To the Church at Laodiceaby Chuck Missler
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
- Name Meaning
- Laodicea means “rule of the people.”
- Historical Church Identity
- Laodicea is the wealthy, self-absorbed church of compromise.
About 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia, and just a few miles north of Colossae, stood the large and prosperous city of Laodicea. It rested luxuriously on the banks of the river Lycus, a tributary of the Meander. Laodicea didn’t have a good location for military defense, so it survived by compromise. It was an old city, dating to 2000 B.C. Its name was changed from Diospolis to Rhoas by the Lydians, and when Antiochus II captured and rebuilt the town in 250 B.C., he named it after his wife Laodice.
Laodicea was a successful commercial and financial center in central Asia Minor, and the remains of its theater, aqueducts, baths, gymnasium and stadium all testify to the wealth it enjoyed in its heyday. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Laodicea was able to restore itself after a major earthquake without aid from Rome. Cicero held court in Laodicea and did his banking there. Laodicea was known for producing textiles made from high quality black wool and for its famous school of medicine which produced a particular eye salve called “collyrium.”
Six miles east of Laodicea stood the city of Hierapolis, which was renowned for its hot springs. Though Laodicea was built on the Lycus, it depended on water piped in from nearby cities Hierapolis and Colossae. The hot springs water from Hierapolis had cooled to a tepid temperature by the time it reached Laodicea, and the cold water from Colossae had warmed to a tepid temperature as it traveled through the aqueduct in the sun, so Laodicea was a city that truly understood lukewarm water.
The church of Laodicea was likely founded by Paul’s friend and coworker Epaphras, who also ministered to the people of Colossae. Colossians 2:1 indicates that neither Colossae nor Laodicea were visited by Paul himself, although he certainly joined Epaphras in his zealous prayers for Colossae and Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Paul also wrote Laodicea an epistle, which the people of Colossae were instructed to read, even as the people of Laodicea were to read Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. Thirty years before Revelation, Paul warned Archippus in Colossians 4:17 to be diligent in the work of the ministry that God had given him to do. There is a tradition that Archippus became the bishop of Laodicea. It may have been his weakness which contributed to the poor spiritual condition of the church there.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
He is the Amen, the solid and trustworthy One, perfect and perfected, faithful and true.
The phrase “beginning of the creation of God” can be confusing terminology, as though Christ is merely a created being. That’s clearly not His intention, because we know from several verses that Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father and that the worlds were created through Him. When Paul uses the same kind of terminology in Colossians 1:15-16, he refers to Christ as “…the firstborn of every creature,” in one breath while declaring in the next, “For by him were all things created…” We need to understand that the word translated “beginning” is arche from which we get words like archangel and archenemy. It means “highest” or “chief” or “ruler.” Jesus is the chief or ruler of the creation of God. His role as the firstborn also places Him in the highest position. He’s the one with the authority.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
The Laodiceans were tepid, just like their water. It’s natural to enjoy a drink of chilled water, especially on a hot day. These days we have the convenience of water sanitation and freezers full of ice, but in the ancient days, cold water meant safe water. Icy water from a deep well meant water more likely to be clean and safe to drink. The warm water in Laodicea had traveled through aqueducts, but in that day warm water often meant standing water that had the opportunity to bear bacterial cultures and amoebas and insect larvae. Hot water is good and cold water is good, but lukewarm water at just the right temperature can be used to induce vomiting.
Jesus does not want us lukewarm. He does not want us half-hearted about our faith or our walk with Him. If we’re spiritually cold, there’s a remedy. If we’re spiritually hot, then praise God. However, if we’re lukewarm, then we think we’re all right, but we’re really in a bad place.
When sharp evangelists go onto college campuses, they work to convert the radicals first. Why? Because when radicals come to recognize who Jesus really is, then they fire up the whole campus. Closet nerds need to be saved too, but the passionate radical will quickly reach more people than the shy souls who hide in their rooms. We should all be full of the fire of God, passionate about loving this world in Christ’s name.
Laodicea was named after the wife of Syria’s Antiochus II, but the name has a meaning of its own: “rule of the people.” In other words, this particular church is not looking to Jesus Christ as its leader. It’s ruled by popular opinion. This is the user friendly church that compromised to please the culture.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
The church in Laodicea thought they were doing okay, because they had money. They were wealthy, and we humans easily make the mistake of assuming that having money means having the blessing of God on our lives. Al Capone had money too, remember. The Pharisees and Sadducees had money. It’s great that certain churches are wealthy and able to develop a wide range of church programs. That’s great. But, money doesn’t represent God’s stamp of approval. The church of Laodicea felt at ease because they had their physical needs met, not realizing that they were spiritually wretched. They weren’t dead like the church of Sardis, but they were doing badly enough.
Every one of the seven churches had a surprising report card, but probably none greater than the Laodiceans. They thought they had it made. They were the social church, and their membership included all the top executives of the community. Senators and congressmen attended. The heads of corporations provided large tax deductible donations. They didn’t understand that Jesus looked at them through a completely different lens.
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.
Jesus offers hope to the Laodiceans. It’s not over. They have a chance to fix this thing. It’s interesting that Jesus consistently uses metaphors that these churches understand. The Laodiceans knew all about gold and rich raiment and eye salve. These were strengths they had; textile manufacture and banking made the city prosperous. Their doctors had developed a renowned eye ointment. Jesus contrasts their versions with His own, however. They specialized in black woolens, and Jesus offers them pure white spiritual raiment. They produced ointment, but He offers them something better than physical sight – He offers the ability to see the truth.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Jesus doesn’t hate the Laodiceans. He loves them, and that’s why He’s sending them this letter to rebuke them. He’s giving them a chance to change before it’s too late. After His rebuke, He gives them this beautiful picture. He’s standing at the door and knocking! He’s not hiding from them or driving them like cattle. He offers them this kind and personal promise. If they just open the door to Him, He will come in and enjoy a meal with them. For a lukewarm church, that’s a warm and intimate offer from the King of Creation.
Notice something, however. Jesus is not already inside the church of the Laodiceans. He’s standing outside, knocking on the door, waiting to be let in. They need to open the door so that He can join them. It’s certain that He was once a part of their congregation, but over the years they must have shut Him out – as they chose instead to be ruled by the opinions of the people.
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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
We have a great High Priest who passed through the heavens and dwelt with us, taking on the form of a human and living life here with us. He was tempted in all ways just as we are, yet without sin. This gives us great freedom to fall boldly at His throne to seek help in times of need, because He understands exactly what we’re going through. He knows. He’s been there Himself. He overcame, and that’s the greatest news of eternity. Jesus Christ overcame. He conquered!
As we read through these promises to the overcomer, we remember how it is we overcome. We are overcomers through His victory – and His victory in our lives.
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.
There is an inscription on a cathedral in Lubeck, Germany that I’d like to present here. As we read these letters, we remember that they are written to churches that existed nearly two millennia ago, but they apply to every one of us. We can agree the churches are historical and we can see their prophetic links to churches of the Church Age, but these churches also represent us personally.
- Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us:
- Ye call Me Master and obey Me not.
- Ye call Me Light and see Me not.
- Ye call Me Way and walk Me not.
- Ye call Me Life and choose Me not.
- Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not.
- Ye call Me Fair and love Me not.
- Ye call Me Rich and ask Me not.
- Ye call Me Eternal and seek Me not.
- Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not.
- Ye call Me Gracious and trust Me not.
- Ye call Me Might and honor Me not.
- Ye call Me Just and fear Me not.
- If I condemn you, blame Me not.
That gets the point across.
We believe in liberty in our culture, but it’s gotten out of control. There’s a point at which we need to agree with God, “No. That’s wrong. We don’t do that.” The world will do what the world does. However, in our churches do we let the culture tell us what to think, or do we follow the Word of God?
