The church of Sardis
(1) And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead. (2) Be thou watchful, and establish the things that remain, which were ready to die: for I have found no works of thine perfected before my God. (3) Remember therefore how thou hast received and didst hear; and keep [it], and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
The line of demarcation of the fourth and fifth church, to the Reformation, is not clearly drawn, the change from the one to the other being a gradual work. Sardis includes a short interval just before the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, at a time when true piety had been almost exterminated. So long without the light, the Bible hardly ever seen, living almost entirely by tradition and memory of what the Christian church should be, no wonder they were almost spiritually dead.
Sardis is said to mean – that which remains; as if it were perhaps a useless remnant; or something out of which the life or virtue had gone. They had the appearance of being what they were not, having the form of godliness without the power. Sardis was the remains of the true Church which had been driven into the wilderness; but when persecution began to abate, her zeal also subsided. Persecution has always developed the life and vigor of the Church: ease brings languor. Thyatira was specially commended for her works (Rev. 2:19). Sardis for the opposite. Their love and understanding of the Scriptures had evidently decreased. God's Word is spiritual food. He who continually feasts upon it will grow vigorous, healthy and powerful. He who neglects to eat, or fails to digest this living bread must be weak and sickly; remaining at best only a spiritual dwarf, powerless to discern "the signs of the times," ignorant of what the Lord is doing, or what his plans are.
They do not expect him to come "as a thief," stealthily, silently. To those only who are watching is the thief's approach known. Those who are in bed know nothing of his whereabouts until after he has entered the house. Those asleep will only be awaked after he has taken full possession. As he progresses in his work of destruction they gradually wake up. They wonder what that noise means. They rouse themselves, but it is too late; they have been "overtaken." Thus he will be present (at the time of Parousia) – invisible and unknown (except to the watchers) for some time (years) after his arrival, and will only be recognized by the sleepers as the noise gradually increases, and they slowly realize what it is. The reason many cannot comprehend his presence now is that they are looking for, first, a fleshly Christ, visible to the fleshly eye, and with an imposing demonstration, which they cannot mistake; secondly, they suppose that from the moment of his coming there will be commotion in nature and among men. Thus they are unable to understand "the signs of the times." Failing to recognize the fact that spiritual bodies cannot be seen (without a miracle) by human eyes, they cannot understand his presence while all things continue as they were since the beginning of creation.
(4) But thou hast a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments: and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. (5) He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments;
At the present time the saints have no righteousness of their own in which to present themselves at the throne of grace. As expressed by the prophet, "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."
It was for this very reason, that God graciously provided, through the sacrifice of his Son, our Lord, a spotless robe of imputed righteousness, for all those who accept of him and the covenant of divine grace sealed with his precious blood. When by repentance and faith we desire to forsake sin and approach God, we are, by reason of obedient faith in the sacrifice, reckoned as covered before the divine eyes with the merit of him who "bought us with his own precious blood," which merit is symbolically represented as a linen garment, Christ's righteousness.
While covered by this robe, we may by faith exercise all the privileges and opportunities, which could be ours if the robe were actually our own – instead of merely a loaned or imputed robe, the property of our Redeemer.
The object of the granting of these robes at the present time (not to the whole world, but only to the true believers in the ransom of Christ) is that they may constitute, for those who accept them, "wedding garments," giving the wearers a right to a place at the "marriage of the King's Son." At an oriental wedding, a wedding garment of white linen was used to cover over the clothing worn by each guest. It was loaned to the guest at the wedding by the host, when he appeared at the wedding-feast. White linen signifies purity.
This imputation were only a temporary arrangement. Little Flock needed to come to the place, where their righteousness became of their own. At the resurrection they received personal holiness, new, perfect, spiritual bodies, free from sin and impurity of every kind, and fully in harmony with their new wills or characters developed during the trial-time of this present life. It was symbolically represented by white linen: as it is written, "to her [the bride, the victorious Church] was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Rev. 19:8)
During Gospel age only truly faithful watched and kept their garments clean. They are a little flock who are pure all the way through; these are entitled to wear a covering of spotless white: they are what they appear to be.
