesus was NOT crucified in the city of Jerusalem. The Scripture is quite clear about this! All the Gospel accounts are extraordinarily careful to point out the fact that Jesus was crucified OUTSIDE the city walls at a place called Calvary or Golgotha, a place close to Jerusalem, but definitely OUTSIDE the city proper! [Please see Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, Baker, pg. 110.] This is substantiated by Hebrews 13:11-12:
- outside the city walls
"For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, ARE BURNED OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood suffered [was crucified] OUTSIDE the gate [Jerusalem]." (Hebrews 13:11-12)
Verse 8 of Revelation 11 also describes the "city where our Lord was crucified" as "GREAT" and as "SODOM" and "EGYPT."
That great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt
Please notice in this CONNECTION THAT THE NAME OF "JERUSALEM" IS NOT MENTIONED. The city is simply identified as -
The place where our Lord was crucified.
SODOM and EGYPT.
We have already dealt with the first description given above - and have concluded that the Bible cannot possibly be talking about Jerusalem because Jesus was NOT crucified in that city - but rather OUTSIDE its gates.
Now we turn to the second description that the Bible gives to this GREAT city: SODOM and EGYPT.
One should take careful note of the fact that never once - in all of Scripture - is Jerusalem referred to as "great," let alone as "Sodom and Egypt."
NOTE: The King James and the New King James version of the Bible mistranslated the words in Revelation 21:10 as that "great city, New Jerusalem." But the Revised, Emphasized and the New American Standard Bible) correctly render the same phrase as that "holy city..." The word great does not appear in the older Greek manuscripts, in reference to Jerusalem, only the word Holy.
Thus, while Jerusalem is referred to as the "Chosen City" (II Chron. 6:6), the "City of Peace" [which is its meaning], the "Holy City" (Neh. 11:1, Rev. 21:10), the "Throne of the Lord" (Jer. 3:17), the "City of Truth" (Zech. 8:3), the "City of the Great King" (Matt. 5:35), and the "City of the Living God" (Heb. 12:22), it is never referred to as a "great city."
Jerusalem is NOT a "great" (big) city like New York, Paris and London
Indeed, Psalm 122:3 says that Jerusalem is a small, compact city - a city limited in space and area. Jerusalem has never derived its prominence because it was one of the great cities of the earth - a Babylon, a Ninevah, a Rome, a Paris, a London, or a New York; rather, it is because Jerusalem is a "holy city" that its fame is known throughout the earth. Why then would God here [in Revelation 11:8] refer to "Holy Jerusalem" as "great?"
The reference, then to "that GREAT city which ALLEGORICALLY (NEB) is called SODOM and EGYPT, where also our Lord was crucified ..." could not possibly be to Jerusalem. This is no small point, and neither is the Scripture playing games with us here. It's a puzzle! A cipher! A parable!
Moreover, the difficulty which we encountered with regard to the references to the great city which allegorically is called "Sodom and Egypt" is cleared up. While Jerusalem is NEVER referred to as "great" in the Holy Scriptures, there is such a city to which this adjective is appended over and over again:
"... mystery, 'BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH'."
C.J. Lange - in his Commentaries on the Holy Scripture - writes:
"While Jerusalem CANNOT be supposed to be this city ... another collective city, Babylon, might easily correspond."
The existence side-by-side of Sodom and Egypt has always been the hallmark of Babylon the Great.
The term "great city" must then have reference NOT to "holy Jerusalem," but "Babylon the Great," for within Babylon are both the beauty of Egypt and the wretchedness of Sodom. Both Egypt and Sodom constitute the "make-up" of Babylon; Egypt with its treasure, civilization, art, education, etc; and Sodom with its sin - both are a part of Babylon the Great. It is here, in the streets of Babylon in its empire-wide sense, that the Two Witnesses shall lie; and it is here in the streets of Babylon - where false and apostate religion has always thrived - that the Lord of Glory was crucified.
THE EXISTENCE SIDE-BY-SIDE OF SODOM AND EGYPT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE HALLMARK OF BABYLON THE GREAT - i.e., the world - and most especially Western Civilization. Violence, corruption, and bloodshed coupled with luxury, a refined culture, and a love of art and music: this is the "coupling" of Sodom and Egypt spoken of in chapter eleven of the book of Revelation.
The immorality and sensuous intellectuality of Athens is an example. A parallel is also easily discernible in the descriptions of ancient Rome given by Tacitus, Juvenal and others in the time of the Caesars. For then the whole society was utterly corrupted, the temples were merely mad excuses for houses of prostitution, and that in the name of their religions: The streets were filled with violence, and the sport of the day consisted of the gleeful slaughter of thousands in the Coliseum for the amusement of the citizens of Rome.
The temples were merely mad excuses for houses of prostitution, and the sport of the day consisted of the gleeful slaughter of thousands in the Coliseum for the amusement of the citizens of Rome.
And yet, in the midst of this vice, immorality, gluttony, and cruelty there prevailed in the company of magnificent splendor a high appreciation of music, sculpture, and art, generally, as well as a refined taste for literature and especially poetry.
Yet in the midst of all this immorality and sin their existed a high appreciation of music, poetry, sculpture, and art.
Nor were the times of Leo the Tenth (Pope 1513-1521) much different, or of Paris during the Jacobins, Berlin in the 1920s, and New York and San Francisco even today.
"It is most significantly said: their corpses lie in the streets of the great city ... The great city itself is called Sodom and Egypt ... There, adds the Seer [prophet], their Lord was crucified. The crucifixion of Christ was itself the result of a coalition of ... [Sodom and Egypt] ... Their corpses lie there ...[for] three days and a half [the last half of the Tribulation period]."
Revelation 11 goes on:
"Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three and a half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.
