|- J. Preston Eby -
In our last article we wrote of three symbolical and prophetical terms used in the book of Revelation: SEA, EARTH, and HEAVEN. Most of the events in the whole book take place in one of these three realms - in the sea, in the earth, or in heaven. We pointed out that throughout the Scriptures the SEA is a type of the raging, restless, surging masses of unregenerate humanity, tossed to and fro by the inner storms of the turbulent nature of old Adam. The prophet Isaiah penned these inspired words: "The wicked are like THE TROUBLED SEA, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57:20, 21). Jude also described wicked men when he said, "These are RAGING WAVES OF THE SEA, foaming out their own shame" (Jude 13). A number of things happen in this prophetical sea. "I saw a beast rise up out of the SEA;" "Woe to the inhabiters of the SEA, for the devil is come down unto you;" "And the second angel poured out his vial upon the SEA; and it became as the blood of a dead man," etc. etc.
The HIGHEST realm known to man is called HEAVEN. The Greek word for "heaven" is "ouranous". The meaning of "ouranous" is ELEVATION, HEIGHT, EXALTATION, EMINENCE. It has both natural and spiritual applications. In its spiritual application it bespeaks the eternal and omnipresent REALM OF THE SPIRIT in which God and all celestial beings dwell - FAR ABOVE the realm of the physical, material, earthly, and mortal. It is not a geographical or astral location. It is not a place. It is A DIMENSION OF LIFE AND REALITY, A STATE OF BEING, A SPHERE OF EXISTENCE. Heaven for those who have been born from above is not a future hope. It is a present reality. It is all around us. It is as near to us as the very air we breathe, yea. closer to us even than the blood coursing its way through our veins. We are one with it by virtue of our spiritual life. We touch heaven as we touch God. We behold heavenly things as we fasten mind and heart upon spiritual realities. We walk in heaven as we walk in the Spirit. Praise God, it is really true that God "has quickened us together with Christ; and has raised us up together, and made us SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ Jesus!" (Eph. 2:5-6). Our bodies may still be tied to earth, but the Sons of God are discovering the glorious and eternal reality of HEAVEN N-O-W! "As is the heavenly, such are they also that ARE HEAVENLY" (I Cor. 15:48). In the book of Revelation there is a whole series of events that transpire in heavenly realms (Rev. 12:1, 5, 10-12; 21:2; 18:20, etc. etc.).
In contrast to the two realms described above, the EARTH is the symbol of yet a third realm, a realm higher than the sea, but lower than heaven, an in-between realm which at its highest peak kisses heaven, and at its lowest level embraces the sea, yet is, of itself, neither heavenly nor degenerate. The sea, as we have seen, comprises the masses of restless, surging, sinning, clamoring men who live only and completely after the unrestrained dictates of the flesh, while heaven comprises those seated in the ascended Christ who walk only and completely after the Spirit. Those that "dwell upon the earth" are a moral class, religious folk, with many upright citizens of the community and Church-going Christian people in their ranks; but these, while not overtly wicked, are not spiritual either, but in most aspects of their thinking and daily living "mind earthly things". In the book of Revelation there is a whole series of events that take place in this "earth" realm. "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the EARTH;" "Woe to the inhabiters of the EARTH! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath;" "These have power to smite the EARTH with all plagues;" "He has judged the great whore, which did corrupt the EARTH with her fornication;" "Power was given unto him to take peace from the EARTH," etc. etc.
In the Bible this "earth" realm is represented by Israel after the flesh. Although it is not generally known, it is nevertheless true that God made two covenants with Abraham, or, rather, that He made one with Abram and another with that same man after his name was changed to Abraham. This change of name was made that it might harmonize with the new character and the new order of things as they pertain to the covenant man. The first, or Abram, covenant was made when the man was ninety years old; but the second, or Abraham, covenant was not made until this man was called upon to make the one great sacrifice of his life. It will take but little investigation to reveal the fact that the second, or Abraham, covenant is a Messianic, and therefore spiritual covenant. "And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven and said, By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, for because you have done this thing, and has not withheld your son, your only son: that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply you seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of HIS enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22:15-18).
