Newsletter 20: Christ Will Soon Return for His Faithful – Let Us All Be Ready
JOB 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands….19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
ECC 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
PSA 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
EZE 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die…. 20 …The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
The Tree of Life- Necessary for Eternal Life
GEN 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth…. 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
GEN 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Adam and Eve were mortal but had access to the tree of life. When Adam sinned, he and Eve were barred from the Garden of Eden and the tree of life. From that moment on:
HEB 9:27 … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
Through Christ, means were provided to give mankind the gift of eternal life:
REV 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
The FIRST Deception- that Man is Immortal
GEN 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
This lie by Satan caused Adam and Eve’s fall. It has caused the destruction of billions down through the ages, and will yet bring about the destruction of billions now living upon the earth. God has said:
ECC 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun…. 10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
JOB 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands….20 Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.21 His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.
JOB 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
THESE STATEMENTS CLEARLY INFORM US THAT THE SOUL AND BODY ARE UNCONSCIOUS DURING DEATH. Remember, God never alters the thing that has gone out of His lips- (PSA 89:34 My covenant will I not break, NOR ALTER THE THING THAT HAS GONE OUT OF MY LIPS.) Keeping this in mind we need not be confused by what Paul (by divine inspiration) says in:
2CO 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
When a Christian (in word and deed) dies, their next conscious moment will be at the resurrection of the just.
1TH 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
This unawareness of the passage of time is demonstrated by people who have been in coma from a head injury, or any one of who have gone to sleep tired and been awakened in what seamed to us seconds but was in fact several hours. Also, people who are anesthetized for surgery have no awareness of the passage of time, if well anesthetized.
Remember- God never alters the thing that has gone out of His lips.
REV 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
REV 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
ISA 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Satan will soon appear as an “angel of light”and impersonate Christ; his fallen angels will impersonate the apostles and other writers of the Bible. Satan in the guise of Christ will tell the world he has changed the law of God. Since God does not “”alter the thing that has gone out of my lips”, this claim by Satan to have changed the law will prove that he is a impostor. The claim by his demons in the guise of Bible writers, that the Bible (God’s Word) is not as they wrote it, will likewise prove them to be impostors.
2CO 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
GAL 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
JUD 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Satan lied to and deceived Adam and Eve about what God told them not to eat. He has an army of deceived and deceivers through whom he is deceiving this last generation of earth’s inhabitants about the same thing.
2TH 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
ISA 66:15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.
PSA 89:34 My covenant will I not break, NOR ALTER THE THING THAT HAS GONE OUT OF MY LIPS.
2CO 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,… 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
New testament scriptures are MISINTERPRETED by those who want to believe that God is a liar and want us to join them in the demonic belief that what God pronounced unclean no longer applies:
ACT 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat…. 10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
Satan wants us to believe that Christ died to cleanse things pronounced “UNCLEAN” by God (Lev.11;1-) Who does not “alter the things that has gone out of My lips”. What did Peter learn from this vision?:
ACT 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me THAT I SHOULD NOT CALL ANY MAN COMMON OR UNCLEAN.
1CO 10:25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
Slaves were sold in the city market (shambles) Can we really believe Paul approved of cannibalism!? NO! He was only discussing clean foods that had been offered (dedicated) to heathen Idols.
1CO 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
1CO 10:28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:
Do we want to let Satan and his followers trick us into eating things that will get us burned up by Christ at his coming?!
ISA 66:15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.
EZE 33:11 …As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
ROM 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
JOH 6:37 …him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
1JO 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1JO 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as HE is pure.
MAT 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
This earthquake “rent” the rocks…
JOH 19:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
The Blood of Christ fell through the crack in the rock, down upon the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.
MAT 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
On the first day of the week, when God resurrected Christ, there was another earthquake which closed the crack in the rock through which His Blood fell. No dirt or debris was allowed to fall upon the Mercy Seat and defile it.
