The first thing we need to know about the identity of God’s people is that it is again tied to ’knowing God’. Again and again, people have made the claim that God’s people are tied to genetics, flesh and even titles and not behavior conduct. This idea is widespread and has lead to religious suppression for many groups and individuals.
This is why many have accepted religious leaders based on superstition and unwillingly accepted corruption and false teachings in the belief that it was more important to God that we follow authority, flesh, and heritage before principles.
By viewing Gods dealings and value system in the past, we can get to know Him better and find an answer to these questions. What we find is that God is constantly pruning His people. Just as it is done with fruit-trees. You prune or remove branches so that it will continue to have a healthy growth and give good fruit and so that the bad branches won’t destroy the growth of the healthy ones.
In the Bible, we see that God first chooses Noah based on Noah’s faithfulness. Then we see that He chooses Abraham. God says straight out that the reason He chose Abraham was: «Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.» (1.Mos.26,5)
Abraham was obedient. He knew God’s will through these commandments and it was on this basis he was recognized as God’s servant. Even though Abraham showed himself weak and failed he allowed God to confront him, instruct him and guide him. And this was the whole point. Both King Saul and King David failed God and sinned, but God rejected Saul and kept David. The difference between the two was that one allowed God to correct him and change him and the other opposed instruction. God knows none of us are perfect and probably never will be in this world. But if we let God discipline and guide us we are on the right track.
Abraham fathered many sons but not all of Abraham’s sons were chosen to be God’s specially elected people or God’s truth-bearers. Only the one who stayed true to Gods instruction. The other son’s descendants ended up practicing idol worship. So not all of Abraham’s descendants was chosen. Isaac then fathered two sons. But only one of them was chosen based on his willingness to follow Gods path in life. His name was Jacob, later called Israel. So what we see here and what we will continue to see is that God continues to prone or separate one line of people who are willing to listen to Him and let Him instruct them. Not all are approved and chosen just because they are born by a chosen, or are a descendant of a chosen. Such was the case with Esau. John the Baptist reminded everyone of this principle when he said: «And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.» (Matt.3:9)
The family of Jacob is struggling and is broken but in the end, they all chose to follow God and He chooses all 12 sons. But when only the tribe of Levi was faithful and obedient in a conflict situation, they were especially elected to be priests and instructors to the rest.
We see God delivering Israel from Egypt and Him establishing them as a people and His willingness to choose them before all. But as the experience continues, not all want to follow God’s lead. And God continues to prune His people. The first time we see God separating the people and cutting off a part of them is when they made a golden calf at Mount Sinai after being instructed in God’s law.
They wanted to lead the people back to Egypt. Not just physical lead them in the opposite direction God had planned, but also lead them spiritually by offering different laws and practices. In order for God to save the ones who wanted to be lead by Him, He cuts off the part of the people who would not be obedient and who were trying to steal His people from Him. ‘Whosoever is on the LORD’s side, let him come unto me.’ And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them: ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel: Put ye every man his sword upon his thigh, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.’ And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. (Exodus 32:26-28)
Again and again, groups of people want to go their own way and take the others with them and God cuts them off too. Some of them are Levites, Gods chosen truth-bearers. They are still cut off, their ancestry cannot save them. When they go their own way and rebel against Gods authority they to are cut off like in the case of Korah. His family had been charged with carrying the holy items of the temple yet he was not exempt from God’s pruning. (Num.16) Not only them, but everyone who followed their lead. 14 700 died from a plague God sent over them. They too wanted to take over and lead the people in another direction than what God had planned. It was a revolution.
We see God pruning His people again when they are given meat to eat. It says: “And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.” (Num 11:33-34) Same when serpents came into the camp. All who were bitten, and chose not to be saved by following God’s instruction, died. (Num.21:9) Those who did what God instructed, lived. In the end, God rejects a whole generation of Israel because of their unwillingness to be lead by Him. They are not permitted to enter the promised land. (Num.32:13) “When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.” (Heb.3:9-11) Actually, they placed themselves in a position where God could not use them or lead them and so He was forced to reject them. Notice how being the sons of Jacob or Israel have no effect and no advantage if they disobey God or resist His leading. Genetics has no value in such cases. God will always continue with the faithful. No one is chosen no matter what. God prune them again. At the border of the promised land when many of the men commit adultery with Midianite women and their gods, 24 000 died. (Num.25)
When God’s people finally conquer the promised land God is left with a committed people who are willing to stand up for the truth. Only one man disobeyed God and steals Babylonian clothing and gold from Jericho and he, and his family that helped him, is stoned. Many find the different pruning harsh, however, the alternative was for God to give up the entire people and let the rebels take over. This wouldn’t have been fair to the faithful, nor would God have a people who could represent Him in the world. Either God gave up or converted to them, or He had to be determined and protect His few remaining faithful. Bear in mind, none of those that rebelled were forced by fences to stay among the people, they could have left to go live among other nations. Instead of leaving, they decided to influence by force and manipulation the spiritual direction of the people. These people were all God had left, the rest of the world followed a corrupted version of the truth. And He would preserve them and not let the enemy grab the remnant as well.