We understand that at the time these words were spoken it would have been impossible to give them the fullness of meaning which the Holy Spirit has given them, as interpreted in the New Testament, for it was under the illumination given to the apostle Paul, that their full import bursts upon us. It was when contrasting the law covenant, made with the national, fleshly Israel - the one which was annulled - with this only-son covenant, that Paul is careful to say: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of ONE, and to YOUR SEED, which IS CHRIST ... for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek ... for you are ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS. And if you be Christ's, THEN ARE YOU ABRAHAM'S SEED, and heirs ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE" (Gal. 3:16,27-29).
It is not only the words, but also the circumstances connected with the giving of these two covenants, which are prophetic. The second covenant, made with the SPIRITUAL MAN (Abraham) is a SPIRITUAL COVENANT fulfilled in a SPIRITUAL PEOPLE identified with the SPIRITUAL SEED, the HEAVENLY MAN, "the LORD FROM HEAVEN," and is, therefore, the covenant for all those who "dwell in heaven".
Now let us notice the text of the first, or Abram, covenant: "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land that I will show you: and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great ... for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed (plural) forever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall your seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto you" (Gen. 12:1-2; 13:15-17). We see at once that the great feature of this covenant is a multiplicity of seed for a man that hitherto had been childless; and that this multitude of people are to become a great nation,. and that they were to be given the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. The covenant specifically deeds a PIECE OF NATURAL REAL ESTATE to the PHYSICAL SEED of an EARTHLY MAN!
While there are many beautiful spiritual types in Israel's entrance into and possession of the promised land, the fact remains that throughout the Old Testament one reads the history of a physical people receiving natural blessings in an earthly land. In the Old Testament the Lord always referred to an earthly land. You can recall how many times from the twelfth chapter of Genesis to the end of the Old Testament the Lord stressed the land again and again. The land ... the land... the land I promised to your fathers; the land I promised Abraham; the land I promised Isaac; the land I promised Jacob; the land I promised you; I will bring you into the land; I will give you the land; I will bless you in the land. It was the land, the land, always the LAND!
The center of the Old Testament economy is the temple within the city within the land. The temple was a natural temple within a literal city built upon the physical land. You read how God brought His people into the promised land, and how His people remained there and enjoyed all its riches, a land "flowing with milk and honey." They ate and drank from the land - all their living came out of the land, the land was everything to them. But the blessings of this land were but temporal blessings lavishly bestowed upon a fleshly and mortal people. Notice the kind of blessings promised! "But the land, whither you go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinks water of the rain of heaven...and it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day... that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season... that you may gather in your corn, and your wine, and oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your cattle, that you may eat and be full. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your kine, and the flocks of your sheep. Blessed shall be your basket and your store. The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouses, and in all th at you set your hand unto; and He shall bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Deut. 11:11, 13-15; 28:3-5, 8).
The old covenant of law was a carnal covenant made with an unregenerated race of earth men. This covenant, we are informed, "had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly (earthly) sanctuary ... which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect ... which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and CARNAL ORDINANCES, imposed on them until the time of reformation" (Heb. 9:1, 9-10).
There is a simple order that God has established relative to the progression of truth and to the creation itself, and it is this: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual" (I Cor. 15:46). This principle is evident everywhere in the Scriptures. First, the old creation, then the New. First darkness, then light. First Abram, the natural man, and his seed, the fleshly Israel, and their inheritance, the earthly land of Canaan, then Abraham, the spiritual man, and his seed, the enchristed, and their inheritance of spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. First Adam, formed of the dust of the ground, then the last Adam, the Lord from heaven. First the law of Moses, then the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. First the temple of stones from Solomon's mines, then the temple of living stones, a spiritual house. First the natural body, then the spiritual body. And the wonder of it all is this, that the end of the Old is the beginning of the New; and out of that which is destined to pass away there comes forth that which is eternal and destined to remain. It is important, therefore, that we should always observe that which is first, and natural, and from the natural learn to discern in what way it typifies the spiritual.
If we know the Scriptures and have light from God, we will realize what is meant by "the land". The land is but a figure of Christ as our all-in-all. Have you ever realized that Christ is now the territory of your life? Christ is the land! You may feel that day to day you are living on this earth, compassed about, hedged in, and shut up by all the problems and pressures and frustrations of the bestial system of THIS WORLD, but you must realize that this earth is not your real land, this world is not the sphere of your living. "If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, NOT ON THINGS ON THE EARTH. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1-3). The land is but a type of Christ as everything to us. By virtue of our new birth we now have the ground to enjoy all the riches of Christ! God gave us this ground.
