TEN YEARS OF TRIBULATION
Revelation 2:10 "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Every time the Lord uses those words, "Fear not," there is an engagement at hand which will involve great danger and suffering and deprivation. Now He does not say in a blunt, curt manner, "Tribulation is coming." That would frighten one. But like a mother who is about to turn out the light says gently to her child lest he be frightened, "Now don't be afraid, for the light will go out and it will be dark. But remember that I am here with you." So He says, "Don't be afraid of man or what he can do to you. I am with you, and My grace is sufficient for you. When you pass through the waters, they will not overflow you. Not even in death are you defeated. You are more than conquerors."
The great apostle, Paul, knew from experience the reality of those words and he wrote in Romans 8:35-59, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him That loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." No, we are not to fear. His love casts out all fear.
Now notice what He says, "the devil will cast some of you into prison that you may be tried." The Jews were doing that right then. The pagan priests were doing that right then. The governors who tried to curry favor with the public because the people liked the arena, hurled the Christians by the thousands to their death, destroying them by lions and gladiators. What has the devil to do with this? Why blame him? Ah, yes, but it is the devil's hatred behind it all. He is behind it all for he hates God. What God has set His heart on, Satan is bound to try to destroy. But watch. Here is some illumination. If Satan is behind the Jews who are hailing the Christians into court, then the Jews are not of God's religion but the devil's. Their gathering is also of the synagogue of Satan. And if the Roman Catholic Church killed the multitudes of believers in the Dark Ages, yes and in all ages, then they are of the devil and belong to Satan, also.
And if you think this shocking, just wait until the prophecy of Revelation 13 is fulfilled. It is strikingly true that the United States of America is in that chapter. The very number thirteen is a symbol of this nation. It started with thirteen colonies. Its flag has thirteen stars and thirteen stripes. And there is her destiny in the thirteenth chapter. In this image that is mentioned in this chapter will be found all the wickedness of the beast that was before it. As the beast rose at the Nicene Council, so the image will come out of the World Council of Churches with all ungodly and Satanic power to vent the anger of the devil upon the true vine of God. It will be a repeat performance of all diabolical cunning and cruelty.
Those who fight the humble of God and scoff and destroy, let them do it. And do it they will. And all in the Name of God and religion. But they lie. They are not of God. They are of their father, the devil. They, by their deeds against ANY people, expose themselves for what they are. Let them organize and repudiate the little flock. They but further reveal to all that they are of the devil. They are the false vine - the vine that murders. Their hatred proves who they are. The Nicolaitane antichrist church is who they are.
"They shall be cast into prison." Yes, they are hailed into court and falsely accused and tried and imprisoned. And of course it is all done in the name of religion and decency and outraged innocency. All done for a good cause. That makes me think of the Supreme Court's ruling on prayer and Bible reading in the schools. Who is behind it? Satan is. It is just another angry outburst against God.
"Thou shalt have tribulation ten days." Here is a prophecy. And with it is a means of determining the life span of the Smyrnaean Age. Diocletian, the cruelest of all emperors, launched a terror campaign against the saints of God, that except for the mercy of God would have wiped out all believers. It was the bloodiest in history and lasted ten years (the ten days of Revelation 2:10b) from 302 to 312.
"Be thou faithful unto death." He does not say be faithful until death, but unto death. You may have to seal your testimony with your blood. Thousands, yea millions, have died during all the ages. They died in the faith. Like Antipas, the faithful martyr, they held not their lives dear unto death. Often we think that it would be almost impossible to be a martyr. But dare to recall that the faith we daily use to triumph in Christ Jesus is the same faith that upholds the Polycarps and all martyrs. The supreme faith will give supreme grace for the supreme hour. Blessed be God forever!
"And I will give thee a crown of life." Since not even a cup of cold water given in the Name of the Lord fails to receive a reward, how great shall be the reward to him who gives his life as a martyr for the Name of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps we can get a small idea if we compare this crown with the crown won in a race. In I Corinthians 9:24, Paul says, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain." A crown given to the winner of the Olympic race was a garland of olive branches. But the crown spoken of here in the Revelation, given to a martyr, is the crown of royalty. Jesus calls it the crown of life. The one crown is for those who have striven; the other is for those who have given. Both crowns are incorruptible. They will not perish. The winners of the worldly race of life will soon lose the joy of the plaudits of the world. Their glory will fail. But those who give their lives for God, either by daily striving or shedding their blood as the crowning sacrifice of their lives will be given the crown of life.
All too little time is spent on laboring for the eternal rewards of God. The recompence of God is too lightly esteemed. If we believe in the reality of the resurrection of the body, and an eternal kingdom of substance, then we ought to lay up in heaven those good treasures that are available to the faithful saints.
THE REWARD FOR OVERCOMING
Revelation 2:11, "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
Now, once again the Spirit is talking to all the ages. This message is to comfort us today even as it has comforted our brethren of all the other ages. And He says to us that the second death will not hurt us.