Members the church in Sardis have not been willing to go immediately to the great Redeemer, whose precious blood is able to cleanse from all sin. They allowed spots of sin to accumulate on their robes, to contaminate them and separate them from the Lord. Evidently, the majority of the people of Sardis were of the Great Company class and needed to "be zealous and repent"; for they were not in a condition to receive the greatest blessing possible for them.
The principle is applicable, evidently, not only to the Church in Sardis, but to the Church in general. The Great Company do not keep their garments with sufficient care, and as a result they lose all the rewards promised the overcomers. Those who have not cared for their garments and kept them white must be put through severe experiences shown in symbol as washing their robes in a great tribulation. The things to be overcome are the difficulties in the "narrow way." These difficulties make the way narrow – all the opposition of our flesh to the things of God, the oppositions of the world in general, and the snares which the Adversary may place for us. The love of self, of popularity, of worldly prosperity, must be overcome, as well as love for man-made creeds and theories.
(5) …and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
In the Book of Life were written the names of all those who become truly the Lord's people, those who have made with the Lord "a covenant by sacrifice," all who renounce their wills, who present their bodies a living sacrifice. The name of each of these is recorded, entered in the Lamb's Book of Life, when he starts to live the new life, and to demonstrate his loyalty. Just as these are clothed upon with the robe of Christ's righteousness in advance of being actually tested, so their names are written in that Book in advance of being actually tested. If they do not remain faithful, their names will be blotted out of that Book of Life. But if they are faithful their names will not be blotted out of the Book of Life; and they will attain all those glorious things which are promised to those who love him supremely. (Rev. 21:7)
This brings up the thought that there is another class mentioned in the Bible – the Great Company class, as in contrast to the Little Flock. The Great Company had their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life, but they were not overcomers in the truest sense. They did not stand faithful. Because of not proving faithful, they will not be confessed before the Father and the holy angels in the same sense as the Bride class. It is stated that the Bride will be presented before the Father, and that "the virgins, her companions" (Psa. 45:13-15) will be there also – but the latter will not be confessed as the Bride class. Their names will be not blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life, but they may remain. But those who go into the Second Death will surely have their names blotted out of the Book; they will be destroyed with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.
Our Lord's words "I will confess their names" contain intimation that the overcomers will have such characters that the Lord will not be ashamed of them, but will be pleased to own them in the presence of the Father and the holy angels. They were to be "changed from glory to glory," into the likeness of our Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18.) He will be ashamed of any who are ashamed of Him. Of such He says, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in his own glory and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:26.)
When the Lord would revive his work and bring to an end "the dark ages" by giving increasing light and knowledge in spiritual things, he did not give it to Sardis. She was "dead." He went into the stronghold of idolatry, and called one out who, like Abraham, cared not whither he went so long as he knew he was led of God. Luther came out of Rome. It was easier to start a new tree from fresh and vigorous seed, even in a "Romish dunghill," as he called it, than to cause to sprout a decayed and lifeless stump.
The church of Philadelphia
(7) And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and none shall shut, and that shutteth and none openeth: (8) I know thy works (behold, I have set before thee a door opened, which none can shut), that thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name.
Philadelphia means brotherly love. This stage of the Church's history evidently began at the Reformation. There is considerable similarity between the work begun on Pentecost and that of Luther and his friends.
When the Reformation began, Catholic Church claimed to be the only holy and true. She claimed to have the sure mercies of David, the throne of the kingdom of the Lord; with power to bind or loose; to open or shut the gates of heaven; to be the only true synagogue; the only true recipient of the favor and love of God; to be the city of God; the only one having a right to bear his name.
The Reformation was, in a sense, the beginning of a new era; a dawning of light where all had been darkness; the separation of the true from the false and a new start in the way of truth and life. It was the beginning of a mighty work. No doubt all the powers of Satan and his human allies were exerted to close that door – we know they tried hard; but "He that is true" had said – "which no man can shut." The "little flock" of reformers had but "a little strength" compared with the mighty hosts of their enemies; but they knew they had the truth, and fully trusted the Giver. Thus the Master could say, thou "hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."
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Used at the time of Laodicea the key of David, that is key of prophecy, pointed out at the end of the High Calling.
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(9) Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
The synagogue of Satan regards the opponents of the truth, who claim to be the church of God. The synagogue of Satan is first of all the system of Antichrist, papacy. When "the hour of trial, that which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth," has humbled their pride, they will learn who were the chosen, and come and render obeisance at their feet.