I deeply feel that most of the Lord's people are still living in the old land - the "shadow" - and have discovered but little of the true land, the substance of which is Christ. There is a big difference between the shadow of an object and the object itself. Shadows can be beautiful, as when, for instance, a day draws toward late afternoon and the mountains cast long shadows, transformed into purple, greatly enhancing the scene. But the shadows are at best only shadows, with no substance to them. It is my conviction that multitudes of Christians are today contenting themselves with the shadow rather than the substance. I think we can look upon the shadow and substance as picturing two sorts of Christian lives. There is a Christian life, if we can call it such, which is just a shadow of the real thing; things spiritual are not real to the one living it; the whole thing reeks of the scent of the "earthiness" of the old land - the shadow. These folk, though religious Church-going people (they may even sing choruses, clap their hands, speak in tongues and prophesy!), in most aspects of their daily lives MIND EARTHLY THINGS. They preach a lot of frothy discourses concerning the abundant life, but the abundant life of which they speak is not the abundant life of "those who dwell in heaven" but of "those who dwell upon the earth".
They persuade the Christians that they should have the finest and best of all the good things THIS WORLD has to offer - the best jobs, the highest salaries, the finest homes, the choicest automobiles, beautiful clothes, good and luxurious furniture and an abundance of all of the amenities of life. Ah, dear ones, THIS IS NOT the abundant life of which Jesus spoke when He said, "I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly." The abundant life is experienced in CHRIST THE SUBSTANCE, not in the shadow. The abundant life consists not of temporal things. If God has favored you with them, then you may accept them, but do not deceive yourself by thinking that these temporal things are a sign of God's favor and the abundant life. The fleshly Israel of old enjoyed all these earthly things for which men seek, but they did not have the abundant life Jesus came to bring.
Hear now the exhortation of the Lord: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. But rather SEEK THE KINGDOM OF GOD; fear not, little flock; for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom...provide yourselves with bags which wax not old, a treasure IN THE HEAVENS that fails not ... for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Lk. 12:15, 23, 31-34). The national Israel with its promises of physical blessings is but the shadow - Christ is the substance - and yet many Christians choose to live in the earthlies in place of the heavenlies, seeking after and receiving temporal things rather than eternal things!
One of the most significant utterances ever made by the apostle Paul is found in Eph. 1:3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ." "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17). The source of all blessing is God who is Spirit. This includes temporal as well as spiritual blessings. However, in the apostles words above, the blessings are not temporal, physical, natural blessings for the outer-earth-man, but SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS for the inner-new-creation-man. These spiritual blessings are received and experienced only "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," thus these are realities communicated from the person and glory of the ASCENDED CHRIST. They are IN HIM and from the high and holy REALM IN WHICH HE DWELLS. In the phrase "heavenly places" the word "places" is supplied, the Greek meaning IN THE HEAVENLIES or HIGHEST HEAVEN. The thought is that the spiritual blessings of God have their source and substance in the highest spiritual realm and are ministered to our spirits from thence. This glorious realm is the realm of incorruption which lies beyond the power of temptation, sin, limitation, sickness, sorrow and death.
The blessings most often sought after by Christians are not these of which Paul here speaks, but mere blessings of the corruptible realm of earth such as healing and health for the body, financial prosperity, houses, lands, automobiles, jobs, trips, solution to problems, multiplied daily needs, etc. etc. Remove these things from the average Christian's prayers and you would reduce his prayer life by 95%! It is remarkable that during the three and a half years of Jesus' earthly ministry, being found in fashion as a man, limited by the realm of the physical and mortal to which He subjected Himself on our behalf, He never performed one act, not even one miracle, sign, or wonder on the spiritual plane of incorruption. Every miracle performed by our Lord was for the earth-man as He raised dead bodies, cleansed lepers, made the lame to walk, blind to see, deaf to hear, healing every manner of sickness and disease among the people. He even turned water into wine and fed 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish. It was good wine, and delicious bread and fish, but, nevertheless, just physical and earthly, supplying strength for a few fleeting hours to the mortal part of man and then cast into the draught. Nothing incorruptible or heavenly there! And nothing for the INNER MAN.
