Lee Y. Martin, Ph.D., © 2007
The Ezekiel prophecy is a picture of the restoration of the two houses of God – the house of Judah and the house of Israel.
He speaks of them as being two sticks brought together to form one stick [37:15-28]. This is a type or picture of the whole church of God comprised of myriads of denominations uniting in the last days to form one true church. Just as all Israel is not Israel [Romans 9:6] neither are all Christians born again [2 Corinthians 13:5]. Both camps have people who claim membership but are tares amidst the true wheat.
On the one hand, the prophecy is prophetic of bringing together the two former kingdoms that split Israel, and on the other hand of uniting the divided denominational dissidents of the body of Christ. The latter house of God belonging to the Age of Grace is summoned in Jeannette’s vision to rise upon her feet and become a great army for the Lord. Armies are for war, yet the Bible teaches that the only offensive warfare Christians are supposed to engage in under the Constitution of the New Covenant is spiritual warfare [Ephesians 6:10-18]; and the fight of faith is her weaponry [1 Timothy 6:12]. Fighting for freedom and maintaining liberty is directly related to our spiritual fight against the rulers of the darkness.
Thus, the dead church of Jesus Christ is the antitypical slain house in the New Covenant responding to the type of the slain house of Israel in the Old Covenant.
prophecy of Ezekiel clearly reveals that the former house of God, the
ecclesia or called out nation under the Old Covenant, is slain and in
need of reviving. We have seen that the process of restoration is at work
today in the awakening of Israel’s civil autonomy. Her spiritual
revival awaits its set time in the tribulation [Psalms 102:13].
The evidence is growing that God is drawing His people out of their graves in dead churches in antitypical fashion to the Jews being returned to their land. Christ is busily restoring His true church to new life for a glorious endtime harvest. In fact, He is knocking on the hearts of the Laodiceans today trying to get their attention and pull them out of dead churches. He desires that they participate in the glorious final departure of the church in the rapture.
Indications are that we have come full circle to where the church lost her first love during the Ephesian church era [Revelation 2:4] because people everywhere seem to be enraptured to new intimacy with Jesus making them rapture worthy, pun intended. Although scattered all over the world, many are finding renewed interest in fanning the flames of fidelity to Christ. Is this not a return to the church’s first love that the Ephesian church of Revelation lost?
I believe the church is going to be raptured in blazing glory with many backslidden dead Christians having been revitalized and restored to life along with the birthing of a great harvest of lost souls. In apposition, many dead nominal Christians will enter the tribulation to become twice dead [Jude 1:12] along with the heathen. True to the Word, the dark is getting darker and the bright is getting brighter [Revelation 22:11].
The foregoing is the meaning of Jeannette’s rise to heavenly heights in the vision where she received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is only through His anointing power that people are born anew or afresh from above. Jeannette arose out of her body to illustrate that the renewal and the new birth comes from above. The Greek word ‘anothen’ translated born again in John 3:3 means ‘born from above’. …Except a man be born again (or born from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God. These are Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3:3 and 3:7. Peter uses the same Greek word and writes it being born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God in his second letter (1:23].
Note that Jeannette did not go on to heaven after arising and being incarnated by the Holy Spirit – symbolic of a new life in God. Rather she came back to earth to enliven her dead body, which was representative of both the slain ecclesia of Christ, the antitype, as well as of Israel, the type; and this demonstrated that the new birth is not simultaneous with the resurrection. A person never gets regenerated after he dies physically. He must be spiritually alive prior to death in order to ascend to heaven. In whatever state a person’s spirit is in when he dies, whether enlivened or dead, that state determines his eternal abode. If dead, he goes to hell; if alive, he goes to heaven. It cannot be put any plainer than that. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven [John 3:3].
The Holy Spirit has shown me that Jeannette’s return illustrates some people are cleansing their garments from dead orthodoxy and are walking with God in purity and truth. They are the revived few names who come out of the Sardis church and form the Philadelphian one (the next church on the agenda) which is slated for rapture because she will have kept God’s Word and not denied His name [Revelation 3:8,10].
Not only will there be an endtime harvest of souls prior to the Rapture, but there will also be a huge reaping during the final week of the Israelite Age spoken by Daniel the prophet [9:24-27 with Revelation 7:13,14; 20:4]. At the beginning of the tribulation period of seven years, God will begin restoring His national heritage to life by sealing 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe [Revelation 7:4-8], who will become His evangelistic light bearers to the world during the troublous times of the tribulation. The Bible says that they become …the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb [14:4] indicating that they are the first ones of restored Israel to become spiritually revitalized. Their seals indicate that they have been chosen by God to become His evangelizing witnesses, have been spiritually rejuvenated, and are guaranteed security in their work until it is finished at which time they will be raptured to heaven [14:1-5].
