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KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
Teaching the things concerning the
... Kingdomof God
The Battle of Armageddon
Table of Contents
And the sixth Angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 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. 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. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue ARMAGEDDON (Rev 16:12-16).
The word Armageddon appears but once in the Bible (Rev 16:16). It means merely the mound of Megiddo. And here we find that the kings of the earth and of the whole world are gathered together under the sixth vial or plague, to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief.
The battle of Armageddon, then, is the battle of the great day of God, or of the great day of the Lord, which comes as a thief upon an unsuspecting world and a sleeping church. By this we are to understand that the sleeping church will recognize neither the war of Armageddon, nor the day which it ushers in. A thief comes while people sleep. Unheralded and unsuspected and unrecognized. He blows no trumpet: he wants no fanfare. He works in secret and by stealth. Then when the morn comes, when the sleepers awaken, they learn of their loss, but too late. The thief has gone, and with him their treasures. Thus the Spirit conveys to us that the great day of the Lord, or the Kingdom age which is ushered in by the battle of Armageddon, comes to ruin an unsuspecting world order and a faithless church system; for, while this great day of God begins as an hour of victory and triumph and freedom from bondage and fears for Gods elect, yea, and for all the meek of the earth, yet for the faithless and unbelieving it is the very reverse. For them it is a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the dawn spread upon the mountains (Joel 2:2).
The great day of the Lord the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lords wrath; but the whole land (of Babylon) shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy (Zeph 1:14-18).
Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20). This day of the Lord is when the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols He shall utterly abolish (Isa 2:12-18). It is the day of overturning, when the foremost shall be least, and least foremost; when the mighty shall become weak, and the meek and lowly become mighty. It is the day when the kingdoms of the world crumble and fall, and when Gods kingdom is established never to fall. And Armageddon is the beginning of the overturning: it is the battle of the great day of the Lord, when the Lord first comes in judgment upon the entire political, economic and ecclesiastical system of this present evil age and He comes as a thief.
THE BATTLE OF THE DAY OF GOD
The prophecies of the scriptures clearly show that the Day of the Lord is the name of that period of time, and that dealing of God, in which Gods kingdom, under Christ and through the Sons of God, is to be gradually established in the earth, while the kingdoms of this world are passing away and Satans power and influence over men are being bound. But the BATTLE of the Great day of God, or, the Battle of Armageddon, is representative of that time of struggle and fierce conflict which Gods elect and the whole world must pass through, by which, this present evil world system is actually brought to an end and the new day is inaugurated in righteousness and glory.
As we have already stated, Armageddon is a Hebrew word signifying the mount of Megiddo or the mount of Destruction. The town of Megiddo occupied a very marked position on the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon, and commanded an important pass into the hill country. This locality was the great battleground of Palestine, on which were fought many of the famous battles of Old Testament history. There Gideon and his little band alarmed and discomfited the Medianites, who destroyed one another in their flight (Judges 7:19-23). There Deborah the prophetess met the enemies of Israel, like grasshoppers for multitude and armed to the teeth, and without a weapon, just when it seemed Israel was being surrounded to be totally exterminated from the earth, out of heaven God sent His deliverance (Judges 4 and 5). There king Saul was defeated by the Philistines (I Sam 31:1-6). There king Josiah was slain by Pharaoh-Necho in one of the most disastrous conflicts in the history of Israel (II Chron 35:22-25). There also king Ahab and his wife Jezebel lived, in the city of Jezreel, where Jezebel afterwards met a horrible death (II Kings 9:30-37). Because of its commanding position, many other nations, according to secular history, warred around Megiddo Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Crusaders, Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Truks and Arabs have all pitched their tents on the Plain of Esdraelon.
The one thing that we want to take note of here is that the book of Revelation is a book of symbols in which is set forth in symbolic form the ages-long struggle between truth and error, righteousness and unrighteousness, flesh and spirit, light and darkness, the Lamb and the Dragon, Christ and Antichrist, the present evil world system and the kingdom of God. In this portrayal are used, on the one hand, such symbols as beast, dragon, false Prophet, Babylon, harlot, unclean spirits, frogs, etc; and on the other hand, Lamb, bride, holy city, overcomers, manchild, 144,000, and others. Armageddon is another of the symbols used in the book, and it is associated with the great and final struggle with which the present age ends, when the kingdom of Christ rises victoriously over all enemies, establishing world-wide righteousness and peace.
Many of the symbolisms of the scriptures are similar in nature to those with which the world is acquainted. The Bible, for instance, uses beasts to represent kingdoms, or governments; and so does the world. And the use of a battlefield to convey a certain idea is also practiced by the world. When we say, for example, that an army meets its Waterloo, we simply mean that although it had been victorious for a while, it finally met sudden and unexpected defeat. It was Napoleons defeat at Waterloo that caused such significance to be attached to this particular battleground.
So it is with Armageddon. It was Israels battleground, and to understand its symbolic meaning in the book of Revelation it is but necessary to understand this special characteristic associated with all the battles in which ancient Israel participated in that area. It is not in the fact that they were always victorious, for they were not. Sometimes God permitted them to be defeated because they had sinned against the Lord and needed to be disciplined. However, there was one outstanding characteristic in ALL of Israels battles and that is that God took a hand in them and very personally and obviously ruled and overruled in their victories and defeats in keeping with His own great plan of the ages.
When we take this important fact into consideration, the word Armageddon assumes a significance just as definite as does Waterloo, although a very different one. It reveals a struggle in which God is specifically interested and in which HE will totally and completely direct the issue, assuring final and glorious victory for the forces of His kingdom. Since this is the last great battle of the ages it must result in the permanent defeat of error, unrighteousness, carnality, darkness, antichrist, and all the agencies of Satan thus opening up the full manifestation of God through His Sons to bless all the families of the earth. This is why it is described as the battle of THAT GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY.
When we consider the battle of Armageddon described in Rev 16:12-16, we are not, therefore, to expect any gathering of the nations literally to the hill of Megiddo. Rather we are to look for that which is symbolized by that mountain. And while we are aware that this great battle is even now taking shape in the political, economic and ecclesiastical reams, let us not lose sight of the fact that the term Armageddon is used primarily in a spiritual sense, for this great battle rages in a dual realm in both the earthlies and heavenlies. It is first and foremost a spiritual battle involving the great Dragon and the Manchild of Rev 12:3-10; but let us not forget that everything that takes place in the heavens casts its shadow upon the earth. This is why, when the Sons of God have cast the Dragon out of the heavenlies, the cry goes out, Woe to the inhibiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time (Rev 12:12). We shall, therefore, behold this great battle played out in both the heavenly and earthly realms both individually and collectively.
It is not possible to even begin to look into this subject in depth in the short space available in this article. But we do wish, in passing, to point out a couple important truths by way of introduction and in future articles we shall deal more fully with various significant aspects of this great battle.
THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON
As a means of preparation for the battle of Armageddon the record states, And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared (Rev 16:12). It is important to Gods people in this hour that the Spirit of God would grant a clear understanding of what is here meant by the drying up of the great river Euphrates. The capital city of ancient Babylon was built on either side of the Euphrates, thus dividing the city in two parts. The river was also the source of water supplying a fortifying mote about the city. So because the ancient Babylonians were the first to build on the banks of the Euphrates, the Spirit of God employs this term as a type of the waters where the whore sitteth modern Babylon (Rev 17:1-2, 15). The ancient city of Babylon has not existed for many long centuries, but there is surely that in the earth today which is characterized by the spirit and nature of the Babylon of old which set upon, and was defended by, the waters of the great Euphrates. There is especially a repetition today of the conditions essentially characterizing ancient Babylon in its connection with Gods people for Israel was in BONDAGE IN BABYLON. Consequently, their captivity in Babylon, the type, must find its parallel in Babylon of today, the antitype. Certainly great numbers of the Lords people are today in captivity to the modern Babylon!
John the Revelator intimated that it would not be difficult to discover this great mystical city of Babylon, because her name is in her forehead; that is, she is so prominently marked in her nature and characteristics that we cannot fail to see her unless we shut our eyes and refuse to look and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth (Rev 17:5). But before looking at this Mystical Babylon, let us first observe the typical Babylon, and then, with its prominent features in mind, look at the antitype. The name Babylon was applied, not only to the capital city of the Babylonian empire, but also to the empire itself. Babylon, the capital, was the most magnificent, and probably the largest, city in the ancient world. It was built, as we have noted, in the form of a square on both sides of the Euphrates river; and for protection against invaders, it was surrounded by a deep moat filled with water from the Euphrates and enclosed within a vast system of double walls, from thirty-two to eighty-five feet thick, and from seventy-five to three hundred feet high. On the summit were low towers, said to have been two hundred and fifty in number, placed along the outer and inner edges of the wall, tower facing tower; and in these walls were a hundred brazen gates, twenty-five on each side, corresponding to the number of streets which intersected each other at right angles. The city was adorned with splendid palaces and temples and the spoils of conquest.
Nebuchadnezzar was the great monarch of the Babylonian empire, whose long reign covered nearly half the period of its existence, and to him its grandeur and military glory were chiefly due. The city was noted for its wealth and magnificence, which brought a corresponding moral degradation, the sure cause of its decline and fall. It was wholly given to idolatry and was full of iniquity. The people were worshippers of Baal, to whom they offered human sacrifices. The deep degradation of their idolatry may be understood by Gods reproof of the Israelites when they became corrupted by contact with them.
The name originated with the frustrating of the plan for the great tower, called Babel (confusion), because there God confounded human speech; but the native etymology made the name Babil, which, instead of being reproachful, and a reminder of the Lords displeasure, signified to them the gate of God.
The city of Babylon attained a position of prominence and affluence as capital of the great Babylonian empire, and was called the golden city, the glory of the kingdoms, and the beauty of the chaldees excellency.
Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded in the dominion by his grandson Belshazzar, under whose reign came the collapse which pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness always insure and hasten. While the people, all unconscious of impending danger, following the example of their king, were abandoning themselves to every form of sin and lasciviousness, the Persian army, under Cyrus, stealthily crept in through the channel of the Euphrates (from which they had turned aside the water!) massacred the revelers, and captured the city. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of that strange handwriting on the wall Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin which Daniel had interpreted only a few hours before to mean God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Thou are weighed in the balance and art found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. And so complete was the destruction of that great city that even its site was forgotten and was for a long time uncertain.
Such was the typical city; and, like a great millstone cast into the sea, it was sunken centuries ago, never again to rise; even so the memory of it has become a reproach and a byword. Now let us look at its antitype, first observing that the scriptures clearly point it out, and then noticing the aptness of the symbolism.
In the symbolism of prophecy a city signifies a religious government backed by power and influence. Thus, for instance, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the symbol used to represent the established government of God composed of the overcomers out of the church. And he that overcometh to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers (Rev 2:26-27). So the holy city, the new Jerusalem is the capital city of Gods kingdom, the ruling company of kings and priests, exalted and reigning, backed by all the power and authority of their Father. The true church is also, and in the same connection, represented as a woman, the bride, the Lambs wife, in power and glory, and backed by the power and authority of Christ, her husband. And so we read, And there came unto me one of the seven angels saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lambs wife. And he showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem (Rev 21:9-10). A city is thus a religious government and a woman is a church. In this case the woman is the true, overcoming, church and that church is the government of the kingdom of God over the whole earth. Said Paul, I have espoused you to ONE HUSBAND, that I may present you as a CHASTE VIRGIN to Christ (II Cor 11:2). And again, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his WIFE, and these two shall be one flesh. This is a great MYSTERY: BUT I SPEAK CONCERNING CHRIST AND THE CHURCH (Eph 5:31-32).
This brings us, of course, to that other woman, that other city of Revelation chapter 17. And there came one of the seven angels and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth (Rev 17:1-5, 18).
Using, as the spirit bids us, the same method of interpretation as applies to the woman, the bride of Christ, who is also that great city which proceeds forth from God and heaven, then the mystical Babylon can be nothing else but a CHURCH which is also a religious GOVERNMENT backed by power and influence. But this church is a harlot church; corrupt, fallen, with a head other than Christ, taking to herself many lovers other than her rightful husband; an apostate church, which is also a great ecclesiastical kingdom, exalted to power and dominion, and backed, to a considerable degree, by the kings of the earth, the civil powers, which are all more or less intoxicated with her spirit and doctrine. This apostate church lost her virgin purity, for, instead of waiting, as an espoused and chaste virgin, for exaltation with the heavenly Bridegroom, she associated herself with the kings of the earth, the civil powers, and prostituted her virgin purity of doctrine, character, and anointing, to suit the worlds ideas; and in return she was received, and now to some extent exercises, a present dominion, in large measure by the support of the kings of the earth, from the kings and presidents and congresses, all the way down to the Mayors, city councils, government social institutions, civic organizations, etc etc. And not only is she a disgraced and fallen harlot herself, but she has given birth to a host of other women, her daughters, all of which have followed in her footsteps so that she is now the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. The so-called mother of all churches is thus clearly identified as this harlot, the mystery Babylon. Her unfaithfulness to the Spirit of the Lord, whose name she claims, and to her high privilege to be the chaste virgin espoused to Christ, is the occasion of the title harlot, while her influence as an ecclesiastical empire, full of inconsistency, confusion, idolatry, and spiritual drunkenness, is symbolically represented under the name Babylon, which when we compare her with the types of the ancient Babylonian empire, we instantly recognize her and her daughter co-horts to be the recognized and institutionalized Christian churches and nations. So we see, that since the kingdoms of the civilized world have submitted themselves to be largely dominated by the influence of these great ecclesiastical systems, accepting from them the name Christian nations and Christendom, they also link themselves in with great Babylon, and become a part of it, so that, as in the type, the name Babylon applied, not only to the city, but also the whole empire, here too the symbolic term Babylon applies, not only to the great religious organizations, Papal and Protestant, but also, in a wider sense, to all acknowledged Christian nations.
Little wonder, then, that John saw this lewd woman riding upon a scarlet colored BEAST (kingdom), full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns (Rev17:3). And that a great many of the peoples and nations of the earth are under her influence is certain, for The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues (Rev 17:15). These make up the empire of Babylon. Little wonder that the cry of the Spirit in this hour is, COME OUT OF HER, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (Rev 18:4).
There are two voices abroad in the land today. Both of these voices purport to be the voice of the Spirit of God. One of these voices is crying out across the land, COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE! The other voice is issuing forth out of the mouths of men who are supposedly Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking, Holy-Ghost-anointed leaders and teachers, Apostles and Prophets, in the Charismatic movement, who exhort the people, STAY IN HER, MY PEOPLE! Stay in your denomination stay in your organization, cold as it is, idolatrous as it is, dead as it is, formal as it is, carnal as it is, unscriptural as it is, abominable as it is, STAY IN! After all, the Holy spirit will make you a BETTER CATHOLIC, a BETTER METHODIST, a BETTER BAPTIST, a BETTER PRESBYTERIAN, a BETTER BABYLONIAN! It doesnt take very much of a spirit of discernment to see which of these two voices is the voice of the spirit and which is the voice of Antichrist. God is not in the business of blessing, renewing or perfecting Great Babylon. He IS in the business, in this last hour, of CALLING OUT A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME. He IS in the business of GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM. He IS in the business of building the HOLY CITY, the NEW JERUSALEM, the CHASTE, VIRGIN BRIDE. God IS raising up an army, perfecting a body, anointing a Royal Priesthood, creating an Holy Nation, a peculiar people, many Sons, a New Creation, the Righteous Branch, overcomers, a manchild, the Mount Zion company of 144,000 who are NOT DEFILED WITH WOMEN (religious systems, church organizations), even the Kings and Priests who shall rise up in the Spirit to shake Great Babylon to its foundations and bring to pass in the earth the glory and kingdom of our great God!
And so, in reference to this antitypical Babylon we read, and the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the waters thereof were dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared (Rev 16:12). Let us remember that the literal Euphrates was the waters which were dried up, or turned out of their course, to allow the armies of the Medes to enter the literal Babylon of old at the time of its overthrow. So, when the hour comes for the overthrow of that great city, the mystical Babylon, the mystical waters, or what spiritual life and anointing there is within her which has stayed the hand of God up until this time from judging her, are dried up, to make way for, not the kings of the east as we find in our Authorized version, But so that might be prepared the way of the kings, those who are of the rising of a sun (Literal Greek). Truly, these kings of the rising sun are those of whom the Spirit spoke, Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness (of the day of the Lord) shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but THE LORD SHALL ARISE UPON THEE, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted (Isa 60:1-3, 11-12). And speaking of this great victory over Babylon that shall come at the symbolic battle of Armageddon, John wrote, And these shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful (Rev 17:14).
God is even now in the process of drying up the waters of the Euphrates, the river of modern Babylon. God is calling out of Babylon His people that have so long been held captive within her borders, her creeds, static and idolatrous doctrines, cold, dead forms and ceremonies, rituals, laws and by-laws, programs, and un-spiritual and un-scriptural methods and institutions. The Spirit of God shall accomplish such a thorough job of calling His people out unto Himself, unto a pure and undefiled walk in the spirit, under the absolute headship of Jesus Christ, that John is able to write: Rejoice over her (Babylon), thou heaven (those seated with Christ in the heavenlies), and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers (spiritual praise and worship), and trumpeters (ministries sounding forth a message from God), SHALL BE HEARD NO MORE AT ALL IN THEE; and the sound of a millstone (the grinding of meal for bread, the living word) SHALL BE HEARD NO MORE AT ALL IN THEE; and the light of a candle (even the little light that was in Babylon) SHALL SHINE NO MORE AT ALL IN THEE; and the voice of the bridegroom (Jesus) and of the bride (the elect) SHALL BE HEARD NO MORE AT ALL IN THEE: for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived (Rev 18:20, 22-23).
As God removes all of this from in the midst of Babylon, the water of her river is dried up. All of the blessing of God, all of the anointing of God, all of the life that was ever in her is dried up, and is no more. She is thus left defenseless. Upon the prophetic page we may clearly read the doom of Babylon. That her destruction shall be sudden, violent and complete is thus forcibly stated: -And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus, with violence, shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all (Rev 18:8, 21)). And yet that it is to undergo a gradual consuming process is shown by Daniel 7:26 But the judgment (of the saints) shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. Therefore be it clearly seen that one of the great outcomes of the battle of the great day of God Almighty is the total and utter destruction of Babylon.