"But once Christ ascended on high He ministers from a higher realm, and now, as on the day of Pentecost, there comes from heaven something greater far than that which blesses the outer man, the Spirit has been poured out that we might be BORN ANEW FROM ABOVE, our spirits quickened by His Spirit, imparting the DIVINE NATURE. Within, in the inner life, there is now a RE-conciliation, a RE-birth, a RE-newing, a RE-storing, a RE-demption until we are brought back into oneness with God again as sons and daughters of the Most High. Truly! He has "raised us up together, and made us sit together in HEAVENLY PLACES." And it is here...in the heavenly places ... that He blesses us with ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS in Christ; blessings of wisdom and knowledge, of joy and peace, of love and faith, of grace and glory, of righteousness and power, of the mind of Christ and the image of God. The earthly blessings are first experienced when we are babes, minding earthly things, but the spiritual blessings are reserved for SONS (Eph. 1:3-6). One will know he is moving into SONSHIP when, in all his asking, he asks most often for SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS instead of TEMPORAL BLESSINGS! One will know that he is no longer numbered among the lusty throng who "dwell upon the earth" when, in all his seeking, he seeks only and always those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
Is this not one of the thermometers by which we can mark our rise from the lowlands of our carnal selves to the vaulted skies of Sonship and identity with Jesus Christ? Our knowledge of God and our understanding of the things of God depend entirely upon WHERE WE DWELL - on earth or in heaven. If our dwelling place is in the natural realm, then the things of the natural realm become all-consuming and very important to us, but the things of the high realm of the Spirit grow dim and far away. They become unimportant and sometimes so removed that they are scarcely worthy of our belief at all. But to those who dwell in the realm of God and walk in the realm of the Spirit the things of earth grow dim and distant, very trivial and paltry and mediocre. The wealth and fame and pleasures of earth fade away, while the celestial song of the Spirit bursts within our breasts and we walk in the light of the Lord.
THE BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH
"And I stood upon the sand of the SEA, and saw a beast rise up out of the SEA, having seven heads and ten horns ... and I beheld another beast coming up out of the EARTH; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon" (Rev. 13:1, 11). In the thirteenth chapter of Revelation the awesome prophecy is given of two beasts terrible in power and strength that dominate the inhabitants of the earth and make war with the saints. To the word "beast" must be assigned in both cases its fullest and most pregnant sense. The word is translated from the Greek "therion" meaning a "wild beast" - strong, fierce, dangerous, ravenous, raging, vicious, venomous and cruel.
In our last article we pointed out that a "beast" in prophetical language is a TYRANICAL IDOLATROUS EMPIRE. The beast out of the sea having seven heads represents the completeness of the bestial system of this world in its seven-fold worldwide manifestation beginning with the ancient tyrannical and idolatrous empire of Egypt and progressing on through the world empires of Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Imperial Rome and finally the Roman Papacy. You will note that the first beast comes up out of "the sea", rising up out of the masses of restless, sinning, warring men who live only and completely after the flesh, while the second beast comes up out of "the earth", or more correctly "out of the land", - from a moral class, religious folk, who, while not sold under licentiousness, are not spiritual either, but in most of their thinking and interests "mind earthly things".
This second beast rising up out of the earth realm had "two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon." "Horns" in prophecy denote dominion, power, authority, or kingship, so this unholy power has a two-fold dominion. This beast is called later on "the false prophet" (Rev. 19:20; 20:10), by which we understand that it is made up of false teachers as well as earthly rulers, for a false prophet in the Scriptures refers to an erroneous teaching influence in spiritual matters. John then reveals that this false teaching influence will represent itself "as a lamb". The "two horns like unto a lamb" are unquestionably a travesty of the "seven horns" of THE LAMB so often spoken of in these visions; and the description carries us to the thought of the antichrist, of that which sets ITSELF up AS the true Christ, professing to be the anointed of God, but is actually a usurper who is opposed to the Christ of God.
So this beast with the "two horns like a lamb" denotes a two-fold religious power which professes to be the true representative of the Lamb of God in the world. It pretends to be harmless, meek, mild, inoffensive, nonagressive like a lamb and has many professions of cleanliness, purity, holiness, sanctity, and godliness, but notwithstanding all of these, "he spoke as a dragon" - just like the "great dragon", the arch deceiver - Satan the devil! Now, I am well aware that the highest meaning of these symbols does not mean the external, organized systems but is, rather, a condition in the mind or spirit of man, which means that we have all, at one time or another, and perhaps even until now, been partakers of that which is symbolized by the "beast", "horns", etc. But the Spirit of the Lord quickens to me that within the framework of these visions, the beasts are, undoubtedly, the OUTWARD REPRESENTATION of the spiritual realities, and this beast is APOSTATE CHRISTIANITY as it has existed through the ages and as we now see it.