Sin is an uncomfortable subject in our times. Our culture no longer believes in sin. Yet, without a recognition of our own personal failure, a recognition that we deserve to be punished, there’s no reason for us to seek a Savior. Jesus did not come to condemn us, but to save us. However, without the conviction of our sin, we have no understanding that we need to be saved. We think we can get to Heaven by being “good,” and we don’t think anybody really goes to Hell – except maybe Hitler and Stalin. We fail to recognize that we are all lost, every one of us, until Jesus Christ’s blood washes us clean.
One of the questions we might want to ask is whether our churches have fallen into a worldly mentality toward sin. Do our churches recognize the world is filled with lost people destined for Hell without Jesus Christ? Do our churches offer us salvation through Jesus Christ alone – the good news that God loves us and sent Christ to die for us? We need to speak the truth in love, or people will die with no appreciation for their true predicament. We cannot preach the user friendly message of “You’re okay. I’m okay.” We need to say, “Hey! We’re all in trouble! The earth is falling out from under us and we’re all going to die! But good news! God has made a bridge to the other side of the canyon! Take it!”
We are a lukewarm culture, and for too long we’ve allowed the world to tell us what to think. We need to be fire-hot Christians, filled with true, longsuffering and devoted love for our fellow humans. If we open ourselves to the guidance of His Word and His love through His Spirit, I think we’ll be astounded where the Lord takes us.
By: J. Lee Grady
I’ve never believed the Antichrist is just one man. That’s partly because I know from history that Christians have suffered under evil dictators since the first century. In fact, early Christians believed the Roman emperor Nero was the Antichrist.
It’s no surprise that Nero still wins in the “beast” category. He had his own mother killed; he beheaded his first wife and murdered his stepbrother. He kicked his second wife to death while she was pregnant, and then he married a boy. And in his infamous efforts to wipe out all Christianity, he covered Christians in wax and lit them on fire to provide torches during his parties.
But one verse in the Bible gives us a clue that the Antichrist shouldn’t be viewed as one individual. The apostle John wrote: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18, NASB).
This verse indicates there is a spirit of antichrist that has been working in the world from the beginning, manifesting in various eras. And throughout the book of Revelation we see that this Antichrist figure works in tandem with the devil and the false prophet to wage war on God and His people. The Antichrist is part of a demonic trinity—a counterfeit of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The spirit of antichrist works inside certain people to carry out Satan’s mission.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been more aware of this spirit operating in our nation than I have today. The devil is working overtime because he’s furious that his days are numbered. He is mustering all his forces because he knows heaven is about to unleash the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit in all of history.
We shouldn’t focus our attention on the devil, but the Bible says clearly that we should not be ignorant of his crafty schemes (see 2 Cor. 2:11). The fingerprints of the Antichrist are everywhere around us today, and if you aren’t aware of his strategies, you could come under his influence. Here are six ways to identify the antichrist spirit:
- The antichrist spirit hates God. The devil wants the attention that only God deserves. He hates all righteousness and goodness. He wants evil to triumph. This is why people who hate God celebrate sin. And this is why we see in our own educational system a systematic attempt to replace Christian values with atheism.
- The antichrist spirit hates life. The devil doesn’t have the power to create because he himself was created. Jesus called Satan a “thief,” and He said his goal is “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10b). No wonder the devil loves it when people abuse alcohol and drugs; he fuels hatred in people so they will kill others. The devil is the author of racism. And isn’t it obvious that only Satan would convince people that killing an unborn child, even up until the moment of birth, is acceptable?
- The antichrist spirit hates the family. Not long ago, secular psychologists would have all agreed that children thrive when they have a mother and a father. You can’t suggest that these days without being scorned or even “canceled” by social media censors. Our universities have become breeding grounds for hostility to anything traditional, including the simple scientific fact that there are only two genders. The antichrist spirit twists and perverts what is normal.
- The antichrist spirit hates authority. In Romans 1:30 the apostle Paul refers to hardened sinners as “insolent”—which means, “showing a rude or arrogant lack of respect.” In Paul’s description of the deeds of the flesh, he also mentions “revilers” (1 Cor. 6:10). A reviler is “one who uses abusive or contemptuous speech.” I’ve heard people use crude language all my life, but never to such an extent as we hear today. When you see hordes of people marching through our streets vandalizing property, spray-painting crude words on walls and screaming curse words, you can be sure the antichrist spirit is near.
- The antichrist spirit hates the prophetic word of God. When Elijah called down fire from heaven, and God proved He was real to the whole nation of Israel, Jezebel got very angry. She was hell-bent on killing the prophet before he could preach again. This is why we must pray for all ministers in this challenging hour. We need the courage to speak, especially when God asks us to step on toes and break the rules of political correctness.
- The antichrist spirit hates the church. Americans have enjoyed more than two centuries of religious freedom. But I have friends overseas who live in fear, either because their own government is closing churches or terrorists are killing Christians. Just this week I heard from a man in Nigeria whose wife and two children were killed by Muslim militants. I pray we never see such violence in the United States, but the spirit that is slaughtering Christians in Africa is already lurking in our midst.
I’m not saying these things to scare anybody. I’m not afraid. I’ve read the book of Revelation, and I know how it ends. The beast and the false prophet will be thrown “into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20c), and the devil will follow them—”and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10b).
Jesus will rule forever as King of all kings. But until that time, we have some praying and preaching to do. We can’t sit back and let the spirit of antichrist gain ground. Let’s get serious about pushing back the darkness.
Racism, Diversity, Or Identity?
Reprinted from a previous copy of The Evangelist by John Rosenstern
Mark 3:24 – “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
GOD DID NOT FORESTALL the political birth of the United States of America due to slavery. The scourge of slavery was predominantly opposed by American Christian missionaries acting as poseurs for abolition against slavery. Warnings pertaining to slavery resounded from our missionaries in the Middle East. In the case of Harriet Livermore, spoken from Mount Zion, she prophesied, “Great national calamities are awaiting the United States as punishment for its permissiveness toward slavery.” Nearly 20 years later, the dawn of the Civil War bore witness to the outcome of God’s warning. Abraham Lincoln accredited three books that shaped his life and thinking: the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, and Sufferings in Africa by James Riley. Riley had been captured by Arabs after being shipwrecked off the coast of the Spanish Sahara and was driven across the desert. He was flogged, beaten, and reduced to just 90 pounds until he was ransomed by the British Consul at the port city of Mogadore. His book became a national sensation, selling 1 million copies over the next 40 years. He urged Americans to cut down “the cursed tree of slavery and to shiver in pieces the rod of oppression.” Many other well-knowns, such as the father of our educational system, Horace Mann, were outspoken opponents to slavery.
TO FORGET IS FOOLISHNESS
To forget slavery would be as foolish as trying to forget the Holocaust. It must serve as a reminder of the cruelty of man to force man to serve man. African Americans of the Civil War era did not liken slavery to the plight of American slaves in Algiers, but to ancient Jews in Egypt. One such preeminent leader, Frederick Douglas, recalled, “We meant to reach the North, and the North was Canaan.”
Many in my family, on my father’s side, were exterminated in the Holocaust. I often remind myself of the horror they must have felt when the sound of the boots from German Gestapo soldiers marched down the streets of Germany in rhythmic patterns, and then, the blunt knocking on doors. Their hearts pounded within their chests with anxiety in anticipation of being taken away from home and family. Stricken people were torn from each other and sentenced to death for simply being Jewish. We must never forget slavery and the plight of those before us who suffered its torment. It is an ever constant reminder of how each of us should look upon one another with love and respect.
A NEW IDENTITY
The result of the Gospel message is so strong that it changes the heart and life — as a result, being born again – for all who embrace Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It gives the believer a new identity. This is essential for us to understand. The fact that old things are passed away and all things become new (II Cor. 5:17) removes the believer’s past and changes his identity. Christian believers “have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:10-11). The Christian believer now can live identified to a new race. Paul would say to the church of Galatia, “For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus … There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26, 28).