The Age of Grace is a parenthesis of at least 2,000 years sandwiched in the middle of God’s dealing with Israel, His timepiece for calculating and tracking man’s 6,000 year dominion lease of earth. God said in Genesis 2:4 that He established six days as the measure of …the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. And since …one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day [2 Peter 3:8], He disclosed with that statement in Genesis 2:4 that the earth lease given to man [Mark 12:1] will last for a determined time of 6,000 years. Since God rested on the seventh day, and since seven is the number of completion, the last week of His week of millenniums is the millennium of rest, the conclusion of His dealing with humanity in a sinful state. There is much testimony in the Scriptures that during the millennium of rest, His righteous King Messiah will rule in peace.
The Creator has not left us to wonder or guess about His plans for His creation, for He has revealed it to His servants, the prophets. Read it from God’s lips: Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets [Amos 3:7]. Remember that prophets are God’s spokespersons, and Moses being the prophet who wrote Genesis, has given us inexhaustible amounts of information concerning His agenda in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. It is man’s job to search it out through study in order to rightly divide it.
When God told Jeannette that the church was slain and there was no breath of life in her, at first glance it appears like He was merely speaking to the church constituting the body of Christ. However, He was not only speaking about the church of Jesus Christ, but He was also making reference to the church of the Old Testament because He referred Jeannette to Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapter 37. Both houses of God are in view because God said in Jeannette’s vision, “she (the church) is the whole house of the Lord.”
Why did God have Jeannette read chapter 38 first and stop her at the end of verse one to say, “The hand of Gog is raised and ready to strike” ? He wanted to show that the Antichrist represented by Gog is about to assume his endtime role. Jesus told Judas Iscariot, the type of the son of perdition, …That thou doest, do quickly [John 13:26]. Likewise, God told Jeannette that the antitype son of perdition’s hand is poised and ready to accomplish all things that the prophets have spoken about him. That which he is to do, he is about ‘to do quickly’. Are you ready for the rapture?
We have seen how the house of Israel in the Old Testament was slain, has
been partially restored, and is intercoursing with the world as a zombie
without spiritual life. We now need to understand why God said the church
of Jesus Christ is slain and without breath of life. The Spirit has shown
me that this latest vision given to Jeannette is a call to the body of
Christ to rise to her feet out of her graves and become a great army in
these last days for the trumpet call to warfare has sounded. Given that
the church of Jesus Christ represented by Jeannette was initially dead
in the vision, let’s find out why the Spirit shows she is dead by
tracking the progress of the church through the messages given to the
churches in the book of Revelation. If we can document the vision’s
interpretation with the Word of God, we are on safe ground.
The New Testament ecclesia got into trouble big time during the era of the Pergamos church around 300 C.E. when she started committing fornication with other religious practices. In this period, the Edict of Toleration issued by the Roman Caesar Constantine curtailed persecution of Christians. Very soon after that, Christianity was made the state religion. In order to appease all its people and to avoid sectarian clashes, the state thought it wise to merge heathenistic practices and rituals with Christian traditions. This was the first ecumenical attempt at uniting all faiths under one umbrella. In doing so, the church fulfilled its namesake, namely, ‘mixed marriage’, the meaning of Pergamos.
Considering that Jesus selected the seven churches in revelation to reveal spiritual principles, and considering that Pergamos was an idol-devoted city, Christians were heavily coerced to participate in idolatrous practices on the principle that their ‘liberty’ from the yoke of the law permitted them freedom to do such things. This is called antinomianism (lawlessness) and is akin to the error of Balaam that Jesus warned the church about.
Balaam erred in thinking that God would have to act in a certain way if sinful circumstances would seem to warrant it, but his thinking was based upon human reasoning. No, dear friend, God never has to act in a certain way based upon human reasoning for His ways and thoughts are higher than ours [Isaiah 55:8,9]. Nevertheless, you can depend upon Him acting the same way every time based upon what He has said in His Word because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever [Hebrews 13:8]. The church survived with a stern warning by its Lord.
True to God’s character, He was gracious and tolerant to the fledgling young church at Pergamos and the church was not slain yet. However, as always Jesus issues a call to repentance at every step of man’s wayward journey through time. The Thyatira church continued growing in numbers but the obstacle to spiritual growth was still in place – participate in worldly schemes or be ostracized.
This church was well-known for its trade guilds which were well-organized and highly profitable. The problem with joining a guild, a must if you wanted to get ahead in the world, was that every one of them had a patron god for whom one had to do obeisance, which furthered one’s wayward walk in the world. This church symbolized the entrenchment of idolatrous practices into worship for gain. Not giving due diligence to repentance, the church learned the depths of the darkness of satan’s kingdom [Revelation 2:24], and without a light in the world, it was held in bondage to darkness for 1,000 years, a period of time known as the Middle Ages.
