"When that day comes, Yahweh will punish the armies of the sky above and on earth the kings of the earth, 22 they will be herded together, herded together like prisoners in a dungeon and shut up in gaol, and, after long years, punished. 23 The moon will be confused and the sun ashamed, for Yahweh Saboath is king on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and the Glory will radiate on their elders." Isaiah24,22-23 NJB 1999
"On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth." Isaiah25,7-8 NIV
"With a hope like this, we can speak with complete fearlessness; 13 not like Moses who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites should not watch the end of what was transitory. 14 But their minds were closed; indeed, until this very day, the same veil remains over the reading of the Old Testament: it is not lifted, for only in Christ is it done away with. 15 As it is, to this day, whenever Moses is read, their hearts are covered with a veil, and this veil will not be taken away till they turn to the Lord. 17 Now this Lord is the the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors refelecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; that is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit." 2Corinthians3,12-18.
"...instead, in God's sight we commend ourselves to every human being with a conscience by showing the truth openly . 3 If our gospel seems veiled at all, it is so to those who are the way to destruction, 4 the unbelivers whose minds have been blinded by the god of this world, so they cannot see shining the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 It is not oursleves that we are proclaiming, but Christ Jesus as the Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 It is God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness, 'that has shone into our hearts to enlighten them with the knowledge of God's glory, the glory on the face of Christ." 2Corinthians4,2-6
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well, that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." 2Peter1,19
Endtime Faith Lifts Nine Veils
Today I'm preaching our "Endtime Faith Lifts Nine Veils."
This Preaching Hour will hopefully reach your spirits as well as your minds. For much of the Word we have to get it into our spirits through the Holy Ghost before our minds can grasp what God wants us to know. When I started to learn scripture, really study it, the very logic of it, I'd listen to the same preacher over and over, learning to follow and study the Word, then over time it releases from my spirit into my mind.
And then you really know it.
Can You See 'Son of Man'?
Ezekiel, the prophet of God, is often asked by the Lord as the Lord unveiled things "can you see son of man?"
Or today we'd also say: "Can you see woman of humanity?"
We faithful often can't see what God wants us to see because our faces, hearts, minds, spirits (whatever we can "see" with) are veiled in some sort of darkness, whether from our own sin, or spiritual warfare and its interferance, or from our own ignorance and obtuseness.
We have countless ways to stay in this darkness, but God's Spirit and his revelation, and the prophetic word, will remove veils and bring us into His light and salvation, where we truly want to live, not just playing church.
Veils of Folly Can Be Lifted
The great Baptist preacher of the 19th century London John Gill suggests that Isaiah 25,7, which is usually translated "on this mountain [Zion] he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all people" could just as well be translated he will destroy "the veil of folly off our understanding."
To live in darkness when Jesus is the light of the world, and shares his light, is folly.
Isaiah25,7 says Jesus will come again to Mount Zion and we will see him as he is, Lord of Lord and King of Kings, with all veils, all darknesses, lifted off our hearts, off our humanity. The Apostle Paul picks up this theme at 2Corinthians3, especially verse 18: "And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit."
We become brighter and brighter with Him in us as we approach the parousia, his second coming, his full presence.
This Apostle continues at 2Corinthians4,6: "It is God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness, that has shone into our hearts to enlighten them with the knowledge of God's glory, the glory on the face of Christ."
The glory in our hearts will meet the glory on his face on Mount Zion when he comes again! Praise Jesus. Don't you love Him?
If we can reflect His glory, no wonder the word tells us to "lean not on our own understanding." Our human understanding is often foolish, and clouded in darkness, or just plain mistaken.
It's simply not the light of Christ, not the light of the world.
I am never unsurprised by the great distance between my understanding and light and his understanding and light. His understanding and light are not obscure or hidden from Himself, but they often are to our little minds. Christianity was birthed in a time of darkness and crisis in Israel, after hundreds of years of foreign occupations and existential threats. But in this darkness, and out of the final battle of Armageddon in Israel, is going to come the salvation of the world, and light to all nations.
Manifest His Glory
The word of God also shines and lift veils off our hearts and minds, and spirits, and reveals our God Jesus as He is. It also reveals to us that we are made in His Spiritual image (Genesis1,27), and therefore we not only can represent Him but even, occasionally anyway, manifest Him.