And the sixth Angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the Kings of the east might be prepared. 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. 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. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (Rev 16:12 16).
The word Armageddon appears but once in the Bible. It means merely the mount of Megiddo or the mount of Destruction. In Bible days the town of Megiddo occupied a very marked position on the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon, and commanded an important pass into the hill country. This locality was the great battle-ground of Palestine, on which were fought many of the famous battles of Old Testament history. And here, in Rev 16, we find that the kings of the earth and of the whole world are gathered together unto Armageddon to the battle of the great day of God, or of the great DAY OF THE LORD.
The one thing that we want to take note of here is that the book of Revelation is entirely a book of symbols in which is set forth in symbolic form the ages-long struggle between truth and error, righteousness and unrighteousness, flesh and spirit, light and darkness, the Lamb and the Dragon, Christ and Antichrist, the present evil world system and the kingdom of God. In this portrayal are used, on the one hand, such symbols as beast, dragon, false prophet, Babylon, harlot, unclean spirits, frogs, etc.; and on the other hand Lamb, bride, holy city, overcomers, manchild, 144,000, and others. Armageddon is another of the symbols used in the book, and it is associated with the great and final struggle with which the present age ends, when the kingdom of Christ rises victoriously over all enemies, establishing world-wide righteousness and peace. When we consider the battle of Armageddon, we are not, therefore, to expect any gathering of the nations literally to the hill of Megiddo. Rather we are to look for that which is symbolized by that place, and understand that the place is representative symbolically of those CONDITIONS and CIRCUMSTANCES which shall prevail in the political, economic and spiritual realms to bring this present evil age to a close.
THE THREE WORLDS AND THE THREE HEAVENS
There are important time divisions in the plan of God which the scriptures refer to as worlds and ages. The word world does not generally refer to this physical planet with its mountains, oceans, rivers, trees etc. The word is often translated from the Greek word kosmos which means an order, system, or arrangement of things. The present order, system or arrangement of things upon this earth involves all the institutions, organizations, laws, traditions, customs, etc. which have been developed to either control or give motivation to the lives and actions of men and nations. This includes all governmental systems, educational institutions, religious organizations, economic orders, traditions, customs and every other thing that gives form and substance to our present social order. All of these, together with the time period during which mankind functions within their framework, constitute a biblical world.
In Peters second epistle, chapter 3, we are told of three such worlds. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished : But the heaven and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (II Peter 3:3-8, 11-13).
THE WORLD THAT WAS
Let us go back and take a closer look at II Peter 3:5-6. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water, perished. Now let us read this from the New English Bible: In taking this view they lose sight of the fact that there were heavens and earth long ago, created by Gods word out of water and with water: and by water THAT FIRST WORLD WAS DESTROYED, the water of the deluge. And THE PRESENT HEAVENS AND EARTH, again by Gods word, have been kept in store for burning. That first world, then, existed from the time of the creation unto the flood. Thus, the entire period of time from Adam to the great Deluge is called a world the world that then was.
What kind of world was that ancient world? The Bible says of it: And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair and they took them wives of all they chose. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man upon the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth. And the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for ALL FLESH HAD CORRUPTED HIS WAY UPON THE EARTH. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth (Gen 6:1-2, 5-7, 11-13).
Peter writes of that world, Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, PERISHED (II Peter 3:6). Does the fact that the world of that day perished and was destroyed mean that we are not living on the same earth that saw the flood in Noahs day? Does it mean that this planet was ABOLISHED so that it no longer existed? Does it mean that Noah was raptured off to some other planet or to some far-off-heaven somewhere while God created a new earth for him to live on? Of course not! Then what world or earth was destroyed by the flood? The scripture shows plainly that it was a world of people and a WAY OF LIFE a kosmos an order, a system and arrangement of things! So we see that the world that was destroyed in Noahs day was not this physical earth consisting of mountains, rocks, rivers, trees, etc, for of that earth the scripture states: one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but THE EARTH ABIDETH FOREVER (Eccle 1:4). And again, For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He FORMED IT TO BE INHABITED (Isa 45:18). It is clear that while God did not destroy this planet, He did bring an era of wickedness and depravity to an utter and total end, thus destroying, not only mankind, but a WHOLE WAY OF LIFE including all the institutions, organizations, governments, religions, traditions, customs etc that were characteristic of that corrupt civilization.
THE WORLD THAT NOW IS
Peter identifies the second world and the second heaven for us. But the heavens and the earth, WHICH ARE NOW, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and PERDITION OF UNGODLY MEN. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (II Peter 3:7,10-12).
Peter here refers to the heavens and the earth which are now. And what kind of world is this SECOND WORLD the one in which we live? This world began at the end of the flood and continues until the day of the Lord, at which time it too will pass away. Let us look at some of the scriptural characteristics of this present world.
Paul, in writing to the Galatians, says, Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD (Gal 1:4). Paul calls this world this present evil world, and declares that we are being delivered or saved out of it through Jesus who gave Himself for us. To be delivered from this present evil world does not mean to be raptured off to some golden shore in the heavens any more than Noah was raptured off to some other planet when he was saved from the world that then was. Of Noahs deliverance we read: For Christ hath also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is , eight souls were SAVED BY WATER (I Peter 3:18-20). Yes, Noah was saved by water the very same water that destroyed the world! He was saved FROM A WORLD, but the wonderful truth is that he had been saved from that world a long time before the waters of the flood arrived! For even as the scripture declares of Jesus, that He was harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, so the Word also testifies of Noah that he was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God (Gen 6:9). Noah was saved. From the world of his day. He was not part of it, though it was all around him. Noah was different. He walked with God while all the rest of mankind wallowed in the filth of the lust of their flesh. And now, in this our day, God has sent forth His son to save us from THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD!
How many of the Lords precious people in ignorance do greatly err in always equating salvation to heaven and hell. Religion has indoctrinated its servants into the idea that Gods great purposes are basically of geographical or territorial consideration. Religion teaches us that we are saved from one place hell, to go to another place heaven. And of course neither of these places are on this earth, so therefore the only purpose for our being on this earth at all is to make preparation to get out of here and go someplace else! I do not mean by this to in any sense minimize the awfulness of Gods judgment and wrath upon sin and sinners as typified in the book of Revelation by the lake which burneth with fire, but too long preachers have tried to scare people into heaven by painting lurid and horrible pictures of hell, rather than preaching Jesus Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God, who is made unto all who believe wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Christ saves men right now FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD. And while you may be one of those who are waiting to be evacuated off this earth to spend eternity in some far-off heaven somewhere, Peter, after speaking of that first heavens and earth that perished, and of the heavens and earth which are even now reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, in which day they shall be burned up, goes on to express the true desire of all Sons of God who groan for the deliverance of the creation and the coming of the kingdom of God, saying, nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found in Him in peace, without spot, and blameless (II Peter 3:13-14).
John the Revelator saw, in vision, the ultimate accomplishment of this hope and declared, And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first (former) heaven and the first (former) earth were passed away And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God IS WITH MEN, and HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God (Rev 21:1,3). How true it is that the average Christian today is not looking for the same thing Peter and John were looking for a new heaven and a new earth. Most are anxious to get off of this earth and go to heaven. Did Jesus teach us to pray, come Lord Jesus, and take us home to heaven, or did He teach us to pray, THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH as it is in heaven! To be delivered from this present evil world doesnt mean to be taken anywhere. It means to be in a different condition, or state of being, than the world. As Jesus said: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (Jn 17:15-17). This was Noahs condition, his state of being, in his corrupt world. He was perfect with God. And now, in the end of this world, it is our turn to be perfect in our generations, to walk with God, and to be delivered from this present evil world into the kingdom of God the new age, the world to come!
THE RULER OF THIS WORLD
The scriptures actually speak of three things from which we are saved: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world (Gal 1:4). Let us remember well that world means an order, system, or arrangement of things. This involves a way of life, the social structure, culture, philosophies, political ideologies, religious orders, economic systems etc all products of the carnal minds of men and under the influence of Satan who is the Prince of this world (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph 2:12).
Jesus has told us who it is that rules this present realm and world of darkness and death and what his destiny is. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the PRINCE of this world be cast out (Jn 12:31). The Amplified Bible says, Now the judgment (crisis) of this world is coming on sentence is now being passed on this world. Now the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world shall be cast out expelled. The Wuest translation says, Now is a judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be thrown out, clean out. So Satan has been given a rulership. It is in this present evil world of sin and darkness.
Let us look at Jn 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me. The Amplified Bible expresses this beautifully: I will not talk with you much more, for the prince, evil genius, ruler, of the world is coming, and he has no claim on Me, there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, he has no power over Me. Hallelujah! No wonder Jesus won such a glorious victory over Satan in their encounter. The devil couldnt find anything in Jesus that corresponded to him or that responded to him! In Heb 2:14 we read, Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. The New English Bible renders this: The children of a family share the same flesh and blood; and so He too shared ours, so that through death He might break the power of him who had death at his command, that is, the devil. Satan had the power of death, or death at his command. His dominion was in the realm of death, darkness and evil. And though Jesus has overcome him and been given the dominion in the realm of life, light and righteousness, yet, Satan is allowed to exercise his dominion of death and darkness through the remainder of this age upon all who do not become identified in Christ with His victory and triumph. So he remains, in that sense, the god of this present evil world.
That this is so we can see in Eph 6:12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Let us read this from the Amplified Bible: For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood contending only with physical opponents but against the despotisms, against the powers, against the master spirits who are the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. The Phillips translation says, For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.
This should be clear to all. The above passage unmistakably points out that the devil and hordes of demon powers are the rulers of this present age of darkness. As the Sons of God in the midst of this evil world order, we wrestle against this demonic rulership. This is why Satan is so angry in this last hour. He hates with a bitter passion those who are coming forth in the image of the Son of God and who are rising up by faith into that very realm of experience, nature and power of which Jesus spoke when He said, The prince, evil genius, ruler of the world is coming. And he has no claim on Me he has nothing in common with Me, there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, he has no power over Me! (Jn 14:30, Amplified Bible). Satan knows that when this overcoming army of Sons of God arises in the earth his dominion shall once and for all be broken from off the nations. He shall be bound with a great chain of authority to deceive the nations no more. Glory to God!
We are even now saved out of this present evil world saved out of the whole organized realm which Satan controls. The meaning of this kind of salvation is made plain in Acts 2:40 when Peter exhorts: Save yourselves from this untoward generation. The Amplified Bible says, Be saved from this crooked, perverse, wicked, unjust, generation. What a salvation!
All who have been born again, born of the Spirit of God, are being saved out of this world. Before this salvation was begun we walked as Paul points out You were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Eph 2:1-2). The course of this world IS according to the prince of the power of the air. The Amplified Bible reads: You were following the course and fashion of this world were under the sway of the tendency of this present age following the prince of the power of the air. You were obedient to him and were under his control, the demon spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience the careless, the rebellious and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God. Phillips translation says, To you who were spiritually dead all the time that you drifted along on the stream of this worlds ideas of living, and obeyed its unseen ruler (who is operating in those who do not respond to the truth of God), to you Christ has given life! This present world is just drifting along, being dominated by the powers of darkness, the rulers of this present age.
Satans base in this dominion is the carnal mind of man. Of this carnal mind Paul wrote: The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Rom 8:7). But the carnal mind IS subject to Satan! Ever since mans fall from obedience to God his carnal mind has been tuned in to the devils frequency, receiving its directions from his influence. That is why the world is in such chaos, with sin, war, crime, death, poverty, pain, and sorrow on every hand.
It is difficult for many of the Lords people to understand the truth that THE WHOLE WORLD LIETH IN WICKEDNESS (I Jn 5:19). The Amplified Bible correctly translates the later part of this verse: The whole world around us is under the power of THE WICKED ONE. This whole world system not only lies in wickedness, but it lies in, it is under the power of, THE WICKED ONE a personality, the devil. How few truly comprehend this! How many yet believe that there must be at least something of God in the politics of this world (especially in the United States), or in the educational programs of this world, or in the religions of this world, or the fashions, philosophies, or economics of this present world system. Somehow it does not sink in that these are one and all PRODUCTS OF THE CARNAL MINDS OF CARNAL MEN, sold under sin, dominated by the spirit that controls this age, influenced by the god of this world order. We have tried to believe that our present political system, democracy, or republicanism, is somehow an expression of the kingdom of God simply because it was given to us, in this country, by religious men. So we have men busy trying to preserve and perpetuate a passing carnal order, imperfect, full of flaws, and steadily disintegrating before our very eyes, as God demonstrates for all to see that even our government is OF THIS WORLD which passeth away. Many still hope that out of our present political system will come the integrity and wisdom to solve the immense problems facing our increasingly weakening and depraved society and explosive world situation. Surely, think we, the Democrats or Republicans will come up with the answer! Certainly a Reagan, or a Wallace, or a Goldwater, or a Carter, or a Humphrey, or a Kennedy is what this nation and the world needs to stabilize its path. If only we could elect enough Conservatives, or Liberals, or Christians! How many Christians have swarmed to the polls to vote for some candidate they were led to believe, by propaganda and shrewdly managed image building techniques, was a Christian, or Spirit-filled, or honest, or Conservative, or religious, or something else; only to awaken later to the unvarnished reality that indeed he was just another POLITICIAN like other politicians, dominated by the very system that produced him, influenced and controlled by the spirit of the age of THIS WORLD SYSTEM, WHICH, as truthfully as the Word declares, is under the power of THE WICKED ONE.
There is a simple, but sure, test by which one may discern whether ANYTHING is of the kingdom of God or whether it is of this world. The truth is that ALL THAT PERTAINS TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD originates in, and proceeds forth from, THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Every thought, work, desire, action, activity, method, system, movement, or any other thing which ORIGINATES IN, and PROCEEDS FORTH FROM THE SPIRIT OF GOD is an expression of the KINGDOM OF GOD. On the other hand, all that is of this world originates in and proceeds forth from, the CARNAL MIND OF MAN, which carnal mind is under the influence of the ruler of this world. Every thought, word, desire, action, activity, method, system, movement etc which springs forth from the CARNAL MIND is not of the Kingdom of God but OF THIS PRESENT WORLD which passeth away with the lusts thereof.
Are we willing to allow EVERYTHING AROUND US, and everything WITHIN US, to be judged by this test? All of our desires, hopes, ambitions, actions, words, prophecies, commitments, involvements? Let us apply this test to some of the things in the world around us. POLITICS Is the political process of the United States (or any other country) a reflection of the mind of the Spirit of God, discovered by Spirit-led people waiting upon the Word of the Lord, or is it a product of the carnal minds of carnal men, determined by the voting of the masses of un-spiritual citizens, and promoted by the propaganda, deceit, image building, shrewdness, and power struggles of worldly men and methods? BOARD MEETING Is your church (denomination) walking in the spirit or in the flesh? When the Board of your church (denomination) meets, do they seek God and wait upon the Spirit of the Lord until He speaks and reveals His will, or do they discuss and argue their cases and then vote to see what 51% of them think they ought to do? ORGANIZATION Was the organizational structure of your denomination produced by a moving of the Spirit of God and through the sovereignty of the headship of Jesus Christ? Does it function as a living expression of the Spirit-gifts and ministries given to the true body of Christ for its edification and perfection, or, was it fashioned by men out of their own carnal efforts to organize Gods people, and was it, with its unscriptural boards and board members and committees and presidents and vice-presidents and superintendents etc etc, patterned after the order of worldly organizations and institutions? PASTORS Were the elders, or pastors, of your church raised up and established in their ministries to that portion of the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, or, were they voted in by the sheep through a democratic voting process, the same way officials are voted in and out of carnal, worldly institutions? Or, was the ministry placed by some Board that had no supernatural leading or direction of the Holy Spirit? MEETINGS Are your meetings conducted under the Headship of Christ, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, with each member of the body free to contribute to the mutual edification and growth of the body as moved upon by the Spirit? Does every one of you have a psalm, have a doctrine, have a tongue, have a revelation, have an interpretation, (ICor 14:26) or, do you all just sit back, facing the platform, as in a theatre, and watch the show put on by the pastor and the song leader or the worship team, or the choir from the stage?
I trust that in these few examples we may see how easy it is to move out from under the reality and power of the kingdom of God and simply operate according to the carnal systems of this present world. It takes no spirituality to walk after the order of the world, but it takes a true commitment to the Holy spirit to walk in the order of the kingdom of God, which is the order of the Spirit. May we see, plainly, just how much of even our religious institutions are not of the Spirit but OF THE WORLD. John tells us plainly just what the world is. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, IS NOT OF THE FATHER, but is of the world (I Jn 2:15-17). Whatsoever is not of the Father IS of the world! Its that simple. That one simple, but profound, truth is applicable to our individual lives and actions, collectively to our nation, our government, our denominational church systems, our meetings, our schools, our politics, our ambitions, plans, desires, hopes, aims, words, commitments, involvements etc WHATSOEVER IS NOT OF THE FATHER IS OF THE WORLD! And may I add, whatsoever IS of the Father, IS of the kingdom of God, but only that. This should help us in our lives to separate the hay, wood, and stubble from the gold, silver and precious stones of Gods true temple.