The Lord foresaw that Christianity would spread over the world, and that, becoming popular, it would be embraced by many who would appreciate the form without entering into its spirit. He foresaw that as numbers of this sort would identify themselves with the Church, the worldly spirit, which is the opposite of the spirit of the Lamb, would come in with them; that selfishness, carnality, and a desire to be great and to rule, thus coming in, would not have long to wait, but in due time the Church would seize the opportunity and seek to dominate the world by means OTHER THAN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD. The Lord knew that once the worldly element entered the Church, the Church would forsake the mighty weapons of the Spirit and, turning to carnal weapons, would make its influence felt, and in the name of Christ would grasp the civil power of earth.
And thus it actually transpired: the nominal Church began to fall away from the walk in the Spirit as it increased in numbers under the teaching and example of ambitious men whose ideas grew more and more favorable to the power and worldly influence which numbers and wealth brought with them. Gradually the spirit of the Church became worldly, and the things of the world were coveted. The suggestion of ambition was - "If the great Roman empire, with all its power and influence, its armies and wealth, were only to support the Church, how honorable and noble it would then be to be a Christian! How speedily then would heathen persecutions cease! Then it would be in our power not only to overawe them, but to compel their adherence to the Church and the name of Christ. It evidently," they reasoned, "is not God's design that the Church should forever be subject to the world and persecuted by it: the apostle's words, 'Know not that the saints shall judge the world?' as well as our Lord's promises that we shall reign with Him, and the many prophecies which refer to the reign of the Church, indicate clearly that such is God's plan. To us it seems clear that we can and should use every means to obtain a hold upon the civil government and conquer the world for the Lord."
Thus gradually by a slow process of reasoning covering centuries, of the the real hope Church for exaltation to rule and bless the world by the fullness of the power of the Spirit - namely, the manifestation of the Sons of God - was lost sight of, and a new hope took its place: the hope of success without the Lord, by the power of the carnal weapons of the flesh. And thus, by collusion, intriguing and exchange of favors with the world, the hope of the Church became a false hope, a delusive snare by which Satan led f rom one evil and error to another, both of doctrine and of practice. Ah, the Church came to rule the world alright, but alas! the world was two-fold more the child of hell than before!
"Christianity" is the name of this false kingdom; and it was built upon a misapplied truth - the truth that the Church is called to be kings and priests unto God and to reign upon the earth. "And he that overcomes...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: even as I received of My Father" (Rev. 2:26-27). But the power of the Kingdom of God is NOT POLITICAL POWER. "For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (I Cor. 4:20). If the Kingdom of God is power, what kind of power would that be? It would have to be GOD POWER. What kind of power is GOD POWER? The Bible says that God is a Spirit. Therefore, the Kingdom of God would be SPIRIT POWER.
God is love. Is there power in love? Is there power in peace? I would say there is power in the peace of God! Is there power in joy? There is power in joy! It is contagious. There is power in faith! There is power in righteousness! There is power in the name of Jesus Christ! You see, the power of the Kingdom of God is SPIRITUAL POWER - power to change men's minds, power to transform lives, power to break the hold of sin, power to redeem, power to subdue men under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The power of the Kingdom of God does not reside in political offices, nor in judicial offices, nor in legislation, nor yet in vast armies and guns and tanks and bombs. Brethren, I can assure you that we shall yet see a manifestation of the fullness of the POWER OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD through the ministry of the manifested Sons of God that shall "break to shivers" the pride and power of all the nations of the world and cause them to walk in the light of the Lord! "Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him. All nations shall come and worship before You, O Lord; and shall glorify Your name" (Ps. 72:11; 86:9).
TWO HORNS LIKE A LAMB
For several hundred years the professing Church was one organization, one system. Division came after its basic nature was changed. During this time of development, Constantine, the Roman Emperor, converted to Christianity. Constantine was also responsible for the establishment of two separate Roman empires. The Roman empire at that time was often attacked by tribes of people whom the Romans called barbarians, who lived on the borders of the empire. Constantine decided that it would be necessary to establish a second capital of the empire, to the east. He chose the city called Byzantium, which later was named for him and became Constantinople, and which today bears the name of Istanbul. This eastern city soon became even more important than Rome and during the latter years of the Roman empire there were two emperors - a western Roman emperor in Rome and an eastern Roman emperor in Constantinople. The East Roman Empire is also called the Byzantine Empire.