The sullen stains of racism still brood in the hearts of many today. The idea of one race being better than another has hurt America, notwithstanding Jews and others around the world. This kind of thinking ultimately created an Adolph Hitler. The belief is that a master race exists and by the extermination of an inferior race, this will enable the new superior race to manifest(?), or, as with slavery, the inferior race is to serve the superior race. For example, Islam makes this very clear by claiming all who are not believers of Allah and his prophet are classified as dihimmi, a second class or sub-class of people. They must pay jitzia, a poll tax, and are subject to minimal rights, unlike other Muslims.
A principle has emerged that our commitment to diversity has redefined the opposition to discrimination as the appreciation, rather than the elimination, of difference when it comes to equality and recognition. We have also come to think of disagreement as a form of prejudice. If we fail as believers to approach the heartbeat of our social issues with a truly biblical approach, then we will fall prey to believing that skin color is a culture, sexual preference is a culture, religion is a culture, etc. Therefore, if we do not accept someone’s culture, we are being intolerant and even racist or bigoted. May we see each other as our Lord and Saviour sees us — saved or unsaved. Those of us who are saved must work together as one to bring the message that will bring true unity to man – at the meeting place of God and man – in Christ Jesus.
THE NEW CULTURAL WARS
Our society’s new modus vivendi (way of life) toward universal tolerance is to champion diversity. Earlier I mentioned that our commitment to diversity has redefined the opposition to discrimination as the appreciation, rather than the elimination, of difference when it comes to equality and recognition.
God visited His people with a marvelous outpouring of His Holy Spirit at the turn of the 20th century. In 1905, a young black Louisiana man, who attended a Bible school founded by Charles Parham in Houston, Texas, was used by God to usher in modern Pentecostalism. William J. Seymour, at this Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, California, rejected racial barriers in favor of unity in Christ. “The color line as was washed away by the blood,” said writer Frank Bartleman, testifying of his experience at Azusa Street. Sadly, within only a decade, the great Pentecostal Movement slowly began to splinter, and a racial divide was formed. Instead of the pulpit addressing the racial issue biblically by preaching messages of true Christian unity through faith, the division identified with culture. Instead of interracial comity (civility, courtesy), segregation took its ugly shape, and doubly worse, doctrinal separation gave validity to division and solidified the racial divide as well. Because the pulpit did not spiritually address racism, it became a social issue.
The Bible gives us a clear understanding of the function of the five-fold ministry gifts and the result that follows in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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 fullness of Christ.”
TRUE BIBLE UNITY
True biblical unity has to do with our proper object of faith. God made the Cross His object of acceptance. He looks at our faith by the finished work of the Cross, His perfect expression of grace, and accepts us in the beloved (Eph. 1:6). It is there at the Cross that we’re all reconciled unto God, and the enmity is abolished – man toward God and man toward man. Christ is all and in all who are His! Glory to God! The bloodline settles it all! He is our peace.
Now that we are in Christ, we are a new creature with old things passed away (II Cor. 5:17). We are then given a ministry of reconciliation. In II Corinthians 5:18, the Bible says, “And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
If the true church of Christ doesn’t operate and function as a New Testament church with proper unity, can we expect the world to accomplish eliminating racism? Here’s our problem: We have allowed other voices to rise up and address the outward issues; issues that are really the symptoms of the inner problem. Fortunately, Jesus Christ heals the heart and, “He delivers the poor in his affliction, and opens their ears in oppression” (Job 36:15).
Racism has greatly oppressed our country for years. It is still a festering sore. We must listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church in this hour. I believe a time of healing has begun. I believe it can also be a time of greater divide if we do not approach racism biblically and with love and patience. Jesus Christ has “ … redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9). The word nation in the Greek is ethnos and means “race.” Therefore, God is color-blind to race when it comes to salvation and equality. Should we be any different?
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” –II Corinthians 7:10
SOMETIMES, WHEN A famous person dies, we learn from the family bits of their final conversations. A son says of his father, “He had no regrets,” and the world is a little less sad and somewhat relieved to know that nothing would have been changed in the course of that life.
But to say that you lived with no regret also means that you were never sorry about anything—never mourned a loss, suffered a disappointment, or missed an opportunity. How many in the human race can honestly say that? The answer is none. Experts say all of us have things we regret from our decisions around education and career choices to romance, parenting, and finances—usually in that order.
If we allow it, regret can touch every area of our lives. And, if we allow Satan, he will point his accusatory finger toward something behind us until we find ourselves saying, “I should have.” I should have been there when my parent died. I should have had the courage to speak up when I was being abused. I should have stayed in school and applied myself more. I should have risked rejection and told that person how much I loved him. I should have been braver and unafraid of failure.
Notice all of the I’s in that list? That’s because regret is about blaming self, which affects our emotions. We feel sorry for the ways we hurt people. When it’s clear we’ve made a bad decision, we get sad. When it’s realized that the opportunity we just missed will not come our way again, there is disappointment. The Bible calls these sorrows of the world, and they work death.
The bad thing about regret is that it takes us a while to realize it’s been sown. Years pass between the time the seed of regret—the doing or not doing—and its bitter fruit blooms in the heart of the saved and the unsaved.
Every day that we live in this world, we buy and sell with decisions we make, and, in the process, our hearts are revealed.
Esau made a bad decision when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a meal. The Bible says Esau “did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:34).
Bible commentator Matthew Henry said, “Esau ate and drank, pleased his palate, satisfied his appetite, and then carelessly rose up and went his way, without any serious thought, or any regret, about the bad bargain he had made.”
But years later, when Isaac was old and ready to bless, Esau realized the high cost of his mistake: “And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father” (Gen. 27:34).
Esau did receive a blessing, but it was common. Henry notes, “There is nothing in Esau’s blessing which points at Christ, and without that, the fatness of the earth and the plunder of the field will stand in little stead.”
Out of regret, Esau lifted up his voice and wept, but he did not repent. Let’s look at Judas. In the end, he betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ with 30 pieces of silver and a kiss. But in the beginning of the Lord’s ministry, Judas was there, one of the Twelve. He saw the miracles—all manner of sickness and disease healed, demoniacs delivered, the dead raised, and multitudes miraculously fed. Judas, however, valued none of it, demonstrated so clearly in John 12, when Mary anoints the feet of Jesus. As soon as Judas saw the expensive ointment spent on Jesus, he demanded to know why it hadn’t been sold to benefit the poor. “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (Jn. 12:6).
Likewise, Judas went about caring nothing for the Lord—from the anointing of His feet to the kiss of betrayal on His face.
And then, realization. When Judas saw what the religious leaders had done to Jesus, he confessed—to them—that he had sinned, and he threw down their silver on the temple floor. The Bible says Judas “repented himself,” but the Greek word for this phrase, according to Ellicott’s commentary, is “not that commonly used for ‘repentance,’ as involving a change of mind and heart, but is rather ‘regret,’ a simple change of feeling.”
After leaving the Sanhedrin, theologian John Gill points out that Judas went out of the temple, “not to God, nor to the throne of His grace, nor to his Master to ask pardon of Him, but to some secret solitary place, to cherish his grief and black despair.”
Judas sided with the sorrows of the world, and they worked death in him until he hanged himself—some say he strangled himself—but either way, Judas died violently. Luke tells us,“falling headlong, he burst asunder the midst, and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18). Out of regret, Judas confessed his sin to sinful men, but he did not repent. So what is the difference between regret and repentance?
If we gave them voice, regret would repeat itself again and again: “If only I had it to do over, I would have done it differently. I would have done it right.”