"This little light of mine, ("I'm not going to hide it under a bushel basket.") I'm going to let it shine."
This is no small thing or calling.
Today, as in several recent teachings on 'The Preaching Hour', we're going back to the list thing.
We had the 'Ten Initial Pillars Of Biblical Doctrine." We also just did "The Three Levels Of 'The Pride of Life.' "
Today, we have "Endtime Faith Lifts Nine Veils." Another list. Thank God He gaves us preachers lists.
I say "endtime" faith not just because we assess this age to be one of greatly speeded up revelation, and the actual endtime, but because Christianity has always been in this "endtime," and has always demanded an ardent- make no excuses"endtime" faith. This is the ordinary mode for the faithful, we're on the edge of seats hoping and waiting.
Jesus said he'd be right back within a generation, within forty years.
He also said we do not know the day or the hour, that He's coming like a thief in the night.
Moreover, our faith in him has always been apocalyptic, that is, about a series of unvelings, about the final things of death, judgment, the millenial kingdom, eternal life, unveilings of how to persevere and how to think, and how to put on the mind of Christ, and how to spread the gospel.
So we'll be ready: 'the bride has made herself ready' as the Word says.
I'm preaching nine biblical unveilings, things we might not have seen yet, but that are right there in front of us, to be plucked from his ripe Word and Spirit. Praise Jesus.
They will help us get ready for judgment, ready for the millenial kingdom, and ready to interpret the signs of our own times, and ready to shine our light, our faith, when so much around us is death and darkness.
Beware- some of these unveilings may seem a little hard to accept, or illogical to our human mind. Sometimes that just the way the Word is, especially the Apocalyptic, where our own reason is not always helpful. Some of these unveilings may even rustle the feathers of the denominational church politics-business system.
You might not agree with some of them and not others, but if we both stay faithful and enthusiastic, and do the gospel things we know to do, such as praise the Lord always, and follow the Word, and follow Jesus, living by faith, we'll all keep moving forward, and be ready for Jesus' second coming.
You might ask "Why keep searching the unveilings of a gung ho faith. Don't we have enough revelations already?"
Well the choice is yours- do you want to take chances with your salvation and perhaps be blinded by 'the god of this world', by Satan, or do you want see how God's word and Spirit would have you live and act? Besides, these unveilings will help us not to be outwitted by Satan (cf2Corinthians2,11) who thrives on our ignorance and unforgiveness.
These are strange times for people of the Christian faith. We have mass beheadings of Christians in the Mideast. We have the buying and selling of men's souls by all manner of false religion, including false Christianity according to Revelation18,13. We have mass migrations from wars and religious depravities and narcostates, and a burgeoning worldwide arms trade (where no one can even remotely guarantee where the arms will end up), yet the church seems to be just always hoping to get back to 'business as usual.'
In Times of Darkness The Prophets Unveil And Pastor
We also need these nine unveilings because we live in a time when our faith and salvation demands that we live the prophetic priorities of God and when leaders in church need to take a lesson from prophets like Daniel, and Zechariah and John the Revelator. Yes, these three were firstly visionary prophets, yet they were all three used by God to pastor his people, when the ordinary pastors, priests and prophets turned to the idolatry of greed and politics. The prophet Daniel pastored Judah post Babylonian exile, and the prophet Zechariah helped out (Zechariah11,7-8, he would remove the wayward priests and prophets).
Then in Christian covenant it was the apocalyptic prophet John the Revelator who pastored the churches in Asia Minor in exile on Patmos at the end of the first and into the second century when some wanted to return to the the law and hierarchical clericalism and make Christianity Nicolaitanism, the dominating and controlling the laity which has continued right up to our present day (Revelation2,6 and 15).
The Lord "hates" this. That's his word not mine. He hates when his people are kept in chains in his name when he set us free in his name.
So, we faithful today, as those in Asia Minor long ago, are in need of prophetic teachings and pastoring that continually unveils the truths of salvation and our freedom in Christ. We also need this not to fall into the darkness that surrounds us, to persevere amidst trial and perhaps martyrdom like the 21 Egyptian Christians, Coptics, killed by ISIS in Libya last February, and the 28 Ethiopian Christians also killed last April in Libya as well.
James1,12 puts it this way: "Blessed is anyone who perseveres when trials come. Such a person is of proven worth and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him."