"And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth." (Revelation 11:9-10)
"And precisely this fact [i.e., the death of the Two Witnesses] is a cause of delight to those who dwell on the Earth ... They rejoice over the apparent destruction of the Two Witnesses; they hold feasts and contemplate further festivities; mutual greetings, in the way of presents or compliments, are exchanged ... The reason for all this is as follows: these two prophets tormented them that dwell upon the earth."
There is nothing so tormenting to the minds of unrighteous men than to be confronted with pure and unsullied righteousness in the midst of their own vile, hateful wickedness. Why? Because - deep down in their hidden parts, in the deeper recesses of their souls - they know right from wrong! They can hide it, sublimate it, bury it, and put it out of sight in the frenzy of their lusts. But when confronted with it in others, it is torture! And that is so -
"... because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
"Professing to be wise, they became fools ...
"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them [in sexual sin].
"For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator ...
"... being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil [fornication] ...
"... although they know the ordinances of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." (Romans 1:19, 22, 24, 25, 29, 32)
They cannot abide righteousness in others; they cannot stand to be in the presence of righteous men. And they will do one of two things when confronted with such people: They will first of all seek to subvert them - to bring them down to their level. And, oh, the joy and happiness, the pleasure and delight when they are successful. The laughter! The slap on the back! The assurances that, "it wasn't all that bad, now, was it? You're still alive, aren't you? Lightning didn't strike you? And wasn't it fun!"
But when unsuccessful, oh, the hatred! the hostility! Murder and slaughter enter the heart, and death is the only answer of the unrighteous to the righteous who refuses to be subverted - and so it will be the answer of all those who have united themselves to Babylon the Great to the Two Witnesses.
The "Abomination of Desolation!" The term itself is enough to make one feel very uncomfortable. It conveys a sense of anxiousness. There is an aura of grim restlessness about the phrase and all that it portends; a sense of apprehension and uncertainty; a premonition of impending doom. But how? Why? It all seems so ambiguous and ethereal.
But this much we can say with certainty: the evil impact of this event will be directed against the "Temple of God," and will plainly divide the first half of the Seventieth Week from the second half. Indeed, it will be the special cause of all the supernatural activity of this period - the Great Tribulation. [Please see Part 5 of Chapter IX of the New Antipas Papers, "The Seven Trumpets - the Second Half of the Seventieth Week;" please also see "Witchcraft and the Paranormal" and "As in the Days of Noah."]
The ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION: There is reason to believe that the desecration of the Temple will reach out far beyond the desecration of a rebuilt Jewish sanctuary in Jerusalem - that it will entail the destruction of the spirit of man - and his TOTAL possession by the forces of hell (see below).
Specifically, II Thessalonians 2 indicates that the act of desecration will be the entering of Satan into the "Temple of God," wherein he will sit down [or inhabit the Temple], declaring himself to be God:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
"Who 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, showing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. 2:3-4)
That such an event will clearly take place, and that it will be directed against the "Temple of God," there can be no doubt. However, a number of things mitigate against the thought that this act of desecration will be directed merely against a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem - though there can be little doubt that after Israel regains total control over Jerusalem (and the Temple Mount) following the Gog / Magog War, they will probably attempt to rebuild the Temple and reinstitute Temple Worship together with animal sacrifice as depicted in the book of Leviticus, etc. - and that, therefore, there is reason to believe that the Abomination of Desolation will be played out against this backdrop. But there are much greater reasons to believe that the desecration of the Temple will reach out far beyond the desecration of a rebuilt Jewish sanctuary.
First, from a scriptural standpoint, the whole tenor surrounding the Biblical term, "Abomination of Desolation," suggests something much more than the mere desecration of a temple made of stone and mud.
If this is all that is meant, then Antiochus Epiphanes [the Greek king of Sulussia], who desecrated the old Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 173 B.C. [by sacrificing a pig], did as much, if not more, than anything the Antichrist could do. Also, surely Titus desecrated the Temple in 70 A.D. when he took Jerusalem and burned the Temple to the ground. One would think that these acts, which parallel in most every respect the act of desecration most evangelicals believe the Antichrist will commit, would bring on the same retribution that God will pour out on Antichrist. Yet both Antiochus and Titus died quietly in their sleep - Antiochus in Tabae in 165 B.C., and Titus in Rome towards the close of the First Century A.D.
Antiochus Epiphanes sacks Jerusalem and desecrates the Temple by sacrificing a pig in it.
Second, how could the stopping of animal sacrifices in a rebuilt Jewish Temple constitute an abomination to God? After all, the old animal sacrifices merely pointed to the sacrifice of Christ. After Christ was sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world, the old animal sacrifices became meaningless - and this was indicated by the rending of the veil in the temple after Christ's death on the cross:
"And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
"And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." (Mark 15:37-38)
"And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom" signifying that God was through with temples made by hand. (Mark 15:37-38)
NOTE ON ANIMAL SACRIFICE IN A REBUILT JEWISH TEMPLE
Again, please bear in mind that Israel's blindness with regard to Christ is not destined to be fully removed until the second advent [i.e., the coming of Christ in glory]:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
"In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
"And the land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves;
"The family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves;
"All the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
"In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. (Zech. 12:14-19)
Thus, if Israel's blindness is not to be removed until the second advent of Christ, then animal sacrifices would of necessity have to be a part of any renewed Temple service. Why? - because the Jews as yet would not recognize the sacrifice of Christ as the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world," and sacrifice was at the very heart of all Temple service. Indeed, it could fairly be said that without sacrifice, the Temple would be reduced to the status of a synagogue, a grand and imposing one, no doubt, but a synagogue nevertheless, even if it were built on the site of the old Temple itself.