God’s people had to be pure in order to punish the nations that were living in Canaan. He would not take the land from bad people just to give it to other bad people. So He would not let them enter the promised land before they had turned from their ways. But not even their descendants were chosen no matter what.
«And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.» (Judges 2:7 & 10)
Again they «knew not the Lord», they had knowledge of their past and history. They knew who they were and the stories about God. But the knowledge was without insight because they had strayed from the truth.
Israel moves into Canaan but after a while, they start to mix truth with lies in their worship. God’s sanctuary stood for a long time in Shiloh. The priest there was from a chosen priest-line. But when the chosen priest failed to honor God as he ought to as priest, God goes back on His promise to his chosen lineage. He says: “ Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.” (1Sa 2:30-31) They that know God in Bible history are aware that behavior conduct is valued higher then ancestry. He also rejected Shiloh spite that the temple in His honor was there. “Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.” (Jer 7:11-16)
God chose at one point in time to separate the nation into two parts. The two parts are known as Israel and Judah. Israel refuse instruction and to turn away from their mixture religion no matter how many prophets God send them or how much time He gives them. In the end, God allows their enemies to conquer them in order to preserve Judah for as long as possible. The twelve tribes are pruned again, ten tribes are cut off. All that is left now is Judah and Jerusalem.
«Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army.» (Isa 36:1-2) Although only a remnant now was left of Israel, Sennacherib had no power at all when he came up to Jerusalem, because Hezekiah and the town had decided to serve the Lord and when they asked God for help He delivered them. Even the Judean cities around had been conquered. Unfortunately, the people of Jerusalem didn’t continue on the right path. Spite some good kings trying to reform the land, the majority of the people were not willing to give up pagan traditions and lies. God let them go and most are either killed by enemy armies or taken captive and moved to Babylon. God is only left with a remnant of the Jewish people spread throughout.
Among those moved to Babylon, Daniel is chosen, again we see that he is chosen because he is faithful and obedient towards God. When Daniel earlier was tempted he and his friends chose to follow God’s commandments. Daniel later gets a high position in the kingdom. He prays to God and begs Him to give the people a new chance quoting the words of the prophets that they would get a chance to return to Jerusalem and try again. The angel Gabriel is sent to Daniel to explain that God will give his people, the Jewish nation, 70 prophetic weeks, which is 490 years, to turn from their ways. He explains that they will be permitted to return to the land and rebuild Jerusalem. In the last prophetic week, which is 7 years, they will be tested by the coming of the Messiah. Their decisions and actions, in this case, will determine if their time is up as a nation under God. They are told that in the end of this time prophecy, in the middle of the 7 years, Messiah would be killed. They are even told when they were to start counting so there would be no excuses for not understanding when their probation would end.
But when the time came the people were full of prejudices and pride and not only did they reject Christ as their Messiah but they also started to persecute and threaten those who preached the gospel. They silenced God’s truth and banned the true interpretation of prophecy. When they stoned one of the church leaders, Steven, their time was up. They had been chosen to bring God’s truth to the world, instead, they were actively silencing and fighting it. God had no other option than to let them go. God had big plans for the Jewish people. They were to have a powerful position in the preaching of His kingdom to the world, to bring His law and justice and salvation to nations. He had planned to exalt them and let them be the light in the darkness. He had told many of these plans for them through his prophets.
Jesus said: «O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.» (Mat 23:37-38)
He then gave them a new condition for Him to take them back. He said: «For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.» (Mat 23:39)
They would not be chosen unless they received Christ. God had big plans that He was forced to put aside. Again God had to divide and separate the people and continue with only a remnant. Paul explains that they were not rejected completely, a remnant of them would remain the chosen truth- bearers just like God had pruned the people before. «I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.» (Rom 11:1-5)
God doesn’t reject His people completely, but He does prune them and continue with the part of them that are faithful just as He always has. As we will see and have seen, Gods people always have a connecting history, a continues line. This most likely was for God to create some order in the chaos and make it easier for people to understand who His truth bearers were. They had to have a combination of both linage and behavior.
God continued with the Jews that were obedient to Him and that had received the teachings of Christ, which was God’s teaching, and His salvation. This new group of remnant Jews was now the new chosen line. The majority, just like in the wilderness, had been cut off. A minority continued as God’s people. Paul explains it by using a metaphor of a tree. He explains that even though God had separated and broken off a large amount of the Jews, He had also added other branches from the heathen, those who chose to follow God like Abraham and the others did. Together the remnant Jews and the converted pagans became God’s people. This principle is Biblical. For instance, a chosen line to Shiloh, the lawgiver, went through Judah as promised. (Gen.49:10) Judah’s children, however, were this line would go through, was from a union between a heathen named Tamar and himself. So the chosen lineage went through a converted pagan mixed with Judah. Later another Jewish leader did the same, he was united with a former harlot from Jericho named Rahab. They too become part of the chosen king line. Again, a converted pagan mixed with the tribe of Judah. Continuing this line we see Ruth who comes from pagan worship in Moab but turns to the God of Israel and is united in a bond with the jew Boas.