When Christianity was elevated to the status of State Church, the official religion of the empire, the division of the empire also affected the Church. As in the western empire, so in the eastern, the Church succumbed to the same temptations to build a powerful ecclesiastical-political super-structure patterned after the fashion of the Roman empire. Although similarly apostatized by pagan doctrines, practices and customs, the main difference from the western Church was that the bishops in the eastern sections of the Church refused to vest final and absolute authority in the bishop of Rome. They refused to recognize the bishop of Rome as the supreme head of all Christendom. They had, instead, several "Patriarchs" who had jurisdiction over specific geographical districts, usually along nationalistic lines. These Patriarchs were regarded in theory as "equals" in Church authority, although in dignity and influence the Patriarch of Constantinople overshadowed the others be- cause of his position in that "new center and capital" of Imperial Rome.
Thus, TWO POWERFUL CHURCHES developed side by side within the two empires. The western Church chose to incorporate the word "Roman" in its official title, which exists to this day: the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. However, in the east, the Church did not incorporate the "Roman" word; being designated traditionally as the EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH; even so, the "Romanized" character of the eastern Church must not be overlooked just because the word "Roman" was not used in official Church names or titles. Today, the eastern Church is greatly diminished in size and importance in the world in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church. Together with the eastern Church, apostate Protestantism under the domination of the World Council of Churches, now makes up one of the two "horns" of the beast. The Encyclopedia Americana points out that on an international scale, the most important non-Roman Catholic development is the World Council of Churches, a federation of 260 Protestant, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Church bodies with a total membership of about 400 million members. Historically, there were but two Churches, the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox. If a Christian were asked "what Church" he belonged to, it could mean only one of those two. Today, however, the question is stated differently: "Are you Catholic or Protestant?" But the principle remains the same - there are still TWO SYSTEMS --- T-W-O H-O-R-N-S L-I-K-E A L-A-M-B!
THE VOICE OF THE DRAGON
This beast of Apostate Christianity has two horns like a lamb, but his voice cannot be disguised. It is clearly THE VOICE OF THE DRAGON. Its voice speaks as loudly now as at any time in all history. If you do not belong to or submit to or or bow down to this two-horned beast that now dominates the lives of dead and living alike, you will find yourself more and more misunderstood, more and more ostracized, more and more cut off, loudly called a fanatic, a schismatic, a heretic, a lone ranger, a fool, a false prophet, in error and under the condemnation of the Lord. And if you are in the system and follow on to know the Lord, if you do not heed the counsel of the Holy Spirit to come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing, you will eventually be ignored or rejected, rebuked, denounced, anathematized and unceremoniously excommunicated under the deafening roar of the dragon's mouth.
THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST
The so-called Christian Church systems as we know them today have become an instrument of Satan, exercising all the power of the first beast as they usurp control over men's lives, enslaving millions of worshippers, binding the professing Christians with the hideous chains of tradition. It is filled with a form of godliness, but completely devoid of the true power. Rev. 13:12-15 gives an unmistakable description of long-standing conditions and of events now transpiring before our very eyes. "And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders ... and deceives them that dwell on the earth...saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
The word here rendered as "worship" means "to kiss, as a dog licking his master's hand, to fawn or crouch to, to reverence, to adore." "Image" is defined to be "an imitation, representation, similitude of any person or thing; a copy, a likeness, an effigy." My picture is an image of me. My shadow is my image. It and I have the same or similar features, and it moves only as I move. The second beast, then, is to manufacture something in imitation of the first beast. The Roman empire and the Papacy which succeeded it were both humanly organized institutions governed by men who claimed divine power and infallibility, but were in truth mere fallible humans.
Under Old Testament economy God alone was King over His people until Israel demanded a human king in order to be like the nations around her. Before the time of these human kings, the government was a theocracy in the truest sense: that is, the government of the state was by the immediate direction of God Himself by the Spirit. Great was the condescension of God to thus honor the nation by becoming its political Sovereign, performing all the functions of an earthly monarch, and receiving the customary homage paid to a temporal king. Great was the dignity lent to the nation by the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth dwelling with them first in a tabernacle, afterwards in a splendid temple, there having His table, His altar, and His ministers. Great was His condescension to tolerate their displays of external splendor and pomp, to go forth with and command the army in war, to legislate, to execute laws, and to do all things that pertain to the office of an earthly sovereign. And yet the Israelites were not satisfied. They wished to have another to rule over them, a human king, as the nations about them had. God granted them their desire, and Israel forsook the Lord, provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods and abominations, and sacrificed to devils, provoking Him to anger. God was very lenient with them; but justice demanded judgment. Therefore, since Israel would not be in submission to God as their King, He decreed that throughout the term of His indignation they would, as a consequence of their folly, be made to serve the kings of their enemies.
