As Br. Branham taught from John the Revelator's prophecies, the blessings of the faithful, and sins of the unfaithful in each age, are typed out in the first church age, the Ephesian age (Revelation2,1).The blessings and sins of each age accumulate and permeate and continue, right up and through the seventh and last church age, the Laodicean, the one we are living in now (Revelation3,14). That is, through the church ages God prepares a true bride, and allows a false bride, wheat and tares, a ready people eager to meet Jesus, and a wordly people, not so ready.
Scripture Re. First Church Age, Revelation2,1-7:
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand [the seven true churches, in each of the seven ages], the one who walks among the seven golden lampstands [the true church in each age], says this: 2 I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for my name sake, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love [joyful Holy Ghost worship of risen Jesus, which fuels the gospel mission?] . 5 'Therefore, remember from where you have fallen [seated in heavenly places with Jesus, Ephesians2,6], and repent and do the deeds you did at first [worship and spread the gospel to all]; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place- unless you repent. 6 'Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans [the first church leaders to dominate and subjugate the laity], which I also hate. 7 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God." (NASB)
An Exposition Of The Seven Church Ages, Voice of God Recordings, 2012, Jeffersonville, Indiana
The Ephesian Church Age p. 77-78:
"The very religion of Ephesus types our perfectly this first church age and sets the tenor of the ages to come. In the first place, the magnificent temple of Diana [Roman pantheon included "Diana", the Greek "Artemis", same false goddess, under two different names] which was so many years in building [one of the seven wonders of the ancient world], housed in its sacred courts the most lusterless and unobstrusive, image of Diana that one could imagine. She was absolutely unlike any other of her images seated in other temples deicated to her. She was simply an almost shapeless female figure that finally sunk into the block of wood from which she was carved. And her two arms were formed of two simple bars of iron. How perfectly this depicts the spirit of the anichrist loosed in the first age. There he was loosed in the midst of the people, and yet took no shape as to alarm the people. Yet the two arms of iron bars showed that it was his intent to crush the work of God as he made his inroads. And no one seemed to notice him or what he was doing. But one day they would notice, when with those arms of iron his deeds became "doctrine," and his doctrine became the law of an empire. [Revelation2,15]
The order of temple service is also very revealing. There were, first of all, priests who were eunichs. This sterile priesthood presaged the sterility of a people who would drift from the Word, for a people who claim top know God apart from the Word are as barren of life as is a sterile eunich. Secondly, the temple had within its confines the virgin priestesses who performed the religious acts of the temple. This showed forth the day that ceremony and form and ritual and works would take the place of the Holy Spirit and no longer would charismatic manifestation fill the temple of God. Over them was a high priest ["megabyxos"], a man of political power and public influence, portraying what was already in progress, though not too manifested, that is, the church would soon be given over to the leadership of man with man's plans and man's ambitions and "thus saith the Holy Ghost" would no loner be a living reality. And underneath them all were the temple slaves who had no choice but obedience to the religious hierarchy. What can this mean but the day would come when the vested clergy, political maneuvering, state help, and the substitution of the Word and the Spirit for creeds, dogmas, and human leadership, would enslvae the laity while the leaders luxuriated in ill-gotten wealth and enjoyed their filthy pleasures, and the poor people who were to be served according to God, now became the servants."
*used by permission
I was so intrigued by Branham's prophetic and seven age "dispensational" analysis of church history, the key to which is the first Ephesian age with its Nicolaitanism (dominating of the laity by church leaders) and non biblical hierarchy, that the Lord led me to a modern and strictly historical source that gives historical credence to Branham's prophecy regarding the spiritual and faith battle that the true church faced right from the very begining. This battle there included the clash of style and culture, and the non Christian origin and spirit that characterized the powerful Artemision Temple in Ephesus: "Preistly Personelle Of The Ephesian Artemision: Anatolian, Persian, Greek And Roman Aspects." Jan Bremmer, 2008.
I was so intrigued that the Lord showed me (Revelation2,6 and 15) the top 25 historic ways of Nicolaitanism up to our present day: "The 'Nicolaitans' And The Top 25 Historic Ways To Control God's People:" http://www.zionpentecostmission.com/nicolaitans-deeds-doctrines.html which also rendered in a four part video series: 1. http://www.vimeo.com/103250642 2. http://www.vimeo.com/103250641 3. http://www.vimeo.com/103250643 4. http://www.vimeo.com/103250644
William Branham (1909-1965) was to 20th century American preaching what Frank Capra (1897-1991) was to 20th century American film-making.
Today is our eleventh in a series of excerpts from William M. Branham's two principal written works. We're not going to take time explaining his life or the miracles that attended it, or defend his preaching style or grammar, his doctrines or vice versa.
That's all being said and done, and likely will be until Jesus comes back.
Rather than get distracted, our aim is to see Branham's gift of in depth discernment, study, and then fully shouting from the rooftops about biblical passages that Christians historically, and to this day, avoid, gloss over, explain away, or outright change, according to denominational and political fault lines.
Having said that, there might not be two bible expositors or students across the whole Christian spectrum who agree with half of what Br. Branham preached.
Yet and still, in an age where preaching has become so tepid, so nuanced, so easy-pleasy, so cookie-cutter and prosperity bound, there seems to be a famine of the prophetic word, his voice is somehow still welcome. (As for this famine: https://vimeo.com/126142650 ) Why? I'm not sure, but it has something to with the fact that his preaching still prods and wrankles all, just like Jesus', and even galvanizes some to get serious about salvation from our savior who said "not everybody who says 'Lord Lord' will get into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew7,21)
Long before anybody heard about "the prosperity gospel", Branham was preaching against it. Instead, he preached for all God's people, for humanity, not for pastorianity or churchianity, not for secular power and wealth on behalf of the potentates of the world, but for humanity, poor as well as rich. In this homespun humanity and the breath of his gospel vision, he shares much with the renown American film-maker Frank Capra.
One note of caution, Branham's ability to communicate, especially vocally, is so effective, so boiled down and rich, the apparent temptation of some is to preach his words rather than the same written word and gospel that he so loved.
In sum, anyone who hasn't sampled something of Branham's vast gospel output has missed something of the potential breath, vision, and import of our individual faith witness according to the word of God.
Hope you enjoy this series.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...