Again their children, the chosen jew, and the converted pagan woman become the chosen line. The testimonies of these three unions show the approval stamp on the first Christian church. The union of converted pagans and Jews. And remember the name Christians was considered more lucrative for these Jews than the name Jew. Jew was from their forefather Judah, but Christ was from their spiritual Father who had redeemed and saved them, and the change of name was therefore natural and desired. Christ was greater than Judah. But these first Christians was still descendants of Judah and Abraham. They were still the remnant.
As seen in the past chosen line, when the heathen turn to God they are recognized as part of Gods family and their children become part of the chosen line. It happened the same way when the majority of the Jews rejected Christ. Jesus continued with those Jews who were faithful and the part of the pagans that converted, and they were united and together became the chosen line. It’s not new, it’s a continuation of the same line only some branches are plucked off and some are grafted in. By seeing how God has done things in the past and the always consequent pattern we get to know God better and understand how He does things today. This is not replacement theology. This is how God always have done it in the past. Those who chose to be disobedient was separated and those who were pagans, but converted and faithful, took their place. In the case of Tamar, God rejected two sons of Judah but kept her, because she was faithful and they were evil. Those who call this replacement theology er really the ones who break away from God’s system and replace it with a system God does not use and never have. They claim that God’s chosen people were the ones who were NOT faithful, the ones who disowned God, and they point to heritage by flesh alone. In fact, many Christians today claim Jews who refuse God’s leading are chosen above a faithful christian. This proves how not knowing God properly, what He stands for, how He operates, lead to some strange misunderstandings of Scripture. Paul knew: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 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 2:28-29)
Many call the lineage of Jews that refused to take upon them Christ name and continued to rebel against God’s plan of salvation, God’s chosen people. Ironically Jewish genetics today show that even the non-believing Jews by flesh are mixed with heathen genetics. There is no 100% clean Jewish race found today. Most Muslims get a 5% Jewish heritage when they take a test. Some professed Jews don’t even have the same genetic forefathers as other jews. Some only have a certain percentage. How much percent before they can be recognized as part of God’s chosen people? These scientific researches prove how unreliable such an idea is. And this is why Israel go by Jewish religion and not genetic heritage when they give citizenship. But for a Christian, this is foolish, for it means rewarding anyone denying Christ to follow the Jewish religion with being God’s chosen people. And so it’s tied to denying Christ and not flesh. All these questions prove that relying on flesh alone is in vain. It’s not how God has worked throughout Bible history.
The lineage continues.
The Bible is clear on who God’s people is and that the lineage continues away from the disobedient jews and through a faithful remnant. This first mixture of the remnant Jews and converted pagans in the first century was the first to be called Christians. They were taught by faithful Jews in the truth and got a Jewish-Christian belief system. They were severally persecuted by their Jewish brethren and also by the Romans.
But God was not done separating and pruning His people. Even this group would experience that those who were disobedient to God was separated and God continued with only the obedient and faithful.
God had once clearly explained to Eli the priest, that not even those who are chosen will remain chosen if they stop being faithful.
The apostles and Paul warned everyone about corrupted claimed believers. Satan’s servants and also unconverted, who would seem converted, would be teachers and leaders and infiltrate the church or the group.
«For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.» (Act 20:29-31)
Revelation: God’s chosen lineage in Revelation
Who God is addressing.