Nine veils Lifted By Faith
1. The Politics And Business First Church Is The False Prophet
The first veil that is being lifted in these days is that much of the Christian "church" was and still is firstly and lastly about politics and business, power and money. For this reason the Word says 'judgment begins with the house of God,' and well it should. It also says we 'can't serve God and money,' but there is a whole swath of the so called "church" that seems hell-bent on this.
The American Christian prophet William Branham saw this historical trajectory from the political Nicolaitan hierarchical church at the end of the 1st century to the business-money church of the mid twentieth century and the end time, and everything in between. Long before anybody coined the term "prosperity gospel" Branham desribed business interest taking over the church as another Korah's rebellion, when folks unhappy with Israel's true pastors, Moses and Aaron, rebelled and tried to install themselves (Numbers16, "An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages, Voice of God Recordings, 2013, Jeffersonville, In., 179)
As Branham tells it, in the mid-twentieth century the Christian pulpits were invaded by business interests, slicksters who mishandle the faithful and humble folks and shunt them back to their basements because they are looking to be part of the flow of God rather than the business flow of the church.
Jesus also clearly taught and demonstrated the separation of church and state ("Render unto Caesar that will belongs to Caesar and to God that which belongs to God") and yet then and now the Protestant or Roman versions of the politics and business first church rarely miss an opportunity, usually under the mask of political labels and by currying the favor of politicians who are also looking to consolidate and universalize their own power.
Revelation3,6 and 15 tells of "Nicolaitan" (Greek for dominate the laity) Christian leaders in Smyrna, who try and install a clericalized hierarchy to dominate the laity. In Branham's insight, and I'm adding some of my own, the church started with Nicolaitanism of deeds-hierarchy, then Noicolitanism of doctrine, infant baptism, then creeds in the third and fourth centuries, to make Christians good citizens of the Roman empire, then the outright political rule of church of Dark ages, then mandatory celibacy in the 11th century to keep Vatican centralized power, then transubstantiation (only the repeated words of Vatican state church priests consecrate bread and wine) in the 13th and16th centuries to keep folks from going to the Protestants. Silencing women in church throughout the history of Christianity, based on an expansive view of a local problem in Ephesus, as chronicled in 1-2Timothy, has also been part of the Nicolaitan playbook: http://www.zionpentecostmission.com/discernment-or-silence.html
Reformational Protestants largely copied the Vatican state church and became state churches too, the Mennonites, and various other Anabaptists, who believed in scriptural adult baptism, being the notable exceptions. Then came the business model prosperianity church of the mid 20th century.
The rise of the Pentcostal movement of the late 19th and early 20th century was God's grace to bring the church back to the whole word of God, the whole gospel of the early church, after the gospel had been rationed and changed continually by Rome, and then rationed also by the Reformers. Of course, much of the Pentecostal movement has also adopted the prosperity Gospel of the 20th century so what was supposed to be a correction and return to the whole penterating word has largely become another business first superficial denomination.
This all culminates in the "False Prophet" endtime church of Revelation13, which is not just about one church or denomination, but is an ongoing Nicolaitan church system that controls and dominates people. It began in Smyrna in th late first century, and still lives on today when it is more powerful than ever.
By "false prophet" church the bible doesn't mean that every individual church or pastor in the politics and business first church system is a false prophet. What it means is that the "false prophet" church will not preach the whole gospel. They will not stick to what what the Word says about salvation. Instead they change it to suit their political and business interests.
Revelation13,11ff describes this False Prophet church as the "second beast" (Revelation16,13;19,20; 20,10 use the term "false prophet") of the endtime church, not one man, but a Babylonian political and business church, Protestant and Roman, denominational and non denominational, independent or whatever flavor or construal, it's the same "false prophet" entity.
"Then I saw a second beast emerging from the ground; it had two horns like a lamb, but made noise like a dragon. This second beast exercised all the power of the first beast, on its behalf making the world and all its people worship the first beast, whose deadly injury had healed. And it worked great miracles, even to calling down fire from heaven onto the earth while people watched. Through the miracles which it was allowed [by satan] to do on behalf of the first beast, it was able to lead astray the people of the world and persuade them to put up an image in honor of the beast that had been wounded by the sword and still lived." Revelation13,11-14 NJB
That's the first unveiling that we're seeing in our endtime faith, the historical political-business first church, the endtime church, is this "false prophet."