No doubt there are those occupying pulpits who may esteem themselves as really the ministers of God, and be thus esteemed of others, who do not honor his Word. We are told that some of the ministers of Satan are thought to be ministers of God. (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rev. 2:2; 3:9.) Some of them confess that they have no faith, no God at all. Some of them say that God is simply the god of nature. And others, again, say that they believe in God, but do not believe in the Scriptures.
(10) Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that [hour] which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Our faith and trust in the Lord and his gracious promises for the future life are to be so strong that they will more than counter-balance the oppositions of the world, of false brethren, and of Satan's blinded servants; so much so that these persecutions will be recognized and rejoiced in as the agencies of divine providence in chiseling, shaping and polishing us as the living stones for the glorious Temple which God is constructing. Special stress is laid upon patience – "the word of my patience," or, the patience which Word of our Lord inculcates. This word, hupomonee, has a much deeper and fuller significance than it is attached to English word, patience. It signifies such a development of heart and character as manifests itself in an endurance of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the divine wisdom and love, which, while permitting present evils, has promised to overthrow them in God's due time. It represents, therefore, an element of character, and not merely a temporary condition or restraint of feeling or action.
Luthers declaration at the Council of Worms, as he stood alone before the princes of Germany and the stern emperor Charles V: "Unless," said he, "I shall be convinced by Scriptures, (for I can put no faith in popes and councils, as it is evident that they have frequently erred, and even contradicted each other); unless my conscience shall be convinced by the Word of God, I neither will, or can recant, since it is unworthy of an honest man to act contrary to his own conviction. Here I stand; it is impossible for me to act otherwise – so help me God."
As a result the work of the Miller Movement was a sort of separation, as between those who kept the Word of God with patience and those who lost their faith in his Word. This persistent, patient faith of the true saints of God is what is referred to here by keeping "the word of my patience." The general hour of temptation, therefore, would not come upon them, but upon those who came after them – the Laodicean Church.
(10) I also will keep thee from the hour of trial
The Church represented as belonging to the Philadelphia period had these common or general trials; but the Lord proposed to spare them from certain special trials that were about to come upon the whole world.
The hour of trial
The transitory period in the history of the world just previous to the establishment of Jesus Christ kingdom on the earth was named "the time of the end" in Daniel prophecy (12:4,9) and the "day of his [Jehovah] preparation” in prophecy of Nahum (2:3). The world is unaware of this event and unprepared for it. The rapid changes that occur during this period, their range and character are complete surprise for it. Because of this, both individual people and whole nations are more and more overwhelmed by consternation, confusion and fright. The mankind is confronted with the challenges which not understands and which throw the order of the world off balance. Reactions of the people, of social groups, political parties and nations became unpredictable. All period of these stormy changes, which leads inevitably to the overthrow of present-day devilish order of the world in anarchy was named in the Revelation "the hour of trial".
What there was God's aim to put all people to such test, both his children and the entire world?
(1) To show, in condition of growing difficulties, the difference between a behaviour of God's children obeying to his Truth and behaviour of masses of nominal Christianity, influenced by false teaching of Babylon.
(2) To prove a total incapability of this world's leaders, both secular and ecclesiastic, to coping with its problems and to ministering to true needs of the people.
(3) To show, that all human efforts to save themselves are in vain, if they would be ignore Divine Plan of Salvation relying on the ransom of Jesus.
Period of the 1260 years from Daniel prophecy (symbolical a time and times and a half of time; 7:25) pointed out at the beginning of this hour of trial. It was the quantity of the years which went by from 539, when the Roman Church grasped earthly power, till 1799, when the papal supremacy had been crashed entirely.
To this event contributed the French Revolution (1789-1804) and a person of dauntless spirit, the French emperor. Napoleon humilitated the pope extremely, almost ruined him materially and imprisoned. In all places, where Napoleon's soldiers arrived, they were breaking a casemates of the Inquisition and put an end to all public tortures and executions for religious convictions.
The world breathed a sigh of relief, the new era began. Various Bible Societies began to flood the world with the millions of cheap or even free copies of Bible. Jesus Christ began the preparation to his Kingdom from the process of enlightenment and education of human masses.