The apostle John sits as a prisoner at the island of Patmos when he re-ceives a revelation of the future in symbolic figures or codes, he writes it down and it’s called the book of Revelation.This was given God’s servants, they who had the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. They were not to walk in darkness but know what was going to happen. Jerusalem was destroyed and the survival of God’s people’s was the main topic. What would happen to them? Would they even survive?From the book of Daniel, they already knew they had time-wise come to the last beast that was shown him. The fourth beast told of in Daniel 7. It was also the iron kingdom from the statue. The beast would divide into horns and the iron kingdom on the statue divide into toes and a mixture of clay and iron. So all that was left in the time of John was the fall of the Roman empire and then they knew that the division followed was going to last until Christ second coming. The Jews had for a long time longed to see the Roman empire fall, and especially also the Christians who had been treated harshly in the empire. It was, therefore, very relevant to God’s people.If we are to find out who God’s people is today we need to follow the line that has gone all the way from Abraham and to this remnant at the time of John. And the book of Revelation will explain what will happen from then on, and here we can follow God’s chosen line with their ups and downs.In fact at the end of the book of Revelation, the very last verses Jesus explain what the book has been about: «I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.» (Rev 22:16) Many think the book of Revelations is about pagans and other nations, but it’s speaking about “these things in the churches”.Back to Daniel. The part of the vision that still had taken place was that this last beastly kingdom would fall bit by bit and be divided but then replaced with an even bigger danger. Not replaced by a bigger empire, but a bigger danger.In the book of Daniel God revealed a pattern in the prophecies. He start-ed with a statue about the empires that would come and have a direct suppressing role towards Gods people. In Chapter 7 God repeats the same information about the same empires only with extra information. In chapter 8 He repeats again information about the same empires how-ever it excludes the first empire that now was gone. He then gives even more information. In chapter 9, following Daniels prayer for his people, God show one part again with extended information. This information is said to be especially concerning physical Jerusalem and Daniels Jewish brethren. In Daniel chapter 11 we get an even closer look at how the em-pires come to power and how they fall, all up to Christ second coming. The same system is used in the book of Revelation. God explains over and over again major things that will happen during the reign of the last beast and it’s spiritual successor and the challenges God’s people will face. So, just like the book of Daniel, Revelation is a repetitive timeline. By placing the information on each timeline together we get a full view of what has happened and the end of it. It’s worth remembering that the dividing of chapters have been made at a later time and wasn’t in the original text. The consequence of this is that some verses might belong to the previous chapter or the other way around.In the book of Revelation and the first chapter, Christ presents himself as God and almighty, but also as a high priest. We are told that His, mean-ing Christ’s people, are the new priesthood and leaders of God’s people. The same titles that were once given to Israel at Mount Sinai, is now given to the Christian movement. To the children of Israel at Mount Sinai: «And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exo 19:6) and to the Christian congregation at the time of John: «And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and domin-ion forever and ever. Amen.» (Rev.1:5-6) That’s right, Revelation reveals that the remnant, Jews who received Jesus together with converted pagans, is the new leaders and truth-bear-ers and God’s true people. God continues with them and not the other Jews. They are the new light-bearers. This means that when verse 1 says the message is given His servants to show them what will happen in the future, it’s their line and challenges that will be revealed in the book of Revelation.Chapter 1 close with Jesus holding the stars of His churches in His hands. He walks among the seven candlesticks that represents the seven churches we are about to hear about. This means that these Churches is His churches and that His care and attention is for them.It’s especially interesting to note that the revelation of God’s churches is given on what is called “The Lord’s day”. This day is by many today claimed to be Sunday, but for those who know the Bible expression there is only one day that has ever been called the Lord’s day in the Bible, and that is the Biblical sabbath. (Isa. 58:13; Matt. 12:8; Exo. 20:10). The expression the Lord’s day on Sunday was started by the Catholic Church and has no foundation in Scripture. If The Bible is to explain the Bible there is no other option. We get another confirmation from the book of Hebrews where we learn that Christ is the high priest in a temple in heaven and that the earthly service was a symbol of His service for us there. What we know from the earthly service was that the priest were to change the shewbread every Lord’s day or Sabbath. The bread, as well as being a symbol of Christ, is also a symbol of God’s word. And so Christ service in Revelation, among the candlestick, also from the Sanctuary, giving God’s word (bread) to His people takes place on the very day the priest was supposed to re-new the bread, on the Sabbath. We will continue to see in the book of Revelation that we are in fact inside the Sanctuary in heaven. First the giving of the word, symbolic of the bread, than the candlestick, then we see the alter on incense and lastly we see the Ark of the Testament in the most holy. Not only the items from the sanctuary service is mentioned but also the service of the Priest. And this is why the Lord’s day is connected to the service that took place on this day in the sanctuary. The giving of God’s word to Christ churches.
Revelation 2-3: God’s showing the future of His people
John is then given an insight as to what would happen to the Jewish-christian people until Christ second coming and the congregations biggest challenges along the way. Again He uses code language which is very familiar for those who know the scripture and are acquainted with Gods value system in the past. He calls them the seventh church-es and we learn something about each one of them. The names of the churches is Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These seven churches existed in the time of John, not far from the island Patmos where he was at the time. Notice that God is not mentioning all the other churches that we know from the new testament excised. If these churches names aren’t symbolic it means these were the only churches Christ ministered in the sanctuary to, considering that all these physical cities along with it’s churches has been in ruins for a long time it leaves Christ without any church for over a thousand years. For this is the churches we see Christ ministering to from the temple. They are a complete number, there are no other candlesticks then these seven. It is clear that the expressions used to the churches is symbolic. This is why the names also are symbolic. We see God uses this pattern many times in the Bible. God took the characteristics of these seven churches to explain seven different time periods that God’s people would go through up until Christ second coming. A continues lineage of His people. This doesn’t mean we will see other converts and churches, but it means they are supposed to receive an in-depth understanding from this lineage and not the other way around. These churches are the ones carrying the torch or light from ages to ages. So other converts must be grafted alongside them. This lineage, as previously explained, was the continuation of the remnant. And because God keeps His promises and His people and so He chosen light bearers has to be a remnant of the remnant of this people. Jesus also uses names and characteristics from the challenges of God’s people in the past to explain these church-es situation. The number seven in the Bible is a continues time cycle. It was used at creation where each day came after the other. It was also used in the feast days where they came in sequence over seven months. It was also used in the rituals of cleansing were the priest were to count seven days. And we will see the number seven repeating in Revelation. Seven churches, seven stars, seven seals, seven trumpets and even seven plagues.So to summaries: The churches, like the pattern in the rest of Revelation, starts with the time of John and continues till Christ second coming. God uses characteristics from existing churches to forewarn the future of the church as a whole.