Under New Testament economy the Christ of God was to be the one and only Head of His Church. But the apostate Church was for prostituting this Church and causing her to commit fornication with the kings and governments of the world, in that she began to be joined with them as she ought only to have been joined to HIM. Under God's perfect order for the New Testament age, both emperors and beggars must meet on common ground. Both are sinners; grace alone can intervene. Both must acknowledge their guilt and plead for mercy. Both should then be equal in dignity, in authority, in meekness, and in charity, deriving all their spiritual stature from HIS WORK WITHIN, and possessing none by virtue of what they are naturally. In the days of the apostles, men were made Christians by the operation of God alone, and thereby they were taken out of the nations as a people for His name (Acts 15:14). The ministries in the body of Christ were sovereignly raised up and anointed by the Spirit of God. With what power, signs, and wonders did they witness to the living presence of Christ! There was no man-made organization, no carnal Church boards, no dominating heirarchy, only the dynamic presence and power of Christ manifested in and through the living members of His body.
As the Church grew in numbers and wealth, the anointing and the anointed ministries were shoved aside and startling developments began to take place. Bishops became influential, not as humble servants of the flock, but as powerful, authoritarian men. Dioceses and parishes were established. Ecclesiastical centralization commenced. The weapons of excommunication were forged, The festivals of the Church were created, along the lines of pagan celebrations. Catechetical schools were created to teach the faith systematically. The formulas of baptism and the sacraments became of great importance. Costly and ornate edifices were constructed for worship. The services became ceremonialized and elaborate. Sculpture and painting were enlisted in the work of providing aids to devotion. Relics of saints and martyrs were cherished as sacred possessions. Religious observances were multiplied. The Church, with its array of gaudily bedecked clergy and of imposing ceremonies, assumed much of the stateliness and visible splendor that belonged to the HEATHEN SYSTEM which it had supplanted. The mission of the Church was lost sight of in a degrading alliance with the State. Christianity was now a pageant, a ritualism, a vain philosophy, a superstition, a formula, an ARM OF THE STATE! The religious dogmas were enforced by the sword of the magistrate!
And thus, precious friend of mine, the second beast's IMAGE of the first beast was complete! The Church had become a human institution with human government, worldly wisdom, and political power - just like Rome! The word of God, inspired by His Spirit, could not be tolerated. What is said concerning the image of the beast applies to sectarianism as a whole and the human organization and carnal methods of all her so-called Churches. They may differ as widely as the various systems of heathen governments and religions symbolized by the first beast, yet they can be represented by the single symbol of an image to the first beast, because they are built upon the same general principles - are but human organizations, with unscriptural names, methods, practices, customs, creeds and Government, and are all contrary to the ways of the Spirit of God.
And is not this the same picture of every organized Church in the world - including the so-called "non-denominational" denominations? Are they not all "incorporated" and "chartered" by the State? Do they not all have a system of government like the other "denominations" about them, with a "board", "majority vote", etc.? Are their ministers not registered with the government, and acting as civil servants of the government by carrying an "approved card" issued by a "state-chartered" organization so they can marry the living and bury the dead? Even if they are not, how often their lives are still tied to the beast system which controls their understanding, beliefs, and methods of operation. How the multitudes worship the IMAGE of the beast! It is a sad fact that untold millions of Christians are more devoted to their Church systems than they are to the Lord Jesus Christ. They can witness open rejection of God's precious Word, blatant resistance to His Spirit, and the vilest profanation of His holy Name, without uttering a word of protest; but let anyone say a word against THEIR CHURCH, and instantly they are aroused to the highest pitch of excitement - beast worshippers! To exalt such earth-born, man-made, carnally-controlled, unscriptural, unspiritual institutions and lead people to adore and worship them is but a species of idolatry and rankest deception.