Regret, energized by guilt, is a replay of what was done, or not done, and the pain associated with that decision. As with Esau and Judas, regret may cause us to shed some bitter tears, and maybe even confess to others what we did, but that’s as far as it goes. Regret stops short of repentance.
Repentance, on the other hand, acknowledges from the heart, “I see what I have done and I am so sorry. I realize that I have no way to help myself. I need God and His forgiveness. Only God can help me.”
Repentance is to understand the root cause of our sadness, fear, or disappointment—sin. It’s a spiritual reaction to Holy Spirit conviction and revelation—a reaction that helps turn the human heart toward God and ask Him for His mercy and forgiveness.
It’s been said that few have sinned as David sinned, but fewer still have repented as he repented. David, the boy shepherd and psalmist. Slayer of the lion, the bear, and Goliath. David, the man after God’s own heart. Yet at the time when kings went to battle, David stayed behind. He sinned with Bathsheba, and when he learned that she was carrying his child, David ordered her husband Uriah to be “in the forefront of the hottest battle” ensuring his death and hiding David’s sin. But God saw, and “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (II Sam. 11:27).
The prophet Nathan was sent by God to let David know that what he had attempted to hide, the Lord would openly and fully reveal.
Unlike regret, where only the mind and emotions are affected, repentance involves the heart—the spirit of man—which is susceptible to the conviction and revelation of the Holy Spirit.
“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.” My husband notes, “David had a true knowledge of God and, therefore, when charged with his sin, his first thought was not the punishment that would surely follow, but the injury done to God.”
All sins boil down to one. The displeasing thing that King David did was to despise the commandment of the Lord to do evil in His sight. David knew this, which is why he would later write Psalm 51, the truest prayer of repentance ever prayed. It begins:
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”
Regret is behind us, but repentance is before us. “Mock penitents confess their sins and straightway forget them,” Pulpit says. “Real genuine ones find it impossible to forget.”
Out of repentance, David confessed his sin and need for God’s mercy, and he received forgiveness. And then there’s Peter, who denied even knowing the Lord. Before any of us get too judgmental of the great fisherman, we should examine our own hearts and remember that Peter loved the Lord. Peter believed Him. It was Peter who walked on the water to Jesus:
“And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:28-29).
At the close of the Lord’s earthly ministry, in the hours between the Last Supper and the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told His disciples what was about to happen to Him and how His disciples would be scattered.
“But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all” (Mk. 14:29-31).
The Lord listened, but He knew how Peter would react that night, the same way He knew how Peter, while walking on the water, would suddenly see the wind boisterous, become afraid, and begin to sink.
Just as the Lord had said, when confronted that night, Peter denied Him three times, with oaths and cursings: “I know not the man!” Then, the painful realization: “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Mat. 26:75).
Like Judas and Esau, Peter also went out and wept bitterly. The difference with Peter was the trigger of emotion. Like David, Peter remembered the word of the Lord. He remembered some of the first words he heard Him say, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” There was the revelation he received from God about who Jesus was. Surely Peter heard the echo of his own words, “Thou art the Christ.” He remembered that day on the water, when he cried out, “Lord, save me,” and Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand, caught him, and asked, “Why did you doubt?” And the most painful memory of all, after that third denial, “the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.”
Pulpit says Peter “rushed from that evil company into the night, a brokenhearted man, that no human eye might witness his anguish, that alone with his conscience and God he might wrestle out repentance. Tradition asserts that all his life long Peter hereafter never could hear a cock crow without falling on his knees and weeping.”
Out of repentance, Peter realized that he was helpless without Christ, and he allowed godly sorrow to work repentance to salvation. And this work takes time.
When Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, went to the sepulcher to anoint the body of Jesus, they found the stone rolled away, and an angel who said, “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you” (Mark 16:6-7).
Henry points out, “Peter is particularly named. Tell Peter—it will be most welcome to him, for he is in sorrow for sin. A sight of Christ will be very welcome to a true penitent, and a true penitent is very welcome to a sight of Christ.”
In the book of John, we read of the reunion:
“Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea”(Jn. 21:5-7).
Upon hearing that it was Jesus, Peter jumped without pride or hesitation. He wanted to be the first one to reach the Lord, who was waiting to restore him. Later, Jesus would ask Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” and, in new humility, he answered, “You know that I love you.” Then, in a show of complete confidence in Peter, the Lord tells him, “Feed my sheep.”
Whether you’ve filled your life with regrets or separated yourself from God through sin, the Lord of Glory has one word for you today: Come. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).
Come if you’re thirsty or weary. Come if you’re heavy-laden. Look ahead to the shore, like Peter did, and see the risen Lord. He’s waiting for you—the fish are laid on the fire of coals with bread, and He’s saying to you, “Come and dine.”
By John Rosenstern
When establishing the Illuminati, Adam Weshaupt revealed the long-term goals of his secret society. He wrote: “The true purpose of the Order was to rule the world. To achieve this it was necessary for the Order to destroy all religions, overthrow all governments and abolish private property.”
History supplies us the necessary evidence that Weishaupt’s goals were in operation after his death by his faithful followers. In the late 19th century, Henry Edward Manning, archbishop of Westminster, England, wrote that the Communist International was, “The work of secret, political societies, which from 1789 to this day (1886) have been perfecting their formation … is now a power in the midst of the Christian and civilized world, pledged to the destruction of Christianity and the old civilization of Europe.”
In order to rule the world, one of the long-term goals of the Illuminati was to eliminate Christianity. Weshaupt knew he could not discredit Christianity, so he set out to dismantle the effects of the Christian lifestyle in society by gradually removing its moral constraints. The attack on the economy, family, personal property, nationalism, and education became possible through the strategies of gradualism and revolution. As a philosophy, gradualism is defined as a theory maintaining that two seemingly conflicting notions are not radically opposed, but are related by others partaking in varying degrees of the character of both. Gradualism is the doctrine that social change should be brought about within the framework of existing law. In other words, long-term goals can best be achieved by pursuing incremental steps rather than triggering instability that accompanies abrupt change. Karl Marx argued against gradualism, but called for the working class to violently overthrow the existing social structure. Marx did not believe that the road to socialism would be accessible by following existing laws. Lenin embraced Marx’s ideas and became the winner in the Russian Revolution as the head of the new Russian Communist government.
Weishaupt knew that in order to rule the world: “It is necessary to establish a universal regime and empire over the whole world.”
How could a New World Order arise? What would be necessary for mankind to adopt and then adapt to the necessary changes Weshaupt and his secret society desired? Judeo Christianity and Islam have shaped a large population of the world he intended to dominate. To reach the mass population of people and address their struggles Weishaupt would initially imbed his mysteries into Freemasonry. The objective was to portray the “old theology” as insufficient and hopeless. Manly P. Hall, a well-known 33rd Degree Mason, wrote in his book, “Lectures on Ancient Philosophy”: “A new day is dawning for Freemasonry, from the insufficiency of theology and the hopelessness of materialism, men are turning to seek the god of philosophy.”
Hall would encourage the faithful followers where and when a new day was coming: “A new light is breaking in the east; a more glorious day is at hand. The rule of the philosophic elect-the dream of the ages-will yet be realized and is not too far distant.”
Has the time that Hall spoke of begun? Modern New Age teacher and author Benjamin Creme wrote this in his book, “The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom”: “The new religion will manifest, for instance, through organizations like Masonry. In Freemasonry is imbedded the core of the secret of the occult mysteries.”
NEW AGE RE-VEILED
The means of communication by Illuminati devotees is through secret codes and symbolism. They are hidden throughout society in plain sight. In the book, “The Spirit of Freemasonry,” it says, “A symbol veils or hides a secret, and is that which veils certain mysterious forces. These energies when released can have a potent effect.”
Satanist Alice Bailey said: “The hour of mysteries has arrived … These ancient mysteries were hidden in numbers, in ritual, in words, and in symbology; these veil the secret.”