The first pruning of Gods Christian followers is seen already in the first church. It says: “and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars». This shows that the first church has managed to keep their doctrines clean and that they themselves have separated from those who were preaching falsehood. But it also shows another lineage emerging, a lineage of false apostles. But this church is keeping separate from them. An apostle was a name for the followers of Christ. Jesus shows with this message that He does not recognize the ones who have an outward profession to be Christ followers, but isn’t lead by God, as part of His church. Just as Jesus had warned, people would do mighty works in His name but He doesn’t know them, they are not of Him. False Christianity would exist from the very beginning. Christ also commends them for not accepting the teachings of the Nico-laitans. This was most likely tied to the Christians who added Roman feasts and practic-es into the con-gregation. It was not uncommon in Roman times to add gods and mythologies to the Roman religion, many religions from the Roman districts were added to Roman religion. Recog-nizing their gods helped bring the smaller districts of the empire togeth-er under loyalty to the emperor. However, the first Christian church taught there was no salvation apart from Christ. That there was no room for other gods, and that they would not accept the Romans in return for them accepting Christ. And so their religion, as well as the Jewish, was considered obstinate and disturbance to peace and the unity of the em-pire. Some wanted to be bridge builders and convince the first church to be united with them in return for acceptance, however, they refused and was therefore considered an enemy of the State.The first congregation is faithful but God warns them that they have started to lose their first love. This is tied to their focus and eagerness which characterizes anyone in their beginning of a love phase. This is interesting because this is just what Paul warned them against when he said that those who do not have the love for the truth will be deceived. (2.Thess.2:10) He said that if they followed this path then someone would end up sitting as a deceptive god or judge among them. (2.Tess. 2:4) Christ warning to this congregation is therefore of utter-most importance. And we already know what happens to a people that go astray and are not faithful, they are cut off from His people and God will only continue with a faithful remnant of them. This is exactly Christ warning to this church: «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.» (Rev.2:5) So not even this people who are called His new priests will keep their position and title no matter what.
In the church that comes next, we see another division emerging. God has, as He always has done, pruning His people and Church. Some claim to serve God but doesn’t really and the church has exposed them, and God awards them for it. God calls them the synagogue of Satan. “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.» Jesus had already explained this to us. He said: «they answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. …Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.» (Joh.8:39-40&44) And so these words were uttered by Jesus to those who claimed they were of the chosen lineage but didn’t have the right behavior. They are not chosen. Also, Jesus spoke this way about those who claimed to serve His Father while they were ready to kill the one who told them the truth. And this is just what the church will have to face from now on, that those claiming to be followers of Christ are prepared to kill the other followers just because they preached the importance to be true to the truth. They who does this, lineage or not, is not considered Christ true church. The same with the Jews. The second church has again separated themselves from the false believ-ers. But this church also has to suffer a lot of persecution and martyr-dom. We read: “ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.» In Bible prophecy, a pro-phetical day is a physical year. Although the Christian church suffered greatly during the Roman empire, they had 10 years of, especially terri-ble persecution. The last and most bloody of the persecutions lasted ten years beginning under Diocletian from A.D.303 to A.D.313. This helps us understand what time period we are in and what time period the next church exist. For we know historically a lot of several dramatic changes that happen to the church in the next years.Although many of the second church lose their lives, they are considered spiritually victorious. Christ has no bad things to say about this church. Only two churches out of the seven do not receive reproof. The second and the sixth.