The word "abomination" means something extremely disgusting or hateful - something worthy of or causing loathing. The adjective "desolate" means abandoned, devoid of habitation, deserted, forsaken, lonely, showing the affects of abandonment. The verb "to desolate" means to make desolate, to lay waste, to forsake. The word "desolation" means the action of desolating, the condition of being desolate - a barren wasteland implying grief, sadness, and loneliness. Thus, it could be fairly stated that from a grammatical standpoint, the term "Abomination of Desolation," taken in conjunction with the "Temple of God," means the "loathsome and hateful action which causes the abandonment by God of the "Temple of God," making it void of His habitation and [in conjunction with II Thess. 2] possessed by Satan.
In its scriptural context, what then is the meaning of the term "Abomination of Desolation?" The scriptural link that some Biblical scholars make between a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the "Abomination of Desolation" is highly tenuous and largely the result of certain evangelicals [very strict dispensationalists] who contend that the Old Testament - and even, as astonishing as it might seem, certain books of the New Testament - were written specifically to the Jews and do not concern Christians at all. Hence, according to this kind of teaching, since the "Abomination of Desolation" mentioned in Daniel 9:26-27 is made in the Old Testament, the passage must have reference only to the Jewish Temple, since the Old Testament is a Jewish book.
NOTE: Of course, the "Abomination of Desolation" is mentioned in several books of the New Testament - in all the Gospels except John, II Thessalonians, etc. - which would make these books, we suppose, Jewish books, at least according to this kind of thinking; but such thinking is so ridiculous, that it hardly bears refutation. Nonetheless, this is the precise origin of the kind of thinking which connects the "Abomination of Desolation" simply with a Jewish Temple.]
Moreover, there is a great difference to be remarked on between the glory which will flow out from the Millennial Temple as opposed to any glory which will attend a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem prior to the Millennium - again, the fact of the matter is God is forever through with "temples made with hands." [And in this connection, it should be noted that the Millennial Temple which is described in the Book of Ezekiel will evidently not be made by human hands - the context seems to indicate that it will be solely a work of God.]
NOTE: Please see Ezekiel 40:1-46:24 for a full description of the Millennial Temple. Please also consult Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, pg. 512-531. The main purpose of the Millennial Temple will be to commemorate and honor the sacrifice of Christ. There will be no animal sacrifices in the Millennial Temple.
The Shechinah by Rabbi Rayzel Raphael
Moreover, it should be noted that Ezekiel had seen the Shechinah [the glory and presence of God] leave the Temple of Solomon prior to the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem, NEVER TO RETURN. No Shechinah ever filled the Second Temple [the Temple which existed at the time of Christ].
In addition, the Millennial Temple will differ from the old Jewish Temple to the extent that the sun differs from the moon. Why? Because the Millennial Temple will contain the glory of Christ which no rebuilt Jewish Temple ever could. There will be no need for animal sacrifice in this Temple either, for the sacrifice of Christ will be fully honored, Christ Himself being the High Priest - and there will be no human High Priest in the Millennial Temple. Finally, a stream of healing water will flow forth from the Temple for the healing of the nations. Can anyone reasonably assume that such a stream will flow forth from a rebuilt Jewish Temple destined to be desecrated by the Antichrist?
Certainly, no rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem could match such a description.
It seems, then, that we are once again faced with a dilemma - a desecration directed against a Temple that doesn't seem to exist; unless, of course, we've been looking in the wrong place.
MICHELANGELO 1475-1564 - Study for the Resurrection of Christ c.1532-34 in the Casa Buonarroti, Firenze
"Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up'.
"The Jews therefore said, 'It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days'?"
"But he was speaking of the temple of His body." (John 2:19-21)
Thus, when the connection between the "Abomination of Desolation" and the "Temple of God" is first made, it is made essentially at the same time when Jesus described the "Temple of God" as man, and not as a temple made of stone and mud. The old Jewish Temple [and we speak here not of the Millennial Temple] was forever put away after the crucifixion of Christ; whatever glory was left the old temple departed from it [which was signified by the rending of the veil in the old temple] and instead was deposited forever in man on the day of Pentecost.
Paul himself reminds us of this when he tells us that God no long dwells within the cold, dead stones of temples made with hands, when he says:
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God ..." (I Cor. 6:19)
Man as the Temple of God
Isaiah also prophesied that the true house of God would be a house of prayer for all nations (Isa. 56:7; Mk. 11:17) and in fulfillment of that prophecy, believers of every nation are today, as living stones, being built up into a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5), "an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph. 2:22)
Finally, it is of interest to note in this respect that when Paul referred to believers as the temple (I Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; II Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:20-22), he used the Greek word NAOS. But when he referred to the physical temple in Jerusalem (Acts 22:17; 24:12, 18; 25:8; I Cor. 9:13), he used the Greek word Hieron. NAOS is the word Paul used for temple in II Thessalonians 2:4 when he spoke of the "Temple of God" in connection with the "Abomination of Desolation:"
"... so that he [Satan] as God sitteth [dwells] in the temple [NAOS] of God, showing himself that he is God." (II Thess. 2:4)
Therefore, it is obvious that Paul did not mean that Antichrist was simply going to sit down [dwell or make his home] in a physical temple made of stone and mud [Hieron].
Like the old Jewish Temple, man is a three part entity - body, soul, and spirit, each corresponding to the three parts of the Jewish Temple - the Outer Court [the body], the Inner Court [the soul], and the Holiest of All [the spirit]. [Please see G.H. Pember, Earth's Earliest Ages, chapter 4, "The Creation of Man," for a thorough but concise treatment of this subject.] It was in the Holiest of All in the old Jewish Temple that the glory of God [the Shechinah] dwelt. No one was ever permitted access to this part of the Temple except the High Priest, and that but once a year on the day of Atonement, when he entered it to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the "Mercy Seat" for the sins of the people. The Holiest of All was the dwelling place of God; it was reserved for Him alone.
The ark of the covenant in the "Holiest of All."