Education and enlightenment
As a result of the dissemination of Bible has begun a process of general education, to which the Lord did not favor until the Day of his Preparation. Why? Briefly before the Russian Revolution of 1917, a prominent statesman of this country said that education is the basis of all the revolutionary spirit amongst the people, and that if the people had less of it there would be less trouble. It was true. That is why secular and religious rulers in fear about their thrones tried somehow or other to restrain education. Nevertheless at present, when Divine time had come, nothing will hold back the wheels of the progress and liberty. In all civilized countries compulsory education is doing about all it can do for the people.
It's true, that to an unregenerate heart, education without some restriction is a dangerous thing. It means power in an unregenerate hand. Earlier permitting of this power to act would plunge the world in anarchy relatively earlier. The Divine time however came already on replacement of kingdom of the prince of this world, Satan, with kingdom of God. Taking over the power by Christ happens in the very violent way because of the human selfishness.
The moral lessons of the Scripture always had the sanctifying influence on the Bible readers. The Divine Plan of the Ages however, it is not presented in extremely plain way, so that everyone understood it easily. God, in his wisdom had intended to disclose prophetic mysteries only to his the most consecrated children.
When Bible became universally accessible, the people began to check, if it is really the source of the terrorizing fear of eternal torments, which plays so important a part in all the theological teaching and which has driven many people to insanity. Intelligent people convinced themselves quickly, that these horrible theories were simply an inventions of the tricky clergy trying to keep the people in obedience by the fear. These who sincerely looked for God began more diligently to investigate Biblical contents. Many there were the ones who the trickeries of the clergy irritated to such degree that they fell into religious indifference, scepticism and infidelity. The least bright part of the society, being everywhere in majority, it still followed their leaders mainly already out of force of habit. One way or another all these circumstances has hindered the great majority even of saints from appreciating the true character and plan of God.
Progressing education began to expose groundlessness of a claims of kings and clergy who maintained that their power is from on high and a division of the mankind into poor and rich is the Divine order. To a long down-trodden and priest-ridden people in Europe, America became a source of wonderment. Truly it was "Liberty enlightening the world." A government by the people and for the people, without the interference of either royalty or priest-craft – had set a new lesson before the now awaking people, who for so many centuries had slumbered in ignorance of their God-given rights. They were supposing that God had appointed the church to the supreme rulership of earth, and that they were bound to obey those kings and emperors sanctioned by the church, no matter how unjust their demands, because she had declared them to be appointed by God, through her.
For ages, the doctrinal falsehood of the papacy kept the believers in the superstitious fear, heightened through its devilish inventions to torturing people. On the one hand this nightmare ended now, but on the other hand elapsed also era of the quiet and forced stability. The human minds aroused oneself and began to think about freedom and the change of prevailing conditions. There was coming to being a great conflict between the old and the new order of things. From the very beginning, all people advantaged by the until now existing order, they began violently to oppose to the coming changes.
Revolutionary transformations started in every field of the life, religious, social and political.
The religious sphere
Disbelief, the spirit of the criticism, the search of different ideas. From the time when religion had been to a huge degree discredited many people found themselves at the crossroads. The people, in their ignorance and spiritual blindness had not been enlightened through the Word of God, therefore they know not of the coming Kingdom and the method by which it will be inaugurated and the purpose and object of its inauguration. Moreover. In the severe experiences through which many have passed, they have been led to doubt the very existence of God. They cannot conceive of a God who would allow such terrible calamities which have already come, and who will allow the yet greater calamities which the thoughtful men see are still to come.
For these causes mainly, people, in their majority lose all confidence in God. They are feeling, as though there were no God. The tendency of so-called "higher criticism" and evolution is to give humanity the impression that there is no God but Nature. And as mankind get this idea of a Nature-god that is ruthless, relentless, impersonal, it is very likely to efface all thought of a living God of justice and love.
The majority of the professing Christians of the world have lost all faith in the Bible, and they have fallen into the various false and delusive theories of our day. They were carried away from the sure foundation (the ransom) by the false arguments and sophistries of those whom Satan is now permitted to use as his agents in trying all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. Many people began to looking for thrills in various variants of the spiritualism, as hypnotism, occultism, "black art," satanism, etc. That phenomena is particularly visible in pentecostal denominations where an influence of fallen angels, that is demons, can be see as miraculous healing, speaking in tongues, falling into a trance, etc. Many people approached to the various forms of secular activity for the good of men, whereas others had chosen field of their work in various political parties, from extreme rightist to extreme leftist.