In the third church, the persecuted church have gotten new challeng-es. They live in the midst of a lot of evil but stand fast on God’s side. It speaks of Antipas, a martyr. However, we already know from the sym-bolic language in the message to this same church and the others, that a name can represent an ideology or a group of people.The word Antipas consists of two Greek words, the first meaning “anti” or against, and the second “pas” means father. The name, therefore, refers to a faithful group who is against a father-figure to rule over them. Since they are God’s faithful this is the rejection of an earthly father, not God the Father. Jesus had warned against this too: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.» (Mat 23:9) We know from history that this is a time in the Churches history where they start getting powerful leaders among them. Laodicea is also the city where they first started to worship the Roman leaders. We learn from the message to this church that deceptive teachings had started to enter the church. God says they have to repent or turn from their ways. He calls the false teachings that of Balaam. Balaam was a prophet in the Old Testament that tried to bring a curse over God’s peo-ple but was unsuccessful as long as God’s people were faithful. Balaam had been a prophet of the Lord but when a king offered him money and status he was willing to give up on godly principles and help bring a curse over those that remained true. “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness» (2Pe 2:14-15) Peter here explains that those who follow the way of Balaam have gone away from Christ path of righteousness. Christ righteousness was that he remained loyal to God’s commandments, had He not He would not have been righteous. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.” (Psa 119:142) “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.” (Psa 119:172) “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (Joh 15:10) John also explains that sin is the breaking of the law. “Whosoever com-mitteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin.” (1Jn 3:4-5) Balaam literally was disobedient to God’s word. (Num 22:12)«And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do what-soever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.» (Num.22:15-17) In the same way the christian union with the emperor of Rome were to be a curse to God’s people. Only those who remain obedient to God wasn’t swept away by the deceptions that fol-lowed.We learn that a part of the church has forsaken God’s way, Christ righ-teousness, that they chose sin over obedience and that they are selling obedience to God for the sake of a position and influence from a pa-gan king. Judas also mention Balaam: «Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.» (Jud 1:11) Cain also abandoned God’s truth for the sake of his own invented righteousness. Instead of bringing a blood sacrifice to the altar, he brought something he had come up with himself. A religion based on own ideas rather the word of God. Cain wanted to worship God but by his own rules. God did not accept this kind of worship and so he got angry with both God and his brother who was obedient, and he persecuted his brother. In the beginning the heathen had been instructed by the chosen Jewish line, however now pagans were only converting halfheartedly and drag-ging the church in their direction rather turning from their ways.This is just what happened to the church according to historical records. From heavy persecution in the Roman empire, they now had to face flat-tery and seduction from Roman leaders and this is when the church is seduced to make a compromise and a new pagan-Christian religion sur-face. The Roman emperor brought the two religions into one. He turned pagan temples to Christians, but many of the practices and traditions remained. Many Roman gods were now called Christian saints, and they prayed to them. Again God warns them in this message to the church that if they don’t repent they will be separated from His true people. This mixture of religion actually removed Christianity from its Jewish roots and to the Roman understanding of worship and spirituality. Many Christian fought all they could for the truth, but the pagan-influenced line of Christians got power and honor from the Roman emperor and their influence grew. The church was now at a breaking point.
In the fourth church, Jesus brings up the name Jezebel. Another charac-ter from the Old Testament. The king of Israel marries a pagan royal and she brings corrupted idol worship into the land. Remember Jesus started calling His people kings in Revelation 1? Now God is asking His church why they are letting her rule over them. At this time in history, the pagan Roman religion emerging with Christianity has gotten its leader, the Pope. The word Pope means Papa or Father. And he has been given, by the Roman emperor, the right to be the leader of the Christian church and judge what is true and what isn’t and to judge heretics. The pope can now punish heretics and any Christian who won’t subdue under the Christian roman appointed leader and his doctrines. Jezebel comes into the history after God has split the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Israel had rejected God’s laws and now they were married into paganism by their union with Jezebel. And Judah was not uninfected by the unfaith-fulness of the other tribes. God explains in his message to the third church that he will separate or cut away they who follow her. Mean-ing God’s chosen line doesn’t let her control them. If they do, they are no longer God’s chosen people. Those who remain faithful in this time are the ones God will continue with. He tells them to ’hold fast’.It says: “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sac-rificed unto idols.» (Rev.2:20)Again, as before, we notice the symbolic language. To eat something other places in the Bible is a symbol of taking part in it’s meaning. For instance, eating bread was a symbol of taking part of Christ death. Other places we see them eating a book which means they are receiving the content of the book. Ezekiel eats a scroll of lamentations. And Moses let the Israelites drink gold-powder from the Golden Calf they made. All full of symbolism. The symbolic for eating things sacrificed to idols literally means to take part in things dedicated to pagan gods or to take part in pagan rituals. We are again told that God’s servants are seduced to add pagan practices into their worship. In the message, we see a time prophecy. “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not.» (Rev 2:21) This time prophecy is given to the corrupted Jezebel, the people who had mixed paganism and Christianity, to the Christian movement that had united with the Roman state and now sat as a ruler there. Although she wasn’t part of God’s chosen lineage and truthbearer, God did try and reach her to cause her to