Now we can understand in fuller measure the import of the message delivered by John: And we know that we are of God, and the whole world around us is under the power of the evil one (I Jn 5:19). This world is not for us. Its ways are not for us. Its methods are not for us. Its fashions are not for us. Its spirit is not for us. We are different. We are of God. We are led by the Spirit, as Sons of God. God is SAVING US OUT OF THIS WORLD. Those apprehended to be Sons of God are overcoming this world even as Jesus said, I have overcome the world (Jn 16:33). John wrote, For whatsoever is born of God OVERCOMETH THE WORLD: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (I Jn 5:4). Peter admonishes: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (II Peter 1:4). And finally, the apostle James warns against walking in the spirit of this world and being entangled therein: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world IS THE ENEMY OF GOD! (James 4:4). And, thank God! This world shall pass away! Not this earth that we live on, but the world. This whole present, carnal, system of things. And with it, all the chaos, sin, war, crime, death, poverty, pain, pride, haughtiness, deceit, yea, all the ways of man shall be brought to an end. We look for a NEW HEAVENS and a NEW EARTH wherein dwelleth righteousness. And the time for this change is at hand. Praise God, we have arrived at the hour for the NEW WORLD to begin. Even now, as we learn to rise up in God, we have arrived at the hour for the NEW WORLD to begin. Even now, as we learn to rise up in God, to learn HIS WAYS, to be LED BY HIS SPIRIT, to KNOW HIS VOICE, and be CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE, the nature, glory and authority of that NEW WORLD is being formed within us! And in this new world the satanic powers of darkness will have no authority or dominion. The carnal mind of man will not rule. Satan will be bound. And when the strong man is bound, Jesus said you can spoil his house. So in the next age, in the new world, there is to be a housecleaning, when every enemy shall be put under the feet of the Sons of God, every work of Satan destroyed from off the face of the earth, and the human race will be delivered and lifted up to see life as God intended it for them. All of this work will not be accomplished in the twinkling of an eye, but it will come under the administration of the Sons of God who shall rule and reign on the earth. See Rev 2:26-27, Dan 7:18, 21-22, 25-27.
THE END OF THE WORLD
In keeping with the modern use of language we might speak of the three worlds of II Peter 3 as the world of yesterday, the world of today, and the world of tomorrow. Much of the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Gods purpose for humanity has been occasioned by a failure to understand what a world really is. The biblical end of the world has been misunderstood to denote the burning up of the literal earth, and all things upon it. On account of this misunderstanding of what is meant by the end of the world many saints have feared its approach. Many Bible students have endeavored to project it far into the future and others have come to look upon it as a mere superstition of the Dark Ages, unworthy of being given any serious consideration. But when we realize that what the Bible speaks of as the end of this present world, means just what we now see taking place as the whole world political, economic and ecclesiastical systems are weakening and preparing to collapse, then the whole subject takes on an important, yea, a vital meaning to all who are interested to know what the world of tomorrow, the third world, is to be like.
Let us look at the parable of Jesus of the wheat and the tares, in Matt 13:39-41. Here Jesus is explaining the parable to His disciples, and He says, The enemy that sowed them (the tares) is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angles. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. Evangelists have taken this statement about the end of the world and have painted some very lurid and frightening pictures of the holocaust which, they say, will destroy this earth. The END OF THE WORLD! The very thought strikes terror into many hearts. It sounds horrible indeed, and it will be for the devil and his angels, and for all the pride and haughtiness of men who now rule in wickedness over this earth. But when we see what a world really is, and consequently what the end of the world really is, we get a glorious picture of the beginning of a new age. It is not the earth that is ending, but an age, an order, a system, a WAY OF LIFE.
The Wuest Expanded Translation reads: And the harvest is THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE, and the harvesters are angels. Even as therefore the bastard wheat is gathered and is burned in the fire, thus shall it be AT THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE. The Son of man shall send His angels on a mission, and they shall gather out of His kingdom ALL THOSE WHO CREATE STUMBLING BLOCKS FOR OTHERS, and those who practice lawlessness. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament gives a literal, word by word, translation from the Greek: And the enemy who sowed them is the devil; and the harvest (the) completion of the age is, and the harvest men angels are. As therefore is gathered the darnel, and in fire is consumed, thus it shall be in the completion of this age. So you can stop looking for the sudden destruction of this planet, and begin looking for what is really about to happen, the closing, conclusion, consummation, and completion of THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD with its reign of unrighteousness, darkness, bondage, and death, and the coming of a new age, a NEW WORLD in which the Sons of God will rule and bring the blessings of God upon all the families of the earth.
THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
Peter informs us of the time when this world will end. He says, But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (II Peter 3:7). Here we see that this world will end in A DAY OF JUDGMENT. Peter continues: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (II Peter 3:10-12). These verses make it plain that the Day of judgment which brings this world to an end is the same as that day known as the Day of the Lord. The prophecies of the scriptures show that the Day of the Lord is the name of that period of time, and that dealing of God, in which Gods kingdom is to be established in this earth, while the kingdoms of this world are passing away and Satans power and influence over man is being bound.
Let us now turn again to Rev 16:13-16. 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. 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 together to THE BATTLE OF THAT GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY and he gathered them together unto a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. The scene described here is the same as that described by Peter in II Peter 3. Both, as you can see, are descriptions of THE DAY OF THE LORD. Thus, the battle of Armageddon is declared to be the BATTLE of that Great Day of God Almighty.
The Spirit further reveals that the great destruction on the Day of the Lord shall be by fire. This is not the only place in the scriptures where fire is associated with the Day of God. nigh is the great Day of the Lord: it is nigh. Nearer and louder comes the uproar of the Day of the Lord. There the mighty shall shriek bitterly! That day is a day of wrath, a day of distress and anxiety, a day of wasting and desolation, a day of darkness and obscurity (uncertainty and foreboding), a day of clouds (trouble) and tempestuous gloom, a day of the trumpet (the seventh trumpet, symbolic, which sounds throughout this day of trouble also called the trump of God, because it is connected with the events of the Day of the Lord) and shouting against the fenced cities and the high battlements (clamorous denunciations of strong and well-intrenched governments, organizations, institutions, etc). And I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk about as blind men (groping in uncertainty, not knowing what course to pursue), because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood shall be poured out as the dust, and their flesh shall be as dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lords wrath, but the whole land shall be devoured by the FIRE of HIS ZEAL; for destruction, yea, quite sudden will He prepare for all them that dwell in the land (Zeph 1:14-18).
An entire article could be written about each verse of the preceding scripture. We shall not attempt to follow the prophets in all their details of the trouble of that day, but shall follow briefly the thought last suggested by the prophet above, namely the DEVOURING of the whole earth with the FIRE of Gods ZEAL. This prophet, Zephaniah, refers to the same fire, etc, again (Zeph 3:8-9) saying: Wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for My decision is to gather the nations (peoples), to draw together the kingdoms, to pour upon them My indignation, even all My fierce anger. For all the earth shall be DEVOURED with the FIRE of My zeal. Yea (then, after this destruction of kingdoms, after this destruction of the present system of things in the fire of trouble), THEN will I turn unto the people a pure language (the pure Word uncontaminated by human tradition), that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.
This fire of Gods zeal is a symbol and a forcible one representing the intensity of the trouble and the destruction which shall envelop the whole earth. That it is not a literal fire, as some suppose, is evident from the fact that the people remain after it, and are blessed. For all the earth shall be devoured by the fire of My zeal. Yea, THEN WILL I TURN UNTO THE PEOPLE a pure language that they may call upon the name of the Lord. That the people who remain after this devouring fire has destroyed the land are not saints, as some would suggest, is evident from the fact that they are then turned to serve the Lord, whereas the saints are turned (converted) already.
The Spirit uses the terms fire, earthquakes, storms, etc, in the same figurative, pictorial manner in which they are used in modern language to describe the catastrophic trouble that is coming upon men and nations in this generation. Just as the Lord uses wheat and tares and sheep and goats to illustrate those who serve, pretend to serve or oppose Him; so He uses the terms earth and heaven to illustrate phases of organized society called worlds and fire to represent the fierceness of His judgments upon that society or world.
Let us look further at some of these symbols. Throughout the scriptures, earth, when used symbolically, represents humanity and their way of the life, the carnal social order; mountains represent kingdoms; heavens, the powers of spiritual control; seas, the restless, turbulent, raging masses of the world. Fire represents the destruction or removal of whatever is burned tares, hay, wood, stubble, dross, earth (social organization, institutions, etc), or whatever it may be. And when brimstone is added to fire in the symbol, it intensifies the thought of destruction; for nothing is more deadly to all forms of life than the fumes of sulphur.
With this thought in mind, when we look at Peters symbolic prophecy of the Day of Wrath, we find it in perfect accord with the previous testimony of the prophet Zechariah. He says: The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished (not the literal earth and the literal heavens ceased there, but that dispensation or arrangement of things, existing before the flood passed away): But the heavens and the earth, which are now (the present age, order), by the same word (of divine authority) are kept in store, reserved unto FIRE. The fact that the water was literal leads some to believe that the fire must also be literal, but this by no means follows. The temple of God once was the literal stones, but that does not set aside the fact that the body of Christ, which is the true temple, is built up a spiritual building, a holy temple, not of earthly material. Noahs ark was literal too, but it typified Christ and the power in Him which will save the Sons of God from the loss of this perishing world and which, through them, will replenish and renew humanity.
It should be remembered that this physical earth is the basis of all these worlds and dispensations, and that though ages pass and dispensations change, still the earth continues The earth abideth forever (Eccle 1:4). Carrying out the same figure, Peter calls each of these periods a separate heavens and earth. Here the word heavens symbolizes the higher of spiritual controlling powers, and earth symbolizes human government, social order, institutions etc. Thus the first heaven and earth, or the order and arrangement of things then existing, having served their purpose, ended at the flood. So likewise the present world (heavens and earth) will pass away with a great noise, great and tumultuous commotion, fire and melting confusion, trouble and dissolution. The strong man (Satan), being bound, will struggle to retain his power. But with a great noise the present order, with all its institutions, shall pass away never to rise again. The present heavens (powers of spiritual control) must give place to the new heavens Christs spiritual control in and through His body. The present earth (human society, as now organized under Satans influence and control) must (symbolically) melt and be dissolved, in the beginning of the Day of the Lord, which shall burn as an oven (Mal 4:1). It will be succeeded by a new earth, i.e., the peoples blessed and renewed and reorganized in harmony with the kingdom of God. Righteousness, peace, life, and love will rule among men when the present order has given place to the new and better kingdom, the basis of which will be life, love and justice.
The prophet Malachi tells of this Day of the Lord under the same symbol fire. He says: The day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up that it shall leave them neither root nor branch (Mal 4:1). Pride, and every other form of haughtiness and oppression, will be entirely consumed by the great trouble of the Day of the Lord and by the after disciplines of the kingdom age the last of which is described in Rev 20:9.
One important fact that we want to take note of here is that in Noahs day not only was the world destroyed by water, but Noah was saved by water. The very SAME WATER! The water of the flood brought destruction to the world and salvation to Noah. And it is interesting to note that the Word reveals the same process at the end of this present evil world, for the fire that shall bring total ruin to this present evil system of things shall bring PERFECTION AND GLORY to the Lords anointed people! The VERY SAME FIRE! We have already read above what Malachi had to say about that day that shall burn as an oven and shall burn up the proud etc. But the same prophet gives another description of this day, in which again, under the same figure of fire, he shows how THE LORDS PEOPLE will be purified and blessed and perfected and brought nigh unto Him by having the dross of carnality and error destroyed out of them. The Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in: behold He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand (the test) when He appeareth? For He is AS A REFINERS FIRE and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He SHALL PURIFY THE SONS OF LEVI (typical of Gods people, the chief of whom are the Sons of God, the Royal Priesthood) and PURGE THEM AS GOLD AND SILVER, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness (Mal 3:1-3).
Seeing that it is true that the same fire of Gods dealings and judgment upon the world shall bring destruction to all organized evil, but shall bring purification and perfection to Gods elect, the words of the apostle Peter take on special meaning for us at this time: Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be TRIED WITH FIRE, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:5-7).
Paul refers to this same fire and this refining process affecting the people of God in the Day of the Lord (I Cor 3:12-15), and in such a manner as to leave it beyond all question that the symbolic fire will DESTROY every error and all carnality, and thus effect purification of faith and character for those apprehended to the high calling. After declaring that he refers only to those building their faith upon the only recognized foundation, Christ Jesus finished work of redemption, he says: Now if any man build (character, attainment) upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones (divine truth and corresponding nature, or) wood, hay, stubble (traditional errors and corresponding unstable character), every mans work shall be made manifest; for THE DAY shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by FIRE; and the (same) fire shall try every mans work of what sort it is. Surely even the most questioning person will concede that the fire which tries a spiritual work is not literal fire; fire is an appropriate symbol to represent the utter destruction of conditions represented here by wood, hay, and stubble. This fire will be powerless to destroy the faith-and-character structure built with gold, silver, and precious stones of divine nature and truth and spirit.
The apostle shows this, saying: If any mans work abide which he hath built thereupon (upon Christ) he shall receive a REWARD. If any mans work shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss (loss of the reward, his potential attainment in God and the kingdom) but he himself shall be preserved so as through a fire singed, scorched, and alarm! All who build on the rock foundation of Christs life and nature are sure: none that trust in His righteousness and power shall ever be utterly confounded.
In yet another way is this trouble of the Day of the Lord symbolically described. The apostle shows (Heb 12:26-29) that the inauguration of the Law Covenant at Sinai was typical of the introduction of the New Covenant to the world at the opening of the kingdom age. He says that in type Gods voice shook the literal earth but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once for all (finally), I will shake not only the earth, but the heaven also. Concerning this the apostle explains, saying, Now this (statement), Yet once for all, denotes the removal of the things shaken, because they are fabricated (false, made up, not the true), so that the unshaken things (true, righteous things, only) may remain. Wherefore seeing that we are to RECEIVE A KINGDOM WHICH CANNOT BE SHAKEN, let us hold fast the favor through which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and holy fear (piety), as it is written, OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE. Thus we see this apostle uses a storm to symbolize the trouble of this Day of the Lord, which he and others elsewhere refer to under the symbol of fire. The same events are here mentioned that are described under the fire symbol, namely, the sweeping away of all falsities, both from the saints and the world errors regarding Gods plan and nature and Word, and also errors regarding government, economics and other everyday affairs in the world. It will be good indeed for all mankind to be rid of these fabrications, which have come to mankind through his own depraved nature, as well as the cunning craftiness of Satan, the wily foe of righteousness; but it will be at great cost to all that they are swept away. It will be a terribly hot fire, a fearful storm, a dark night of trouble, which will precede the glorious brightness of the Kingdom of Righteousness which can never be shaken, that day in which the Sun of Righteousness will shine forth in splendor and power through His glorious body, blessing, and healing the sick and dying but redeemed world. then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of their Father (Matt 13:43).
David, the prophet through whose Psalms God was pleased to foretell so much concerning our Lord at His first advent, gives some vivid descriptions of this Day of Trouble by which His glorious reign will be introduced; and he uses various symbols fire, storm, and darkness alternately and interchangeably, in his descriptions. Thus, for instance, he says (Ps 50:3): Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall very tempestuous round about Him. In Ps 97:2-6: clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and justice are the support of His throne. A fire goeth before Him and burneth up His enemies round about. His lightnings give light to the world; the earth seeth it and trembleth. The mountains melt away like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The (new) heavens (then) tell of His righteousness, and all the people see His glory. Ps 46:6: The peoples raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted. Again (Ps 110:2-6), Rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies the Lord at Thy right hand shall crush kings in the Day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations there shall be a fullness of corpses. He crusheth the heads (rulers) over many countries. Again (46:1-5), God is our protection; therefore we will not fear when the earth (present order) is transformed; when the mountains (kingdoms) are swept into the midst of the sea, when the waters thereof roar and are troubled (infuriated), when the mountains shake with the swellings thereof. God will help her (Zion, the elect) at the dawning of the morning. And in the same Psalm, verses 6-10, the same story is restated in other symbols: The peoples rage, kingdoms are displaced: He letteth His voice be heard, the earth (society) melteth. The Lord of hosts is with US. A tower for us is the God of Jacob. Then, viewing the results of that time of trouble from beyond it, he adds: Come ye, behold the deeds of the Lord what desolations He hath made in the earth Desist (from your former ways, O people) and know (come to the knowledge) that I am God. I will be exalted among the peoples, I will be exalted in the earth. The NEW EARTH, or new kingdom order, will exalt the Lord and His ways as over and controlling all.
THE WORLD TO COME
In II Pet 3 the last two of these worlds are most particularly mentioned, and the statements relative to them are in strong contrast. The present, or second world or period, is called this present evil world, not because there is nothing good in it, but because in it evil is permitted to predominate. Malachi wrote of the nature of this time and said, Now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered (Mal 3:15). The third world or epoch is called the world to come, wherein dwelleth righteousness, not because there will be no evil in it (for He must reign UNTIL all enemies are put under His feet), but because evil, darkness and death will not predominate. The blotting out of evil, darkness and death will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then; it will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but the righteous shall flourish (Ps 72:7), the obedient shall eat the good of the land (Isa 1:19), and the evildoer shall be cut off (ps 37:9).
The coming world will be one that will see the fullness of God in operation through His Sons, a demonstration of the mighty power of God. It is not a mansion over the hilltop, or a cabin in the corner of glory-land, or white night gowns, or harps, or waving palm branches, or dangling feet in some far away stream of celestial water. There is a job to be done. A battle to be fought. A victory to be won. Hallelujah!
We read in Heb 6:4-5: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God, and THE POWERS OF THE WORLD TO COME The Rotherham translation renders this last statement, Mighty works also of a coming age. The Interlinear Greek New Testament says, The works of power of the age to come. Jesus said, Greater works than these (those He did) shall YE DO! But have the followers of Jesus really done any GREATER WORKS than Jesus did? The book of Acts doesnt record them. Neither do the epistles. Nor church history. And my friend, after more than a hundred years of the restoration to the church of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit; after 70 years of the restoration of the five ascension Gift-Ministries (Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers Eph 4) and all nine Gifts of the Spirit, have you seen any greater works than the raising of the dead, cleansing lepers, walking on water, calming storms, turning water into wine etc? You know you havent! But according to Heb 6:5 there are MIGHTY WORKS OF A COMING AGE and all that we have experienced of God, of His Spirit, of His Word, His power, glory and miracles, has only been a small TASTE, a little sampling, of the glory and power of that coming age! Why friends, we have only seen the first-fruits of what God will do through a perfected body of Christ upon this earth. Cripples healed, the dead raised, nations turned to God, and GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL YOU SEE! The fullness of what we have just had a taste of will be the normal works on behalf of humanity during that world to come.
Thus seen, the next dispensation is to be so different as to be the very reverse of the present one in almost every particular. Our Lords words show why there is to be such a difference between the present and future ages. It is because HE will be the PRINCE OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH, the ruler of that world to come, that in it life and glory and righteousness and truth will prosper; while, because Satan is the prince (ruler) of the present evil world, evil, darkness and death prosper and the wicked flourish.