1JO 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
1TI 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
As above stated, the Spirit and the Blood and Water which sprang forth from Christ’s side at His death, “bear witness” in the earth- and this “witness” will be revealed to all mankind at the appointed or “due” time. We believe that time is almost at hand.
REV 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
When the Loud Cry of the third angel, emphasizing these facts, is finished, God’s work on earth is finished- probation closes, and the plagues follow in rapid succession. But before probation closes, we will bring forth the Tables of Stone with the commandments that all who will be given access to the Tree of Life will obey, and the world will see the Ark upon which His Blood fell.
In an instant, death was defeated by the greatest sacrifice in all eternity. Dare we- for even an instant- lose sight of what has been done for us? I pray not. And lest we do, we are reminded by the prophet, Habakkuk, who saw the future coming of the Savior in the heavens, that He STILL bears the mark of the spear in His side from which flowed His Precious Blood:
HAB 3:4 And his brightness was as the light; he had BRIGHT BEAMS coming OUT OF HIS SIDE: and THERE was the HIDING OF HIS POWER….(Marginal reading)
In December of 1996, while on a private trip with a friend to view and explore the remains of the cities of the plain, we joined up with a tour group from the United States that Ron Wyatt was leading. On that particular day we were traveling down the Dead Sea coast road near Masada. As we were looking out the western side of the bus at the formations that we believe are the remains of Gomorrah, Ron leaned in my direction, pointed toward the east and said, “You know Bill, I have always thought that those formations on the other side of the Dead Sea in Jordan are associated with the ones here at Gomorrah but I have never had a chance to go look. Do you think you and your friend could go over there after you continue on with your trip and take a look for me?”
In order to understand what Ron was asking, you need some idea of the layout of the region.
If you stand at Masada on a clear day (a relatively rare occurrence) and look eastward across the Dead Sea into Jordan, you can see a large area of whitish-colored formations that appear to be similar to the ones in Israel. In fact I had seen these myself back on my first visit to this area in 1992 and also just a few days before this conversation took place while exploring the Gomorrah area on my own. However, I had never really given any thought to them being a part of the Gomorrah site.
I immediately agreed to do this but with no Jordanian visa and the fact that one of the three remaining days that I would have left in Israel was a Moslem holiday (holy day), I was not able to go into Jordan. I was of course disappointed at this turn of events but little did I know that the Lord was in the process of working things out.
Within 30 days of my return from that trip, I came into contact with a man that had some friends in eastern Turkey. This contact opened the possibility to my visiting the Noah’s Ark site. As the details of that trip began to fall into place, I realized that while I was back in that part of the world it would be a good opportunity to travel into Jordan and attempt to confirm Ron’s theory about this site being related to the ones in Israel.
In June of 1997, after a very successful four-day trip to eastern Turkey, I found myself in Jerusalem preparing to enter Jordan. I was very excited about the prospects of this trip but I also had some concerns. My traveling companion for the Turkish part of the trip was unable to go with me to Israel or Jordan. This meant that I must travel alone into an area that I was not familiar with and to which I had no knowledge of the roads or the language. The only thing I knew about the location of the site I was seeking was based on what I could see across the Dead Sea from the Israeli side. I knew of course that it was directly across the sea from Masada but over the last two months I had not been able to locate what I considered to be an accurate map of the area. I had located several maps from various sources but they were inconsistent in showing what was in that particular area.
The next morning I caught a taxi down to the Allensby/King Hussein bridge. This is one of three crossing points into Jordan from Israel. Here is where the Lord really began to work for my success on this portion of the trip.
To our knowledge no one who recognizes these areas for what they are had ever visited this site in Jordan. My objective on this trip was very simple. I had decided since I would be traveling alone in a strange country, that if at all possible, I would make this a “day trip” and accomplish my minimal goals in one day. My goals were to locate the site and find ashes, brimstone (sulphur) and any other evidence that would link it to the other five sites in Israel.