What do we do then?
Revelation18,4 portrays the false prophet church, as a fallen woman "Come out my people [1Corinthians6,19, bought at a great price], away from her, so that you do not share in her crimes and have the same plagues to bear."
This is the Babylonian church system, not the merciful body of Christ. It follows the false white horse with a crowned rider according of Revelation6,2 (same as false prophet of Revelation13,11: "He had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon.") But it is a system of deception, that is designed to appear like Jesus, but isn't.
As a Christian there is nothing better than fellowshipping with other Christians, 'do not forsake the assembly" says the Word, but the unveiling that I've seen in so many parts of the so called "body of Christ" is more concerned about market share, political power, and money than the health of souls, and fellowship.
Someone shrugged at me as if to ask why "Christian" leaders and churches don't help each other.
It's about market share, and cannabalism I told him. You have to join one of the denominational business corporations, and fall into their non biblical hierarchy (defying Ephesians4 and the offices and gifts of the Spirit which are often just window dressing next to Nicolaitan pastorianity) and must be subservient to the denominational-hierarchical playbook. If you don't join, and remember Jesus never joined any group, and that's why they all hated him so, it's the cannabalism of Zechariah 11,9.
Here, the prophet Zechariah tires of trying to pastor and correct the sheep dealer pastors there in Judah, who didn't miss a trick to shear and slaughter. These are God's words, to the sheep dealer pastors: "Let the dying die and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another's flesh."
Opt out beloved of God, save your souls. Revelation18,4 is your answer, come out of the Babylonian Nicolaitan, Korah's Rebellion, False Prophet endtime church.
2. The Minimization Of Sovereign Nationhood By Those in Power
This second unveiling might seem OK to us Christians with our universal faith: can't all our individual nations band together and just get along?
Yes nations can be self interested and limiting, but they are what God gave us.
Yes, our faith is universal, even cosmic and eternal, but it is lived out and dependent on the rights and liberties backed up by individual nation states. So in some sense, as history proves, our rights to freely exercise our faith are only as good as the national government that protects them. Yes we Christians around the world are for freedom of expression, of association, and movement, but only sovereign nations with courageous leaders are going to guarantee our freedom of religion, of movement and association and all the rest.
So you might be an atheist and hate religion but love your God given freedom, but if transnational political power can silence us Christians, rest assured, this same transnational political power will be able to silence you too.
Or, think of it this way, nation states are all we have this side of Jesus instituting his kingdom.
There is no rightful UN millenial rule.
There is no ultimate rightful worlwide kingly rule.
There's is no rightful denominational rule.
There is only Jesus' millenial rule.
As for now, there is only nation states ordained by God's word.
The nation state set up was handed out and ordained to Noah's descendants after the flood. Nations are very important to God's plan of salvation of all nations: "Such were the [70, now we have 172] clans of Noah's descendants, listed by descent and nation. From them, other nations branched out on earth after the flood." Genesis10,32.
This nation state typology was, and still is, a gift from God. Israel was a little different. It was to be a people and nation that would dwell alone (Numbers23,9). It was to send envoys to other nations to tell of their God's power (Deuteronomy32,43), and one day Jesus would stand as a light or signal to the nations, that he could be found and sought out in Zion (Isaiah11,10).
He did that when he was lifted up on the cross and resurrection: "When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself." John12,32
Then he said "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Matthew 28,19.
God brings salvation through the national messiah of Israel, and brings light through one nation, to other nations. So if we moderns give up on the idea of national sovereignty, or allow supranational organizations such as the UN and multinational banks and other corporations, and vague "coalition forces" to become powers above our nation, we have altered God's salvation plan and risked our own relgious and political freedom.
I think God gave us strong nation by nation system so that no one nation would set up an empire. This is what the first biblical emperor did. Nimrod (Genesis10,10). His people built the tower of Babel, in the land of Shinar, ie Babylon (Genesis11,1ff) , where the people wanted to make a name for themselves (Genesis11,4. For more see A.W. Pink's (1886-1952) "Gleanings in Genesis: N. 16 Nimrod And The Tower of Babel, Genesis10-11." pbministries.org/books/pink/Gleanings_Genesis_16.html).