Moreover, by asserting that man is today the "Temple of God," we are not spiritualizing the Word of God at all, for such is the clear testimony of God. Jesus said:
"... if a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode [home, lit. - Temple or Tabernacle] with him." (John 14:23)
Furthermore, in Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul speaks of regenerated man as the building or "Temple of God:"
"... in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth into an HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an HABITATION of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21-22)
If we once grasp the fact that the true "Temple of God" is man and not a temple made of mud and stone, then we can begin to see that the "Abomination of Desolation" is a crime much more heinous than we had at first thought - and one that portends a threat against man far greater than has ever been previously imagined - a threat against his very humanity? [For those who wish to delve into this matter further, please see Part 4 of Chapter IX of the New Antipas Papers, "The Abomination of Desolation."]
Man is a human being precisely and only because he is a three part being - because he possesses in addition to his body and soul, a spirit. It is man's possession of a spirit which sets him apart from the beasts, not his mind. Through his spirit, man was meant to commune or have fellowship with God; the beasts were never meant to have such fellowship; and, thus, do not possess a spirit, only a body and a soul. [Please see Chapter 1 of the New Antipas Papers, "The Nature of Man: Body, Soul and Spirit."]
The "Abomination of Desolation" is an attack against man's very humanity, and in this connection, it should be noted that after the occurrence of this evil act, the Antichrist is no longer referred to as a man, but as a BEAST!! - no more a human being, but a beast possessing no longer any possibility of ever again touching God, his spirit forever deadened and given over to another, HIS HUMANITY FOREVER LOST.
Man becomes a beast - no more a human being, but a beast possessing no longer any possibility of ever again touching God, his spirit forever deadened and given over to another, HIS HUMANITY FOREVER LOST.
How? It is not all that difficult to ascertain. While Satan has corrupted man's body [making it "flesh"], and through it, he has contaminated man's mind (his soul), he has never had access to the spirit of man. Man's spirit, like the Holiest of All in the Old Jewish Temple, was reserved for God and Him alone. It was to be the seat of God, His throne, His ultimate place of habitation and dwelling. Satan has never occupied this part of man. Man's spirit has been wholly protected by the "RESTRAINING power" of God. (II Thess. 2:7 - see RV or LB)
NOTE: THE RESTRAINER & MAN'S SPIRIT
The "Restrainer" of II Thess. 2:7 must be the Holy Spirit. There simply is no other explanation that suffices. The explanations which make of him human government, law, the visible church, etc. simply fall short. Pentecost agrees. He says, "... it would seem that the only One who could do such a restraining ministry would be the Holy Spirit." [Please see Things To Come, by J. Dwight Pentecost, pg. 205.] Once it is agreed that the real temple of God is man, and that the "Restrainer" is the Holy Spirit, then it must be that what the "Restrainer" (i.e., the Holy Spirit) is protecting is the spirit of man, the "Holy of Holies" within man. That man is the REAL temple of God is, of course, made abundantly clear by any one of a number of Scriptures. For example, John 14:23 when Jesus says: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode (i.e., we will tabernacle) with him; or Ephesians 2:19-22 when Paul says: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling (i.e., a tabernacle) of God in the Spirit; or I Cor. 3:16 when Paul says: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
"... And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him." (John 13:26-27)
Only once - in a very limited and isolated case - has this restraining power ever been lifted. This instance involved Judas, the "Son of Perdition." At the time of the Last Supper, the Scripture says that Satan "entered into Judas:"
"... And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot the son of Simon.
"And after the sop Satan entered into him." (John 13:26-27)
What could this possibly mean? We are aware today that Satan has great influence over man's fallen nature - the works of the flesh and the fiery darts of the wicked one which assault man's mind [soul] attest to man's vulnerability. There could be no reason for Satan to seek further expression of his personality through man's fallen nature [i.e., man's body and soul]. With regard to Judas, Satan evidently took FULL possession of him. He entered into a part of Judas that he apparently had never before had access - his human spirit. This probably accounts for the name that the Scripture has given to Judas - the "Son of Perdition." The term perdition is derived form the Greek word apoleia and means utter and eternal SPIRITUAL destruction or loss or damnation [please see note #684 in the Strong's Greek Concordance].
Now, we know that when God enters a man's spirit, man receives ETERNAL LIFE; so, no doubt, when Satan enters man's spirit, man receives eternal perdition or damnation. In the first act, man becomes a son of God; in the second act, man becomes eternally a "son of Satan" or the demons. It is probably this one sin, this final act of desecration, that Paul refers to as the unforgivable sin. Since that which is eternal remains eternal eternally, whether it be for good or whether it by for evil, there certainly could be no turning back from this particular sin.
In the light of all this, we must conclude that the "Abomination of Desolation" is nothing less than the final and COMPLETE desecration of man's being, the true "Temple of God" (II Thess. 2:7). As he did with Judas, Satan will enter the Antichrist's spirit, and as with Judas, this accounts for the new title the Antichrist receives - the "Son of Perdition." (Please see II Thess. 2:3-8)
G.H. Pember, writing in 1876, fully grasped this concept when he wrote:
"Now while evil angels and demons are doubtless appointed for the ordinary work of influencing mankind, yet we can easily imagine that, whenever there is any transcendentally mighty issue at stake, their great leader, who excels them all in wisdom and power, would himself undertake the more arduous labour. And accordingly, at our Lord's first advent, when the hour of the Prince of Darkness had come, Satan himself entered into Judas, and directed him to his fearful crime (John 13:27). So when the last great masterpiece of the Adversary shall appear, the Antichrist, whose coming, as Paul tells us, is after the working of Satan (II Thess. 2:9), and to whom the Dragon shall give his power, and his throne, and great authority (Rev. 13:2), it is but reasonable to suppose that he will be possessed and energized by the Devil in person. And thus, he will be a COMPOUND BEING, PARTLY HUMAN, PARTLY SUPER-HUMAN."