The Allenby bridge is a high security check point which is located in the Palestinian West Bank and is heavily traveled. It often takes up to two hours to negotiate the 300 yards of no-man’s land that is the border between Israel and Jordan. Also, because of both Jewish and Moslem holidays and holy days, sometimes the bridge is closed down on certain days of the week. I had planned to enter Jordan on the 11th of June and if necessary stay until the evening of the 12th before returning to Israel. I was hoping to be able to finish my business in Jordan quickly (within one day) and return. But having never been to Jordan, not knowing the language, and the lack of any kind of a decent road map, I had no idea how long this would take.
As it turned out, June 11 was a Moslem holiday of some type BUT the bridge was NOT closed. However, since it was common knowledge to the locals that it was a holiday, they all assumed that the bridge would be closed. Therefore, none of the locals came to cross at that bridge on this day. This meant that there were only four other people on the bus with me going into Jordan and the whole process took only 45 minutes! What a blessing! The Jordanians did not even check my bag on entry!! I paid the tax on both sides and I was through.
One unexpected benefit of crossing into Jordan at this bridge was that of the five sites that Ron has identified as the cities of the plain, he had never been able to actually get into the most northern site because it was located within a security zone that was surrounded by a fence. Well, guess which security zone that was. That’s right, the one you drive through as you cross over into Jordan!! I had a nice 5 minute bus tour through what is thought to be the remains of the city of Zeboim. The Israeli security building where I waited for the Jordanian bus was right in the middle of this area!! To my great disappointment, I was not allowed to take any pictures while in the area because of security reasons. I thought about attempting to sneak a couple of quick shots but I knew that in doing that I would be risking the loss of my film and possibly even my camera equipment if I was observed. So I reluctantly made no photos or video of the area. However, I can say that its appearance is identical to the site at the immediate northern end of the Dead Sea that Ron identifies as Admah.
Once over the Allenby bridge I walked across the street to the Avis car agency and picked up my car. It was supposed to have air conditioning but of course it didn’t work. And of course they didn’t have another car that they would give me. By the way, in Jordan during the month of June it averages about 100 degrees during the day.
So off I went toward Amman and then without really knowing where I was going I was able to find the three turns that I had to make to get to the highway that goes down the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Virtually all of the road signs (other than those that use the international symbols) were in Arabic EXCEPT for the ones that indicated where the Dead Sea highway was. Those were in English or at least they appeared that way to me. Perhaps the Lord had something to do with that, which really would not surprise me.
After traveling down the coast highway about 60-70 km. I spotted in the distance, across an expanse of the Dead Sea, what appeared to be the site I was looking for.
However, I could not find a road that went into it. I tried several possibilities over the next hour and a half but none led me any closer to the site than about 2 km.
At one point I came to a place where some whitish-colored mounds were located on either side of the main road. Stopping at this point I found that this was a small “finger” of the larger site that I was seeking. I found both loose ash (I stepped into one portion of it and sank up to my waist!) and ash that was in very thin layers which are indicative of having been heated to extremely high temperatures. However, at this spot I was not able to locate sulphur or any other evidence.
Getting back into my car and continuing down one of the side roads I had found, I thought that I would simply park my car and hike the distance (about 2 km.) out to the site. As a side note: this is not usually a good idea in a middle eastern country. Car theft is a big problem in this part of the world and you could end up finding that your car is missing when you return. In fact I had already parked my car under a tree and had put on my backpack in preparation for the journey when what I can only describe as a “tap on the shoulder” got my attention and I was strongly impressed not to hike to the site but to go back up to the main road.
Driving into the site, I was amazed at what I saw. On both sides of the road were formations exactly like the ones at Gomorrah in Israel.
This brought to mind the warning signs I had seen a few days before in Israel about the leopards that frequent these areas. It had advised that hikers should travel in groups of three or more. And of course these prints led right up to the open chamber in question and you could even see a worn spot at the entrance where something had gone in and out of that opening many times. Because of this and the fact that I was alone and had no backup if I did get into any difficulty, I decided not to attempt entry.