The heavens and the earth which are yet to come are THE THIRD HEAVEN AND THE THIRD EARTH since creation. Paul had a friend who was given a glimpse of that third heaven, that coming arrangement in which the saints shall reign from the heavenlies. He says he was caught away (spiritually or physically, or both, he could not tell, things were so real to his view) down the stream of time to the new condition of things, the new heaven, hence the third heaven. He thus saw things AS THEY WILL BE under the spiritual control of the Sons of God, things which he might not at that time even disclose (II Cor 12:2-4). Doubtless these were the same things John saw afterwards, and was permitted to express to the church in symbols, which may only be understood as the time comes for their fulfillment. John, in the revelation given to him by our Lord on the Isle of Patmos, was in vision carried down through the church Age and its changing scenes of church and state, to the end of this present evil world, and there in prophetic vision he saw Satan bound, a Manchild company ascended to the throne, 144,000 Sons of God standing upon Mount Zion, the perfected and glorified body of Christ as the New Jerusalem in glory and exaltation, a Royal Priesthood ministering blessings to the nations, and the NEW HEAVEN (spiritual government, Sons of God) and the NEW EARTH (social order) established; for the FROMER HEAVENS and the FORMER EARTH were passed away Rev 21:1. Hallelujah!
And the sixth Angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 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. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, together them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue ARMAGEDDON (Rev 16:12-16).
The meaning of the word Armageddon has been explained by scholars in various ways. Of all the possible derivations of the word Armageddon, one thing is clear it points to a general gathering, or assembly, of the people. The Hebrew word Har means mount. Mageddon refers to the ancient city of Megiddo which lay at the foot of the carmel range. This was famous as a battlefield for centuries. And here, in Revelation 16, we find the kings of the earth and of the whole world are gathered together unto Armageddon to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. The battle of Armageddon, then, is the battle of the great day of GOD, or of the great DAY OF THE LORD. It is interesting to note that Youngs Analytical Concordance refers to Megiddo as being the place of God. Coupling the expression Har (mount), and Megiddo (place of God), Armageddon means the mountain of the place of GOD. Armageddon indicates not only the gathering together of nations, but specifically indicates the sovereignty and purpose of God in this gathering assembling them to the battle of the great day of GOD. In a subsequent article we shall deal with the great spiritual implications of this mountain of the place of God. In this present study we want to consider this battle of the great day of God, in both its heavenly and earthly aspects, from the standpoint of GODS INVOLVEMENT, GODS ACTION, GODS PURPOSE, for it is first and foremost the great DAY OF GOD! This is not the day of the Antichrist, nor the day of the Beast, nor the day of the Great Tribulation. I do not mean by that that there is no Beast, that there is no Antichrist, nor any tribulation. But beloved, this is THE DAY OF THE LORD! This is that long-awaited day when the Lord shall arise upon His people and HIS GLORY shall be seen. It is the day when the Beast shall be killed, the Antichrist shall be de-throned, when tribulation and sorrow and sighing shall pass away, when sin and death shall be conquered, when this present evil world shall end when the body of Christ shall be glorious and exalted in the earth to bring blessing to all the nations, when finally the prayer shall be fully and completely answered, THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN! This is truly the GREAT DAY OF GOD! Hallelujah!
THE GATHERING OF THE NATIONS
We need to note particularly, as we shall see in detail in future studies, that Armageddon is a battle of KINGS. John says that this battle involves the KINGS of the EARTH AND OF THE WHOLE WORLD. This is a reference to WORLD WAR and this war shall rage in both the realms of the heavenlies and the earthlies on both the spiritual and physical planes. Zepheniah prophesied of this same battle and said, Therefore wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for My determination is to GATHER THE NATIONS, that I may ASSEMBLE THE KINGDOMS, to pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger: for all the earth (world system) shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent (Zeph 3:8-9).
The gathering of the nations in these last days, in fulfillment of this prophecy, is very notable. Modern discovery and technology have indeed made the remotest ends of the earth neighbors to each other. Travel, mailing facilities, the telephone, television, satellite communications, computers, the multiplication of books and newspapers, etc, have brought all the world into a community of relationship and action hitherto unknown. The civilized peoples are no longer strangers in any part of the earth. Their supersonic jets carry their business representatives, their political envoys and their curious pleasure-seekers to the remotest quarters with speed, ease, and comfort. Even the most heathen and under-privileged nations are arousing themselves from the dreams of centuries and looking with wonder and amazement at the new world around them with all the advances and opportunities it presents.
In the days of Solomon it was thought a marvelous thing that the queen of Sheba should come about five hundred miles to hear the wisdom and behold the grandeur of Solomon: but now, in our day, we drive over five hundred miles over our Interstate highways in one day, while millions of even the most common people travel over the whole world, a great portion of which was totally unknown in Solomons day, to see its accumulated wealth and learn of its progress and knowledge; and a world-wide tour can now be made with comfort and ease in a matter of days. Truly the nations are assembled in a manner not expected, but alas! Not in brotherly love, for selfishness and the depravity of human nature marks every step of this progress. The reign of sin and darkness over man has ever mis-directed and perverted his grand potentials.
Satan is leading mankind down a trail of progress which inevitably can end only in tragedy. God has declared, Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of inequity, and the act of violence is in their hands; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The WAY OF PEACE THEY KNOW NOT; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever shall go therein SHALL NOT KNOW PEACE (Isa 59:7-8). We can see the work of preparation for the conflict of this evil day; -the organizing, equipping and drilling of immense armies, the building of great navies the invention and development of new and wonderful instruments of war, the making of powerful explosives, the development and acquisition by many nations of the atomic and hydrogen bombs, the stationing of hundreds of multi-war-head missiles on the earth, under the earth, and in submarines in the depths of the seas, defense budgets totaling untold billions of dollars annually, the draining of the natural resources in every land for the purposes of military equipment; and, in spite of the so-called United Nations, we can hear the mutterings of the angry nations as they all stand armed to the teeth, scowling upon one another, while the United Nations is, in all reality, the dis-united nations, assembling daily to blast one another with their own brand of political rhetoric.
The United States and Russia alone have stock-piled enough atomic weapons to not only blow this earth to smithereens, until nothing would be left but a maze of cosmic dust, but they could destroy twenty more worlds just like this one! As we view this awful condition we inquire, is not this that of which the Lord spoke when He said, And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved (Matt 24:22). Selfishness has gathered the nations and has been steadily preparing them for the predicted, and now fast approaching, retribution destruction which is so graphically described as the fire of Gods jealousy or anger, which is about to consume this present social, economic, political and religious order, -the world that now is (II Peter 3:7). Yet this is speaking only from the natural, human standpoint; for Zepheniah ascribes this gathering of the nations to GOD. The day that I rise up to the prey: for MY determination is to GATHER THE NATIONS, that I may ASSEMBLE THE KINGDOMS (Zeph 3:8-9).
THE STRATEGY OF THE BATTLE
There is an interesting and significant contrast between Johns vision in Rev 16:13-14 and the prophecy of Zepheniah 3:8. John saw, three unclean spirits like frogs for they are THE SPIRITS OF DEVILS 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. Here it is the spirits of devils that go forth to gather the nations together unto battle. But Zepheniah says, For MY (the Lord) determination is TO GATHER THE NATIONS, that I may ASSEMBLE THE KINGDOMS, to pour upon them Mine indignation. Here it is GOD who is assembling the nations. Sounds like a contradiction, doesnt it? How can God and the devil both be gathering the nations unto the battle? The fact is, they can! And they ARE! Both are true. The devil is even now gathering the nations together AGAINST GOD and against HIS ANOINTED, the body of Christ (Ps 2:1-3), but while Satan is active in trying to overcome Gods plan, purpose and people, it is still GOD who is OVER ALL and who worketh ALL THINGS after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11).
One thing that many of Gods people have failed to realize is that not only is Satan a great DECEIVER, but he himself is totally DECEIVED! He would not be trying to overthrow God if he did not somehow believe that he could. He is deceived by the very lies which he tells, by the very deception which he propagates. Christ is the creator of the world, of the whole vast universe, and is its present ruler. The scriptures make this very plain. Romans 13:1-6 tells us that all world rulers are Gods ministers, and that there is NO POWER but of God. In Dan 4:17 and 25 we read, The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. And Satan also serves. The only power Satan has is that measure of power which GOD has ceded to him. But, being deceived, Satan believers the power is really his own and the he can ultimately wrest the whole of creation from Gods control. He works on that premise. And God has allowed it. In fact, God ordained it so! Satan is like a dog on a leash. He can only go as far as the master permits or purposes. I have no time for people who seem to be serving a puny little God Who is so weak and timid that He must run and get out of Satans way every time he makes his appearance, lest he be devoured. God is, and always has been, and always shall be, the supreme ruler of the universe. Satan is the prince of demons and has power only by special concession, in order to bring about what God has decreed shall be. Christ is king. He rules. Before He ascended He stated, ALL POWER is given unto Me in heaven and in earth (Matt 28:18). ALL power means all power. Hallelujah!
Satan, by Gods permission, has been the ruler of mans dark world. Jesus spoke of him as the prince of this world (Jn 12:31; 14:30). John said that this present evil world lieth in (is under the control of) the wicked one (I Jn 5:19). Paul said: For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood but against despotisms, against the powers, against the master spirits who are the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly sphere (Eph 6:12, Amplified Bible). And in this realm of dark power Satan himself is deceived. He actually believes the power is of himself, and he designs to gather all things together into one IN HIMSELF! And this is what ultimately lays the groundwork for the conflict of this evil day the great DAY OF GOD.
There are two realms of government. The realm of God (almighty power) and the realm of Satan (conceded, limited power). We were formerly aligned with the realm of Satans government. Paul says, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of Gods dear Son (Col 1:13). The Amplified Bible reads, has delivered us out of the control and DOMINION OF DARKNESS and has transferred us into the KINGDOM of the Son of His love.
Gods kingdom is a body politic. And there are two parties: Gods righteous government and the opposition. The opposition, DECEIVED and DELUDED by its own nature of darkness and rebellion, has been trying for six thousand years, by any and every means, to gain control of the government. But it has been a disheartening battle. The Word says, The government shall be upon His (Christs) shoulder, and of the increase of His government THERE SHALL BE NO END to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever (Isa 9:6-7). Because this rule can never cease, every apparent victory of the enemy, in the end, has turned out to be a defeat. The human race fell to the deception of the opposition at the very beginning. But instead of that being a victory for the enemy, it turned out to be a blessing for the human race. For now, not only will men be restored to what was lost by the fall (Acts 3:21; I Tim 4:10; I Jn 2:2; Heb 2:9; Rom 5:18), but those who are called and chosen are translated in Christ to the heavenly realm, to a position as far removed from the perfect Edenic state as the east is from the west. The opposition even went so far as to crucify the King, the Prince of Peace. But that seeming defeat for Christs cause was a signal victory, for on the third day the crucified One arose from the tomb, thus breaking the sway of death and delivering all who were in bondage from its clutches. Because He arose, so shall every son of Adam arise. The hour is coming, in the which A-L-L that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth (Jn 5:28-29). The whole creation is awaiting the ultimate triumph of this victory! All creation is yearning, longing to see the manifestation of Gods Sons. For the creation was made subject to futility, not of its own choice, but by the will of Him who so subjected it; yet with the hope that at last the Creation itself would be set free from the thralldom of decay to enjoy the liberty that comes with the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:19-20).
The kingdom of the righteous One has not been established in fullness and perfection over the earth. We are yet passing through a period of preparation in which those who prove themselves faithful to the rightful King, are being sealed, and now await the day when, upon the full manifestation of the kingdom, they will be raised to great honor and power and majesty, to reign as heavenly kings over the earth, to bring life and light to all peoples.
WHEN GOD ARISES TO THE PREY
The prophet Zepheniah tells us why God, in the end, gathers the nations, saying That I may pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger; for the whole earth (the carnal systems of man) shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy. This message would bring us sorrow and anguish only, were it not for the assurance that the results of this conflict shall work good to the world, overthrowing the reign of sin, darkness and death, and establishing the reign of righteousness referred to in the words of the prophet: THEN will I turn unto the people a pure language (their communications with each other shall no longer be corrupted by sin and darkness) that they may A-L-L call upon the name of the Lord TO SERVE HIM WITH ONE CONSENT. Glory to God! This gathering of the nations as we see it today will not only contribute to the severity of the judgment, but it will also make it impossible for any to escape it; and it will thus make the great battle of the day of God a short, as well as a decisive, conflict, as it is written: A short work will the Lord make upon the earth (Rom 9:28; Isa 28:22).
This day of vengeance upon the nations is further described by the prophet Isaiah. He wrote: The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, He shall stir up jealousy as a man of war: He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against His enemies. I HAVE LONG TIME HOLDEN MY PEACE; I HAVE BEEN STILL, AND REFRAINED MYSELF: Now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once (Isa 42:13-14).
Ever since our first parents transgressed Gods commandment, evil has been the dominant factor in the affairs of men. Satan has been the ruler of mans world. During the days of ancient Israel, when God ruled over His chosen people, other nations occasionally came in contact with Gods divine authority and power. Various heathen kings were compelled to acknowledge His sovereignty as a result of the miraculous manner in which He protected and delivered His people. But many long centuries have passed since the world has witnessed such manifestations of Gods power toward nations, with the result that faith in God and in His ability to rule in the affairs of men is almost nonexistent in all the council chambers of the world. The name of God is not even permitted to be breathed in the gatherings of the last hope for world peace the United Nations Organization. God is excluded. Not wanted. Not consulted. Not recognized. Not respected. Not even considered. Of no value, of no consequence, in the eyes of ALL NATIONS.
God explains this situation by saying that He has refrained Himself from interfering in the affairs of this present evil world and has holden His peace. His people, on the other hand, have been encouraged to wait on the Lord until the day that He NO LONGER HOLDS HIS PEACE, until He ceases to refrain from intervening in the affairs of men, assured that then He would rise up to the prey, and that the whole earth this present evil world would be destroyed by the fire of His jealousy. It is in this work of destroying evil and evil systems that the Lord represents Himself as going forth as a mighty man, and stirring up jealousy (among the nations, systems) like a man of war; and it is this action by the Lord that precipitates the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
While the Lord has permitted the devil, the great adversary, to rule in the hearts of the children of disobedience, He has never ceased to be interested in the ultimate blessing of mankind. In fact, throughout all the thousands of years during which He has refrained from interfering on any large scale with the reign of sin, darkness and death, God has been laying the groundwork, as it were, for a glorious day of deliverance. God has had a strategy! Up until this time His plan of redemption and restoration has progressed silently and unobserved by the world. God has been quietly dealing with His apprehended ones, processing, purging, purifying, perfecting, teaching, training, equipping and preparing them for the day of battle and overthrow of Satans kingdom. No fanfare. Even as Jesus was prepared in His Nazareth, the place of no good thing, even so today the Lord has a remnant, unseen, unobserved, hidden away from all the activity of the world and of popular religion, in the secret place of the Most High, learning the ways of the Father, coming under the Lordship of the King of glory, in preparation for the day when the great Commander arises to the prey.
In Armageddon it is different. For in its final phase God reveals Himself through His glorious body to all mankind, and the eyes of all nations will be opened to behold His glory as He arises upon His people, in all fullness, to bring forth judgment and dominion in the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even for ever and for ever. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. Hitherto is the end of the matter (Dan 7:18, 27-28).
THE PREPARATION OF GODS ARMY
This great army of end-time saints who, in the fullness of time, shall take the kingdom and destroy the rule of the enemy is even now, at the time of this writing, being prepared to march forth and bring to pass this glorious victory. That all who are to be in this Army may be awakened to the urgency of the hour the prophet Joel calls upon those who see these things to sound an alarm, saying, Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall there be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A force devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them is a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. AND THE LORD SHALL UTTER HIS VOICE BEFORE HIS ARMY: FOR HIS CAMP IS VERY GREAT: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:1-3, 11).
This Army of the Lord must face the terrible conditions of the evil day, when the dread elements now preparing for the conflict, the fire, shall have reached the climax of readiness. This Army it is that under the Lords command will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations (Hag 2:22). But where is there such an Army?
God is preparing such an Army. We now want to present this Army. Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible (Joel 2:1, 11). The trumpet blows in Zion Mount Zion. The Army of the Lord is in Zion. The people who hear this trumpet and heed its call are pictured in Rev 14:1: And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with Him and hundred forty and four thousand, having His Fathers name written in their foreheads. This company of 144,000 stands upon Mount Zion in all the glory and majesty of their Redeemer. Mount Zion, the highest hill in Jerusalem, represents the very highest position attainable in Gods kingdom. Such are the ruling class in the capital city of Gods kingdom, the New Jerusalem, prefigured by king David of old who dwelt on the natural Mount Zion in the earthly Jerusalem. From there he reigned. This company, standing on Mount Zion, followers of the Lamb, can represent nothing other than those who have followed Jesus all the way, who have suffered with Him even unto death (of self), and shall now reign with Him on His throne forevermore. They are overcomers. They are the armies which were in heaven which followed Him that sat upon the white horse, and they too ride upon white horses, clothed in fine linen white and clean (Rev 19:14). A horse in prophecy is a symbol of speed and strength in war. White stands for righteousness. So Christ and His armies coming upon white horses denotes that they come in swift, strong, and righteous judgment.
One of the beautiful symbolisms given us in the book of Revelation is the holy city coming down from God out of heaven Rev 21:2. In the Bible, a city represents a government, and the holy city is a righteous government. But this government is not of human origin. It is not a man-made government. It doesnt have a Democratic or a Republican or a Libertarian party. It emanates from God, out of heaven, and is established on earth through a heavenly people. Earlier in the book of Revelation attention is called to a very unholy city called Babylon. For a time it rules over the kings of the earth. Associated with this harlot city is a symbolic beast another symbol of unholy, earthly rulership. But there is a struggle between the beast and the Lamb and between the armies of the beast and the armies of the Lamb the overcoming Sons of God. The beast, together with the unholy city of Babylon, is destroyed. Thus the way is prepared for the holy city, through which the Lamb shall rule over the nations. This new rulership shall mean that God is no longer holding his peace, but He is truly represented in the earth through His glorious saints. And so we read: And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them (in His saints), and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it (the city, Gods government): and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it (Rev 21:3, 24-26). May the Spirit grant us the clarity to see that this city shall never rule until it has in all truth become the holy city, perfected, made ready.