repent, however without success. We know God still have his faithful who won’t let Jezebel deceive them. To them, He says: «But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:» (Rev 2:25-26) Jesus here clearly says that He will continue with the remnant that «keepeth my works», that is staying true to God’s truth and obedience to His laws. It’s clear that neither Jezabel, or anyone that follows her is regarded as God’s chil-dren: «Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. ..And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.» Again we are instructed that it’s not about the name professed, is someone calling themselves a follower of Christ, it’s not about powerful positions and range of influence. it’s about the works. Same as it has always been. God says to His faithful «the rest in Thyatira», meaning a large part of God’s church is cut off at this point. The Greek word means the «remaining ones» or the «rem-nant».A large part of God’s church has at this point been seduced by the other so-called Christians who are in power. The power and influence of the corrupted Church have affected God’s true Church, Thyatira, and God is only left with a remnant who stays true to His teachings and command-ments. All the others have for the sake of peace and prosperity aban-doned the truth.Historically we know this is the next phase the Christian church expe-rienced. During the middle ages the Roman Catholicism was the ruling power in the former Roman empire. They replaced God’s truth and commandments with their own truth and their own version of God’s commandments. The co-operated with Kings and Queens all over Eu-rope and usually got what they wanted. And what they wanted was to be the only known Church. All those Christians that would not subdue the Papal authority were hunted down and fined, prisoned, persecuted and murdered. Large groups of Christians trying to follow the uncorrupt-ed word his in deserted areas in Italy, France, Ireland and many other places. They had to spread the gospel and Bibles in hiding, while the Catholic Church could do their work in the open. This resulted of course in the worldwide growth of Catholicism and the decline in other biblical founded churches. Because of the sometimes grotesque murders done on those who would not follow Roman Catholicism many started to give up on principles to stay alive and have a chance at a life. Many made compromises to make the church happy. The Church argued that they were the chosen lineage and truth-bearers, because of their great power many were also deceived to believe that God had given them the power. But the Book of Revelation will later reveal who gave them the power. We are also told in both Daniel and Revelation that God’s true people would be subdued for a long time period and not be the ruling people.However those who gave in to the currupted church was cut off from God’s chosen linage. Only repenting could craft them back.
In the message to the fifth church, Jesus tells us His people are about to give up. He tells them to wake up. “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.» Only love for the truth will keep them going. Jesus tells them to stay true to the true teachings they once received. But the church struggled heavenly during the dark middle ages. Many give up on the principles and can’t hold fast. True biblical principles and truths are given up one by one. Jesus tells them to wake up. In the gospel, Jesus had explained that when God’s people sleep the devil will plant weeds among them. The true church had now lost many of its important doctrines and many had also given up obedience to God’s law. God’s church in this time is dependent on waking up and finding their way back to the truth and the true doctrines. This is just what we see taking place looking at our history. More and more are woke up and received this calling, and they started to copy and spread the Bible and reforming away from false teachings. But the weed had already been planted and they didn’t realize all of the corruption that was still in their practice. They didn’t know they were now holding on to several pagan origin practices instituted by the pagan-Christian church. There had been churches that had been faithful and always resisted the papal authority, but when the Protestant movement became strong they found spiritual shelter among them. Unfortunately, the reformers still were deeply rooted in Catholic dogmas that had nothing to do with the biblical religion. Many of those who had resisted papacy the whole time started compromising and leaning on the Protestant movement. In the message to Sardis are several re-proof. The new movement or awakening that together with those who had resisted papal authority was in great want. Many were arrogant in their belief failing to see the many faults in their teachings. Some even persecuted other reformers because they feared it was “going too far”.However the more the Bible was spread the more knowledge people got of its content and more chose to go all the way back to the pure teach-ings of the Bible. Especially in the areas that for a long time had held firm until they were completely subdued by the men of the Church. Now they started to reject the doctrines of the pagan-Christian church and go all the way back to Gods commandments and ordinances. God’s church that had fallen asleep, are now waking up. And Jesus continues with those who hear His calling for reform and cuts off those who do not heed his call. As we see in the past, God doesn’t reject His chosen people even when they fail as long as they allow themselves to be instructed by Him when He confronts them. And so God’s people are never instantly cut off the moment they fail, God warns them and if they still fail, He then calls for them to turn back to Him. If they reject this calling they are cut off. Jesus explains that He still has some faithful: “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their gar-ments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.» But to those within this reform movement that won’t listen to His reproof, He will cut off and continue with those who are obedient. Those who stop midway in the reformation back to God’s ways are pruned. Only a remnant of also this Church or movement continues being His church or light-bearers. Those who do not receive the light can’t be responsible