For that same reason I also determined that I would as quickly as possible gather the evidence I came to get and be on my way. A number of the locals had seen me enter this area and I did not know how long it would be before I began to attract attention.
I drove into the site about 1 km. until my progress was blocked by a huge mound of ash that apparently was placed across the road to discourage people from proceeding any further. Pulling my car off to the side of the road I got out and within a few minutes began to locate round balls of sulphur. I found numerous samples imbedded in the formations but only three good specimens that I was able to retrieve and bring back. The formations exhibited the familiar layering that we see in the Israeli sites and they were surrounded by loose ash that had eroded away over the years.
After spending about two hours within the site, I gathered up my specimens and equipment and headed back out to the main road and north to the Allenby bridge and back into Israel.
Once I had returned to the United States and shown my video and specimens to Ron, it was determined that we needed to send a team of people into the site to document everything that was there. This was scheduled for November 1997. At one point we had as many as seven people planning to go on this trip but as it came down to the time to leave there were only two; myself and Jerry Bowen who I had asked to go with me almost at the last minute.
From this vantage point we could see everything in the area. We could even clearly see into Israel and were able to spot Masada and the formations located there. One of the most amazing things we found on this “high place?” was not what WAS there, but what WASN’T there. Other than a high wall (about 40 feet) to the north and about 10 ziggurat-shaped formations, there was nothing. It was as flat as a table top with the exception of these formations.
In examining the ziggurat formations on this flat area we found several things. We of course found the layered ash and brimstone that is associated with all of these sites. We did notice that most of the ziggurats were very close to the same size and shape and were terraced from top to bottom. Several of them had what appeared to be a flat altar or platform on the top.
Many of these ziggurats also had a platform or built-up area adjacent to them that showed evidence of something (a statute or worship symbol) having been on display there at one time.
We see these same platforms in the site at Masada where on one of these formations a very distinct sphinx-shaped object sits.
The conclusion that these were not natural formations but man-made was inescapable. There was both order and symmetry associated with all these formations.
At the top of three of the ziggurats and also scattered around their sides, we found hundreds of both small and large pieces of material that had the consistency of ceramic tiles or pottery shards.
Unlike the ash on which they lay, they would not crumble and when hit together they made a very distinctive “clink” sound that is associated with ceramic tile. We brought a dozen or so of these specimens back and they are currently being tested by at least one scientist. However, it seems clear that either these “tiles” were once used as a decorative covering for the ziggurat or that there was some material on the ziggurat which was “fired” into a ceramic-type material as it burned.
Regardless of how you analyze it, these specimens are solid evidence that either these formations were burned at high temperatures or they were man-made formations covered with some type of ceramic tile. This, with the ashes, sulphur, and evidence of burning, along with the order and symmetry of the various formations, conforms closely to what one would expect to find within the remains of Sodom & Gomorrah according to the Biblical description. As more evidence and further results of our testing is available we will share it either in this newsletter or on our web site.
We believe the time has come when we must discuss some matters which will soon come to a conclusion; matters which concern the eternal lives of all people upon the face of the earth. The above quote contains vital truth- and it is imperative that we have a basic understanding of things which have transpired within the “church” from the time of Christ until the present.
“Every time history repeats itself the price goes up” (Anonymous).
Down through the ages, God has revealed Truth to men and women who desired His Truth, and who acted upon it with firm conviction. But sadly, most who came to a knowledge of “new light and understanding” soon quit advancing in the light. History has shown this repeatedly. We see it today.
In the last issue, we discussed the Jewish nation and an overview of it’s existence as the “people of God”. From that nation came the Messiah- God in the flesh. But a terrible thing had happened to the nation as a whole. They had so perverted the Truth of God that they not only didn’t recognize the Messiah when He came, it was the religious leaders of the nation that demanded and finally arranged His death. But, there was the remnant who had not despised the Truth, and these were the ones who first took the message of the Redeemer to the world.