God is preparing a holy city through which to reign. Away back in the book of Exodus we read that Moses was in the mount with God in fasting. When he returned to the congregation the glory of God shone from his countenance so that the children of Israel could not look on his face. He had to cover his face with a veil. But Moses found the children of Israel worshipping God and a golden calf when he descended from the mount. The first thing Moses did was to destroy the calf. The idols of Gods people of today likewise have to be destroyed and ground to powder. Idols of self-will, idols of mans ways, traditions, doctrines, organizations, methods, systems, strife, division, and carnality of all kinds. Ezekiel tells what is to follow: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you I will also save you from all your uncleanness: and I will call for the corn (the word of the Lord), and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit (spiritual life) of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen (Eze 36:24-32).
Once Gods people are cleansed from their idols and defilement, they will be in a position to bring deliverance to a sin-sick and judgment-weary world, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the water covers the sea (Isa 11:9). Only when Gods people are cleansed from their idols can they ever hope to bring deliverance to the world. And that deliverance has to come. It will come through those who have given up their all, those who have lost everything to be joined only to their Lord, and who henceforth live only unto Him. This being accomplished, the water of life must then flow from the city to bring life and healing to the nations. But before we may have any part or lot in this great work, we must forsake all and follow the Lord alone. No one can deliver men from the lies of the antichrist by continuing to embrace and declare those lies himself. This world worships her idols of false religion, materialism and the flesh. To deliver this world the Lords people must first get rid of their own golden calves. Jesus must be LORD! And then, the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And THE IDOLS SHALL HE UTTERLY ABOLISH (Isa 2:17-18).
Not only must the end-time body of Christ be cleansed from all her idols, but it must also receive the fullness of the Spirit and power of which Pentecost is only a foretaste. And, at the time of this writing, God is raising up across the earth a great body of saints who are willing to leave behind all the stagnation and futility of the old order of by-gone days of revival, to wait upon God for this GREATER FULLNESS and glory that pertains to this day, even as the hundred and twenty waited in the Upper Room in their day for the first-fruits of the spirit prepared for the Church age.
The church and the world are both going to be greatly surprised when they learn that the battle of Armageddon, the battle of the great day of GOD, unleashed in all its fury, is first and foremost the greatest display of Divine power and glory, revealed through Gods end-time saints, that this world has ever witnessed. It has been said that heaven would be hell to the sinner. And that is exactly right. The unveiling of the might and power and glory of God in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation is going to produce on the one hand great consternation, distress, shrieking, gloom and destruction to all the organized systems which are opposed to God, and on the other hand life and victory and deliverance to all the meek of the earth who seek after righteousness.
Yet once more, saith God, I shake not the earth (social order) only, but also the heaven (spiritual ruling powers) (Heb 12:26). And this shaking is going to cast Satan and his principalities out of the heavenlies, from their spiritual thrones, even as the shaking of the earth shows that the physical thrones and systems of men shall be demolished. The Sons of God shall ascend experientially into the heavens (realm of the Spirit) to take upon themselves the authority which belongs to those who are overcomers. And entering into this place of dominion they shall minister judgment to the opposers of God, but shall minister protection, and comfort, and help, and deliverance and blessing to such as are in need. All this is confirmed by the prophecy of Joel concerning the Day of the Lord: Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision, for the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon (ruling powers) shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem: and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope (shelter) of His people, and the strength (refuge) of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy and it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains (kingdoms) shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord (Joel 3:14-18).
What can be more clear that this: darkness, the shaking of heaven and earth, judgment while at the same time, in that same DAY, in God there is shelter and refuge and new wine and milk, and refreshing waters from the house of the Lord! Hallelujah!
Armageddon brings the triumph of Gods kingdom in earth. It brings the glory of the saints. It brings the end of sin, darkness and death. The destruction of every system and device of man. The dethronement of Satan and all his demonic hordes. Life and liberty to the captives of a sin-weary world. The removal of the curse. The enthronement of Gods Sons to reign in blessing over the nations. The veil of blindness that covers all nations shall be removed and at last they shall see things as they really are and behold the glory of the Lord. What a day! A day of darkness and gloominess on one hand, but to those who wait upon the Lord it is the morning spread upon the mountains.
Thank God for this assurance of the victory of Gods Army over Satan, sin and death! And when we realize that the kingdom which will manifest Christs victory is so near (our generation), we need not be appalled nor dismayed at the thought of the world-wide Armageddon struggle which will cause the overthrow of the last remnants of Satans rulership. We know that this time of trouble and distress is necessary in order that the people of earth might have a full and unhindered opportunity to receive life and blessing at the hand of God. Truly we should now pray as the Spirit bids us: THY KINGDOM COME! Amen!
And the sixth Angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 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. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gether them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue ARMAGEDDON (Rev 16:12-16).
GODS PURPOSE FOR MAN
Here is Gods plan. Away back in the beginning, when God created our first parents, He stated His great and marvelous purpose for them. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over all the earth (Gen 1:26). Adam fell from this high and glorious dominion and was sent forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. And God declared of that man and that ground: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Gen 3:18-19).
After the fall of man, when once Gods redemptive plan came into effect, we find in reading the Record that those who walked with God were blessed by Him, and were great, becoming the masters of the earth. They were respected and honored and feared by all men (Gen 6:4; Job 1:6; 2:1). God intended it to be that way. For does not the Word tell us that upon Gods saints meeting certain conditions, All the people of the earth shall be afraid of thee (Deut 28:10)? Job, according to the Lords estimation of him, was an outstanding man of God. God said there was none like him in all the earth, a perfect and an upright man (Job 1:8; 2:3). And it is also recorded of him that he was the greatest of all the men of the east (Job 1:3). And here is the reason for his greatness; here is Gods original plan for His people: Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and do all these commandments thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee (Deut 15:5-6).
God intended that His saints, as long as they obeyed Him and walked with Him, should be masters of the earth. They were: that is, until God, because of their sins and backslidings had to cut them off. He was very lenient with them. He made more than one new provision following their rebellions from Him. He gave then every consideration and every opportunity to reign over the earth. For did not He tell them that if they would hearken unto Him, thou shalt be blessed above all people (Deut 7:14)? And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments; and to make thee high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour (Deut 26:18-19). If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set the on high above all nations of the earth (Deut 28:1). Yes, here was great provision made which would enable Gods people to dominate the whole world! And they did, individually and collectively, enjoy that heritage of power and honor for a time. Consider the Patriarchs, and Job. Consider Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, of whom God witnessed that they were very great. And then consider King David, and consider King Solomon in all his glory, a glory so resplendent that even the Queen of Sheba witnessed, Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it, and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heart (I Kings 10:7).
But here again, as in Eden, Gods people failed miserably. The scriptures reveal the awful failure of Gods saints to occupy this place of righteousness, influence and dominion. Read the accounts of the unspeakable corruption that overtook Gods righteous line after the days of that great Enoch. Read the account of Israels sojourn in the wilderness. Read the accounts of their repeated idolatry and rebellions after they entered their own land. Yes, the first thing they did upon coming into their promised land was the exact opposite of what God had commanded them. And which of the prophets did they not stone? No wonder God said concerning them: But the house of Israel rebelled against Me they walked not in My statues, and they despised My judgments and My Sabbaths they greatly polluted (Eze 20:13). No wonder God says, I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand; and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all My council, and would none of My reproof they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord (Prov 1:24-29). And friend, human nature has not changed one particle in all the years. Saints as a whole (the popular church) are just as wayward and rebellious now as they ever were. Gods people has ever been a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face (Isa 65:2-3).
THE OVERTURNING OF DOMINION
History shows that while God was speaking to His own people about rising up into that place to rule in righteous dominion over the earth, thus blessing all peoples, this desire for universal dominion became general among other nations also. Their gods, the spirits of devils, were desiring to rule through universal empire as well. This condition set the stage for a great change that was to come. God declared to His people that they had PROVEN THEMSELVES UNFIT for exaltation to world dominion, having become corrupt, vain and idolatrous in proportion as they had attained national glory and honor. This word of the Lord began to be pronounced against the Lords people in the days preceding the carrying away into captivity of the ten-tribed House of Israel, and especially during the last days of the Kingdom of Judah. Finally, in the days of Zedekiah, last king of Judah, the judgment was expressed through the prophet thus: Therefore, thus saith the Lord God; Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are discovered, so that in all your doings your sins do appear; because, I say, that ye are come to remembrance, ye shall be taken with the hand. And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God; REMOVE THE DIADEM, and TAKE OFF THE CROWN: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will OVERTURN, OVERTURN, OVERTURN, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him (Eze 21:24-27).
This is very clear in the Amplified Bible. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have made your guilt and iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your doings your sins appear; because, I say, that you are come to remembrance, you shall be taken with the enemys hand. And you, O dishonored and wicked one (King Zedekiah), the prince of Israel, whose day will come at the time of your final reckoning and judgment, Thus says the Lord God: Remove the (high priests) miter or headband, and TAKE OFF THE KINGS CROWN; things shall not remain as they have been; the low is to be exalted and the high is to be brought low. I will OVERTHROW, overthrow, overthrow it (the kingship); this ALSO SHALL BE NO MORE UNTIL HE COMES WHOSE RIGHT IT IS to reign in judgment and righteousness, and I WILL GIVE IT TO HIM.
This overturning of the crown, or dominion, signified the removal of the dominion over the nations from Gods people until He comes whose right it is. That One, of course, is Jesus in and through His glorious body! This means that world dominion was to be given to people other than Israel other than the Lords people until a specified time in Gods great plan. This overturning of the crown, or dominion, has been accomplished. God has given the dominion into the hands of the Gentiles until He shall have prepared Himself a people even the overcoming body of Christ who shall QUALIFY to take the Kingdom and rule in righteousness to bless, lift, and restore the nations to that place of fellowship and relationship with God from which man has fallen.
With the above scripture in mind it is plain to see that the dominion of the nations was given to the Gentiles during the time of Zedekiah, last king of Judah. Zedikiah lived during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. In fact, it was Nebuchadnezzar who subjugated Israel, and with a refinement characteristic of those ties, he ordered the sons of Zedekiah to be killed before him, and then his eyes to be torn out, after which he was loaded with fetters of brass and carried away captive to Babylon, where he died. The nation of Israel (known as Judah) was brutally crushed and carried away captive to Babylon. It is interesting to note that this bondage to the gentiles was a bondage from which Israel never completely recovered. For although Israel of old did return to her land, and although she did dwell in that land for several centuries longer (until A.D. 70), yet she was never free from servitude. She was, from that time forward, a vassal state, UNDER THE DOMINION OF THE GENTILE WORLD POWERS. She was a subject of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome in turn. Thus the people of God were cast off from a great promise of world power, dominion and glory because of their sin and shame, and God then allowed the heathen nations to rule in her room, which dominion was to continue until He come whose right it is!.
Gentile world rule, then, officially began in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Thus ended Israels opportunity for world empire and the dominion was OVERTURNED, transferred, into the hands of the Gentiles beginning with Babylon and then being given successively to Media-Persia, Greece, Rome and finally to various of the ten fragments of the Roman Empire which are with us to this day as the nations of modern Europe and America. It is clear that the Gentile world powers have in all reality had a LEASE OF POWER from God during this time. It is GOD who had committed the rulership of the earth into their hands.
This truth is set forth plainly in Daniel chapter two where the prophet interprets that remarkable dream of king Nebuchadnezzar. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, AND HATH MADE THEE RULER OVER THEM ALL. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee (the Medes), and another third kingdom of brass (Greece), which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom (Rome) shall be strong as iron and as iron shall it break in pieces and bruise. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And in the days of these (ten) kings SHALL THE GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM WHICH SHALL NEVER BE DESTROYED: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these (Gentile) kingdoms, AND IT SHALL STAND FOREVER (Dan 2:36-44).
This overturned condition of Israels dominion was to continue until Christ, the rightful heir of the throne of Israel and all the earth, who purchased it with His own precious blood, would come and take control. His, as we have seen, will be the fifth universal empire of earth, the Kingdom of God under the whole heavens. It will be established gradually, during a great time of trouble with which the Church Age closes, and in the midst of which all present dominions shall be utterly consumed, passing away amid great confusion.
It is our purpose in this present Study to present the scriptural evidence that the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their LEASE OF DOMINION, is being reached in this, our day, and that this present generation will see the disintegration of the rule of imperfect men, and of sin, darkness and death. And be it observed, that if this is shown to be a fact firmly established by the Word of the Lord, it will prove that we are living in the generation when Gods people shall arise in the fullness of His power and glory to truly become that glorious church against which the very gates of hell shall not prevail! It shall show that we are standing on the very verge of the greatest display of Gods power and glory UPON HIS PEOPLE that the world has ever seen! For the DOMINION is to be given back to the saints of the Most High. This will bring the long-awaited unveiling of the authority and glory of God through the body of Christ right here in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation, which is going to produce on the one hand great consternation, distress, shrieking, gloom and destruction to all the organized systems of the present dominion which are opposed to God, and on the other hand life and victory and deliverance to all the meek of the earth who seek after righteousness.
THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES
Nineteen hundred years ago Jesus uttered one of the most profound prophetic statements of truth that ever fell upon the ears of listening men. He had been teaching His disciples about the ending of this age and the coming of the kingdom. He spoke of the great judgment that was to fall upon the nation of Israel, and of that people and their beloved city He declared: And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and they shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the gentiles, until THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED (Lk 21:24).
This term, The times of the Gentiles, was applied by our Lord to that interval of earths history which we have already considered, the time between the removal of dominion and glory from Israel of old, and the time when God shall in turn again overthrow the dominion AND GIVE IT BACK to His people this time, thank God, into the hands of a people who shall have already been tested and tried and proven qualified to reign with Christ over all things. They will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will triumph over them; for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him and on His side are chosen and called (elected) and loyal and faithful (Rev 17:14). During these Times of the Gentiles the Gentiles rule not only over the fleshly Israel but also over the spiritual Israel. That the body of Christ cannot, as yet, in the fullest sense reign over the earth until this Gentile lease of power is ended is plain. Daniel declared that there is a set time for Gods saints to reign: I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom (Dan 7:21-22). Many scriptures confirm this. David even declared of Zion: Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, THE SET TIME, is come (Ps 102:13).
Under New Testament economy even the saints of the New Creation are exhorted: Let every person be loyally subject to the governing civil authorities. For there is no authority except from God by His permission, His sanction; and those that exist do so by Gods appointment. Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged in divine order. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves receiving the penalty due them. Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid Gods wrath and escape punishment, but also as a matter of principle and for the sake of conscience. For this same reason you pay taxes, for the civil authorities are official servants under God, devoting themselves to attending to this very service. Render to all men their dues. Pay taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due (Rom 13:1-7, Amplified Bible).
But there is to be a change! The time is at hand. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and ALL DOMINIONS SHALL SERVE AND OBEY HIM (Dan 7:27).
Our Lords words, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, imply that the times of the Gentiles must have a definitely appointed limit; because an unlimited, indefinite period could not be said to be fulfilled. So, then, Gentile rule HAD A BEGINNING, will last for a fixed time, and will END at an appointed time. The beginning of these Gentile Times is clearly located by the scriptures. Hence, if they furnish us the LENGTH ALSO of the fixed period, we can know just when it will terminate. The scriptures do furnish us this fixed period, which must be fulfilled; but it was furnished in such a way that it could not be understood when written, nor until the lapse of time and the events of history had shed their light upon; and even then, only by those who are watching and who walk in the Spirit of God, following on to know the Lord. We must not expect to find this information stated in so many words. Had it been so stated, it would have been known before it was due. It is given in such a way as to conceal it until the time of the end (Dan 12:4, 10). Most prophecy is given in this manner.
As to when the Times of the Gentiles began is clear. They began when the Lord said to Zedekiah, last king of Judah, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: for this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low (Gentiles), and abase him that is high (Israel). I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more until He come whose right it is; and I will give it him (Eze 21:26-27). This lease of Gentile power began in the days of Nebuchadnezzar not when his reign began, but when the crown passed from the kingdom of the Lord, from Zedekiahs head, and the dominion of the whole world was left in the hands of Babylon.
With these truths before us, we readily find the date for the beginning of the Gentile Times of dominion. Both secular and religious histories show that Babylon began their sieges against Jerusalem in the year 606 B.C. and the nation finally fell before the Babylonians in the year 586 B.C. So the times of the Gentiles began during this twenty year period from 606 to 586 B.C.
HOW LONG DO THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES LAST?
Our Lords words, Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, not only suggest a limit and definite period of Gentile dominations, but they also suggest the thought that though spiritual as well as fleshly Israel has been subject to these Gentile powers, yet these ties are somehow connected with and measured upon THE EARTHLY CITY, JERUSALEM, and the fleshly people of Israel. Can it be that God foretold concerning Israels history something which will give us the exact duration of these times to which Jesus refers? It is even so!
Turning to Leviticus we find recorded blessings and cursings of an earthly and temporal character. If Israel would obey God faithfully, they would be blessed above other nations; if not, certain evils would befall them. The conclusion is stated thus: And I will walk among you and be your God, and ye shall be My people; but if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments, I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies; they that hate you shall reign over you and ye shall sow your seed in vain; for your enemies shall eat it and if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you SEVEN TIMES MORE (further) for your sins (Lev 26:17, 18, 24, 28).
This threat of seven times of punishment is mentioned three times. The various punishments mentioned before the seven times refer to the several captivities to the Assyrians, Moabites, Midianites, Philistines, etc etc, during all of which Gods care continued over them. His dealings were to them line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; yet He kept hold of them, and when they repented and cried unto Him, He heard them and answered, and delivered them from their enemies (Judges 3:9, 15). But these chastisements having failed, He applied the threatened seven times. The connection in which the seven times are threatened indicates that they include a final and conclusive punishment upon that people after the other chastisements had repeatedly failed to reform them permanently. The punishment of these seven times will have the designed effect of thoroughly humbling them before the Lord, and thus preparing them to be blessed. These seven times therefore refer to THE LENGTH OF THE TIME during which the Lord would withdraw Himself, permanently removing the crown, delivering them into the hands of their enemies, and giving the dominion and glory to the Gentile powers. Thus, the seven times are the length of the Times of the gentiles to which our Lord referred in Luke 21:24.