We all know that the second death is the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14, "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Of course that means all those who were therein, were cast into the lake of fire. Now then, I want to bring out something here for you. It no doubt will cause people to comment on my strange doctrine. But I stand here on the authority of the Word of God and deny that the unbeliever goes to an eternal hell and burns there eternally. In the first place, hell, or the lake of fire, or whatever you want to call it is not eternal. How can it be if it had a beginning? In Matthew 25:41, it says that "everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his angels." Now if it was prepared, then it wasn't without a beginning. If it had a beginning then it can't be eternal. Of course you might stumble over the idea of the word 'everlasting.' But that word means "from the ages to the ages" and has different meanings attached to it. In I Samuel 3:13- 14, God told Samuel that He was going to judge the house of Eli forever, and that they would offer no more sacrifices "forever" as His priests. And in II Kings 2:27, Solomon thrust out the last descendants of Eli from the priesthood. That was four generations or so later. Now you can see that "everlasting" does not compare with what is "eternal", or that which had no beginning or end. Here in this case the word everlasting means "to the vanishing point." That is what happened. They vanished.
Look at the word, "destruction" over in II Thessalonians 1:9, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction." In the Greek, "destruction" positively means annihilation. And the word, "destruction", does NOT mean destroying. Now "destroying" means something going on and on in decay. So what can everlasting annihilation mean? It doesn't mean to keep on annihilating, or that would make the word "destroying", instead of "destruction". It means to destroy to the ending point. End it.
You might wonder now, when you can use that word, "eternal", and not use it the way we have been taught. That is easy. When it applies to God it means to be without beginning or end, and ever enduring and never ceasing. And when you talk of eternal life you have that in mind which is the life of God. "This is the record, that God has given us eternal life, and that life is in the Son. He that hath the Son hath life." Now then, only sons of God have life eternal, the kind that never had a beginning, but always was. That is right. You have something in you right now that is eternal - without beginning or end. It is the Spirit of God. It is a part of God Himself. It is the life of God.
Now if a sinner is going to go to hell and then suffer the same as you are going to heaven and enjoy heaven, then he has the same kind of life you have already.
Well, then there might be those who say eternal life signifies the welfare of the children of God. It is their welfare and enjoyment that is at stake. On the other hand the sinner goes to his punishment, so that we can reduce the second death to a matter of punishment and place. Eternal life means heaven, and eternal punishment means hell. You would be surprised at the men who have been exalted as theologians that believed that. But do you know what that does? It makes eternal life a matter of geography instead of a Person. Eternal life is God, the Lord Jesus Christ. How anyone could believe such a thing, that eternal life is a matter of place, is more than I know. It makes me stagger to think of it.
No sir. There is only one kind of eternal life. God has it. If we have God, we have eternal life in and through Him.
So you see, that word eternal, or everlasting, can be applied in various ways, but when it applies to God, He being what He is, it has one meaning. It is the duration of God. You can't apply it like that to any other thing. God alone is eternal, and because He lives, we live with Him.
Now don't let anyone say that I don't believe in a lake of fire and in punishment. I do. I don't know how long it will last, but it will eventually be removed. In Revelation 21:8, it says that those sinners mentioned will have their part in the lake of fire. But the true interpretation of the word is not 'part' but it is 'time.' See, there you have it.
So the wicked shall be cast into hell (Hades or the grave) and hell into the lake of fire. Separated from God. What a terrible thing that will be.
But with the righteous it shall not be so. They don't have to fear. They have been redeemed by God. They are in His bosom. They are the overcomers. And who is he that overcometh? He that believeth that Jesus is the Christ.
Why will this overcomer, this believer escape, and go into realms of eternal life and bliss? Because Jesus paid a price to ransom us from sin. He filled the gap of separation, and we who were afar off are now made nigh by the blood.
And they will never come into condemnation. They will never be in that lake of fire. They can never be lost for He will lose none of them. Not one of the redeemed will be anywhere except where Jesus is.
Do you know why that is? I will illustrate it for you. I have a little boy, Joseph. He is a part of me, no matter what happens. If I were a rich man, the worst I could do would be to disinherit him, but there is nothing that I can ever do to deny him. I can't because he is a part of me. Here, let's take a blood test. Let's match his blood with mine. It'll prove that Joseph is my son. He is mine.
It's the blood test that shows whether you belong to God or not.
I can't help thinking of the time that I used to ride herd on purebred Herefords out in Colorado. We used to have to bring in those cattle for government inspection if we wanted them to feed on government range. But they would not allow one single animal that did not have the blood tag on the ear. The tag signified that it was purebred. The rangers that looked them over did not once look at the brand. They just looked at the tag to see that the blood was the right blood. Hallelujah. If it's the right blood, it's got to be right.
You know God looked down and declared, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. It is separated from Me. It can't approach unto Me." We know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That meant that all died, all were separated, and one day a time would come when even that bit of life would be snuffed out and it would be all over. But God in love, took an animal and took its life in the place of the sinner's life.