Friedrich Nietzsche and the reign of superman (really, a beast: Possessed by the fiends of hell) - which is EXACTLY what the last half of the Tribulation is all about.
And what is even more terrible, there is reason to believe that the desecration of man's spirit will not simply be limited to the Antichrist, but that it will spread to unregenerated men through the agency of the demons and the fallen angels which are let loose upon man after the "Abomination of Desolation" and during the Seven trumpets) - at least to all those who receive the "mark of the beast" (Rev. 19:20).
Thus, the antithesis of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is the desolating work of Satan. Whereas, in the first case, one becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and thereby a "son of God," in the second case, one becomes a dwelling place of the agents of Hell, and thereby a "son of perdition." For as the believer is sealed or marked out by the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), the antithesis of this is the mark of the beast, which effectually seals or marks out those who are ultimately destined for eternal perdition (see Revelation 16:2; 19:20-21; 14:9-11). The antithesis of man being created in the image of God to be indwelt by the Spirit of God (Romans 8) and thus being brought into fellowship and/or relationship with God and fulfilling God's original design for the spirit of man, is the Satanic union through the "Abomination of Desolation" and the mark of the beast whereby man's spirit is desecrated and left void of any possibility of fellowship with God. Thus, the "sons of perdition" who have received the mark of the beast are contrasted to the "sons" or "children of God" who have been marked out by the Holy Spirit. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is the antithesis of the mark of the beast.
It is through the terrible impact of the "Abomination of Desolation" that all the events of the second half of the Seventieth Week [the Seven Trumpets] are made possible and through which Satan and his hosts gain direct and unhindered power for the first time over man, and through man, the earth. [Please see Part 5 of Chapter IX, "The Seven Trumpets - the Second Half of the Seventieth Week."]
Revelation 11 continues:
"Now after the three and a half days [i.e., the last three and a half years of the Tribulation Period] the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.
"And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here'. And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them." (Revelation 11:11-12) [Again, we URGE you to see Appendix 1 of our last article, "The Vision of the Seventy Weeks" - and in doing so we urge you to pay close attention to the EXACTNESS of the prophesy.]
NOTE: Please carefully note the phrase "Now after the three and a half days [i.e., the last three and a half years of the Tribulation Period] the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them." The fact that we are speaking here of the last half of the Tribulation Period is easily gleaned from these words because it was during the first half of the Tribulation Period that the Two Witnesses were testifying. Then the Bible says, "And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here'. And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them." Very obviously, the Scriptures are referencing the rapture and the resurrection; and note carefully where all this places the rapture and the resurrection: AT THE VERY END OF THE TRIBULATION PERIOD. [We urge you to see Chapter VII of the New Antipas Papers, "The Great Escape: Misconceptions Concerning the Rapture."]
The enigma CIPHER machine used during World War II by the Germans.
The sealing of God's servants directly concerns the passages of Scripture which deal with the so-called "144,000."
There is perhaps no other group of verses around which so much misunderstanding and confusion swirl than those verses which deal with the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-7. It is a sad commentary on all of us in the Christian community that so much "elitism" has resulted from false interpretations concerning the message of these passages of Scripture. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that once again we recognize that these Scriptures - like the Scriptures which dealt with the Two Witnesses, etc. - have been written in code, their message hidden in a parable or a cipher.
The first important fact that we should note with regard to these passages is that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 are different from the 144,000 of Revelation 14. WE ARE DEALING WITH TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS. In comparing the 144,000 of Revelation 14 with the 144,000 of Revelation 7, Kelly writes that the group in Revelation 14 is:
"... a remnant, not merely sealed as the servants of God [like a similar band out of the twelve tribes of Israel in chapter vii (7)], but brought into association with the Lamb in Zion, that is, with GOD'S ROYAL PURPOSE IN GRACE ..."
In commenting on Kelley, Pentecost writes:
"It is ... held that those in chapter 7 are on earth and these (in chapter 14) in heaven, making Mt. Zion the heavenly city ... Those in chapter fourteen are said to be identified with the Lamb and those in chapter seven are not. Those in chapter seven are "sealed" but those in chapter fourteen have "the Father's name written in their foreheads."
One group is heavenly, the other earthly, one group "... follows the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," the second group is numbered exclusively from the twelve tribes of Israel.
Two groups: One that pertains to the earth (Israel - Revelation 7) and one that pertains to the heavens (the church - Revelation 14)
Thus, there can be no doubt as to their identity: the 144,000 of Revelation 7 being Israel, and the 144,00 of Revelation 14 being the Church.
Both groups must be protected or sealed; but look - in actuality only one group is shown to be sealed, the group in Revelation 7. Why? Because the group in Revelation 14 - the Church - has already been sealed. Those in the Church - when they received Christ as their Savior - were "sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" at that time and there is no further need to reseal them, as it were, like some half empty bottle of soda:
"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, Which is the earnest [down payment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchase possession, unto the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Let's look at both groups of 144,000 in greater detail.
Let's begin by examining the 144,000 of chapter 7. We first come in contact with this group just prior to the commencement of the supernatural events of the last half of the Seventieth Week - the Great Tribulation. Just prior to the blowing of the seven trumpets [which signify the beginning of the phenomenal events of this period], an angel of God descends from the east having the seal of the living God and it is announced to the fallen angels and the demons that they at last have permission to torment the very spirit of man itself - which now, through the Abomination of Desolation, has been abandoned by the "Restrainer" and given over to the power of Satan - EXCEPT THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SEALED BY GOD:
Man: Fully possessed by the forces of hell: body, soul and spirit
"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." (Rev. 9:4)
It is extremely important at this point to ascertain the exact sequence of events which now occurs. In order to do this, a number of verses must be brought together - all specifically related to the events surrounding the Abomination of Desolation: namely Revelation 7:1-8; 9:4-5; and 12:1-17.
