The Two Churches of the End Times
Most prophecy scholars agree that the seven churches of Revelation are the seven seasons of the church age progressing into the end times. This bears out when you compare the prophetic word for each church and the time frame in which it took place. The events of that particular church season match well with the prophecy given John by the Lord. Most Bible prophecy scholars also agree that the last two churches mentioned in Revelation chapter 3 will coexist in the last days.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” : “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:7-14, 16-18, 20, 21 NKJV)
The church in Philadelphia was noticed and commended for keeping the Lord's word, not denying His name, and keeping His command to persevere. The Lord promises to keep them from the trial that is coming upon the whole world. That, to me, is clearly the tribulation. In order to be commended for an action, the effort recognized is above the call of duty. By this we know that keeping the Lord’s word, refusing to deny His name, and keeping His command to persevere are going to be remarkable efforts. There are pressing times ahead!
The Lord calls the church of the Laodiceans lukewarm, without a realized need nor dependence on The Lord, falsely covering their shame and nakedness and blind to true reality. It seems today the church is in a struggle between those who press on into the Lord and those who strike the wide path where living worldly is acceptable. Take a look at what is happening in the church:
- Christians should be advocating same-sex marriage
- Cross Dressing for Jesus
- Disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard supports same-sex 'marriage'
- Methodists in Northeast Approve Pro-Gay Resolution
- Episcopal Church Votes to Approve Official Liturgy to Bless Same-Sex Couples
- Episcopalians Call for Repeal of DOMA; Approve Rites for Pet Funerals
- Lutheran Split Over Gays and the Bible Shakes Up Multibillion-Dollar Social Service Network
- Presbyterian Church Ordains First Openly Homosexual Minister
- Presbyterian Church Committee Seeks to Show Support for Palestine
There's a passage in Psalm 107 that definitely reminds me of this, and it might even give us more revelation for a path to take in the midst of this struggle of the end times.
He turns rivers into a wilderness, And the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, For the wickedness of those who dwell in it. (Psalms 107:33, 34 NKJV)
As humanity continues to accelerate down the path of least resistance in open practice of sin and rebellion, the earth responds with drought, diminishing crops and produce. The definition of productivity extends to diminished creativity in arts, sciences, and technology. Could we be there now? Droughts are taking their toll.
- Drought expands in many farm states
- 2012 hottest year on record, federal agency says
- Arctic Ice Melting Faster Than Previously Thought
- Another sign of the (heat) times: thousands of dead fish
- Drought, Extreme Heat Strike Heart of USA
- Drought sends Mississippi into 'uncharted territory'
It's the wickedness of those who dwell in the land that releases the curse upon the earth.
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. (Deuteronomy 28:15-18 NKJV)
But, while that is going on, and in the midst of a downward spiraling generation, there's an oasis for the faithful, and the promise of a generation that is spinning up and out of the downward generation.
He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into watersprings. There He makes the hungry dwell, that they may establish a city for a dwelling place, And sow fields and plant vineyards, That they may yield a fruitful harvest. He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly; And He does not let their cattle decrease. (Psalms 107:35-38 NKJV)
The same watersprings that were dry, and the same drought that plagued the wilderness is turned the other way and becomes what seems to be an oasis in a dry, desolate, and barren land. What causes this?
Only one word strikes the difference here--the word hungry. He makes the hungry dwell in a forsaken place that cannot remain as such because the hungry-for-God pulls the presence of God, the kingdom of God, into the place they dwell.
The Hebrew word for hungry, ra`eb, means famished or voracious. That's all it takes to bring the presence of God into a destitute situation. Hunger. The hungry ones move God. God is attracted to our hunger for Him.
Learning to dwell in Godly hunger opens a heaven-presence that even tribulation can't resist. The promise for the Philadelphians is escape from tribulation, but even the tough times ahead will bring a provision that will incinerate jealousy among the satisfied ones--the non-hungry.
The standard church may become an unwelcome institute for the hungry ones. Their homes may become places of gathering where they seek to increase their hunger. Instead of gathering for meals, they gather for hunger. They seek His face, His presence, and they become the Philadelphians.
Out of this depth of hunger comes the ability to sow, and they will sow the presence and power of God as if their lives depended on it. They will break off from themselves and as if sowing, they make deposits into others of everlasting life.
Sowing comes from a path of deep hunger. Here we will learn the depth and breadth of God and discover the secrets hidden for this generation of hungry ones.
As Eve was taken from the side of Adam as his bride and was "fashioned," the church, taken from the side of Christ, is reaching its 'fashioned' destiny prophesied by Paul:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV)
There's a wide path and a narrow path from which to choose. One is easy, the other not, but one leads to an intimacy with God that the riches and glory of this world cannot match. One is the church of the Laodiceans the other the Philadelphians. The Laodiceans, even in their downward spiral, are presented a portal through which they can escape into an intimate fellowship with God:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
But it’s a narrow road.
What do you think, how can we keep on the narrow road?
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