In the Old Testament the sinner brought a lamb. He placed his hand on the lamb while the priest cut the lamb's throat. He felt the bleeding and heard the bleating. He felt the body stiffen in death. He saw the smoke of the sprinkled blood ascend to God. He knew that the lamb had taken his place. He knew that the lamb's life had been forfeited for his. But the life of that lamb was animal life and it could not come back upon the sinner making him clean. So he left with the same desire to sin. He would go out with sin in his mind, and come back and offer a sacrifice for the same thing a year later.
But in the New Testament it is not so. Our dying Lamb is the Son of God Who gave His blood a ransom for many. By faith we walk up and place our hands upon that Lamb - we see Him with the bloody wounds, the lacerated back, the cruel thorns tearing His brow - we feel His pain and hear Him cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" And what happened? The life that left that broken blood cell came back upon the repentant one. The life that was in Him came back upon us. We go back with no more desire to sin, and we now possess a hatred for the works and lusts of the flesh.
Look at us. What is our life? Just one little cell that came from our father. The female does not have the hemoglobin. She produces the egg; she is the incubator. But the blood comes from the male. That is why the woman takes the man's name. The children take his name. The mother is the incubator for the children she bears him.
That is what happened for our redemption. The Holy Ghost came upon Mary and she bore a Son and called Him, Jesus. The great Creator came down and became a sacrifice for our sin. His blood was the blood of God. That is exactly what it was. That blood of God was shed and the Spirit left Him as He died in agony. Then the SAME LIFE (SPIRIT) came back to in-dwell the repentant sinner and set him free. That sinner did not come back year after year, sacrifice after sacrifice, for there was no need. By ONE sacrifice, once and for all he has been set free from the dominion of sin, and has received the life of Christ whereby he reigns in victory over sin, the world, the flesh and the devil.
God did it. He did it all. He cried out to the world cursed in sin, "I will give you a sign. A virgin shall be with child. A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son. That will be your sign. It will be an everlasting sign. What she brings forth will be Emmanuel, God with us."
God came down in a blood cell, not through a man, but by the Holy Ghost, and in that virgin womb a tabernacle for the purpose of death was built. The Seed of the woman came in order that He be bruised to bring us our salvation. When the Holy Ghost came upon Mary, He created within her womb the cell that would multiply and become the body of our Lord. That cell was created. It was the Beginning of the Creation of God. That is Who Jesus is. And that Holy One was filled with Holy blood, even the blood of God. That tabernacle came to birth. He grew to be a man. He went to Jordan and there that Sacrifice was washed of John in the river called Jordan. When that Acceptable Sacrifice rose out of the water, God came and in-dwelt Him, filling Him with the Spirit without measure. And when He died and shed His blood, the perfect life of God was liberated to come back upon the sinner who would accept the Christ as his Saviour.
Oh, how striking it is. Jehovah, born crying over a manure pile. Jehovah born in a manger of straw. There is your everlasting sign to the proud and puffed up, pseudo-intellectuals that have evolved their own theology and denied the truth of God. Jehovah God, a crying baby in a stinking barn. Then we think we have a right to be proud, holding up our noses, criticizing and acting as though we were somebody. Here's your real sign. This is the right one. Jehovah, playing as a boy. Jehovah working in a carpenter's shop. Jehovah washing the feet of fishermen.
"I will give you a sign," said God. "Not the sign of a white collared priesthood. Not the sign of wealth and power. There's nothing in this sign that you will want, or think suitable. But it is an everlasting sign. It is the greatest sign of all." Jehovah standing in the courtyard bruised and bleeding with thorns on His brow and spit on His face, mocked and set at naught. Jehovah, despised and rejected, hanging naked upon the cross, while the hypocrites jeered and dared Him to come down off the cross. Jehovah dying. Jehovah praying and nothing happening. Then Jehovah died. That is the sign for all men now. There isn't another like it. It is the great one.
Then darkness came upon the earth. They put Him in a tomb. There He lay those three days and nights until an earthquake shattered the gloom of night and He came forth. Jehovah came forth. Jehovah ascended on high. Then Jehovah returned to in-dwell His church. Jehovah came back with a mighty rushing wind and flames of fire. Jehovah came back to walk in the midst of His church and empower His people. Once more Jehovah came, and this time to stay in His people. And again Jehovah heals the sick, raises the dead and manifests Himself by the Spirit. Jehovah came back, speaking in tongues, and giving the answer back in interpretation.
Jehovah came down and He raised the prostitute to sin no more. He came down to the drunkard with fly blows on his face as he lay unconscious in the gutter. Yes, Jehovah came to manifest in flesh and manifest through flesh. Jehovah came - God in us, the hope of glory.
Yes, Jesus came and shed His blood and set the captive free. He came and redeemed His lost sheep. He gave them eternal life and they shall never perish. He won't lose one of them, but raise them up at the last day.
Hallelujah, the second death cannot hurt them. It has no power over them. For they are the Lamb's and they follow Him wherever He goes. 7ch017.htm
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