In the Bible a time is used in the sense of a year, whether the year be literal or symbolic; but at the time of the utterance of any prophecy, it could not be known whether the time referred to was literal or symbolic. This is why we read that the prophets searched diligently, but in vain, to learn what time, or manner of time (literal or symbolic), the Spirit did signify (I Peter 1:11).
An example of the symbolic use of the time is found in Dan 9:24: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy (Jesus). Then in verses 25 and 26 we are informed that these seventy weeks would stretch from the time of the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem in the days of Ezra, UNTO the coming of the Messiah. A literal seventy weeks would have been only a little more than one year, but even as all the other figures in the book of Daniel were symbols, even so God gave this time prophecy in symbolic language. In the prophetic time symbolism of scripture a day many times means a year. Therefore, the seventy weeks of Daniel are weeks of years rather than literal weeks. Each day of the week represents one actual year in such symbolism. The Bible year, which must always be used in reckoning Biblical time prophecies, is the Jewish ecclesiastical year which contains 360 days. The seventy weeks are, therefore, seventy weeks of years, which is 70 X 7, or 490 prophetic days, which means 490 world years. So God was really telling Daniel that from the time when the command would go forth to rebuild Jerusalem UNTO MESSIAH would be 490 years. If the leaders of Israel would have understood what manner of time the Spirit signified through Daniel they would have known right to the year when their Messiah would appear! The command to rebuild Jerusalem was issued by Artaxerxes in the year 457 B.C. Adding to that date the 490 years of Daniels prophecy and you arrive at the year 34 A.D. right squarely at the end of Jesus ministry. Had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory!
So let us note that prophetic time is often given in symbolic language, and the measurement of that time is not literal, but symbolic, each prophetic day representing an actual year. We have already seen that in Leviticus chapter 26 God warned Israel that if they did not hearken unto Him He would punish them seven times more (in addition to all His other judgments upon them) for their sins. Now a time in prophecy is a year (See Dan 7:25, 12:7; Rev 12:14 etc in all modern translations). A time is a year, but we must remember that the Bible year is the Jewish ecclesiastical year which contains 360 days. And a prophetical day of the type used in the prophecy of the seventy weeks is one year in world time. Therefore, when the Spirit speaks of seven times He may speak of seven actual years or of seven prophetical years. If it is a prophetical year it is made up of 360 prophetical days each day representing an actual year of world time!
The question here presenting itself is, were these seven times of judgment upon Israel literal or symbolic? Did they refer to seven years, or to a symbolic time represented by seven years? We answer that they were symbolic times. Symbolically, in seven years there are 2,520 days, each day representing a year; therefore the seven times are in reality 2,520 YEARS! They cannot be understood to be seven literal years; for Israel had many captivities of much longer duration for instance, they served the king of Mesopotamia eight years (Judges 3:8), the king of Moab eighteen years (Judges 3:14), king Jabin twenty years (Judges 4:2-3), the Philistines one period of forty years and another of eighteen years (Judges 10:7-8; 13:1), besides their seventy years in Babylon. All these periods being far longer than seven times or seven literal years, and the seven times obviously being mentioned as the last, greatest, and final punishment, shows without contradiction that symbolic, not literal time is meant. The Hebrew word translated seven times in Lev 26:18, 21, 24, 28, is the same word so translated in Dan. 4:16,23,25 and 32. And, peculiarly, too, it is repeated four times in each case. In Nebuchadnezzars case they were literal years, but, both Nebuchadnezzar and his seven times WERE TYPICAL! Read the story in Daniel chapter four, and it will be seen, as the Spirit sheds light upon that prophetic Word, that the degradation of king Nebuchadnezzar was typical of the fact that during the seven times of Gentile world rule, the 2,520 years, the whole world has been subjected under the control of beastly governments, for its punishment and correction, until in due time God would restore and establish it in righteousness and everlasting life. This is why God, through Daniel and John the revelator, has represented the governments of this world as so many wild beasts, while the kingdom of God at their close is represented as given to ONE LIKE UNTO THE SON OF MAN.
Now let us explore a little deeper. If the Times of the Gentiles is the same as the seven times of Israels punishment under Gentile world dominion, and if, as we have seen, these seven times are to run for 2,520 years, then in order to find the end of these Times of the gentiles all we need to do is determine the date or time when they began, then add to that date, or time, 2,520 years, and there we have the result the END OF THE TIME! We have already noted that the subjugation of Israel by Babylon began in 606 B.C., but we must remember that that subjugation was not complete until the year 586 B.C. some twenty years later. Now what is the result when we add 2,520 years to our second date, 586 B.C.? This brings us to the year 1934. Now, let us not forget that in both Lev 26:18-28 and Lk 21:24 the Lord used the natural Israel and the natural Jerusalem as the yardstick for this time period. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, UNTIL the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
This means that in the year 1914 and in the years 1934-35 there should have been significant movements taking place in the world in relation to the natural Israel, and the natural Jerusalem, as a SIGN that the Times of the Gentiles were drawing to a close. Were there such movements?
In the year 1914 Jerusalem had been oppressed by one power after another all down the centuries from the time of king Zedekiah. The latest oppressor was the Turkish power, and in 1914 Jerusalem was still under the heel of the Turks by whom the city had been trodden down for centuries. But in that great year of destiny 1914 what happened? The First World War broke out and Great Britain declared war on Jerusalems oppressor, Turkey, only a few weeks after the beginning of the War. After a little over three years of fighting, Jerusalem was freed by the British and the Turkish Empire was smashed the following year. In 1917, following the liberation of Jerusalem, the Jewish people wanted to be independent and make Palestine a homeland for the Jews. At that time the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, published the famous Balfour Declaration on behalf of the British Government, encouraging the Jewish people that Great Britain would support the building of a Jewish homeland. And thus was initiated the first step toward the formation of the State of Israel and the final fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus: And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. This clearly and unmistakably identifies 1914 as the BEGINNING OF THE END of the Times of the Gentiles.
Equally significant are the events surrounding the year 1934. This year dawned upon the world only nine months after Adolf Hitler had become the dictator of Germany opening the way for him to plunge the whole world into the horrors of the Second World War, as well as his total effort to EXTERMINATE THE JEWISH PEOPLE. The year 1935 saw the beginning of the most terrible and massive persecution of the Jews ever carried out in history. Literally millions of Jews were killed and untold numbers more were driven from their homes to refuge in other lands under the Nazi nightmare. But out of the convulsions of that War the conscience of the whole world was stirred and one of the major by-products of that conflict was the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. And, IT WAS ALL RIGHT ON SCHEDULE, according to Gods prophetic reckoning and Word! Then in 1967, in the famous six day war, the state of Israel captured the old city of Jerusalem making it a part of the Jewish nation from the first time in 1,900 years!
THE DAY IS UPON US!
Therefore, let us clearly understand that we are indeed, even now, living in the ending of the Times of the Gentiles! The Day is upon us! While we know that during the twenty year period from the First World War to the Second World War the Times of the Gentiles began to end, God, in His infinite wisdom has chosen not to reveal exactly the length of time that would be required, following the arrival of this time, for the complete dissolution of the Gentile world order, for these kingdoms to be EVICTED, after their LEASE OF POWER had come to an end. One thing we do know. These kingdoms are one and all under the control and influence of Satan, the god of this present evil world. And Satan doesnt want to turn loose! Therefore, God has to EVICT him and all the kingdoms he rules over! And this eviction has begun.
We are standing squarely before the greatest battle of the ages. This battle shall rage in both the earthlies and the heavenlies. In the earthlies it shall produce the Third World War the bloodiest and most destructive war of human history. This will be the final phase of the EARTHLY PHASE of the BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON the battle of the great Day of God almighty, when He gathers all nations together unto battle. Of that battle the Lord declares: Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken ye people: for the indignation of the Lord is upon ALL NATIONS, and His fury upon their armies: He hath utterly destroyed them, He hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcasses, and the mountains (kingdoms) shall be melted with their blood for it is the day of the LORDS VENGENCE, and thus saith the Lord God Take the wine cup of this fury at My hand, and cause ALL THE NATIONS to drink it. Therefore thou shalt say unto them, thus saith the Lord drink ye, and be drunken, and spew, and FALL, and RISE NO MORE, because of the sword which I WILL SEND among you for I will call for a sword UPON ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH a noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth (Jer 25:15, 27-33).
But this battle shall not only rage in the earthlies, in the natural realm. It shall also rage in the heavenlies, in the spiritual realm. And this is the phase of the battle of Armageddon that you and I, as the people of God, are to be involved in. Since the Times of the Gentiles are ending, dear ones, this heralds the day when the dominion of the world must again be overturned, TRANSFERRED BACK TO GODS PEOPLE! Not to the fleshly Israel this time, but to the Spiritual Seed of Abraham through Christ His glorious body. It is the SAINTS who are to take the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever and ever. Of Jesus, Isaiah said, and the government shall be upon HIS SHOULDER (Isa 9:6). When something is upon the shoulder, THE WHOLE BODY SUPPORTS THE WEIGHT of it. Isaiah is portraying the great truth that it is THE BODY OF CHRIST, under their all-glorious HEAD, JESUS, who shall administer the power, authority and blessing of the kingdom of God under the whole heaven. Jesus shall reign! And He shall reign IN and THROUGH His many-membered body, the Sons of God.
Can you see, child of God, what a tremendous heritage is ours the RIGHT to rule and reign and bring life and blessing and deliverance to the whole creation? But before we can deliver the groaning creation from the bondage to corruption sin, darkness, curse and death these deliverers must first themselves CONQUER HIM who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb 2:14). Can you see how that all through the ages Satan has usurped the authority of the Sons of God? You have only to look around you at the people of God in general, you have only to look back at church history, to see that the Lords people have suffered defeat from the powers of darkness for century upon century. Deceived on every hand; afflicted with all manner of sickness and disease; demon oppressed; filled with carnality, sin, bitterness, bewilderment, sorrow, fear, and torment. Many have been taken captive by the god of this world, and instead of a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, instead of Zion invested with strength, instead of a people that look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and TERRIBLE AS AN ARMY WITH BANNERS, WITH POWER OVER ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY, WE SEE, INSTEAD, A DEFEATED BAND OF SLAVES, DIVIDED INTO A THOUSAND SECTS, CAST INTO Satans mold of bondage, deception, ignorance, fear, torment and filth.
But, thank God, to a people within the walls of this Babylon of captivity has come the Word of the Lord God, saying, BLOW YE THE TRUMPET in Zion, and SOUND AN ALARM in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the Day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: A GREAT PEOPLE AND A STRONG; there hath not ever been the like and the Lord shall utter His voice BEFORE HIS ARMY: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His Word: for the Day of the Lord is great (Joel 2:1-2, 11). This is the cry of the Spirit for you to arise, oh sons of God, from the dust of defeat and desolation. Put on your beautiful garments and the whole armor of God! The Trumpet call, the anointed Word of the Lord, goes forth in this great hour, calling for a Gideons band of overcomers who shall be more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. And that band, Him that overcometh, is being prepared for which we praise God; an Army which shall arise not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord!
It is important that we see that in the above scripture the Trumpet is blown and the alarm is sounded to Gods people at that specific point in history when the Day of the Lord is nigh at hand. The time is in the Day of the Lord. The call is to muster the Army of the Lord, a people great and strong above any people that ever has been. This is a work that must be accomplished among Gods people at that time just preceeding the coming of the Kingdom in power, as a preparation for the triumph of Gods people over Satan who has ruled.
Since we have seen that the times of the Gentiles began to end during the first half of the 20th century, then surely the Day of the Lord IS NOT A FUTURE EVENT (only its conclusion is future): we are even now in that Day! I shall be bold to declare that we ARE NOW IN THE DAY OF THE LORD of which all the prophets have spoken since the world began. Therefore, we should be seeing across the earth the beginning of the formation of this great people of God, the glorious body of Christ, the Army of the Lord.
Did the Lord begin to bring forth this work on schedule? Was there a significant movement of God among His people beginning back shortly after the turn of the century when the Day of the Lord began to dawn? Indeed there was! Azusa Street, 1906 (and many other places both before and after Azusa about that time), as hungry hearts were waiting in anticipation before the Lord God began to do a new thing something that had not been experienced on any recognizable scale for nearly eighteen hundred years! God began to again pour out His Spirit in Pentecostal power and glory, with signs and wonders, tongues and healings, gifts and praise, and a people began to arise from the long cold night of ritual, ceremony and tradition, unto a RESTORATION OF THE PRESENCE AND GLORY OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Through the past hundred years there has been an intensification and rapid acceleration of the moving of the Spirit of the Lord. Even as the outpouring of the Spirit after the turn of the century was Gods spiritual COUNTERPART to the natural events then transpiring in the First World War and the liberation of the natural Jerusalem, so the Lord sent another mighty visitation of His Spirit and power which was the spiritual counterpart of the events taking place in the natural in the Second World War and the establishment of the State of Israel. In 1948 the very year that Israel became a nation another great deluge fell from heaven, a mighty revival then called the Latter Rain. In this Restoration Revival God did a work which far transcended the work started in the Pentecostal outpouring of more than 40 years before. All nine gifts of the Spirit, the five-fold ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, spiritual praise and worship, plus the end-time revelation of Gods purpose to manifest His Sons, a glorious church, to bring in the kingdom of God, all of this and much more was restored among Gods people. And now the great dealings of God; the purgings, the processings, depths of revelation, edification and strengthening, understanding of the ways of the Lord, faith in the promise, waiting upon the Lord, development of the nature and character of God all of this is being laid upon a people who have received the fruit of that second great visitation of God and thus they are being prepared for the coming THIRD OUTPOURING which shall finally bring the FULLNESS, a company of overcoming Sons of God who have come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ to actually dethrone Satan, casting him out of the heavenlies, and finally binding him in the earthlies, bringing the hope of deliverance and life to all the families of the earth. This third great work of the Spirit shall usher a people into full redemption free from the curse, sin, sickness, death and carnality. This is not fancy, friends, this is FACT! As the clouds darken on the horizon of this present evil world, and the nations rush madly to their day of reckoning and judgment, so God is mustering HIS ARMY to fight in the heavenlies that the god of this present evil world might be cast down from his place of dominion over the nations. In the natural, the Third world War will bring destruction to all the proud and haughty among men that have mis-ruled the world in selfishness and unrighteousness. But at the same time, at the same hour, the Lords Army shall arise in the power of the Spirit and put Satan under their feet, and bring dominion in the heavenly realms, that the glory of the Lord might fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Thank God for that inborn confidence and assurance in the hearts of all those who in this hour are following on to know the Lord, that indeed the hour has come, the time is at hand for the unveiling of the Sons of God; that the eternal purposes of God in the church are about to be fulfilled; that we now stand on the brink of Jordan prepared and ready to follow our great Joshua, JESUS, out of this church age of testing, trial, proving and preparation into the Kingdom realm of Gods fullness.
Press on, saints of God, for we are on the winning side! Keep on overcoming. Keep on walking with Jesus. Keep on growing. Keep on putting on the armor and learning how to use it. Resist the devil. Let not sin and carnality reign, Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Give thanks in all things. Learn His ways. Obey. God is mustering His Army! He is preparing a people such as never have been! They arent willing to let the devil rule. Not in their lives. Not in their bodies. Not in their minds. Not in the church. Not anywhere! We are on the way up, Satan and all the kingdoms of this world are on the way down! Victory is near. The time is at hand. Hallelujah!
The meaning of the word Armageddon has been explained by scholars in various ways. Of all the possible derivations of the word Armageddon, one thing is clear it points to a general gathering, or assembly, of the people. The Hebrew word Har means mount. Mageddon refers to the ancient city of Megiddo which lay at the foot of the Carmel range. This was famous as a battlefield for centuries. And here, in Rev 16, we find the kings of the earth and of the whole world are gathered together unto Armageddon to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. The battle of Armageddon, then, is the battle of the great day of GOD, or of the great DAY OF THE LORD.
It is interesting to note that Youngs Analytical concordance refers to Megiddo as meaning the place of GOD. Coupling the expression Har (mount), and Megiddo (the place of God), Armageddon means the mountain of the place of God. Another Hebrew phrase which also gives an insight into the meaning of Armageddon is har-mo-ed, the literal meaning of which is mount of the congregation. Further, the word meged from which Megiddo is derived means, among other things, pleasant thing. Coupled with mountain, this indicates a mountain of pleasant things. Thus, in Armageddon we see both the positive and negative aspects. It is a gathering together unto slaughter on the one hand, and victory and glory on the other hand. It is death and life. It is defeat and triumph. It is the DAY OF THE LORD! NOT the day of the beast, or the day of the antichrist, or the day of Satan, or of the flesh, or of the world, or of sin, darkness and death. But beloved, this is the long-awaited day when the LORD arises upon His people and HIS GLORY IS SEEN. It is the day when the beast is once and for all slain, when antichrist is dethroned, when struggle, tribulation, sorrow, sighing, sin, darkness and death all pass away and CHRIST becomes all in all!
But this battle shall not only rage in the earthlies, in the natural realm. It shall also rage in the heavenlies, in the spiritual realm. And this is the phase of the battle of Armageddon that you and I, as the people of God, are to be involved in. Since the Times of the Gentiles are ending, dear ones, this heralds the day when the dominion of the world must again be overturned, TRANSFERRED BACK TO GODS PEOPLE! Not to the fleshly Israel this time , but to the Spiritual Seed of Abraham through Christ His glorious body. It is the SAINTS who are to take the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever and ever. Of Jesus, Isaiah said, and the government shall be upon HIS SHOULDER (Isa. 9:6). When something is upon the shoulder, THE WHOLE BODY SUPPORTS THE WEIGHT of it. Isaiah is portraying the great truth that it is THE BODY OF CHRIST, under their all-glorious HEAD, JESUS, who shall administer the power, authority and blessing of the kingdom of God under the whole heaven. Jesus shall reign! And He shall reign IN and THROUGH His many-membered body, the Sons of God.
