"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Malachi vs Revelation, Part 4
Message to the Churches
Over he last year, we have been looking at the Book of Malachi and the Book of Revelation. We have compared the two and we saw in the time of Malachi that the people had begun to fall into idolatry and rebellion against God; so too with the churches in the day of the Apostle John as he wrote the messages to the 1st Century churches. We saw that the prophet Elijah was to come before the coming of Messiah, which Yeshua said was fulfilled in John the Baptist. We now want to look at the end times church, the church today, and we want to see what the message is to today's church and who the messenger is to give this message. To find the message to today's church, the assembly of believers, we need to look at the Scriptures that tell us about the end times. We know that we are in the end times because the prophecy is fulfilled about Israel once again becoming a nation and the people returning to their homeland. Isaiah 66:8 speaks about the new nation of Israel being formed in one day, which it was. Yeshua and His disciples had a lot to say about the end times. In fact, Yeshua even told several parables regarding this time. Many of Yeshua's warnings and prophecies in Matthew 24 referred to the persecution and the destruction of the temple in the 1st Century. But of course, we must realize with prophecy that it can refer to a particular time but it can also refer to many different times. Such is the reference to the Abomination of Desolation which happened in the days of the Maccabees and will also take place at the end times with the coming of the lawless one. I guess it gives credence to the saying, "history repeats itself." So let's look at some of these end times Scriptures to understand what the message is to the church today.
Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather then lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power, and from such people turn away!" Paul tells Timothy what the mystery of godliness is in 1 Timothy 3:16, "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory." So we see that godliness is Yeshua and we are to follow Him and imitate Him, but in the last days people will only have a form of godliness and many of them will be Christians who will not live in the power of the resurrected Savior. Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, "But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." Paul goes on in 1 Timothy 4:1-3, "Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know truth." Now Paul was not talking about the Jewish people who abstain from unclean foods, for this abstinence was to take place in latter times.
So Scripture tells us that people will fall away from the teachings of God and Yeshua Himself and only have a form of Christianity. The Bible tells us another mystery, the mystery of lawlessness. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10 tells us, "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders." Paul tells the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
Two Kings/Two Kingdoms
Two mysteries now take us to two kings and kingdoms. Let's compare the two.
The Mystery of Godliness
Yeshua is the:
True God: John 1:1, John 10:30
Truth: John 14:6, 2 Timothy 2:15
Torah: John 1:14
True Messiah: Matthew 16:16-17, Mark 14:61-62
Godly King: Matthew 2:6, Matthew 27:11, 1 Timothy 6:15
Yeshua's subjects walk according to His Spirit: Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:16
Is in Heaven: John 18:36, Acts 1:11, 2 Timothy 4:18
Represents light: John 1:9, John 8:12, Ephesians 5:8, 1 John 1:5
Kingdom and King will rule forever: Revelation 19:11-16, Revelation 21
The Mystery of Lawlessness
False god: 2 Corinthians 4:4
Lies: John 8:44, Romans 1:25
Lawlessness: 1 John 3:4, 8
The false messiah: Matthew 24:24, 1 John 2:22
The lawless king: Revelation 13:4
Satan's subjects walk according to the flesh: Romans 9:8
Is of this world: John 12:31, John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 4:4
Represents darkness: Ephesians 5:11
Kingdom and king will be defeated: 1 John 2:17, Revelation 19:20
Now that we have seen the differences between the two kings and kingdoms, we want to look at two churches, for each king has his own worshipers. Let's start with the false church and then we will look at the true church and then from there we will discuss the message to the true church today.
The Counterfeit Church
From the beginning of time, Satan has been a counterfeit and a liar. He began with his rebellion in heaven when he wanted to be God, so he began his own kingdom. Then he deceived Adam and Eve and told them that they could be like God, so Adam fell and Satan stole the crown and now he became king. Then he continued at the tower of Babel when he lied to the people and made them think that they could reach the heavens and that they too could be God; and so Satan had his followers and they began the counterfeit church. Revelation 17:3-6 tells us about this false church: "So the Spirit of God carried me away into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Of The Abominations Of The Earth. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Yeshua. And when I saw her I marveled with great amazement."
Revelation 13:11-18 tells us that a beast will arise from the earth who will have two horns like a lamb but will speak like a dragon (Satan). He will have great authority and he will cause those who dwell on the earth to worship the lawless one (beast). He will perform great signs so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men (clearly a reference to Elijah on Mt. Carmel, but truly a counterfeit). And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the lawless one, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name; the number is 666. For this newsletter we will not go into all the meaning behind the beast and the false prophet. We just want to compare the two churches at this time.
So we see here another mystery: the mystery Babylon, the counterfeit church that will arise and only have a form of godliness (Christianity) and it will cause a great apostasy and deception and cause many people to follow not only the false prophet, but the beast, the false messiah, who will appear to be a lamb but will be a dragon. 1 John 2:22-23 tells us, "Who is a liar but he who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah? He is the false messiah who denies the Father and the Son." Yeshua tells us in Matthew 24:24, "For false messiahs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the desert!' do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."
The false church, who will be doing good deeds such as helping the poor and less fortunate, will be doing it in their names and the names of their gods, secular humanism, such as we see today with celebrities helping victims of storms and earthquakes for the sake of publicity. Even churches today have their outreach programs but their only purpose is to draw people into their church for the sake of numbers and, sadly, even for revenue. Philippians 3:18-21 says, "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Messiah; whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame - who sets their minds on earthly things." This is the appetite that people have for the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Today's church doesn't think twice about what they watch on TV or in the movies; in fact, I have heard pastors talk about these things in their sermons. There is no separation between church and the world, for one looks like the other today. Idolatry is in the church and it keeps people from praying and reading their Bibles. Romans 12:1-2 tells us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (worship). And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
So we see that in the end times, people will be lovers of self rather than lovers of God. Paul tells us in falling away from God and being consumed by the world that the church will begin to deny truth itself.
The True Church
The true church in the latter days will have one big distinction and that is it will be holy, holy meaning set-apart, for God tells us that He is holy and we should also be holy. When God gave Israel His Torah (teachings), its purpose was for all to see that God's people were set-apart from all other people (Exodus 19:5-6, Isaiah 62:12). When Yeshua came, He did not teach anything different. Peter tells us that we are a peculiar people in 1 Peter 2:9. We are not to be like the world because we are not like the world. Yeshua tells us that the world will hate us (John 15:18-19). The true church will not compromise, but it will stand for truth for they will love God and His Word more than their own lives (Revelation 12:11, 14:12). As we see, in the last days the love of many will grow cold, but you will know the true church by its love (John 13:34-35). They will be a light in the darkness, a banner for all to run to, a refuge from the storm. They will be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). The true church will be doing their deeds in the name of the Lord Yeshua (Colossians 3:17). They will be operating in the Holy Spirit by the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) and their lives will be a tree full of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26). The true church will be tested and true and they will live by faith (2 Peter 1:5-11, Romans 4:23-5:5, James 1:2-8).
So we have seen the difference between the one true church of God and we have seen the counterfeit church that will arise. For we know that Paul has told us that the spirit of lawlessness was already at work in his day and as we draw closer to the time of Yeshua's return, we will see this spirit increase. Now that we have laid the groundwork, in the next newsletter we will look at the message to the church today and we will see if Elijah is coming back once more.