Revelation 7:1-8 describes the sealing itself and those who are sealed (i.e., Israel); Revelation 9:4-5 describes why; and Revelation 12:1-7 gives the events surrounding the sealing; these events pertain to the woman "clothed with the sun," in Revelation chapter 12.
The Bible says:
"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:
"A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars … and when the dragon saw that he was cast [out of heaven] unto the earth, he persecuted the woman (Revelation 12:5, 8)
"And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered ... . And she brought forth a manchild, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
"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 [31/2 years].
"... and when the dragon saw that he was cast [out of heaven] unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [31/2 years], from the face of the serpent.
"And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
"And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
"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 (Revelation 12:12; 5-6; 13-17).
"While there has been general agreement among commentators of all types concerning the identity of the two aforementioned individuals [i.e., the dragon as Satan (Please see Chapter IX, part 5) and the manchild as Christ, there is a great diversity of interpretation concerning the key individual in this passage" [i.e., the woman].
"... There have been many false interpretations of the identity of this woman. Some have held that it was Mary.
"However, the only feature to make this possible would be the fact of motherhood, for Mary was never persecuted, never fled into the wilderness, was never cared for 1260 days. Others have held that this woman is the church that is travailing to bring Christ to the nations. This, however, is ... (too) allegorizing ... and must be rejected ... Still others have identified the woman as the leader of some particular sect; but only by the wildest vagaries of the imagination could some present day individual be pressed into the interpretation here.
A Woman [Israel] travailing in birth (Revelation 12:6)
"... It has [always] been the interpretation of ... Premillennialists [i.e., evangelicals] that THE WOMAN IN THIS PASSAGE REPRESENTS THE NATION OF ISRAEL.
"... Inasmuch then as the woman represents that which is to display divine government in the earth, and Israel is God's appointed instrument to that end [the Church being the instrument of divine government in the heavens], this woman must be identified as Israel."
Finally, the parallel between Revelation 12 and Micah 5 establishes once and for all the identity of the woman as Israel. Micah 5:2 records the birth of the ruler who shall rule all nations "with a rod of iron." It then records the rejection of this ruler by the nation of Israel and the resulting setting aside of the nation ["therefore will he give them up ... (Mic. 5:3)], which brings to an end the first Sixty-Nine Weeks of Daniel. The nation is then pictured by the prophet as being in TRAVAIL [dispersion in, and PERSECUTION by the Gentile nations] "... until the time that she [Israel] which travaileth hath brought forth" (Mic. 5:3); that is, until her blindness concerning Christ [her Messiah] is removed (Romans 11:25) and she is once again restored into God's plan and purpose.
"... in conjunction with the accomplishment of the purpose of God respecting Israel ... Christ was born (Micah v. 2); then comes His rejection ... the prophecy passes by all that has to do with the church and takes up Christ's birth ... . Here it is put figuratively, as Zion travailing till the birth of this great purpose of God as touching Israel ... [and continuing until] God's people will [at last] ... resume their ancient place."
Finally, in Romans 9:4-5, Paul writes concerning Israel:
"... of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came ..." (Rom. 9:5).
"Who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron" (Revelation 12:6)
"The quotation from Psalm 2 [Thou art my SON; this day have I begotten thee ... Thou shalt break them (the nations) with a ROD OF IRON (Psalm 2:7,9)], which all would agree is a Messianic Psalm, identifies the man child here as none other than Jesus Christ. The fact of the birth, the fact of the destiny of this child, for He is 'to rule all nations with a ROD OF IRON', and the fact of the ascension, since He is 'caught up unto God, and to His throne', all cause the identification to point to one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, for of none other could all three statements be made."
Since the "manchild" must be identified as Christ, and since, according to Paul, the one from whom Christ came [was born] according to the flesh is Israel, the woman must be identified as Israel.
It is then said of the woman that she flees into a place called the "wilderness" where she has a "place prepared for her," and where she will be safe for "a thousand two hundred and threescore days" [31/2 years] (Rev. 12:6).
Now, this part is not too difficult to decipher; what is being said here is this: That Israel [which is the same as saying the "144,000" of Revelation 7], immediately after the abomination of Desolation, will escape the perils of the last half of the Seventieth Week by fleeing into the "wilderness." Why? And more, why is this said of the 144,000 of Revelation 7 [Israel], and not of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 [the Church]? Why is Israel so protected and not the Church? A fair question. The reason is this: Because the protection that the Scripture has in mind here for both Witnesses [both groups of 144,000] - as we have said before - is SPIRITUAL protection, and not necessarily physical protection; but since Israel, by the time of the Abomination of Desolation, has not yet fully recognized her Messiah as Christ, their spirits do not as yet - indeed, cannot yet - contain the protecting presence of the Holy Spirit; thus, extraordinary care must be taken in the case of Israel that is not necessary with regard to the Church.
Israel must be offered physical protection in addition to spiritual protection, for if they were to die as a result of the turmoil of the second half of the Seventieth Week, they would share the same fate common to all unbelievers who die outside of Christ. Thus, in the case of Israel, physical death means spiritual death, while the same is not true of those who die in Christ [i.e., the Church]:
"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, WE DIE UNTO THE LORD: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." (Romans 14:8).
"For me to live is Christ, AND TO DIE IS GAIN." (Phil. 1:21)
The Bible delves into this matter in greater detail in Mark 13:14-19 and connects the passage of Israel into the wilderness with the Abomination of Desolation:
"But when ye shall see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION spoken of by Daniel the prophet, STANDING [DWELLING] WHERE IT OUGHT NOT, [let him that readeth understand], then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains [the wilderness]:
Mt. Nebo in the Wilderness east of the river Jordan where it is reputed that Jeremiah hid the ark of the Covenant in order to prevent its capture by the Babylonians.