The desire to be rich and famous. Additional symptom of a lost faith in God are the urgent efforts of professed followers of Christ to attain the goods accessible here, on the earth. Nominal Christians joined in the general race to obtain all that the world could offer in the conditions of the quick progress. Amongst them grows more and more impatience and selfish desire to be rich, prominent and recognized in the eyes of this world. Nobody wishes to endure anything – for righteousness' sake, for Christ's sake or for anybody else's sake, and if endurance even be necessary it is generally with very much of impatience, very much more of complaint, etc., than formerly. Is prevailing the feeling that in the past they have been too patient, not sufficiently aggressive – the feeling that if they had taken matters into their own hands long ago the world might have been already converted. When such spirit of competition with each other for the luxuries, great licentiousness, the thirst of the pleasure and to live it up is prevailing, the Christian spirit of endeavour to sanctify the character died completely.
Situation of clergy. In the conditions of growing disbelief, more and more sharp spirit of the criticism began to attack on church teachers. Never, in all the annals of history, has there been such a condition of things. Never before were ecclesiastics teachers cross-questioned and criticized as now at the bar of public judgment. Clergy, incapable to give to believers clear Biblical explanations, they have been appalled by the possibility of the loss of their positions and influence on the people. Consequently they are all willing to make any compromise necessary to secure what they call Christian unity. The churches of Christianity ceased the interdenominational criticism, whereas they intensified ecumenical movement and tightened the co-operation with secular powers.
Attitude of saints. These conditions of the hour of trial was to be the final test of the "little flock" of being worthy to be elevated to the divine immortal nature. General tendency of the so-called world to non-endurance, impatience and the pursuit of wealth, necessarily had its influence upon all these, who were seeking to walk in the narrow way. All the time, when they went against the current of public sentiment and custom, the stronger that current was, the greater were their difficulties, and only by divine grace a progress could be made. The source of the strength, giving the God's people ability to withstand the hour of trial, was the understanding of Divine purposes. Those who had kept the Lord's word of patient endurance, and who have sought from him the needed wisdom from on high, they endured all these trials cheerfully and patiently, realizing that it is the programme which the Lord permitted for wise purposes in connection with the High Call and preparation of the "little flock" who shall be joint-heirs with Christ, their Lord, in the Kingdom. They were not surprised to see all systems of men tottering to their final overthrow as they were brought to realize that their utter destruction is in accord with Divine Plan of the Ages.
The social sphere
Inventions. Both expressions, "the hour of trial" and "The Day of his Preparation", are relating to the same period started since 1799. On the one hand it is the time of a multiplying troubles, on the other hand it is period of a general increase of knowledge, resulting in discoveries, inventions, etc. These wonderful inventions pave the way to the coming Millennium of Christ, making ready the mechanical devices which will economize labor, and provide the world in general with time and conveniences, which under future reign of righteousness will be a blessing to the all people.
Division of society. With the passing of time however it turned out that these inventions caused a great division of the societies into rich and poor.
The majority of the society is prone not to care about the future too seriously. Many of the people were wasting good wages in extravagance or dissipation or sloth, etc. But now, the masses are awakening more and more to the fact that they were dreaming when thinking that the prosperity had come to stay forever.
These who got rich. There were meanwhile others not so short-sighted, who, by economic prudence, temperance, etc., accumulated a little money, and who foresaw that automatic devices would make the best of all workers – requiring less for maintenance and doing the work of many. Some of these thrifty, far-seeing ones, by the aid of their mechanical slaves, have become wealthy – immensely wealthy, and now all the world has to make great endeavours to serve them. When the mass production of automatic devices is unlimited, after the point of demand has been sooner or later reached there comes a halt all around – a stagnation, unemployment and a widening zone of human neediness.
An impact of wealth on the man character. That is because of earthly successes and wealth that the many unregenerate people have been deprived of common sense. The rich with total abandon are increasing their properties, they clasp them tightly, and they do not pay attention for this, that poor people will grab them soon by the throat. Our Lord said: "Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee. Then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?" (Luke 12:15-20.) Prophet Ezekiel foretold: "They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be as an unclean thing; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of Jehovah (…) because it hath been the stumblingblock of their iniquity (7:19)."