"And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should speak..." (Rev. 13:15). Imparting life to the image of the beast simply signifies the complete organization of the ecclesiastical institutions embued with the power of a spurious gospel and a false anointing. Every living body is animated by a spirit. "The body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26). God has only one Church called in the Word the body of Christ, which has been given alone Spirit" and "one Lord" and "one faith" (Eph. 4:4-5), with the Lord Jesus Christ as the sole Head and Legislator. The many bodies, and many names, and many faiths, and many creeds, and many governmental systems, and many legislators of our day constitute nothing but the beast and his image. The sectarian spirit that animates the Methodist body will lead people into that body. The religious spirit that animates the Roman Catholic body will lead people into that body. The spirit that animates the Presbyterian body will lead people into that body, etc. BUT THE ONE SPIRIT OF GOD WILL BAPTIZE US ALL INTO THE ONE BODY OF CHRIST where we can all DRINK INTO ONE SPIRIT and grow up into the ONE HEAD "from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16).
You will probably ask me the question, "Do you not believe in meetings, the assembling of the saints, and the ministries in the body of Christ?" I answer with assurance, "Most certainly I do!" We praise God for every ministry HE sets in the body of Christ, they are examples to the flock, and a source of encouragement, confirmation, and strength to all among whom they labor; we support and esteem them highly, and search deeply our own hearts when they admonish us in the Lord. At the same time we praise God that the consuming fire of His dealings and processings in our lives is being kindled to THOROUGHLY PURGE AND CLEANSE OUR HEARTS from the spirit and ways and image of the beast until once and for all we shall forsake all the apostasy and shame, giving ourselves wholly and only unto Christ, that He may teach us how to gather IN THE NAME OF THE LORD IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH. When our minds are one with Him and all earthly tradition and program and system has vanished away and He takes His royal seat upon the throne of our hearts, then we are truly able to assemble and minister IN HIS NAME. Then we are LED BY HIS SPIRIT, and then there is a freshness for those who gather, and a flow of His life, light, and love, and confirmation to be received from each member, and then we can GROW UP TO BECOME THE SONS OF GOD.
VICTORY OVER THE BEAST AND HIS IMAGE
"And I saw as it were a SEA OF GLASS mingled with fire: and them that had GOTTEN THE VICTORY over the beast, and over his image ... stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb" (Rev. 15:2-3). GOTTEN THE VICTORY OVER THE BEAST - that is, those who through grace and by the inworkings of HIS LIFE were delivered from the delusions and domains of the bestial system to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. These stand upon the "sea of glass, having the harps of God." The allusion here is to the Israelites of old who, after having passed through the red sea dry shod, thus securing perfect and blessed deliverance from the bestial system of Egypt, stood upon the shore singing the song of Moses, Miriam and the women playing their timbrels, while their enemies with their chariots and their chosen captains perished in the waters (Ex. 15). The song now sung, however, is not that of Moses only; it is also THE SONG OF THE LAMB. Who might this company be? What might be the sea upon whose shore they sing the song of triumph and praise to their Lord and Deliverer? Methinks I have stood upon that very shore. As surely as the raging sea bespeaks multitudes of surging, clamoring, sinning humanity, so does the exquisite sea of glass represent an assembled throng of transformed saints IN WHOSE HEARTS THE SPIRIT OF THE LAMB RULES. This great sea of the Sons of God is calm and serene, tranquil and quiet - the bestial spirit and nature have been dealt with and these abide in the peace and joy and righteousness and power of the Kingdom of God. Ah! I have stood upon that shore, yea, and do stand with an innumerable company of men and women whose faces are set and whose hearts are fixed to do only and completely the will of the Father. These are they who live and walk in the Spirit, they are the firstborn-destined who are being delivered from the beast and his image. The glassy sea is here MINGLED WITH FIRE - the fiery trials and processings by which He purifies His people, sharpening their vision, whetting the appetite for things eternal, slackening the desire for all that is earthly and all that pertains to this present evil world.
GOTTEN THE VICTORY - victory, conquer, overcome, these all come from the same Greek word. God is producing OVERCOMERS who shall bear HIS MARK, and gain the victory over the antichrist beast and his image. SONS OF GOD, it is a present challenge to you, GUARD YOUR GARDEN, there is a beastly system just waiting to stamp its image upon you. You can walk high above it all - because "greater is HE that IN YOU than he that is IN THE WORLD" (I Jn. 4:4). The grace of God be multiplied unto you - and cause you always to triumph to His glory and praise!
Writings in This Series: