"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Malachi vs Revelation, Part 2
Judgment of Idolatry
This past year we have taken a look at the Lord's return to see if we are ready for His coming. In our last newsletter, we compared Malachi's day, the last book in the Old Testament, with the letters to the churches in Revelation, the last book in the New Testament. We saw that despite God's faithfulness in the midst of their trials, the people in Malachi's day complained against God and even turned from Him. We also saw in the message to the churches that nothing was new over the years: the people still sinned against God and followed idols and corruption filled their assemblies. So we want to continue looking at these two books and we want to examine our own lives to see if we too have fallen into any of these ways and maybe even into idolatry.
A Time of Judgment
"For behold the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze, says the Lord of Hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. And you will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing, says the Lord of Hosts. Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel" (Malachi 4:1-4). We see that this time of judgement is yet to come and when it comes, it will come with fire, not like the day of Noah when God judged the earth with a flood. God promised Noah that He would never judge the earth again by flood.
In Revelation we see the judgment of "the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality" (Revelation 17:1-2). John saw Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, and the abomination of the earth. He saw the woman who was dressed in purple and scarlet and was adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and unclean things of her immorality, drunk with the blood of the saints and the witnesses of Yeshua, and whose name is not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world.
The Great Harlot
So who is this great harlot? The Bible tells us that at the end times, there will be a universal order of worship, a one world religion. This will not be some new religion, but one that has its roots going back to the Tower of Babel. This false religion has deep roots, and it has found its way into the Jewish religious system and even into our congregations today. The Devil appears as an angel of light, this is what the Bible tells us. He is crafty and cunning and deceitful and through all this, he has been able to turn the hearts of God's people away from the truth, and has caused them to worship idols. We see this in the book of Malachi, how the priesthood became corrupted and allowed the people to offer up blemished sacrifices. The people began saying, "God blesses the wicked." Immorality and divorce began to increase. The people no longer tithed and they even said, "It was in vain to serve God and there was no profit in it." We see these same things happening in the time of Paul, and John's words to the churches in Revelation speak of these same issues.
Three Symbols of Idolatry
In the message to the seven churches, Yeshua mentions three names that the people did or did not tolerate: 1. Balaam 2. Jezebel 3. Nicolaitans.
Balaam was summoned by King Balak to come and curse Israel. Balaam was not a prophet of God, but a pagan seer, a magician with supernatural powers. His practices were clearly pagan but even at this, God warned Balaam not to curse Israel (Numbers 22). After being confronted by one of God's angels and his own donkey speaking to him, Balaam foregoes the king's reward and only blesses Israel to the anger of King Balak. But later Balaam returns and we find him among the Midianites, whom he advises on how to lure the Israelites into cult practices and immorality, worshiping the pagan idol Baal of Peor (Numbers 25). In Malachi, the people stumbled because of the sins of the priesthood. In Revelation, God was against the church of Pergamum for, like Balaam, they caused the people to stumble into pagan practices of eating things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
The Book of Jude refers to these people. He says, "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord Yeshua." Jude goes on to describe these people as going the way of Cain and, for pay, rushing headlong into the error of Balaam. In verses 12-13 he says, "These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds of autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever."
These people are in our churches today misleading believers and whole congregations. Not only have today's Bibles omitted words like the blood but pastors have omitted teaching about sin and repentance and even the cross. The gospel message has been changed to social issues (not that social issues are not important, but without the gospel message we have not carried out God's way). Pastors no longer teach on how one should live out being a disciple of Yeshua by picking up His cross and walking on the narrow road that leads to eternal life. Paul warns us to beware of those who come with a different gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). We need to stop and examine our walk with God and make sure that we are not being swept away by those who would have us be distracted by worldly ways and worldly thinking and compromise godliness even in the slightest manner.
Jezebel was married to King Ahab. She was the pagan daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre and Sidon. Her idolatrous religion consisted of polytheism and mythology centered on Baal, the sun god Sap, Reshep (an underworld deity), and her fertility cults honoring Ashtart, mixed with Semitic and Egyptian ideas. She had 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah. She wanted to have her gods placed on equal footing with the one true God of Israel, which created conflict with the prophet Elijah. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah wins the victory at Mt. Carmel over her pagan gods. In the letter to the churches, John writes to the church in Thyatira as recorded in Revelation 2:20-23, "But this I have against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bondservants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols, and I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality, behold I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds and I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts and I will give to each one according to your deeds."