In Freemasonry, the extensive symbolism, rituals and secrets are not fully comprehended by initiates and outsiders. The explanations given to appease any curiosity are feigned by the architects to conceal their hidden meanings. The concealed language of Freemasons was once given by a former Sovereign Commander: “The word reveal means to ‘re-veil,’ that is, to give one explanation and yet continue to maintain the mystery of the symbol by not explaining it in full and complete manner.” There are many interconnected organizations that cooperate together to address the ills of mankind. At their meetings they discuss various good works and ways to improve human life on earth. Although they appear as champions of social justice and human rights, they are the ones who control and cause much of the suffering in the world. We are distracted by their talk and isolated outward good works, but blinded to their long-term objective. Their objective is to foster the dawn of a New Age with a New World Order.
From its beginning, a variety of people and organizations saw the value of having a One World Order. The Illuminati story begins with an agreement between Amschel Mayor James Rothschild and Adam Weishaupt. Rothschild was said to have gathered 12 influential friends to pool their resources together so they could rule the world. Weishaupt was selected by Rothschild to lead the project. Soon after the plan was set in place, John Robison, a professor at Edinburgh University in Scotland, published a book entitled “Proofs of a Conspiracy” in which he reveals that Weishaupt had attempted to recruit him. Approximately 20 years later, George W. F. Hegel formulates his Hegelian Dialectic. Advocates to the Illuminati storyline believe the Hegelian Dialectic is the process by which Illuminati objectives are met. The process of thesis plus antithesis equals synthesis. In other words, first you incite a crisis. The public outcry to resolve the problem is followed by a predetermined solution that the public would not have initially accepted without the crisis. For example, for Americans to give up their Second Amendment rights, a tragic shooting occurs and the public outcry is the need for more gun control. The goal from the beginning was to have gun control. Justifying the goal first requires public acceptance to occur. Another recent example may be 9/11 and Islam? The list is long and wide of examples that could be used.
Although the various players, and their organizations, cooperated on policy and process, they still lacked the mechanism that could affect people in every area of life on a practical basis. What was the missing ingredient that had to be included to guarantee their success? Money! Rothschild, who sought to control the International banking system, said: “Allow me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who writes the laws.” The central banking system would present the most ambitious means to control the money of the world. Europe, especially England, was already using a centralized banking system. In the U.S., the young nation debated this idea. The debate ended with a split decision. The split decision created the two-party system we now have today. In the United States under President Washington, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton wanted to establish a national bank fashioned after the Bank of England. Acting secretary of state under Washington was Thomas Jefferson. He opposed Hamilton’s idea of a centralized bank for a strong federal government. Jefferson’s group called themselves Democratic Republicans. Hamilton and his group called themselves the Federalists. The Federalists sought to protect the country’s infant industries. The Democratic Republican party drew its followers from planters and small farmers. The Federalists of old are known to us today as Republicans, and the Democratic Republicans as Democrats.
Satan is known as the god of the world system. His workers of iniquity are not easily identified because they appear as angels of light. Only the light of the Gospel can correctly examine their works to see if they are of God. The Illuminati and Secret Societies use a name that speaks of light but is nothing less than darkness. We can expose their evil works with the light of the Gospel:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21) Paul gives us instruction to avoid and not partake of those who operate in darkness and secrecy:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for what doth make manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:11-13)
.Signs of the Times
Jesus said that just as the sky gives signs of inclement or fair weather (Mat. 16:2-4), just as nature gives evidence of something to come (Lk. 21:30), so the Endtime will be marked by signs of the coming storm. Although some of these events ultimately will take place before the Second Coming of Christ, that many are already occurring reveals the nearness of the Rapture. Some of the signs we are told to look for are as follows:
1. WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS (Dan. 9:26; Mat. 24:6).
2. RESTORATION OF ISRAEL AS A NATION (Ezek., Chapt. 37). Since 1948 the world has been closely observing the miraculous preservation of the tiny Nation of Israel from their sworn enemies who had vowed to exterminate them. God had already given them tremendous victories against astounding odds in the 1948 and 1956 wars. But in 1967 with Russian-trained and Russian-supplied armies, the Arabs once again were sent to annihilate Israel. In June, 1967, outnumbered forty to one, the small ill-equipped Israeli army totally defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. In less than three hours of the first day of the war, Israeli fighter planes destroyed 300 of Egypt’s 340 planes—a Miracle of Miracles! Can it not be obvious to anyone that God has miraculously preserved the Nation of Israel since her restoration in 1948?
3. MATERIAL AFFLUENCE (Lk. 17:27-30; II Pet. 2:6-7).
4. SPIRITUAL APOSTASY (II Jn. Vss. 7-11).
5. OVERPOPULATION (Gen. 6:11-13; Mat. 24:36-44). Already the world is bulging with over 6.4 billion people, and there is speculation about how many people the Earth can support. Within a decade that figure could be near 7.0 billion. Such numbers pose real problems for the Earth’s natural resources.
6. INCREASED KNOWLEDGE AND TRAVEL (Dan.12:4). No age has seen the speed with which man currently travels and communicates. One of two families changes residence every five years. Telephones and telexes and satellites carry instant communication. Rockets travel to outer space. The speed of this age is unparalleled.
7. NATURAL DISASTERS (Mat. 24:7). Every week, it seems, we hear of earthquakes, storms, tidal waves, or some other calamity occurring somewhere on the globe. Who has ever known of so many volcanic eruptions or so many ecological problems? Truly ours is a unique age.
8. PERILOUS TIMES (II Tim. 3:1-5). Our nation was stunned when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated November 22, 1963, followed by the assassination of Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1968, and then the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan on June 5 of the same year. Fear, a sense of peril, it seems, came upon the American people. Things were not safe anymore. Even though we were not at war, we were scared. And now we have experienced September 11, 2001, and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
9. LAWLESSNESS (Jude, Vss. 17-19). And added to that has been the more recent scourge of terrorism worldwide. We cannot walk our streets at night; we cannot leave our doors unlocked; we cannot board an airplane without wondering if some mad gunman might be aboard. We fear for the safety of our home and family. Is it any wonder if we are more uptight than our forefathers, more restless, less at peace? No age has experienced the insecurity and turmoil we are facing today.
10. FALSE PROPHETS (Mat. 24:11-12, 24). Recent best sellers on this subject have made us aware of the subtle deception of so-called Christian prophets. Many have been deceived and will continue to be led astray.
11. ANTICHRISTS (Mat. 24:5). Many false messiahs have appeared, claiming to be Christ; but we know there is only One, and this same Jesus is coming again (Acts 1:11).
12. WICKEDNESS (Mat. 24:12). During the 1960’s people began to turn their attention to the fact that we may be living in the Last Days—and indeed we are! Civil disobedience and riots were the order of the day. It seemed that a moral dam had broken loose. Overnight, it seemed, there was a total collapse of morals. There was a flood of legalized pornography, nude obscene performances on stage and movies, wife-swapping, topless entertainers, coed dormitories, skyrocketing divorce rates, sexual promiscuity and introduction of the pill, rock festivals accompanied by all kinds of open sexual immorality and drugs, communal living, rampant venereal disease, the burning of draft cards and the American flag, the popularity of anti-war songs, wholesale deserters from the armed forces … and all this with the endorsement of the liberal clergy. The liberal clergy believed that God was acting in all this. Radicals who should have been tried for treason became our national heroes.
13. DEMONIC ACTIVITY (I Tim. 4:1-3). When the Bible speaks of the fierceness of the Wrath of God or His fierce Anger, it uses a word meaning “burning.” But when it speaks of the fierceness of the demonic activity or wickedness, it uses words characterizing “vehemence, harshness, danger, and savagery.” This will be the spirit of this age.