Can you see, child of God, what a tremendous heritage is ours the RIGHT to rule and reign and bring life and blessing and deliverance to the whole creation? But before we can deliver the groaning creation from the bondage to corruption sin, darkness, curse and death these deliverers must first themselves CONQUER HIM who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14).
Jesus has already passed His Armageddon! He passed it when in the garden He said, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done (Lk22:42). He passed through His darkest hour of battle and arose on the other side VICTORIOUS over death, hell and the grave! Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same; that through death HE MIGHT DESTROY HIM that had the power of death, that is, THE DEVIL (Heb 2:14). And having spoiled PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS, He made a show of them openly, TRIUMPHING OVER THEM in it (Col 2:15). that ye may know the mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY, and POWER, and MIGHT, and DOMINION, and every name that is named and hath PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET (Eph 1:18-21). Christ is VICTOR! He REIGNS NOW! He has already overcome EVERY ENEMY! He has conquered them. They are all already under His feet. They have no more power over Him! He is above them all. Jesus doesnt get sick, because He overcame all sickness. He cant die anymore, for He arose victor over death. He cant sin, for He was tempted in all points like as we are, and yet without sin. Satan has no power over Him for Jesus has already held his bout with Satan and now holds the Universal Championship over him! He overcame the world. He overcame the flesh. Yes, friends, Jesus doesnt have any more battles to fight, any more enemies to subject, for the last enemy that anyone, anywhere, ever has to destroy is DEATH and He has already conquered His LAST ENEMY! An Armageddon for Jesus? There wont be any, for His is already past. He has entered His kingdom, possessed His possessions, and now reigns over all in the highest of all heavens. Hallelujah!
The Armageddon in Revelation 16 is not for Jesus. It is for all those whom Jesus invites to come and experientially SHARE HIS VICTORY. It is for US. It is first of all for that firstfruit company of overcomers who are first to follow the Lamb all the way and stand with Him upon Zions Holy Hill, redeemed from the earth, from earthiness, with no guile in their mouths, the Fathers nature stamped in their foreheads (their minds), singing that song which no man can learn (at that point) but the 144,000! These are the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb. These are the FIRST, after Jesus, to experientially appropriate the FULLNESS OF HIS DIVINE LIFE, NATURE, and VICTORY. There must be a people who accomplish this. This victory shall eventually be ministered to all the Lords people and finally to all nations of the earth. But it involves a BATTLE. All the way. There is no victory without a battle. The magnitude of the victory is determined by the magnitude of the battle. The greatest battle shall give way to the greatest victory. Be not alarmed, child of God, if the battles are becoming fiercer, hotter, for THIS IS THE DAY OF THE LORD! The battle of the great day of God is upon us. Armageddon is here. And this great day of the Lord is described first of all as A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness (Joel 2:2). Yes, Gethsemane. Travail. Sweat. Blood. Tears. Sorrow. Struggle. Death. But, thank God, Joel continues: As the morning spread upon the mountains: A GREAT PEOPLE AND A STRONG; there hath not been ever the like and the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for HIS CAMP IS VERY GREAT: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
Armageddon is that battle which produces the end of this present evil world and the glory of the kingdom of God. For Gods overcoming saints, His army, it means entering into the fullness of Christs victory and life. Perfection. Incorruption. For the peoples of earth this shall mean a new order, a new day, release from this present evil system of things, blessing and life and the knowledge and fear of the Lord.
It is important to keep in mind that all the truths and dealings of God have an application, outworking in effect in both the natural and spiritual dimensions. So it is with Armageddon. There are two kinds of travail associated in the Word with this day of the Lord. The first is a travail that comes upon the natural realm, the nations and peoples, systems and kingdoms, which make up this present evil world. The second is the travail that comes upon the Lords army, the overcoming saints of God, to usher them into their promised land of fullness in Christ. Let us now take a closer look at these two kinds of travail which are even now a reality in the earth.
THE SPASMS OF TRAVAIL
Let us turn to one of Pauls prophecies in I Thes 5:1-6. But of the times and seasons (of the coming of the day of the Lord), brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, AS TRAVAIL UPON A WOMAN WITH CHILD; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Notice how carefully the pronouns ye and you, and they and them, of this and other scriptures, distinguish the classes referred to the saints from the world. The knowledge which the true saints have in the day of the Lord is contrasted with the ignorance, on the part of the world, of the significance and tendency of transpiring events YE have no need that I write unto YOU. When THEY shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon THEM as travail and THEY shall not escape. But YE brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake YOU as a thief. YE are all children of light. Take heed, says our Lord, to yourselves, lest at any time YOUR hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon YOU unawares; for as a snare it shall come on all THEM that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch YE, therefore (watch yourselves, and also the word of prophecy), and pray always, that YE may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Lk 21:24-36).
It is significant that the trouble of the day of the Lord comes upon the WORLD as TRAVAIL upon a woman with child. Travail is the pangs of pain and agony of childbirth. Travail, as every mother knows, comes in SPASMS with periods of comparative easement between the pains. This tells us something important about the trouble that comes upon this evil world in the day of the Lord. Paul foretold that these spasms of trouble would be associated with cries of Peace and safety. This has certainly been the pattern of events since just prior to 1914 when the day of the Lord began (see ARMAGEDDON, Part IV). This aspect of the prophecy has proved to be very accurate. Prior to the first World War, tremendous efforts were made to establish lasting world peace. Nineteen hundred and thirteen was an INTERNATIONAL PEACE YEAR. Religionists were affirming that the world had gotten past the stage of slaughtering one another in battle. They had an ideal state pictured in which everything was getting better and better. In reality, they themselves were merely going from bad to worse, and drifting into infidelity and unbelief. Yet they were blind to their true condition, and were proclaiming an imminent millennial peace and security based on their fancied advanced state of civilization. It would not work. The year following that International Peace Year saw all their fantastic dreams rudely shattered when the most terrible war ever fought up until that time broke and the FIRST SPASM OF TRAVAIL was upon the nations. More than eight and a half million men were killed. For the first time in history terrible new weapons were used airplanes, bombs, poison gas, tanks, machine guns and submarines.
Following that war there were further cries of peace and safety. The League of Nations was organized to insure that there would never again be a world wide catastrophe such as the great World War. Many religionists, popular church leaders, were affirming that mankind had learned its lesson and more and more peace talks were held, and more and more peace treaties were signed, THAN IN ALL THE PREVIOUS AGES COMBINED! They had outlawed war! But in spite of all their plans and professions, they were merely preparing the way for a struggle even greater and more bloody than the first. They were planning a peace without the PRINCE OF PEACE. It never has worked; it never will. The end of the first World War ushered in a reign of terror more ungodly and brutal than before. The dictators which arose were more beastly and more corrupt above all others. But the Peace and safety cry had gone forth. Sudden destruction must follow; and follow it did. World War II broke out.
The second World War was the biggest and most terrible war that has ever been fought among nations. Nearly thirty million people were killed in it, plus untold millions more left wounded, homeless and shattered. This war introduced the atomic age by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in August of 1945. The war ended. The second spasm was over.
This second spasm of trouble upon the nations has also been followed by times of easement of the pain, but interspersed by smaller contractions of trouble such as the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and the Communist subversion of nearly one-half the population of the world. Following the second World War the United Nations Organization was formed as the last hope of mankind for world peace. The inscription on the cornerstone of the U.N. building in New York is a quotation from the Bible: They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Micah 4:3). And while the godless United Nations cornerstone proclaims Peace and safety, we can see the work of preparation going on for the final spasm of trouble of this evil day the war which all the leaders of the earth admit will be the last war fought among nations on this globe.
This important, but little understood, truth that the day of the Lord comes upon the world in spasms of trouble and judgment, a series of world-wide convulsions, more frequent and severe as the day draws on, is further amplified by Isaiah the prophet: A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every mans heart shall melt: and they shall be afraid: PANGS AND SORROW shall take hold of them; THEY SHALL BE IN PAIN AS A WOMAN THAT TRAVAILETH Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger and I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible (Isa 13:4-11).
The relief from these painful spasms will only come with the birth of the NEW ORDER of things upon the earth a New Heavens (the spiritual control of Christ, Head and body) and a New Earth (regenerated, renewed social order) wherein dwelleth righteousness.
THREE UNCLEAN SPIRITS LIKE FROGS
In Rev 16:13-14 we are told of three unclean spirits like frogs that are to be the instruments in bringing the nations together unto battle in the day of the Lord. Let us read it: 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. 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. This symbolism of scripture is a forceful one indeed!
An unclean spirit is the opposite of the clean or holy Spirit. The clean or Holy Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth, life and righteousness. Unclean spirits produce the opposite: lies and deceits, evil and death. The characteristics of the Holy Spirit are found in the fruit of the Spirit which is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal 5:22-23). These are the nine virtues which make up the nature of the Holy Spirit which is the nature of God. The scriptures show that our bodies are the body of Christ and the temple of God. When we walk in the Spirit we are walking in the nature of God. Paul says, This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16). The lust of the flesh produces uncleanness. Acts 1:8 says, But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me. What kind of power does the Holy Spirit give us? Certainly not muscle power. No, you get muscle power by eating certain proteins, carbohydrates etc and exercising regularly. Would it be atomic power? There is a lot of power in atomic power enough already stockpiled by the nations to blow twenty worlds like ours to pieces! If God is willing to give us power, it must be power AFTER HIS LIKENESS. What is God like? First of all, we know that God is a Spirit, and when God gives us power, He would naturally give us Spirit power. He gives us power after His Likeness. This means that He gives us love power, joy power, peace power, longsuffering power, patience power, goodness power, temperance power, meekness power and faith power. This is SPIRIT POWER!
If ever there was a need for this kind of power in the world, it is now. This old sin-weary world needs peace power, love power and joy power. Wouldnt it be wonderful if all the rulers in all the nations had the peace power of GOD! Love is spirit, joy is spirit, patience is spirit, temperance is spirit, goodness is spirit, faith is spirit all of these virtues are spiritual attributes, and they are all in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is in us as the children of GOD! This is the nature God has poured out upon us in the Holy Spirit and as we allow these virtues to grow and increase and abound in us we are walking in the power, strength and blessing of the kingdom of God right here upon this earth. We are the Sons of God. And because we are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Gal 4:6). As we allow the Spirit of Christ to rule in us, reign in us, work through us, there is a manifestation of Gods kingdom through us to the world.
The gifts of the Spirit are manifestations of the ABILITY of Christ within us, while the fruit of the Spirit is the manifestation of the NATURE of Christ. Every living thing possesses these two aspects in their being: ABILITY and NATURE. Ability is what you can DO. Nature is what you ARE. With Christ in us, both His nature and His ability are to be fully developed in and through our lives. All that Christ can DO He must do through us. All that Christ IS He must BE IN AND THROUGH US. As these two aspects of Gods being are brought to complete fruition within, we become capable of truly reigning with Christ. Through the development of these we are enabled to be OVERCOMERS. Jesus says, And he that overcometh to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron (Rev 2:26-27). The nature and power of God within us is to be ministered to the nations that they finally might be ruled by the greatest and most irresistible power of all Gods SPIRIT POWER! Love power peace power joy power faith power Hallelujah!
But now let us go back to the three unclean spirits like frogs which go forth to the kings of the whole world to gather them together to battle. These come out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan Rev 20:2), and out of the mouth of the beast (civil power), and out of the mouth of the false prophet (apostate Christianity, the harlot Rev 17:1-7, 18; 18:23). These three unclean spirits are the opposite of the clean or Holy Spirit, and therefore are ministers of lies, unrighteousness and death. These three spirits spue forth all the unclean doctrines, propaganda, ideologies, delusions, deceptions hatred, war, perversion, uncleanness, immorality, dope, and every other evil that is characteristic of this evil day. These are the attitudes and conduct which are rapidly preparing the nations for the day of destruction. And even as righteousness is SPIRIT, peace is SPIRIT, love is SPIRIT, even so rebellion is SPIRIT, immorality is SPIRIT, perversion is SPIRIT, communism is SPIRIT, etc. All are manifestations of the unclean spirits which instigate the conditions that bring the judgment of the day of the Lord.
There is yet another implication beyond this. Back in 1975, on a Sunday morning, prior to leaving home for an afternoon meeting with a portion of the Lords body, I was sitting at home in my recliner, relaxing. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, there it was! The Spirit thundered a message into my spirit and in that instant I UNDERSTOOD and KNEW something that I had not understood before. The three unclean spirits like frogs in Rev 16:13-14 are three successive satanic spirit operations which generate successively THREE WORLD WARS! These three World Wars are the three wars of the natural realm which constitute, in that realm, the battle of the great day of God Almighty. As we shall see, these three great wars in the natural, earthly realm, have their counterpart in the heavenly, spiritual realm. But are they not the spirits of devils, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty? Saints, these spirits are even now unleashed upon this old world! Two of these spirits have already accomplished their terrible work. The third is even now loose working preparing the replay of the days of Noah. This one is the most vile and treacherous of all, beyond the comprehension of any except those who are walking in the Spirit, watching, with hearts not overcharged with surfeiting, drunkenness, and cares of this life, those with their lamps trimmed and burning, with oil in their vessels, with the Word of God in heart and mind, and the Spirit of truth in themselves. But YE, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
How blessed and assuring it is to know that even as the unclean spirits fulfill their function in this hour, the Holy Spirit is also performing His function to bring forth fullness of Spirit life in the body of Christ, even a first-fruits company, the army of the Lord, which shall lift the nations up from their sorrow and despair. For this TRAVAIL that is upon all nations, even the pangs of pain and sorrow, are AS A WOMAN WITH CHILD. A NEW ORDER must come forth from the anguish of this fearful day.
THE TRAVAIL OF THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
We have noted that this day of the Lord comes upon the world as travail upon a woman with child with spasms of pain and trouble followed by periods of easement. But this is not the only travail of this great hour! Let us turn now to Revelation chapter twelve, that most wonderful, symbolic revelation of Gods purpose for the day now present.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, TRAVAILING IN BIRTH, and pained to be delivered and she brought forth a manchild, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne (Rev 12:1-22, 5). The woman, of course, is the Bride of Christ. But the child born out of this woman, the Bride, is referred to as a man-child, a son. The Bride is a many-membered company of saints, submitted to Jesus as their husband. The man-child is likewise a many-membered company of saints, the MANIFESTED SONS OF GOD who come forth from that people who have truly, in nature and experience, become a Bride to Christ. This SON represents those FULL OVERCOMERS who are destined to rule and reign with Christ on His throne (Rev 2:26-27; 3:21).
The prophets of old saw visions of this manchild company of people coming forth in the latter days to set creation free. Isaiah prophesied in Isa 26:17-21: Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out her dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity In these verses the Spirit speaks of SIX important things:
1. A woman is with child (vs. 17)
2. The coming forth of this child is to bring deliverance in the earth (vs. 18)
3. She is in travail, crying out in pangs of pain (vs. 17)
4. The wicked inhabitants of the earth are to fall (vs. 18)
5. A resurrection unto immortality takes place (vs. 19)
6. Protection over Gods people while the indignation of his wrath is upon the earth (vs. 20-21)
We will come back to these thoughts later, but let us go on to Isa 66:6-10: A voice of noise from the city (Jerusalem), a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to His enemies. Before she (Jerusalem) travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a manchild for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children Rejoice ye with Jerusalem (the Bride of Christ), and be glad with her
Travail is the pain endured by a woman who is bringing a child to birth. It comes in spasms. It is severe. This is a picture of the present experience of the Bride of Christ as she comes to that hour of delivering herself of a company of full overcomers, Sons of God. This is the picture of that spiritual anguish which comes to all of us as we seek to follow on to know the Lord and bring forth CHRIST in our lives. The manchild is nothing other than CHRIST fully formed within a people.
Paul knew the pain and struggle involved in seeing a people come unto perfection. He had travailed to bring forth the church at Galatia. But it was an imperfect, immature church. The saints in Galatia had, like children, turned from the glory of God unto the weak and beggarly elements of the world laws, holidays, rituals, rules, regulations, ordinances etc. In writing to them of these things Paul cried out: My little children, for whom I AM AGAIN SUFFERING BIRTH PANGS until Christ is completely and permanently formed (molded) within you! (Gal 4:19, Amplified). Paul was in travail birth pangs AGAIN. Not this time to bring forth babes in Christ, but now again the second time to SEE CHRIST COMPLETELY AND PERMANENTLY FORMED within a people! It takes real travail to see sinners birthed into the family of God, but beloved, how many of the Lords precious people understand that there is a TRAVAILING AGAIN a second birthing which brings forth the MANCHILD Christ COMPLETELY AND PERMANENTLY FORMED! This is maturity. This is sonship! All of the travail of this day of the Lord is ONE TRAVAIL the travail to see the kingdom birthed IN and AMONG men. That earth out there the social order of this present evil world is crying out in the travail of the anguish of the passing away of the present system of things to make way for the establishment of Gods divine order. But this earth right here, the earth which WE ARE, the earthen vessels ordained unto glory and honor, is also crying out in birth pains as Christ arises within to come forth and reign over our earth, our humanity with all its will, plans, hopes, passions and ways.
SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY
The basis of this travail can be more fully understood when related to the three parts of the new creation man spirit, soul and body. Paul enumerated these when writing to the Thessalonians: And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thes 5:23).
The human body is that part of our being which we all know best. It is the physical, natural, earthly tabernacle made up of members such as feet, legs, arms, eyes, and organs such as heart, kidneys and lungs. But we have other parts of our being besides these. God said in Jer 31:33: But this shall be the covenant that I will make after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their INWARD PARTS, and write it in their hearts. The inward parts in which God places His law are not the kidneys, liver or gall bladder! They are, rather, the inward parts within our soul; not the inward parts of our body. The scripture in Jer 31:33 is quoted in the New Testament in Heb 8:10 this way: I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts. Here we see a slight, but important, variation. Jeremiah says into their inward parts but Hebrews renders it into their mind. This comparison shows that the inward parts are not of the body, because mind is not of the body. Our brain is of the body but not our mind. A corpse has a brain but no mind! I have seen living people, heart beating, all vital functions stable, but with no mentality mind. The mind, therefore, exists only through a union of physical brain with life essence.