In today's churches divorce is rampant and we have tolerated way too much sin. We have pastors condoning divorce, immorality, and even lifestyles that we know are against God's Word. Pastors themselves are being caught in adulterous life styles and children of pastors and deacons are also having children out of wedlock and having alternate lifestyles. We have accepted this kind of behavior and we are told to be tolerant of such things. We need to examine ourselves to see if we have become tolerant of sin and if we have, then we need to repent. The Scriptures tell us that we are to expose sin, not condone it or tolerate it (Ephesians 5:11-13).
In the message to the churches, John writes to the churches of Ephesus and Pergamos to praise the people for not tolerating the Nicolaitans; and the other church he rebukes and tells to repent for holding on to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. So who are these Nicolaitans? The Bible does not make clear who these people are. Because of the references in the text, we can surmise that they must have something to do with idolatry.
Well, let us look closely to the name. The name consists of two names: Nakao, "to conquer," and Laos "for laity." This seems to have something to do with a religious system, perhaps a division between priests and the laity. Is this what was happening in Malachi's day, that the priesthood became corrupted and led the way for the people to fall into their sinful ways of offering blemished sacrifices and divorce and even their complaining about God Himself? Like anything that takes root, it only grows and produces fruit and this is what happened when the Nicolaitans infiltrated the Jewish congregations and then became part of the doctrine of the church.
The Nicolaitans were not some followers of just any one person, but an occult practice resulting from Greek mythology. The name comes from Nike and Laos. Nike is the Goddess of victory and Laos were her followers. In Greek mythology, Nike is the goddess of victory, whose function was to proselytize or evangelize for Zeus, to ascribe to him all the honor and glory of all the other gods, and thus displace them so that he (Zeus) might be worshipped in their place. You may say that, "This is all mythology," but we must remember that mythology was the religion of the pagans. When persecution to believers did not stop the rise of Christianity, these pagan governments had to try something new and what they did was to infiltrate the churches with these people; this is what Jude was writing about when he said that certain people have crept in unnoticed. These Nicolaitans have been masquerading, worshiping in our churches and have made converts of us all. Because of this, we have today many pagan practices in our churches. For instance, the Nico-laos is the same as Nicolaos, the same St. Nicolaos who shows up every December 25th to celebrate the birth of Zeus, Jupiter, Mithra, Nimrod, Baal, Addon, Apollo, Tamuz, and Baccus; many of these same gods were worshiped by Jezebel (thanks to the emperor Constantine who Hellenized much of what we believe today). The image of the mother and child comes from a pagan cult; Easter a pagan goddess along with her fertility rabbits and sunrise worship. Halloween, May poles, New Year's Eve watch nights, and even Sunday worship are all Babylonian feasts. Yeshua was never called Jesus, even by the Greeks of His day, for the name Jesus is taken from Zeus. We have been Hellenized and Babylonianized, and even when the Protestant church broke away, they still continued in the practices of the Nicolaitans. Let us go back to the Word of God and let us go back to our Jewish roots, for God has not changed, not His Word; it is us who have broken away for a one world religion.
The Book of Remembrance
We read in chapter 3 verse 16 of the book of Malachi that God did not give up on the people, but He chose to remember those who were faithful and feared Him, and a Book of Remembrance was written. God said that they would become His and that He would spare them. In Revelation we see the same thing, that God will remember His people who are faithful to Him. In the letter to the church in Sardis, Revelation 3:5 says, "But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels." We read in Revelation 20:12, "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life, and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds."
The Book of Remembrance was something that kings kept. In the Bible, the Book of Chronicles was a record of the lives of the kings of Israel. We see this in the time of Esther that the king kept records and chronicles of events. Esther 6:1 says, "During the night the king could not sleep, so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king." If it weren't for these records, Mordecai would not have been rewarded. It is the same with our King: one day His books will be opened and all of our deeds that have been recorded will be read and we will be rewarded according to our righteous deeds.
People, no matter when they lived, either in the time of Malachi, or at the time of the Apostle John, or even today, still hope for the Messiah. In the day of the Apostles, they were waiting for the return of Messiah. But today, are we still waiting and preparing for His return or have we fallen asleep or even worse have we fallen into idolatry? Let us repent and examine to see if we truly have our light burning, waiting to hear the call, "The Bridegroom cometh!" Let us return to our first love, Yeshua, the one true Messiah of God. Next newsletter we are going to look at the coming of Elijah in the Book of Malachi.
We hope that the light of Hanukkah keeps burning in your hearts and as we celebrate the Messiah's birth, let us celebrate it in the true light of God's Word.