"And let him that is on the house top not go down in the house neither enter therein, to take anything out of the house.
"And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
"But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
"And pray that your flight be not in the winter.
"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 [again]." (Mark 13:14-19)
As to the location of the "wilderness," Daniel 11:40-45 states that Antichrist will invade the Middle East and conquer it, but three countries will escape his grasp:
"He [Antichrist] shall enter also into the glorious land [Israel] and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon." (Daniel 11:41)
God shall preserve, quite miraculously, this portion as a refuge for the children of Israel. This is the "wilderness" spoken of in Revelation chapter 12 where the woman [Israel] is to flee immediately after the Abomination of Desolation; it is the same place referred to in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Matt. 24:1-22; Mark 13:14-20; and Luke 21:7-21). It is that portion of land east of the river Jordan which sweeps in a large arc [with the Dead Sea as the fulcrum] from about 40 miles north east of the Dead Sea southward to about 50 mile due south, southeast of the same sea - a barren, mountainous and desolate wilderness devoid of any significant vegetation. Mt. Nebo is located in this wilderness where it is reputed that Jeremiah hid the ark of the Covenant in order to prevent its capture by the Babylonians. There are scholars today who suggest that it is still there (Numbers 35). Here God will care for His people much in the same fashion that He cared for them when Moses led the people out of Egypt.
Fragments from the Book of Romans - "And so all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26)
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days [during the dispersion] without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice ...
"Afterward, shall the children of Israel return, and [through the trials and pressure of the Tribulation] seek [at last] the Lord their God... and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the LATTER DAYS." (Hosea 3:4-5)
"AND SO ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion [Zion] the deliverer [Christ], and he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]." (Romans 11:26)
And Zechariah prophesies:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
"... They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people', And they will say, 'The Lord is my God'." (Zech. 12:10; 13:9b)
NOTE: Again, we MUST bear in mind that Israel's blindness with regard to Christ is not destined to be fully removed until the Second Advent [i.e., the Coming of Christ in Glory]:
"And I will pour (out) upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace (unmerited favor), and of supplications. And they shall look (earnestly) upon me whom they have PIERCED (when Christ appears at the Mount to rescue Israel during the siege of Jerusalem - i.e., Armageddon), and they shall mourn for him (i.e., Christ), as one mourneth for his only son, and (they) shall be in bitterness (deep sorrow) for Him as one who is in bitterness (deep sorrow) for his first-born." [(cf. John 19:37 and Rev. 1:7); Zech. 12:10 RSV.]"
There are those who would object to Israel being a Witness of God while not yet fully saved. But, it must be remembered that the Tribulation is the very process whereby Israel's blindness is to be removed, the Second Coming of Christ being merely the culmination of that process. And even today, ISRAEL'S VERY PRESENCE IN THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD AFTER 2,000 YEARS OF DISPERSION IS A TESTIMONY TO GOD'S UNMERITED GRACE. Indeed, the entire world finds itself today revolving around a nation of little more than a few million souls - a seeming absurdity by any standard. The Church also will be undergoing a similar transformation, for prior to the Seventieth Week the condition of the Church [and we mean here the so-called born-again Church] is characterized by the Scriptures as being one in which Christ can no longer find a home, a condition where Christ finds Himself outside the gate, knocking to get in (Revelation 3:14-20). [That this passage has specific reference to the "End Times Church," all evangelical scholars would agree - please see Miller's Church History.] For the Bible says with regard to us both [both Israel and the Church] that "God hath concluded them all [both groups] in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.] [Romans 11:32-33.]
The re-birth of Israel as prophesied in Ezekiel 37:1-14.
And now, what about the 144,000 of Revelation chapter fourteen? The Bible says:
"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.
"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:
"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 the song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
"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 first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.
The 24 elders before the throne of God
"And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." (Revelation 14:1-5)
The fact that we are here speaking of the heavenly Mt. Sion [Zion] is confirmed by verse 3 of Revelation 14: "And they sung as it were a new song before the THRONE, and before the FOUR BEASTS, and the ["TWENTY-FOUR] ELDERS" - and as there can be no doubt as to the location of these dignities [the heavenly Jerusalem], there can, therefore, be no doubt that we are here speaking of the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM: that we are here speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem is further substantiated by Revelation 4:1-6:
"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 immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a THRONE was set in HEAVEN...
"And round about the throne were FOUR AND TWENTY SEATS and upon the seats I saw FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS ...
"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 ..." (Revelation 4:1-2, 4, 6)
All of these things - the throne, the four beasts, and the twenty-four elders - are in heaven; and it is precisely among these things (i.e., the throne, the four beasts, and the twenty-four elders) that the 144,000 are located. Thus, there can be little doubt as to the identification of this 144,000 - it is the Church, for just as the earthly Mt. Zion can only be apprehended as pertaining to Israel, so also the heavenly Mt. Zion must be apprehended as pertaining only to the Church - and the fact that it is the heavenly Mt. Sion (Zion) [not the earthly Mt. Zion] to which Christians should be looking is confirmed by Hebrews 12:22-24:
"But ye [dear Christian] are come unto MOUNT SION, and unto the city of the living God, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels,
The heavenly Jerusalem
"To the general assembly and CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22-24).
Finally, the Scripture says of this group that they have: "... his Father's name written in their foreheads." This is a clear reference to Revelation 3:12 which, once again, places this group in the "heavenly" Jerusalem [as opposed to the "earthly" city], and clearly numbers it with the Church:
"To 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 3:12)
Now we come to a mystery: The Scripture says - "These are they which were not defiled with women." What does this mean? Can it possibly mean that these 144,000 are all men [with no women in their company] and that none of them has ever been married? Of course not!! - if only because such an interpretation would contradict other portions of the Scripture and would render this passage an absurdity.