14. PERSECUTION OF THE SAINTS (Mat. 24:9). Believers dying as a testimony for their Faith is nothing new in this world. Every age has had its martyrs. It is estimated that millions of martyrs are buried in the Catacombs … that in 1900, approximately 36,000 people laid down their life for Christ … that in 1970, approximately 230,000 people died for their Faith in Christ … that in 1986, approximately 330,000 followed Christ in martyrdom. How many since then?
15. DRUGS (Rev. 9:21; 18:23). Many people are surprised to learn that drug abuse is mentioned in the Bible. No, the word “drug” is not used, but another word meaning “drug” is used; that is, the Greek pharmakeia, translated “sorcery.” When the word is used, it means “magic.” But when it applies to drugs, drug use, and the druggist, a form of pharmakeia is used. The Bible says that in the Endtime men will give themselves to drug abuse. Has any age ever witnessed such a fulfillment of this as we are seeing today?
16. SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL (Mat. 24:14). Through literature and telecommunications the Name of Jesus Christ is going forth into all the world.
“But I say, HAVE THEY NOT HEARD? YES VERILY, THEIR SOUND WENT INTO ALL THE EARTH, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom. 10:18).
What nation in the world, at some point, in its history, has not heard the Gospel? Jesus said:
“So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Mat. 24:33).
That word “near” does not mean “soon” or even “immediately.” It is the Greek word eggus, meaning “at hand, nigh unto, ready.” The verb form means “to draw nigh or to come nigh.” It means “imminent” or the next thing on the agenda. All these things either are being fulfilled or have been fulfilled. All things are “ready.” We believe, then, that Christ could return for His People at any moment.
“Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come.
“Therefore BE YOU ALSO READY: FOR IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YOU THINK NOT THE SON OF MAN COMES” (Mat. 24:42, 44).
“Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of Man comes at an hour when you think not” (Lk. 12:40
Swaggart, J. (1986). A Study in Bible Prophecy (pp. 17–20). Baton Rouge, LA: World Evangelism Press.
By John Rosenstern
J. Swaggart Ministry
2017 developed into an exciting year for Bible prophecy enthusiasts. 2017 represented several milestone anniversaries for the nation of Israel. God promised He would regather the nation of Israel in the last days. The First Zionist Council convened in Basel Switzerland 120 years ago in 1897. Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael—the Land of Israel—secured under public law. Theodore Herzl sought to prepare the Jewish people to fulfill what was in their hearts for nearly 2,000 years—their return to Israel, their chosen land. In Isaiah 11:1-12, Isaiah speaks to us that the second regathering of Israel out of the four corners of the earth will be an “ensign.” This word indicates it will be a signal of what God is doing at a particular time. Never before in history have Jews been regathered out of the four corners of the earth. We have seen the Hebrews taken out of Egypt in Moses’s time and the regathering of Jews from Babylon after 70 years of captivity. However, the Roman Empire’s dispersion of Jews in AD 70, and then in AD 135, scattered Jews throughout the world.
Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917
World War I brought devastation to Europe, but it also changed the map of the Middle East. Many nations in the Middle East were part of the Muslim Ottoman Empire that had reigned for over 600 years. The tiny spit of land known today as Israel was part of the land governed by the Ottomans. Since the time of Jewish diaspora, Jerusalem suffered 44 besieges and multiple foreigner occupations. Although some Jews had always lived in the land, they lived under difficult conditions. The Balfour Declaration was named after British Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour. He submitted a declaration of intent to establish a Jewish homeland in Israel (Palestine). In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles entrusted the British with the administration of Palestine through a system called the “Mandate.” For various reasons the recognition of the Jewish homeland in Israel was delayed. The promise was made but not fulfilled by the British.
Resolution 181, November 29, 1947
The name “United Nations,” coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the Declaration by the United Nations on Jan. 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis powers. On Oct. 24, 1945, 51 nations joined together to create the United Nations. The purpose of the UN is to maintain international peace and security, foster cooperation in solving international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems; and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Woodrow Wilson’s concept and idea of creating a League of Nations—an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the First World War and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security”—would now be a reality.
The realization of 6 million Jews destroyed in the Holocaust fostered a need to resolve the conflict in the Middle East that was left unresolved by the British during the Mandate years. The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a proposal by the United Nations, which recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine (Israel) at the end of the British Mandate. On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the plan as Resolution 181(II). Harry Truman threw the weight of the United States behind the plan by voting in favor of it. With passage by the UN, Israel was soon set to establish her reborn independence. Under great opposition by the Muslim Arabs to annihilate her, Israel would fight the birth pangs and declare her independence on May 14, 1948.
The Six-Day War, June 5-10, 1967
Ever dissatisfied with the United Nations resolution that created a Jewish state, the Pan-Arab Muslim nations never accepted Israel and sought to destroy her, as they tried in 1948. Israel’s triumphant victory enabled her to take possession of Jerusalem. From 1948 until the Six-Day War, the country of Jordan illegally occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, known in the Bible as Judea. During Jordan’s occupation there were no dissenting voices in the world of its illegal occupation. The Arab Islamic nations failed in war to retake the land. After the 1967 war, they would adopt a new strategy. They would use propaganda and make the Arab Palestinians appear to be victims and gain world sympathy by their obstinate occupying landlords—Israel.
The United Nations passed Resolution 242 after the Six-Day War in an effort to establish a just and lasting peace between Israel and the nations of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and later, Syria. On Oct. 6, 1973, hoping to win back territory lost to Israel during the third Arab-Israeli war, in 1967, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Taking the Israeli Defense Forces by surprise, Egyptian troops swept deep into the Sinai Peninsula, while Syria struggled to throw occupying Israeli troops out of the Golan Heights. Israel counterattacked and recaptured the Golan Heights. A cease-fire went into effect on Oct. 25, 1973. Another United Nations resolution was passed—Resolution 338. I used to think that Psalm 83 was a specific war to occur in the future. I am now persuaded that it is a time frame that began from the independence of Israel until now. The nations of the world that have sought to cut Israel off from being a nation by military power, but since their failures, they have endeavored to cut Israel off from being a nation through peace, with nearly two-thirds of the United Nations resolutions being against Israel. It is as though the very creation of this organization and existence have been about the Israeli and Palestinian issue.
President Donald Trump recognized the capital of Israel as Jerusalem on Dec. 6, 2017! The year of Israel’s convergence of anniversaries! Immediately after his decision, the Islamic Arab nations of the world expressed their dissatisfaction. Their “confederate” efforts to cut Israel off from being a nation were now diminishing. The Islamic Arab majority UN Security Council cast a vote to condemn Trump’s decision. Subsequently, after a veto from the United States, the General Assembly of the UN voted 128-to-9 against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. The majority of the world stands in opposition to Israel. Only a few nations stand by her. I am proud of President Trump’s decision to stand for God. Because it is only those who hate God that seek to cut Israel off from being a nation. God bless America!
The second condition that will result in the Christian’s worthiness to be included in the Rapture is that of watchfulness. The Apostle Paul said:
“Let us WATCH” (I Thess. 5:6).
There are four words used in the New Testament for “watch” that are used in relation to Christ’s return. Incidentally, these four words are used also in Passages dealing with moral and ethical conduct.
Two of these words—gregoreo and agrupneo—mean “to be on the alert, to be wide awake spiritually.” The force of these words is to point up the urgency of the situation.
If we do not set an eternal vigilance on the Return of Christ, we are in danger of missing out. The Apostle Peter’s thinking went along the same lines as the Apostle Paul’s when he warned:
“Be sober, be VIGILANT [gregoreo]; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).
Let us turn to the Gospel of Mark to illustrate the use of these two most significant words of warning to the Christians concerning watchfulness.