Gen 2:7 declares that God created man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. The result of the uniting of the body with the breath of life is said to be that man became a living soul. Let us now note carefully the process by which the first human soul was brought into being, as this will help us to understand more clearly just what a soul really is. The scriptural account of this we have just quoted. The soul is here shown to be the result, or product, of a union of the body, or organism, with the breath of life man became a living soul. Now what happened when the breath of life was first blown into the nostrils of this first human body? Simply this, it became alive a living soul. A soul can die even as a body can die. Behold, all souls are mine the soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE (Eze 18:4). Thus seen, the soul is really that which results from the union of organism (body) with the life-giving qualities of the breath of life. A simple illustration of this is the electric light. The organism of the bulb with its internal vacuum, filament, etc is not the light; neither is the electricity that flows through that organism the light; but the union of the organism with the electricity produces the light. Destroy the bulb (body) or cut off the electricity (breath of life) and the light (soul) goes out. Thus, the soul of the natural man is in reality his personality existing in the four realms of will, emotion, mind and desire. This four-fold personality and expression of mans being is produced by the union of the intricately designed mechanism of his wonderfully made body with the breath of life. There must be LIFE for man to possess soul, personality.
When man first came into being under the creative hand of God he was perfect in all his ways and for a time walked with God and lived by His every word. They knew nothing of evil, for they had never experienced it and had no knowledge of it. While they had flesh bodies, they did not walk in the desires or emotions of flesh influenced by Satan, for their bodies and souls had never come under Satans influence or control. Man did not even walk in his own self-will. They were totally yielded to God, walking in intimate fellowship and vital union with Him. They did not live carnal, selfish, self-centered lives because they were so caught up in God that they were not even aware that they were naked that is, their flesh (the carnal realm) had never been exposed or manifested to them! They lived under Gods spirit law, by His every word, and GOD was in control of their beings through the Spirit. This means that both their soul and body were yielded up to the will of the Spirit. Their minds, wills, emotions and desires were all dominated by the Spirit of their Creator!
But then they met Satan! And be not deceived, friends, for God used the serpent as a type of that ancient serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan (Rev 20:2). This means, according to the type, that Satan is a LIVING BEING, very, very, real! Satan is not the carnal mind of man, for mans carnal mind is portrayed under yet another symbol in Eden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree of knowledge of good and evil is representative of the carnal, fleshly realm. Even as the tree of life (Christ, the Spirit) brings forth the attributes of God, the fruit of the Spirit, even so the tree of knowledge of good and evil produces the fruit of unrighteousness unto death. To be carnally minded is death. Every tree is known by its fruit. But let us ever be alert to the fact that the serpent and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are NOT symbols of the same thing!
How cunningly Satan appealed to Eves inward parts, those hidden parts of her own soul, her own mind, will, emotions and desires, which under the influence of the Spirit had lain hidden away, unknown, undiscovered by her until now. These inner, carnal, selfish, fleshly potentials within her had never been stirred before. Satan commenced to draw out these hidden, unknown aspects of her SELF, her soul, and began to awaken them within her consciousness. Suddenly she was confronted with thoughts, attitudes, motives, emotions, desires, will that she never knew existed. This is temptation, for James describes it thus: Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But EVERY MAN is tempted when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, and ENTICED. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:13-15). And remember, dear ones, that it was not the serpent (Satan) that ENTICED Eve. The serpent beguiled (deceived) her (Gen 3:13; II Cor. 11:3) but she was enticed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil her OWN CARNAL MIND! It is all there in a nutshell in Gen 3:6: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (the pride of life), she took of the fruit thereof (the works of the flesh), and did eat. ALL of this was INFLUENCED and INSTIGATED by the SERPENT, SATAN! As long as mans soul was under the influence of the SPIRIT he walked in righteousness. As soon as his soul came under the influence of ANOTHER SPIRIT, self came into prominence. And once man had eaten of the tree of the carnal mind, the flesh, HE BECAME ADDICTED TO IT. And man has been eating that fruit ever since; living in self, the soul realm, after his OWN desires and emotions, out from under the control of the SPIRIT. The whole sin of man, then, was in DEPARTING FROM THE SPIRIT, walking independent of the Spirit, doing his own thing. This is the sin of man today.
But now, thank God, through the blood of His Son, God has brought us back into Eden and made available to us that realm of Spirit life from which man was driven out. Only this time there is a change. An improvement! The first man was made a living soul and walked under the dominion of the Spirit from without, for God came and fellowshipped with man IN THE GARDEN in the cool of the day. But now, the last man has come forth as a QUICKENING SPIRIT and this quickening Spirit has birth WITHIN US, to rule from within not from without! We who have been born of the Spirit of God, who, because we are Sons have had the Spirit of the Son sent forth into our hearts, now possess a third aspect of our being quickening spirit. Jesus said, That which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT: (Jn. 3:6). Within all of you that have been born of God is the real you a spirit being. The real you, the spirit, lives in your body and soul. The Spirit-being in your body is the off-spring of God and is of the same substance and nature as the first-born Son of God. Paul said, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST liveth IN ME (Gal 2:20). Our new man IS CHRIST brought forth into an individual identity of expression in each one of us. So I live, and yet it is not I, but CHRIST! Therefore, great as is the mystery, the Spirit of God, Christ, and my spirit are all ONE! He that is joined to the Lord is ONE SPIRIT. This Spirit of Christ within you gives you the potential to bring your body and soul UNDER HIS DOMINION that the SPIRIT MIGHT REIGN producing life within. Only as the Spirit rules over the soul and body can we come to perfection, to be holy as He is holy, prefect as He is perfect.
Perhaps now we can understand why the scriptures do not speak of saving spirits. Only souls can be saved! Redemption is not for the spirit, but for soul and body. When Jesus died He cried out: Father, into THY HANDS I comment My spirit. His spirit did not suffer or die on our behalf. But the prophet prophesied of Christs death Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption (the body) (Ps 16:10). But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe unto the SAVING OF THE SOUL (Heb 10:39). The Lord redeemeth the soul of His servants (Ps 34:22). Redemption is also for the body: Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the REDEMPTON OF OUR BODY (Rom 8:23). Your spirit doesnt need saving for it is the off-spring of God, for that which is born of the flesh IS FLESH. Your flesh, body and soul, is the off-spring of the first man Adam, the soul-man, and therefore MUST BE REDEEMED and brought under the dominion of the Spirit, Christ. This is how we truly become the BODY OF CHRIST! To live in the soul brings sin and death. To live in the Spirit produces life eternal. Both soul and body are raised up into life by the reigning of the indwelling Spirit. Now if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell (co-habit, Gr.) in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies BY HIS SPIRIT that dwelleth in you (Rom 8:11).
This is the travail of this hour, in this day of the Lord. The travail is that CHRIST MIGHT BE COMPLETELY AND PERMANENTLY FORMED in a people, that there shall be a company of Sons of God who, with Jesus, come into full redemption that place where THE SPIRIT IS LORD. When this work is accomplished the Sons of God shall indeed be holy as He is holy pure as He is pure to sin no more. And when this is done even the curse of death will be swallowed up and full redemption will be a reality. The way back into life is simply in returning by the same route that led man into death! Jesus is our FORERUNNER who has opened up the way back into life. As we enter in with Him, appropriating the full provision and victory He has made available, we become the FIRSTFRUITS of redemption and the forerunners for the residue of men, the creation, which travails with us for the manifestation of Gods Sons.
THREE STEPS IN REDEMPTION
In Study number four of this series we saw that the Times of the Gentiles began to end in 1914. We saw that since that date there have been two great World Wars the first spasms of travail that have come upon the world as God prepares to bring forth a new order upon earth. We also saw that in conjunction with these spasms of trouble God has also moved significantly by His Spirit to raise up the Army of God which, upon the ruins of this present evil world, shall usher in the new order the triumph of the kingdom of God.
In this present Study we want to present an unmistakable order in Gods working as he concludes this age, prepares His Army, and establishes His kingdom in this day of the Lord.
A key to this order is found in Rev 16:13-14. Note the number of the unclean spirits which bring the nations to their Armageddon. There are THREE. This reveals that Armageddon is in three stages, each spirit successively mustering the nations unto their day of judgment. Each spirit is stronger and more vile than the one before, even as each World War has been bloodier and more destructive than the one before. And now the third one possesses the potential for total annihilation of all flesh if God permitted (Matt 24:22).
THREE is the number of completeness in scripture. Everything in both the material and spiritual realms exists in three dimensions. God has revealed Himself in three manifestations as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The new creation man is a tripartite being composed of spirit, soul and body. Physical substance is composed of atoms, and each atom is a trinity within itself containing electrons, protons and neutrons. The natural creation is divided into three kingdoms animal, vegetable and mineral. Space has three dimensions height, depth and breadth. Time: past, present and future. Matter: solids, liquids and gases. In the Bible Noahs ark had three stories, Abraham dug three wells, Israel had three great yearly feasts, the Tabernacle had three divisions, there are three worlds and three heavens, and we could go on and on and on
The completeness of the work God is doing in the battle of Armageddon is contained in three steps or stages. This is true first of all in that aspect of Armageddon which is enacted in the earthlies in the natural realm among nations. It is equally true in that aspect of the battle which takes place in the heavenlies in the realm of the Spirit (See Rev 12:7-12).
Let me list the three stages:
1. First World War (beginning of end)
2. Second World War
3. Third World War (Total disintegration of present world order)
Now let us look more closely at the second category, the SPIRITUAL WORK God is performing in this day of the Lord.
Man, because of his naturalness, always begins in his consciousness with that which is most obvious to him: the body. God, in His dealings, always begins in the reverse order with that which is most closely related to Himself: the spirit. With man it is always body, soul and spirit. With God it is always spirit, soul and body. Redemption, therefore, being the work of God, begins in the Spirit, for the Spirit is the first thing man abandoned in the fall. The Spirit is the KEY to the salvation of the soul and the redemption of the body. Thus God begins His redemptive process by birthing into man a new Spirit even GODS SPIRIT! And I will put MY SPIRIT within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Eze 36:27).
It is interesting to note, and very important to an understanding of Gods purposes in this hour, that just prior to the beginning of the first natural phase of Armageddon, the first World War, God began to pour out HIS SPIRIT in an unprecedented way upon those of His people that were hungering and thirsting and travailing before Him in that hour. And brother, that outpouring of the Spirit came through mighty TRAVAIL. The supernatural moving of the Spirit also produced spasms of trouble in the church world! It came to the consternation of the organized church of that day. The Holy Ghost filled saints were laughed at, mocked, scorned, beaten, splattered with eggs and tomatoes, kicked out of their denominations and held in contempt by the world. But the Spirit of God marched across the land and around the world! It was no accident that right at that specific point in history God began to restore SPIRIT LIFE to a people. All the church had known for long centuries was justification by faith. Justification is wonderful and important, but it only produces peace with God (Rom 3:24). Justification means the forgiveness of our sins through faith in the blood of Jesus sacrifice. Justification is acquittal, giving us access to God. This peace with God allows us to enter back into Eden but it does not bring us into the fullness of divine life nor does it bring the rule of the Spirit over our lives. Justification only qualifies us to be born of the Spirit, thus having Spirit-life birthed into us. This new birth by Spirit, born of the Spirit, actually takes place through the baptism in the Holy spirit. How many know that although you received forgiveness of sins and peace with God when by faith you first trusted in Christ, yet you were never really quickened, made alive unto God, birthed into Gods realm, until you were baptized in the Spirit. It is true! So in that great Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit more than 100 years ago God BEGAN the FIRST STEP in raising up His army of FULL OVERCOMERS, the manchild, by infusing HIS SPIRIT LIFE into a people upon this earth. Hallelujah!
Once we have received Spirit life within we are then ready to proceed to the next step of growing that Spirit life up to maturity within us. Only by the growth and maturing of the Spirit within are we enabled to utilize that spirit life unto the salvation of our souls. The Spirit must become strong so that it may become LORD, taking DOMINION over the soul, bringing all the appetites of the soul under subjection. When our Spirit is fully developed and utilized the soul is once and for all subdued, thus being saved, for it now expresses the will and nature of the Spirit rather than those of the flesh, the world and the devil.
After this first stage of Spirit life had been established in a company of the Lords people the stage was then set for the SECOND STEP the saving of the soul, thus bringing Gods people to perfection. Again, dear readers, it was not by accident that in conjunction with the events surround the second World War and the birth of the State of Israel that once again great numbers of Spirit-filled saints around the world were TRAVAILING before God for a greater manifestation of His Spirit. As a result of that travail another great deluge poured forth from heaven, a mighty visitation of God then called the latter rain. As we have noted in a previous writing, this Restoration Revival produced a work of God which far transcended the work started in the Pentecostal outpouring of more than 40 years before. All nine gifts of the Spirit, the five ascension gift-ministries, prophecy with the laying on of hands, the revelation of the body of Christ, great truths of the kingdom of God, perfection, maturity, Sonship, the Feast of Tabernacles, full redemption and much more was restored in the midst of those travailing in that hour.
One of the foremost cries of the Spirit through His people in that visitation was: Let us GO ON TO PERFECTION! The Army of the Lord was in preparation. They were exhorted to leave behind the elementary things of the doctrine of Christ and go on to become a PERFECT MAN, coming unto the measure of the stature of the FULLNESS OF CHRIST. Out of that visitation came the present Sonship message, urging Gods army of saints to grow up into Him that is the Head, becoming overcomers, putting on the whole armor of God for this evil day. It should be evident to all who have eyes to see that Gods great purpose in this second move of God in this day of the Lord has been to carry us on unto THE SAVING OF THE SOUL PERFECTION!
All through the ages men have, by faith, reached out and appropriated some measure of deliverance from sin; but as a body and as a church we have never really done so. But let me say that our deliverance from sin, AS A BODY, is just ahead as the final completion of that work the spirit has been progressively bringing forth in a company of saints for the past 65 years. Gods people have been groaning with the apostle Paul for about two thousand years: O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rom 7:24). God has certainly heard our cries, and soon He shall bring His Army into a glorious liberty in the Spirit, Wherein they shall be completely delivered from their sins and their carnal nature. The perverted soul of man shall finally be restored completely under the dominion of the Spirit of the Son of God. This deliverance MUST COME!
Let us stop trying to justify ourselves, insisting on our holiness of conduct, when we ourselves know that within we are yet raving beasts, and beholding our strife, pettiness, envying, and fleshiness it is apparent to everyone about us that we do not possess it. Living Epistles do not have to tell the world how holy they are. This world will see it and will be amazed to discover something real and genuine in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. The victory of which we speak is the very victory of CHRIS HIMSELF. When we attain to this victory, there will be no need to formulate weak excuses why the victorious Christian can again fall into sin and suffer defeat for this place in Christ knows no defeat. We will not have to explain how Satan gained an advantage over us and planted a new seed of sin in the heart, and the victory we once had was lost; for this victory is the very victory of Christ. Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that He died, He died UNTO SIN ONCE (Rom 6:9, 19). He that overcometh according to the Bible enters into the very victory and triumph of Christ a victory which is complete and can never be lost or forfeited. It is the very victory of Jesus Christ Himself, and the overcomer is therefore more than conqueror through Christ that loved him.
And now the faithful dealings of God to bring this very thing to pass have come: the purgings, the strippings, the processings, the refining fires, development of nature and character, revelation, edification, strengthening, understanding of His ways all of this is being LAID UPON a people who are receiving the fruit of the second great visitation of this day of God and are thus being prepared for the coming of the yet THIRD OUTPOURING which shall finally usher a people into the FULLNESS OF REDEMPTION, as Gods mighty Army, free from the curse, having passed through their Armageddon, to lay hold upon the fullness of Christs victory and triumph.
Yes, friends, we are still talking about Armageddon! Armageddon simply means: the last battle that destroys all that is not of God: the world, the flesh and the devil, and brings the victory of Christ reigning as LORD OVER ALL!
Let us go back for a moment. The first unclean spirit like a frog brought upon the world the greatest deluge of deception, hatred, violence, sin and death the world had ever known. But at the same time GODS HOLY SPIRIT brought the greatest display of SPIRIT LIFE that His people had seen. The second unclean spirit spewed forth even more sorrow and filth upon the nations, but the second outpouring of the HOLY SPIRIT has worked greater preparation, victory, power, maturity and righteousness in Gods Army company than has ever existed in a people upon this earth. Dont tell me that the early church had more! All you have to do is read Pauls epistles to see how much corruption, sin, disorder, division and weakness was in their midst. Glory to God! The time is at hand!
It is evident to me as I write these lines that the third unclean spirit like a frog has arisen to cast his shadow over the earth. And I can prophesy to you and say, As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of this unclean spirit. But, praise God! A trumpet is blowing in Zion, an alarm is sounding in Gods holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand. In the midst of the darkness and gloominess, from out of the swirling shadows of clouds and thick darkness, A PEOPLE IS ARISING LIKE THE MORNING SPREAD UPON THE MOUNTAINS! A great people. A strong people. A people who know their God and shall do exploits. There has not been ever the like, neither shall there be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. The Lord shall utter His voice before this Army: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executes His word. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things!
This is Armageddon! The battle of the ages. The overthrow of Satan who rules; of sin, sorrow and death. Armageddon is taking place out there in that natural realm right before our eyes. And just as truly it is taking place in that smaller, but even more real, world WITHIN US, the people of God. It is here, first of all, that Satan must be dethroned. It is here that the flesh and the world must be overcome. It is here, within, that the kingdom of God must come in righteousness and power. The death in us must be conquered. Sin in us must be overcome. The curse in us must be removed. Rebellion in us must be subdued. Life in us must break forth in fullness. THEN we will really have something to minister to a sin-weary world in its darkest hour of despair and hopelessness. We will possess within ourselves, experientially, THE ANSWER that can lift them up out of Satans bondage, out of sins clutches, out of deaths darkness once and for all. Church history has never produced a people who could do this. But the day of the Lord is here! Gods manchild company shall do it! After they have first of all PASSED BEYOND THE VAIL INTO GODS FULLNESS!
Press on, saints of God, for we are on the winning side! I know, for Ive read the last chapter of the book!
J. PRESTON EBY
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