The Scriptures of the Old Testament came down to us in Hebrew. But during the time of Christ, the predominant language was Greek. The term “church” (“ekklesia” in the Greek) now appears, which means simply “that which is called out”. But, the term does not refer only to the believers of the New Testament, as is evidenced by Stephen’s statement at his trial:
ACT 7:38 This is he [Moses], that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
The “church” existed in Abraham’s time; in Jacob’s time, in Moses’ time, and those who recognized and accepted the Messiah when He came in the flesh joined the ranks of the people of God, just as others had done in Old Testament times.
But there was a significant difference now- with the death of the Messiah, the “sacrificial system” (ceremonial law) came to an end. Type had met antitype.
HEB 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.… 10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
This was a big stumbling block for the Jewish nation, which had so perverted their understanding of God’s Truth that they looked to the ceremonial law as the “end all” to salvation. They failed to see the need for the True Sacrifice because they no longer understood that the sacrificial system was merely a demonstration of the true work of the Redeemer. All around them, the heathen nations made offerings and sacrifices to their idols in the belief that the “god” demanded it and would grant them favor and forgiveness in return. Through Israel’s association with the heathen, they mingled pagan beliefs with God’s Truth, and perverted it. When the Messiah came in the flesh, He didn’t resemble the great and powerful king they were looking for. And the nation rejected Him.
Today, as we near His return, we MUST know history, lest we be doomed to repeat it. The history of the Jewish nation is recorded in the Bible.
Revelation means “that which is revealed”. The history of the church, from the time of Christ until the time of His second advent is given in the messages to the 7 churches, which begins in Rev. 2. The messages are full of hope for all mankind, but the condition of the last “church” (the last generation which is present at His second coming) presents admonitions we cannot ignore, lest we be taken in by the gross deceptions that are all around us.
In this issue, we will cover the first three eras of the church and the messages to them as given by Christ, Himself.
We’ll finish with Part 2 in the next issue. Hopefully, it will give the reader an overview of the church down through the ages and the corruption of the faith. It also, through the prophecy given in Revelation, reveals to us the condition of the church just prior to Christ’s coming and the picture, I’m sure all will agree, is not what mainstream Christendom would have us believe.
Ephesus- from the death of Christ until the end of the Apostles
Ephesus means “first” or “desirable”. The beginning of the gospel message to the world was accomplished by the first “church”. These early Christians had received the purity of Truth from Christ, Himself. The world has never seen anything like the spread Christianity in the first century. We have the records of the New Testament which attest to much of this early work. Filled with a burning desire to spread the Gospel of salvation, there was nothing too difficult to undertake, no sacrifice too great to make, no journey too far.
Every country into which they went were filled with pagans, “science falsely called so”, and Jews who claimed to worship Jehovah, but who had mingled with the heathen to such an extent that they had lost the Spirit of Truth. But no attempt was made to find points of “common agreement”- the straight Truth was presented. Their love of God’s Truth gave no room for allowing evil of any form- those who claimed to be “apostles” but who spoke NOT the Truth were exposed as such:
2CO 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him….13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
1TI 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
2TI 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
The Truth went forth with great and supernatural force as the power of the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of those who loved the Truth. They endured unimaginable hardships, some even making the ultimate sacrifice of their own life.
But, with the death of each apostle, the vigor with which they went forth began to wane. The admonition given in verse 5 is a call to remember from whence their knowledge of salvation came- from those who gave up all to spread the Truth to all the world. The promises made to the Christian are not on the sole condition of belief alone- they must act upon their faith. The candlestick signifies the light and privileges of the Gospel.
MAT 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Ancient Israel, or the “church in the wilderness”, was to have been the lightbearer to the world:
ACT 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
So, too, was the church AFTER Christ’s death to continue that work. And like the nation of Israel, if they failed to do that work, it would be taken from them.
No one knows for sure who the Nicolaitanes were, but the implication is that they were a group who claimed to be believers, but who had false or corrupt beliefs. If they were simply pagans, there would be no need for the statement since we well know how abominable to God heathen beliefs are. Their deeds, whatever they were, were corrupt, which implies that they had perverted His Truth. Christians are to hate the “sin”, not the sinner”, and we are to labor for their salvation. But no provision is made to allow corruption of the True faith. And in verse 6, God commends the church for holding fast to this hatred.