First of all, such an interpretation would seem to say that sexual intercourse between husband and wife is to be avoided, or at least frowned upon. But this would contradict one of the clearest warnings of Scripture concerning the End of Days - that evil men would appear commanding men to avoid marriage:
"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;
"Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
"FORBIDDING TO MARRY." (I Timothy 4:1-3)
Moreover, the Scriptures plainly teach that sexual intercourse between a husband and wife [but, only between a husband and wife] is HONORABLE and a pleasure ardently to be desired. Indeed, the Lord devoted an entire book in the Old Testament to a rapturous (and even erotic) description thereof: The Song of Solomon. And the teaching of the New Testament is also quite clear on the subject:
"Marriage [sexual intercourse within the institution of marriage] is honorable in all [in everything], and the bed undefiled [i.e., both husband and wife remain pure before God]." (Hebrews 13:4)
"If thou [a male] marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin [in this case, female] marry, she hath not sinned." (I Corinthians 7:28)
Finally, the above interpretation which insists that the 144,000 of Revelation 14 are all male virgins [and, as ridiculous as it might sound, there are many who insist on this interpretation], flies in the face of the clear teaching of the Scripture concerning the status of the female in the Church and in the Heavens, for the Scriptures manifestly teach that in heaven there will no longer be any distinction [insofar as standing before God is concerned] between the male and female [though such a distinction remains while we are yet on the earth - and it must be remembered that the picture we have before us in Revelation 14 is that of the Church IN HEAVEN ]:
"For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage [there is no distinction before God between the two], but [they] are as the angels of God in heaven." (Matt. 22:30)
And Paul writes:
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus [both male and female].
"For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
"There is neither ... male nor female: for ye are all one [in standing] in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-28)
So then, what does the passage before us really mean? It is rendered more intelligible when read in its entirety. The passage says of this group that they have been "redeemed from the earth;" that "they follow the Lamb [Christ] whithersoever he goeth;" that they have been "bought from among men;" that they are "the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb;" that "in their mouth was found no guile;" and that "they are without fault before the throne of God." Now, what does all this speak of? It speaks of SPIRITUAL PURITY!!
Through the affliction and distress of the Tribulation - like gold tried and refined in a burning fire or like a precious stone [a diamond or a ruby] made perfect through INTENSE pressure - they have cast off all that bound them to the cares of this life and this present evil world. They have been redeemed from the earth. They no longer belong to it, but rather their citizenship is now of the heavens; so high have they been lifted above the earth, that they cannot even be numbered among men anymore. They have been lifted up to the heavens - even above the angels.
Their testimony has been made pure in everything - there no longer is any "guile" or deceit in their witness; no self-serving nor double-dealing in their testimony; no attempt to serve both God and mammon - they follow Christ now wherever He goes, be it into fire, death, torture, whatever. Their love for Jesus no longer permits any separation from Him Who now is the ABSOLUTE object of their love and desire. Their love and their service has been made totally SELFLESS. They are "undefiled with women" - which means they no longer go whoring after the delights of this world. It no longer has any attraction for them. They have been cleansed from all their whoredoms [see Hosea] and their love is now only for their divine Husband - the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been transformed from their whoredoms into a Bride made perfect and pure, and worthy of His love.
Finally, we must come to grips with the meaning of the number 144,000. Are we to understand that only 144,000 out of all Israel and out of all the Church are to be saved? Or are we perhaps to perceive these two groups of 144,000 as some kind of elite to be honored above their companions in Israel and the Church? The Scripture does not indicate this at all. Israel is one, and the Church is one. They are not to be divided into segments according to some kind of intrinsic value of their several members. Each member's standing is the same, and their standing has nothing to do with any merit of their own, but it is based solely upon the merit of their dear Savior!!
"But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." (Galatians 3:22)
"For by grace [unmerited favor] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves [no merit of yours had anything to do with it]: it is the gift of God:
"Not of works [not out of any merit you might have], lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Bible does speak of a "remnant" in both the Church and Israel. But this is the "remnant" that is left after much tribulation - in other words, the true believers. In no instance are we to ever perceive the "remnant" to be some kind of special caste or class in either the Church or Israel - they are merely what is left over, or what remains [hence, remnant] after the winds of persecution have swept the chaff away [those who were merely playing at Christianity for advantage].
Then to what does the number 144,000 refer? Once again, the Scripture is speaking in a parable, a riddle. The number has a specific meaning, and we can begin to discern that meaning by examining its several parts. It is made up in this way: 12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000. Now, in Scripture twelve is the number of CORPORATE TESTIMONY; for instance, there were twelve Apostles of the Lamb and twelve tribes in Israel; and we have already seen that the number one thousand is the number of magnification. The number 144,000 then, means the MAGNIFIED, COMPLETED TESTIMONY OF GOD AND THE LAMB - pure, unmixed, clean, spotless, without blemish, chaste, and holy!! This is now the condition of both Israel and the Church, the Two Witnesses of God.
So now we begin to understand the glory that is set before us, and in doing so we URGE you to bear in mind the words of the prophet:
"AND THOSE WHO ARE WISE SHALL SHINE AS BRIGHTLY AS THE SUN'S BRILLIANCE, AND THOSE WHO TURN MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS WILL GLITTER LIKE STARS FOREVER." (Daniel 12:7)
The opportunity given here - if once rejected - may never be offered again.
God bless all of you!
We pray that you will remember the Word of God:
"IF WE HAVE SOWN UNTO YOU SPIRITUAL THINGS, IS IT A GREAT THING IF WE SHALL REAP YOUR CARNAL [MATERIAL] THINGS?" [1 Cor. 9:11]
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