For what aim is someone elevated by God to the higher position? God's plan, viewed as a whole, shows that the exaltation of any individual or class of his creatures is always for the purpose of blessing of others who are not so exalted. Thus, for instance, the exaltation of our Lord Jesus and his Church is for the blessing of all others; so also was the election and special favor to Israel to result in blessings to the nations not so favored. The selfish spirit greedily gathers to itself as much as possible of all that it esteems as good and valuable – wealth, fame and distinction among men. A measure of success in the acquisition of these treasures further leads the selfish soul to a feeling of complacency, independence and indifference to the well-being of others. Such spirit gradually but rapidly develops into arrogant and self-assertive pride, which swells to ridiculous proportions.
The results of the division on rich and poor. Stratification social in a new era of liberty of thought and the realization of individual rights and privileges is the main cause the intensifying battle of Armageddon. One of the greatest dangers which now menace the stability of the world is the increase of individual millionaires, and the concentration of property and money in single hands. On the one hand there is blatant wanton or extravagant living on the part of the rich, wallowing in wealth, on the other hand, majority of people plunging more and more in poverty. This results in the discontent, envy and anger, and it leads to the social explosion inevitably. The anger of handicapped masses is continually stimulated by still growing unemployment. Mechanical inventions, which for a time brought prosperity and promised great future blessings, brought about decreasing of the need for not only an unqualified but even qualified workforce. Massive unemployment becomes an everyday occurrence, meanwhile population of the world is rising rapidly more and more.
Third World woke up. The results of colonialism of 19th century. The economic growth in 19th century, caused by education and invention era brought about the great search for raw materials, a markets and investment opportunities. Western countries, so-called Christian, leading in the civilization progress, they burst into the countries of Asia and Africa and from then on they were robbing with impunity their natural wealth.
These colonial conquests however, took place already during the Day of the Preparation, therefore they brought about unexpected effects. On the one hand they were a huge humilitating for poor peoples by ruthless establishment of unequal social relations, exploitation and enslavement, on the other hand however, colonial practices spurred spreading of Western languages, creating of new institutions, and implementing of technological innovations. In such way, a chasm between a highly industrialized countries and backward countries started to reduce. Colonial nations learned to be self-reliant and began to win independence. They began to nationalize foreign enterprises, produce their own goods and compete in the world markets. In the effect, such awakening of the countries of Third World began to cause rich countries more and more problems.
The political sphere
"Among all the strange beliefs of the race, there is none stranger than that which made Almighty God select with care some of the most ordinary members of the species, often sickly, stupid and vicious, to reign over great communities under his special protection, as his representatives of earth." New York Evening Post.
The world without the sorrow said goodbye to the era of kings, both secural and ecclesiastic, in which often an insane individual decided about fate of entire nations. The relicts of this power remained only, titular kings, as nostalgic remembrance and desire of maintaining of national vanity and pride.
This does not mean however, that the present leaders of the world, elective in the large degree, are executing their duties in the wise and fair way. Saying generally they are not morally worse than these over which they hold the power but, because of their high position they are liable to the more tough judgement. Therefore, the hour of the test is also the time of judgement of secular powers of this world, that is mystic Babylon. The society is the judge.
This is some of legitimate charges, which societies are leveling against todays' leaders:
The hypocrisy and lie, with which the politics is imbued, are causing great loss of the confidence of societies to their leaders. Waning continually credibility and respect of governments are one of the main causes of the growth of anarchistic tendencies in the world.
Pre-election promises which politicians are making to societies are to large extent false. If they told the truth, they would not be chosen. When they are in power already, they must to lie continually if they want to hold their position longer.
At the time, when sin is prevailing, leaders of nations, as other ordinary people, they think about their own businesses mainly: they are prone to corruption, they squander often huge public money because of their negligences or incompetence, they are often uneconomical and cause recklessly debt of country, etc.
The rules of despotism and tyranny are falling one after the other because the time of the second presence of Christ came. Our Lord is restoring all the people to their lost dignity. Dictatorial powers, which remain yet, are tottering under the pressure of human demands and more and more bold criticism.