The name Thyatira means ‘continual sacrifice’ thus revealing her problem with darkness. Jesus offered Himself once for sin and no more sacrifice is required [Hebrews 10:10]. Yet this church fell into the error of teaching her converts to continually sacrifice Jesus’ death through the mass. Jesus considered this a heavy burden on His people and said it was the only thing He had against them. He offered no remedial measures except repentance, but they repented not. Hence, the chief sin of this city was failing to protest against the one person, namely Jezebel, who was teaching them idolatrous practices such as the continual sacrifice of Jesus’ death. Idolatry will choke the life out of a church, and in Thyatira’s case, it was a slow death taking well over a thousand years. Nevertheless, she died because the next church is acclaimed dead by our Lord.
Perhaps the reason the name ‘Sardis’ is of unknown origin today is because she is dead as a city and dead as a church, and dead people are without portfolio. How do I know she is dead? Jesus said so.
Jesus knew that the origin of the name of Sardis would become unknown down through the years, so He chose this church to represent His dead church. Dead people are not alive, but ironically this church is living out its languid character of death. Names are important because they bind the invested meaning of the word to that to which they are attached. Hence, Sardis has a name which she lives, but is dead as Jesus said. What could all this possibly mean? We must find out because it is pertinent to our vision.
One of the outstanding historical points about Sardis which perhaps is revealing of her spiritual condition is that she was not watchful for her safety thinking she was impregnable. However, because of her complacency and indolence in not fully securing her position on the hill where she was situated, she was conquered by invading armies several times. Is it true that man learns nothing from history as the great philosopher Hegel said? Could this be an epithet of Jesus’ dead church? Let me hasten at this point to add that there are a few names which have not defiled their garments [Revelation 3:4] with unfaithfulness.
Sardis was located on important commercial routes and was wealthy by virtue of her textile industry and jewelry making, a craft that was made profitable because of the gold found in the stream running through her confines. It was because of this easy access to gold that she created the first coins in the world. Needless to say, because of her gold, she enjoyed the same position as the Laodicean church – increased with goods and having need of nothing. Both Sardis and Laodicea became defiled by their wealth and complacency and both received no commendation by our Lord, only censure. That is quite serious because both churches wind up dead. Jesus called Sardis outright dead and implied as much about Laodicea with the criticism that she knew not that she was wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked and was about to be vomited up by her Lord [Revelation 3:16,17]. What report cards!
Protestants have been quick to point out the trouble with the Catholic Church represented by the Thyatiran church, but most do not realize that the church representing their era in Scripture was Sardis! Was not the church reformed? If it was, how can it be dead? Unfortunately, the Reformation did not go far enough on the one hand and it went too far on the other.
Resuscitation of lost truths of the apostolic church came forth with great valor and resolute stalwartness. Yet in protesting about a few of the abuses by the Catholic hierarchy, the revivalists refused to let go of other heresies taught by the Church. Slowly the newly revitalized Biblical truths took on structure and substance but they became bogged down in theological jargonese that the common man was not able to translate into food and clothing. In fragmentation, denominational doctrines acquired form but lacked power to change circumstances.
People don’t really need theology. They need training in how to move mountains and solve problems with their faith. One highly visible seminary retired president remarked that 85% of what is taught in seminary is unusable. What a travesty! All that money, talent, and mind power going to waste. Could that be what Jesus meant when He said Sardis has a name that it lives but is dead? It sounds a lot like what Jesus told the Pharisees on one occasion. He called them whitewashed tombs which …appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones [Matthew 23:27].
The Reformation has gone too far in that today there are thousands upon thousands of denominations and stand alone churches including para-churches vying for the precious dollars of church members. I wonder how many of these organizations are worshipping at the altar of worldly marketing techniques for gain? Has the purpose driven church overreached her purpose? Is walking hand-in-hand with corporate enterprises and governmental bureaucracies for the purpose of furthering internationalist goals the Biblical way to evangelize? Could it be that this endtime church is unwittingly promoting the Antichrist’s kingdom instead of the Kingdom of God?
The social gospel is
indeed a worthy humanistic enterprise. But can it save? Is that what Jesus
meant when He said that the last church period would be characterized
by lukewarmness to the gospel of Christ? These are questions that only
each individual person can answer for himself. And answer we will because
every idle word is coming into judgment after we die [Matthew 12:36].
Jesus said we would be held accountable for not searching the Scriptures
to find out if what passes for Christian doctrine is really that which
the Bible teaches.
Click on next for Continued 5 Interpretation: Breath of the Lord
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Thursday, August 15, 2013 7:36 PM