His message to the first church ends with a very important promise in verse 7. Since the message is to the CHURCH, which consists of believers, isn’t it strange that here is given a condition to receiving the promise of eternal life?- “To him that overcometh…” After all, isn’t the promise of eternal life given to all believers? Well, that is the predominant belief today. But the apostles constantly were admonishing the believers to be careful, and persevere until the end:
2PE 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
HEB 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
The life of a Christian during this age was fraught with hardship and severe persecution. Paganism, through the efforts of Satan and his fallen angels, was making it’s last stand for supremacy in the world. The Roman Empire was still the world power, and had respect for the religions of all nations. But the Christians were not a nation, and instead were considered a sect of a despised race. They denounced all other religions and separated themselves from the customs and practices of the heathen, who were sometimes their friends and relatives.
But something evil was making inroads into the church. With the death of the apostles, there were no longer any true prophets of the Lord. False teachings began to spread. The philosophy of the Greeks led to false interpretations of the Scriptures. Men with pride in their hearts arose who claimed to be inspired of God, but were actually inspired of Satan. In verse 9, Christ speaks of the blasphemy of those who claim to be Jews, but are not:
ROM 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
ROM 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
GAL 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The admonition is against those who claim to be “of God”, but who are clearly not. False doctrines were now making inroads among the true believers.
Severe persecutions against the Christians began under Nero. They were falsely accused of horrible crimes and blamed as the cause of earthquakes, famine, and other great calamities. Burned alive and cast to wild animals, they were forced to hide, leaving behind everything they owned. But as thousands were slaughtered, thousands more would come to the faith and replace those who had given their lives.
The worst period of persecution was during the reign of Diocletian. Here is brought to view verse 10- “…and ye shall have tribulation ten days:…” Applying the “day equals a years” principle, we understand this to be a period of ten years. “But in 303 the State began its supreme effort to destroy the Church by starting a violent persecution that lasted until 313.” ( “History of the Christian Church” by Lars P. Qualben, 1933, Thos. Nelson and Sons, NY, p. 102) Four edicts were issued, the last of which demanded that the Christians sacrifice to the pagan idols or suffer death.
Again Christ ends His message to the church with encouragement- but it is especially meaningful that He gives the promise twice. Facing torture beyond our imagination, hundreds of thousands must have clung tenaciously to those words, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
The second time He gives the promise of eternal life, a very important point of doctrine is brought to view- a truth which would soon become greatly perverted in the beliefs of the church and which would be put to the most evil of uses. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Satan had seen Christians suffer the martyr’s death time after time, and how many others were won to the faith through the witness of their martyrdom. He would very soon introduce into the church beliefs which were designed to control the people through fear of death and an “afterlife”. These doctrines would completely contradict the Word of God, and make of “none effect” the very promise here made by Christ.
It is very important to here note the changes that began to take place within the organized church. In the New Testament, Christ told His disciples how they were to commemorate His death-
1CO 11:23 … the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
Yet, one of the first serious controversies the church suffered was setting the date for Easter. “Easter” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Eastre”, the goddess of spring and fertility, who is also known as Ishtar in Assyria and Babalonia, and Ashtoreth in Syria and Canaan. Thus, by edict of the church, a pagan fertility festival was cloaked in Christian symbols and instituted to commemorate Christ’s death. But the blending of “heathen” with “Christian” was only beginning.
In His salutation, Christ opens with, “These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.”
HEB 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Everyone is familiar with the old saying, “If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em.” When Satan realized that he could not destroy the church by destroying the members and intimidating them through fear, he changed his strategy.
By Constantine’s bestowing upon the church official recognition, protection and state funds, the way for the union of church and state was first begun . Pagans joined the ranks of believers only for the sake of social advancement and power. Though “converts” increased in number with great rapidity and church buildings began to spring up all over the empire, the religion was quickly becoming perverted, intermingled with heathen practices and doctrines, which were brought in to make it more acceptable to the heathen. The “popularized” religion began to bear little resemblance to the faith once delivered to the saints. Satan was now gaining control of the “official church” through unconsecrated men.
But the union of church and state was not yet complete. Though the emperor influenced the church in some respects, there were still Godly men fighting to preserve its purity. In theory, according to Roman law, the emperor was considered to have supreme direction in all religious affairs. But thus far, he had no power to decide internal questions concerning the church’s worship, discipline and doctrine. To decide these matters, General Synods, or Councils, were convened. The battle ranged intensely.
And to the true believers, Christ gave consolation and encouragement. He knew well what they were facing, and that Satan was working with all his might right in the midst of the church. In the face of corruption and apostasy, God had His faithful followers who never waivered in their zeal for His truth.
Little by little, leaders in the “official church” began to seek more and more power over civil affairs. History does not record an individual by the name of “Antipas” (in verse 13), but the name seems to symbolically represent a class of people. “Anti” means “opposed” and “pas” means “father”. The fact that “Antipas” is here mentioned as a “faithful martyr, who was slain among you” indicates that “he” was “martyred” for a cause, which was lost. What “cause”? We believe “Antipas” refers to those who opposed the growing civil power of the church leaders, or bishops. Christ had told the people and His disciples:
MAT 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
The time was near when the “official church” would elevate one man to a position equal to that of “king”, and would call him “father”.
Christ next chastises the church for having among them those that “hold the doctrine of Balaam“. The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22 and 31. It began when the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land. They pitched in the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho. Balak, the king of Moab, was afraid because he had seen what they had done to the Amorites- when Sihon, their king, refused to let Israel pass through his land and went to battle against them, “Israel smote him with the edge of the sword” and took all the land of the Amorites.
Balak sent messengers to Balaam, whom we know had once been a good man and a prophet of God (see Num. 21:15-21). The messengers told Balaam of Balak’s request- that he “curse” the children of Israel. In return for this, Balak had sent a great reward for Balaam. The Lord spoke to Balaam and he knew he could not curse Israel because the Lord had blessed them. But Balaam’s desire for the riches offered by Balak led him to resolve to accomplish the deed by another means- Balaam proposed to Balak that he lead Israel into apostasy by seducing them into idolatry. The plan succeeded:
NUM 25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
Because of this abomination of idolatry among the Israelites, the Lord brought forth a plague and 24,000 died. What connection does the doctrine of Balaam have with the church at Pergamos? Balaam was once a true man of God as is evidenced by the fact that God spoke with him. And Balaam obviously feared God, for he would not curse Israel. BUT his desire for riches led him to betray the people of God- he knew that if they were seduced into idolatry, God, Himself, would visit them with His curse. And Balaam expected that Balak would then give him the riches of reward he had first offered him.
So it was with the church. As they mingled more and more with the world, they saw the riches that came with power and prestige. In order to gain the favor and prestige they so desired, they betrayed the church into idolatry. Though not as obvious as the incident with Balaam and the king of Moab, the church was seduced into accepting idolatrous practices within the church, all in the name of “God”, of course. The result would be the gradual fusion of church and state.
Again, we find within the church the same group mentioned in the message to the first church (Smyrna)- the Nicolaitanes. Only now, instead of “hating the deeds” of this group, we now find “them that hold the doctrine” within the church. The Lord’s anger against those that call themselves by His name is evident. The doctrine of Christ was being corrupted.
And it would get much worse. And again, the admonition is given that ONLY “to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna…” The promise of eternal life has never changed, only the doctrines of devils which have perverted the truth.
In the next issue, we will conclude this brief discussion. Hopefully, it will bring into a clear light the last great conflicts between God’s Truth and the darkness and lies of Satan, which are now shrouding the earth in a great darkness.
REV 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)… and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; …and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.