Hypocritical union with churches. Politicians, as enlightened people, they well know from the history the despicable role, what so-called Christian churches played in the past, especially the Roman Catholic church. On account of political interest they do not want to remember that the clergy incited people unceasingly to religious and national hatred, to quarrels and wars. Politicians remember however perfectly fact that false theories of the churches were able to very effectively keep the peoples in superstitious fear and obedience.
Hypocritical international diplomacy. Era of colonialism and imperialism is the history of countless brutal violation of laws of weaker nations by stronger. It is at present not differently. The nations, which accepted Christianity, they became the most powerful in the world. They did not accept however the spirit of the love flowing from Christ's teaching. They used of it only as the enlightening influence, which freed them from pagan ignorance, primitiveness and other limitations. So-called christian nations crush still weaker nations to protect their economic and military superiority. In addition they claim insincerely, that their actings are justified. In the defence of their egoistic businesses they are sending their soldiers to Asia and Africa to cause the death and destruction, to multiplying by thousands innocent victims, widows and orphans. Politicians cover these despicable practices with elevated slogans saying about freedom, democracy, patriotism, etc.
The attitude to Israel is the special example of diplomatic hypocrisy. The leaders of so-called Christian countries, with the pope in the spiritual lead, know perfectly that God gave to Abraham and his descendants the Holy Land as the eternal possession. They also know, that Arabs living in Israel created the artificial community, called the Palestinian nation. Because of their “oil interests” predominant powers of the world do not want to discourage the Arabian countries, so they decided to make scapegoat with Israel, once again. For their undoing they refuse this tiny Bible nation its laws to its land and to its capital, Jerusalem.
"And you get the impression that some people think the idea that the Jews should respond [to attacks of Palestinians] instead of doing nothing and letting themselves be killed like in the good old days is rather shocking or scandalous." From the address of French lawyer Jean-Thomas Nordmann in Strasburgu at the European Parliament (22.10.2003)
The arms race. Rich countries, possessing the developed economy, they are the largest a "merchants of death." They guard jealously against competitors their lethal business, which is equally lucrative as disgraceful. There is the more and more of people and nations willing to buy a tools of killing, so arms industries are thriving and also the harvest of the death is more and more large. Prophet Joel describe this spirit of our times, as follows (3:10): “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.” Expenses of armament have the ruinous influence on the economy of little and poor countries. Their corrupted leaders still are buying the modern arms to stay in power and to scare neighbours off.
The meddling of demonic powers
The pictorial language of the Revelation presents the result of the second Woe (1939-1980) as division of the world on two hostile camps: symbolic earth and symbolic sea. The Lord did not allow both camps to fight each other until the choice of the Church of Christ is over. When only the Church was sealed up, the Divine shoulder withdrew and all warlike strengths began their activity. Two special visions in the Revelation were understood by the students of Bible as meddling of demonic powers into the earthly conflicts. First vision shows the four angels being holding back the four winds to a crucial time (Rev. 7:1-3), whereas the second vision warns to danger of great fury of Satan who had been thrown down to the earth (Rev. 12:9:12). At both cases the attack is directed against earth, sea, trees and the dwellers of the earth. The demons have a power both to affect strongly on human minds and they are able to a large extent to stir up the elements of the nature. Because of that their present extraordinary activity is tantamount to a climax of the hour of the trial (1977-1980/1981-1984-?).