“But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the Angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
“TAKE YOU HEED, WATCH AND PRAY: FOR YOU KNOW NOT WHEN THE TIME IS.
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, Who left His House, and gave authority to His Servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to WATCH.
“WATCH you therefore: for you know not when the Master of the house comes, at evening, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
“LEST COMING SUDDENLY HE FIND YOU SLEEPING.
“And what I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH” (Mk. 13:32-37).
This Parable illustrates the necessity of watchfulness. The word “watch” is used in this Parable four times. Let us look at each use of this word “watch.”
In Verse 33 Jesus said:
“Take you heed, WATCH.”
The word here means “to chase sleep, to be sleepless,” and expresses not mere wakefulness but a watchfulness of those who are intent upon doing anything.
Verse 35 begins with “watch” and again the urgency of watching is emphasized.
“You know not when the Master of the house comes”
… so be watching. Again, the warning in Verse 36:
“Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.”
In Verse 37 the last use of the word is capitalized emphasizing the force of the word—the urgency of the hour.
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, Who left His House” (Vs. 34)
… and does not say when He will return. But He said, considering the urgency of it:
“What I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH.”
When a person is going on a long-sought-after vacation, he usually spends a restless, uncomfortable night in anticipation of the upcoming departure. For the true Christian it is hard to rest comfortably in the world when he is anticipating something so much better.
We have often seen the picture of the restless, sleepless mother and father, looking down the trail waiting for the long-lost prodigal to return.
The helmsman of a ship fights back sleep to maintain his bearing, knowing that the mightiest wave will slide under the heel if the prow of the ship meets it head-on. Our Captain says, “Take heed, be watchful,” just as a sea captain says, “Mind your helm.”
Notice again in the Parable that the Son of Man …
“commanded the porter to WATCH” (Vs. 34).
Here, as in Verse 35, the Apostles are compared to doorkeepers (porters); as the captain of the guard made his rounds at night through the Temple, the guards were to rise and salute him. Any guard found asleep on duty was beaten or his garments set on fire.
It is self-evident that under that severe penalty not many guards would drowse off to sleep. This use of the word was mentioned again by Jesus as He spoke to the Apostle John:
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he who WATCHES, and KEEPS HIS GARMENTS, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Rev 16:15).
What a warning! What an incentive to alertness!
One lexicon says that the word gregoreo comes from a root word meaning “collecting our faculties.” In the light of the soon Return of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be “collecting our faculties,” lest we lose our garments and “walk naked” and ashamed.
The Christian who drowses away at his Christianity is imperiling his Salvation. All too many Christians count on God to keep them alert. They feel it is God’s duty to warn them as each new wave approaches. Unfortunately, it is not the duty of the captain of the ship to stand the wheel watch; it is the person at the helm who must maintain constant vigilance if he is to see the voyage to a successful conclusion. The helmsman who falls asleep and endangers the ship is eligible for grave and disciplinary action. Christians who fail to maintain their vigilance can expect no better. There are consequences for our every action. Spiritual consequences are no less real than worldly ones.
This is the reason the Apostle Paul said:
“I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).
The great Apostle of Christ brought his body …
… every waking day …
“lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27).
And if such a magnificent man of God found it necessary to remain ever vigilant (lest he fall by the wayside), who are we to become overconfident?
Yet Christians are becoming smug. Christian attention is wandering. Clergy and laity are becoming immersed in this world. It is a new day in which we live. The old Scriptures no longer count. Practices that would have been denounced a short time ago are accepted now. Everyone is doing it. It is a new day.…
But is it?
King Solomon wrote:
“There is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).
Satan knows there is nothing new under the sun. The modern morals and the new permissiveness are nothing new to him. He has promoted the same things in Greece, in Rome, in Sodom and Gomorrah, and in Babylon.
“Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us” (Eccl. 1:10).
The new morality is new to us only because we were not alive in ancient days to see the old morality. And if we fall for the new morality now, the same consequences that befell Greece, Rome, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Babylon will befall our civilization.
Satan is breaking through the doors of our once moral and Spiritual Strongholds. Today he is bombarding our mind through pornographic movies which come right into our living rooms, billboards, magazines, indecent dress, public scenes that once would have caused people to blush. Many Christians sit through these movies, laugh at the openly obscene jokes, and then wonder why their relationship with God is not what it used to be.
These Christians have been lulled to sleep. They have been put under a hypnotic trance by Satan because they have not watched. They do not WATCH what they see, where they go, and what they say—and all of this despite the fact that the Holy Spirit has enjoined them to WATCH. Not to watch and pray is to prove oneself unworthy to be included in the Rapture.
Sometime after the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany, many Germans perceived the real intent of Hitler that was hidden behind his rhetoric to put a Volkswagen in every German carport. After organizing a door-to-door campaign to warn the German people of what lay ahead, they were met by a complacent, self-satisfied public that slammed the door on them for disturbing their peace.
It is with this in mind that we study the Apostle Paul’s warning to the Thessalonians that professing Christians, who are asleep spiritually, are living in danger of missing the Rapture.
The Greek word that the Apostle Paul used for “sleep” (I Thess. 5:6) is the Greek word katheudo, and means “to repose oneself in sleep.” The same Greek word is used in Matthew 25:5 to describe the faithless, careless, indifferent virgins.
However, context determines the Biblical meaning that the Holy Spirit intends. In I Thessalonians 5:6, therefore, katheudo is used metaphorically as “carnal insensibility to Divine things involving conformity to the world.” The Apostle Paul contrasted spiritual sleep (Vs. 6) with the natural sleep that comes at night and with the drunkenness that dulls a person’s senses (Vs. 7).
Another Greek word for “sleep” may be mentioned here that carries the same connotation as katheudo, but with a little different slant. This word is found in Romans 13:11.
“And that, knowing the time, and now it is high time to AWAKE out of SLEEP: for now is our Salvation nearer than when we believed.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
“But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:11-14).
The Greek word for “sleep” that we are exhorted to “awake out of” is hypnou, from the root word hypnos. It is the same word from which our word “hypnosis” is derived. “Hypnosis” is a “state that resembles sleep, but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.”
Think of that! What better definition could we have of Spiritual Sleep than that of listening to the voice of the Devil (induced by a person) who suggests that we turn our eyes from the Lord and toward those things that direct our attention to the world?
Paul’s warning in the light of the imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ is to awake us out of our Spiritual Conformity to the world and to “put on Christ”; that is, our sole interest in life must be the same as that of our Lord to enter into His Views, His Thinking, and to imitate Him in all things. Why? Because, as the Apostle Peter said:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).
No sooner had the Children of God come out of Egyptian bondage than they became disenchanted and disillusioned and began to turn back to the beggarly elements of the world. The Christian experience is similar. When people are first Saved and begin their Christian walk, they are usually on a mountaintop high. For a time they continue bouncing from mountaintop to mountaintop, or, as King Solomon described it …
“leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (Song of Sol. 2:8).
But sooner or later the season wears on. The petals fall in the rose garden until the thorns begin to show. The cherry bowl begins to display more pits than cherries.…
Unfortunately, most Christians believe their Christian gardens will never become invaded by weeds. They are taught by overzealous teachers and misguided preachers that a Christian’s walk should never come down from the mountaintops, but it always does. Why? Because it is only during these periods that we are able to stand back, evaluate our Christian Growth, and recognize the areas where we need more work.
Faith that has never been tested is a Faith that can never be quite certain. That is the reason that our reactions during these periods of “valley” Christianity determine the outcome of our Christian walk. Every moon walk has its reentry, and every spiritual high has its return to Earth. A solid enduring relationship with God is something to be arrived at only with hard work, sweat, and tears.
Too many Christians become indifferent with the passage of time. Living for Christ, in Christ, and like Christ becomes a bore. Attending church can become an inconvenience. If we fail to work at it and fail continually to renew our commitment and review our Blessings, it is possible for us to fall by the wayside.