In the sixths church, we see the effect of the awakening. Jesus commends them, spite them having little strength, they have received the word of God and again made it its’ guideline. Bear in mind the reform move-ment had become great and influential in many places. But this remnant that has continued the Reformation all the way back to God’s ordinances and laws have little strength.Again we see that this church has gone through a division and He commends them for having separated from the unclean congregations. Both the second and the sixth church has separated themselves from the corrupted congregations in their time. Both cases God rejects those who have not taken heed of His call to reform and call them the syna-gogue of Satan as they follow his belief system before God’s. The name Satan literally means “opponent”. What was Satan an opponent of ? God’s govern God’s rules, God’s law. It was the rebellion against these institu-tions that inspired God’s new name for him. He wanted to Himself be God and to be God means to be the one who sets the rules. Satan wants to replace God’s rule with his own. This is what made him a rebellion. In the Church of Philadelphia, we see that they have separated themselves from the synagogue of Satan. This is a group claiming to be Christ followers but like Satan, they have continued to replace God’s law and order with their own traditions. To believe yourself in a position to do this is the mindset of Satan. The fifth church had received full knowledge of the truth:”Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard» (3,3) They were the church that again got full access to the Bible while it had been forbidden for common people for so long. God expected them to act on what they had received and heard, and reject the traditions of the corrupted churches. Yet many did not. They dared not replace their traditions with God’s commandments. But the sixth church has separat-ed from this part of the church. God has again pruned His people and left those behind. God says that this sixth church will be spared the great tribulation that is going to come on the earth. God has nothing to warn this church about other than to encourage them to stay firm. Just as it was with the second church, neither does the sixth receive any reproof. And so this is the evidence that this church has in fact already reformed back to God’s pure truth and commandments. In Deuteronomy, we learn that if His people keep His commandments and are true to them, He will protect them. But if they don’t, he will allow them to enter a tribulation: “Be-hold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding …When thou art in tribulation and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.» (Deu 4:5-6 & 30-31)When we hear God saying he will spare the sixth church from the trib-ulation that will come upon the earth it’s a clear sign that they have not just received Christ as their High Priest, Christ as their savior, but also that they have reformed all the way back to God’s commandments. But it’s worth questioning what has happened between this church and the last.
The last church before Christ second coming is also the seventh. Jesus has nothing positive to say about them like he did many of the other churches. Some were told where they were doing good and where they were doing bad. But this last church receives no praise. They are in a terrible state. They are neither cold or worm. They think they have the truth, that they are spiritually rich, but they don’t live out the truth. They lack a saving relationship with God. Jesus has even ended up outside his own congregation knocking on their door. He is hoping they are go-ing to realize they have shut out their own savior so that He cannot do His works within them. This church is in a critical state. They are God’s chosen people, His people, but they are fallen. And as we see in the past and in God’s lineage, God’s people aren’t rejected the moment they fall away, they are still regarded His people until His call for repentance has been rejected. Now they are given instruction and a call to repent. How they respond to this call will determine if they will be lost or enter into God’s kingdom as His faithful. This is the last church, there will be no other chosen church. This is the end of the lineage of truth-bearers going all the way back to Abraham. Only the part that will receive God’s warning will be saved and the rest will be rejected when Christ returns. After them, there is no remnant, no more church. This is it. The last of God’s chosen line. Notice that the church has a history behind it. In God’s system, you cannot suddenly remove Gods truth-bearers from His chosen line and give the title to a group who hasn’t this history. The history is part of the instruction, part of God’s people’s experience, and it belongs together with God’s present truth. Other groups of believers will be grafted unto this line, not this group on the others line. A newly converted Jew, for instance, have to take part in Gods chosen line’s expe-rience. It cannot ignore 2000 years of leading to start a new. Then they will miss out on a lot of truth that God has given along the way. And so they will benefit to listen to the other group in order to understand everything completely and the enlightenment gave them to understand prophecy and scripture and not make the other group convert to them. This is the last church, God will not start a new with a new movement. No matter how petty they are, they are the last of the seven candlesticks, their star is the last church leader in Christ’s hand. If the church does not repent and follow Christ instructions, only a remnant of them will be saved. But still, God continues with the remnant. Not to make them into an eight church but to give them to sit with Him on His throne: “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.” (3:21)Christ advice to this church is to repent and: “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.» (3,18) Gold tried in fire are a faith that is tested and come out strong. White raiment symbolized to be clothed in righteousness, Christ Righ-teousness. And eyesalve is to open their eyes to a true understanding of their own situation and to give them discernment. Jesus also says they need to let Him in so they can sup with Him. This is symbolic of a renewal of His covenant with Him. Only if this church receives this message and does what Christ says, will they be saved.This last church fits very well with our own time. Among God’s com-mandment-keeping people who believe in Christ, there has come a great fall. While claiming to have the law they break it along with the rest of the world. A world full of impressions, sin, and pleasures. They have a taken part in pagan customs with Christian names, they take part in the ways of the world while they think of themselves as spiritual. They follow their lusts just as they do in the world. Paul described Christians in our time perfectly: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unho-ly, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2Ti 3:1-5) You would not think of this as a description of Christians before you see it in the last words: “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” A form of godliness but denying the power. This is exactly what we see in the last church. Christ on the outside knocking. As we will soon see, God will make a final separation before His second coming. All men and women on earth will receive one last warning and chance to choose salvation.