Symbolical passage of Rev. 7:1-3 speaks of the four angels which stand at the four corners of the earth and hold the four winds that they should not blow upon the earth or upon the sea "until we shall have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." (…) If four winds, from the four corners of the earth, come together, they make a whirlwind; and that is exactly what the Bible declares the great time of trouble will be (...) the earth represents the social order, government, restraint, etc.; and the sea represents the restless mass of mankind, which more or less lash and dash against the earth, the governmental power [the trees represent God’s people. St. Paul gives us the picture of a symbolic tree, which the roots of faith push down deep into the knowledge of the Divine Plan, while the tree of character grows higher and higher, developing and maturing the rich fruits of the Holy Spirit of God. R3557-1914]. "The winds of heaven," in this case, we understand to be "the powers of the air." The Bible says that Satan is the prince of the power of the air, that he is the prince of demons. (Eph. 2:2; Matt. 9:34.) Therefore (...) in this symbolical sense "the powers of the air" are the demons; that these powers of the air that are being held until the saints of God shall have been sealed in their foreheads, are these fallen angels. As soon as the power that is now controlling them shall be removed, we shall have a reign of evil all over the earth. The evil spirits will do all the evil that is in their power... R4880-1911
These angels would be permitted to get the power, or privilege, to materialize, apparently contrary to the divine intention (...) It would mean a wonderful time of trouble, it would mean a great intervention from this evil power over which there has been a restraint of God's providence for over four thousand years. The world has been more or less protected from these evil beings, except when any one wilfully gave over his mind in some sense to their power. Now if they get more liberty and more privilege than they formerly had, it would be a great temptation to mankind. R18-1908
It is the time of a "frenzy of delusion" that is precipitating troubles, religious, financial and social, and leading on to the anarchy which, according to the Bible, began now to overwhelm and swallow our civilization in the indescribable time of great tribulation which precedes the reign of righteousness. The saints, the people of God, did not have to escaped from this testing.
An attack on people of God (symbolic trees). Surely, in this hour of trial, both Satan and the fallen angels under him were being granted extraordinary power to tempt God's people, to cut loose from all moderation in a frenzy of delusion of error on one subject or another, to incite hasty and irrational conduct, to incite strife one person with another. It is a time, when the least deviation from the principles of righteousness in thoughts, the least violation of justice or love in thoughts, were opening the way for the enemy to inject poison, leaven, malice, envy, hatred and strife. These who received the seal in their forehead, a little flock, only they found themselves at this time under total protection of the Most High God. "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."
An atack on them, who dwell upon the earth. Our Lord compared the last years of this evil world with "the days of Noah," and "the days of Lot." With removing "the chains of darkness" from demons and with the power to materialize regained by them, the effect becomes to a large extent similar to the situation before deluge, when they had the full freedom. (Gen. 6:1-5.) In todays' times can be observed an extraordinary development of occult activity. It means that many people found themselves under huge influence of demons. It means also that a spirit of licentiousness amongst humanity and the all works of the flesh and the Devil – hatred, wrath, strife, murder, they will reach their extrema soon.
The history of Job is the example of this, what Satan is able to execute when only God allows him for this. In short time the demons caused that this patriarch came very close to be dead, his children were killed, whereas his entire estate was robbed and devastated. As the Lord gave the Adversary permission against Job, so Satan and his angels gained liberty in the hour of trial.
The final and outcome of the hour of trial
Together with the hour of the trial ends the "day of his [the Lord] preparation” to establishing of the God's Kingdom on the earth. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, enlisted during this "hour" all the people being trodden down and exploited, and He organized them in his earthly army. (Isa. 13:4.) By the using of this army He intends to overthrow completely the empire of the prince of this world, Satan. This will be the final of the hour of trial – worldwide revolution, anarchy. The process of globalization connected First, Second and Third World in one order of this world, which together will fall ultimately, when all the people "shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor." (Zach. 14:13.) When complete destruction of the old order take place, then will come to being the new order - the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
(11) I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.
Hold fast that which thou hast ... The crown which has been apportioned to you. "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10) F123 E490
No one take ... The crowns are limited, and there are some who will lose theirs to those more faithful. For every one who leaves the ransom and the light of present truth, another more earnest and zealous comes forward. C225; R1746:4
From 1881 until the door shall fully close  is a period of "sifting" as respects all who are already in divine favor. R4842:5
Those who lose their crowns are numbered either among God's enemies or among those whom the Son will deliver, "so as by fire," (1 Cor. 3:15) in the "Great Company." R2942:5
(12) He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name. (13) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
During the Philadelphia period, especially during the first and last phases of it, the faithful have either been obliged to come out of the nominal temple to find liberty, or they have been "cast out" for their straight testimony. The reward is that they will be, not simply an unimportant piece, but a vital part – a pillar in the true and eternal temple – a part that cannot be taken away or cast out while the structure exists. During their trial, their names were cast out as evil; they were branded as infidels and heretics; they were not recognized as children of God, as citizens of the heavenly country, as Christians. All this is to be reversed. The Lord knows them that are his, and in due time will fully and eternally acknowledge them.
Added by: Andrzej
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