It is always more fun to talk about the Blessings and the highs and the glory and the grandeur. But a farm would soon fall into disrepair and ruin if the chores were not done every day. If the cows were not milked twice a day, they would soon stop giving milk. If they were not fed daily and their stalls cleaned, they would soon sicken and die.
Chores keep the world turning. And if we neglect our Spiritual Chores, our eternal farm is going to wreck and ruin. We should spend more time on the chores of our Spiritual Walk rather than spending so much time lifting our eyes to the glories above.
We like to gather a crowd on a hill and point out the absolute beauty of the well-tended farm spread out below us. But, unfortunately, we do not give equal time to the cultivation that produced those tended fields.
A Christian has to make a conscious decision to walk in the Ways of God. Our human, carnal nature is such that we crave constant stimulation. We are easily drawn off into the world. But excitement and stimulation can come from the enemy. A Christian who wishes to be truly “in Christ”—to be an overcomer—must decide first whether he is willing to dedicate himself to this and every waking moment of his life.
We must constantly decide we are going to do these things necessary to grow as Christians—things that require energy and effort. Jesus said:
“He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Lk. 16:10).
These daily chores are the basis of the Christian life. Let us never lose sight of one fact: we do not do these things to earn Salvation or to win favor with God. No one earns anything from God. Everything we have from God comes to us by Grace. We are the ones who need the maturity that is the outgrowth of a daily consistent Christian walk. God can get along with or without our “works”; we cannot.
Just as a dedicated farmer does not fall asleep as he rushes from one chore to another, the Christian who spends each day exercising his Spiritual Gifts is neither blind nor prey to Satan’s devices. The problem comes when the Christian decides to take a break. He becomes bored, takes a few days off to refresh himself with an excursion into the world. Then, he becomes vulnerable to Satan’s serene song and soon falls prey to his hypnotic lures.
How many times have you been present among gatherings of “Christians,” where you mentioned revival, and no one perked up? You tried to get a conversation going about some Bible Passage, and then someone brought up the Super Bowl or the latest movie. What happened? Everyone was suddenly interested. These are Christians who are asleep in Christ and awake to the things of the world.
What elicits responses in your own heart? What excites you? What gets you out of your chair and heading for some activity?
The true answer may come as a shock to you. It is almost as though the world has taken a spiritual sedative. We are asleep at the wheel. Church services are a bore. Living for God has become a bore. God’s Word just is not as exciting as it used to be.
Or is it? Are we the ones who are out of step? A great percentage of the Christian segment of the world’s population has been lulled to sleep by Satan’s hypnotic lures. We believe when the Holy Spirit gave the words to the Apostle Paul, He was putting them there for Christians in this day as well.
Wake up, Christian world! Sleeping Christians are not going to have an alarm clock just before the Rapture.
(13) “but the prince of the kingdom of persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and i remained there with the kings of persia.”
The structure is:
1. The phrase, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days,” refers to a fallen angel appointed by Satan to control the Persian Government. Gabriel had to oppose this fallen angel and for reasons we will momentarily discuss.
2. The phrase, “But, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me,” pertains to Michael, the mighty Archangel, the Angel who is in charge of Israel, who came to help Gabriel regarding this conflict.
3. The phrase, “And I remained there with the kings of Persia,” doesn’t refer to earthly kings, but, again, to many fallen angels, who evidently were mighty and powerful. They were there to help the “prince of the kingdom of Persia,” the chief evil angel appointed by Satan as it regarded the Persian Empire.
The Prince of the Kingdom of Persia
This Scripture appears to reveal that Satan places an agent in charge of every nation (fallen angel); and, if so, this may explain national hatreds and national movements.
It seems from the statement of Verse 13, that God involves His mighty Angels primarily in the carrying out of His Will regarding the fulfillment of Prophecy. God’s Angels also help the Saints (Heb. 1:14).
It would stand to reason that Satan would do all within his power to keep Prophecy from being fulfilled, and especially regarding the displacement of powerful nations and kingdoms; consequently, what is portrayed in this Thirteenth Verse is just such a contest.
The time had now come for the preparation of the moving out of the Medo-Persian Kingdom, and the bringing in of the Grecian Kingdom under Alexander the Great; however, even though beginning now, as Gabriel was to show Daniel (11:1–2), it was to some 200 years before this would actually be fulfilled. In fact, several more kings would reign after Cyrus; however, the events were already transpiring in the spirit world, that would ultimately bring all of these things to pass. The following is something else we learn from this Thirteenth Verse.
Disharmony in Satan’s Kingdom
It seems that various kingdoms in Satan’s domain vie or fight against each other. Even though the prince of the kingdom of Persia and the prince of Grecia, both fallen angels, were in the domain of Satan, they, in a sense, contested each other. Of course, this is unheard of among the Angels of God. But, it seems among the angels of Satan, one prince of darkness which rules a particular part of the world under Satan little desires to give up this place of leadership to another fallen prince.
From Gabriel’s description, it seems the fallen angel that was the power behind the kingdom of Persia did not desire to give up this particular position, and had to be forced by Gabriel and Michael to do so!
Even though the conflict lasted for some 21 days, still, Verse 20 tells us that the conflict still was not resolved, and further effort must be made.
It also seems that the contest was so difficult that Michael, the mighty Archangel, had to come help Gabriel respecting the situation.
The Archangel, “Michael,” as stated, and according to Verse 21, is the Mighty Angel who looks after Israel.
The phrase, “And I remained there with the kings of Persia,” refers to the Satanic princes of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, of which there were more than one. So, there could have been, and no doubt was, a host of fallen angels promoting this Empire and, as well, greatly encouraging idol worship and all manner of iniquity. This, as well, should tell us some things about present-day events!
If it held true then, and certainly it did, it holds true today that fallen angels work behind the scenes controlling governments of this world.
THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
To use just one example, it was no doubt a fallen angel who instigated the horror of Communism in 1917 and, as well, was moved aside by powerful righteous Angels sometime back. We saw the results in the Autumn of 1989. At that time, Eastern Europe was released from Soviet domination; the Berlin Wall came down, and Russia seemed to change tactics.
This was not by chance, and it was not caused by U. S. State Department policy. Actually, it came as a surprise; but, in reality, and according to Scripture, it happened so that another one of Daniel’s Prophecies might be fulfilled (Dan. 7:7).
The ten horns that Daniel saw on this dreadful beast of 7:7 came up in the old Roman Empire territory, and included some of the Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria, former Yugoslavia, and Romania, etc. So, according to Daniel’s Prophecies, these countries had to be loosed from Soviet domination, because the ten horns represent ten nations that will rise up in their own sovereignty, and pertain to this very area. Therefore, Soviet domination of this area had to be pushed aside for the sovereignty of these nations to come about.
The first part of Daniel’s Prophecy was fulfilled in the Fall of 1989, with Eastern Europe, in effect, being released from the dominion of the Soviet Union.
The ten horns (ten nations) out of this area have not yet formed an alliance to oppose Israel, but they will in the not-so-distant future.
Therefore, as the prince of Communism (Satanic prince) was pushed aside, the prince that will take his place, and, in effect, has already taken his place, will enable the ten-kingdom Empire to arise. He is now the ruling prince in this realm of darkness. This means that the events now coming about in the Middle East are all working toward this conclusion.
Quite possibly, righteous Angels had to force the prince of Communism aside, as in Daniel’s day, in order that the Satanic prince of the ten kingdoms may come forward, which is already now in progress, and will be fulfilled shortly.
Incidentally, the “little horn” (7:8), who will come up among these ten nations, will be the Antichrist. He will actually be aided by the “prince of Grecia” (Vs. 20) who gave Alexander the Great such power.
J. Swaggart Ministries -Book of Daniel Commentary