Empires want to build towers of babel that reach up into heaven. By definition they tred upon the sovereign rights of peoples and nations, and destroy nationhood itself. God had to confuse the languages to thrawt this first empire and the tower of babel. History and the bible prove that empires are disasters. By design they are meant to take the place of God, make men gods with names for themselves, rather than obedient and in covenant under the name of God.
But to do that they first have to outrank and supervise the nations that make up God's camp.
Yes, it's great to be a citizen of the world, and fellowship with the universal body of Christ, but if Satan can destroy Gods gift of nationhood, that seems to be one of his goals these days, then the road of his coming supranational political "beast" is well paved, and close at hand.
3. Governments Playing God And Becoming Beastly
We Christians have never been anarchists or political revolutionaries.
The early church of the bible urges us to pray for those in power. 1Timothy2,1-2: 'I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
This desire to live peaceful and quiet lives was both a shield against persecution, and a hope that even the most powerful pagan or gentile leaders would come to the saving knowledge of truth in Jesus.
But we know from history that the Roman Emperors Nero and Diocletian and others, who first persecuted Christians, and the Communist revolutionaries, emperors of sorts, like Lennin and Stalin, and the Fascist Hitler, and others, all who worship the state, in the last century, have no interest in repentance or the true faith.
Empires and supranational potentates have no interest in our peace and quiet lives, or those of Israel either.
Empires spring out of "beasts," men or leaders, nations, acting like animals, untethered to the laws and word of God, "sons of Belial," sons of Satan, 'the god of this world.'
Now we in the good old USA have sort of assumed that our historically recent brand of three branch democracy, a limited government, with rights reserved to the people, could never become beastly, or a runaway false god unto itself. But the fact is any government can become beastly, and the tool of Satan. Any government, any leader can be tempted, whether his or her form of government is democratic or communistic, or kingly, or whatever.
I think many of us in the good old USA have experienced several checks of reason and in the spirit of late, when we saw our own government overeach in repealing the 1933 Glass Steagall that rightly separated investment banking from commercial banking. This repeal, in 1999, "the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act," led to the conglomeration of commercial banks and security firms which culminated in a world wide, wild wild west of profiteering, and as we know left governments and taxpayers backing up the risk of out of control undercaptitalized banks, which is still an issue.
There was another check when these behemoth banks were bailed out by the government, who picked winners and losers, while six million good jobs were lost. And now about six years later the banks are just as big as ever.
We also have seen the overreach as to our right to privacy, and ill defined militarily conquests, taking out sovereign leaders, and now hasty retreats, and years of secret dronings, whereby only a select few, if anybody, really knows who gets killed, and a massive transfer of wealth and power to for profit health insurers, again backed up by the full faith and credit of the federal goverment.
I'm not telling you where you should stand on political issues, I'm only telling you that nationhood is itself is built on the biblical concept of granting limited power by God to men. History proves and the bible teaches that nations are not to become empires, based on brute force or economic triangulation or whatever ideology.
We in the good old USA must never become an empire, or part of one, better to remain in the new world, and true to our ideals of limited government.
We are too great a people, with high ideals of personal freedom, to shackle ourselves to any government here, or wherever, that gets beastly.
Revelation13,1-4 unveils the final governmental beast, a sort of one-world revised empire: "And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon [Satan, god of this world] gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound [an ended empire], but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4 Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"
We could speculate as to the political nations that will make up of this revised empire, but suffice to say for now that it will be a one world government, a revived historic empire. It will no doubt promise to feed and cloth and house and claim to parcel out all the world's limited jobs, and mete out justice, abolish borders, rise above petty national interests, and all the rest. It will also probably try in some weird way to promise a millenial reign, and perhaps present us with a smiling and solemn antichrist too.
And we will be told that 'all is well,' 'nothing to see here,' and we'll all be fed and clothed so long as we take the ideological mark of the political and religious beast, and so long as we act as the empire dictates, everything will be fine.
And who knows we might get promised a self driving car, a government monitored car, if we demonstrate model world citizenry.
I'm not buying it.
It don't add up.
No biblical Christian believes that any government here or anywhere is going to save us in the end.
Our present task is to get back to our biblical faith, get baptized in Jesus Name, rediscover whose team we are on, and then be martyred or raptured, whichever comes first.
We take heart in Daniel7,9-10 whereby in the face of all this, the word says:
"As I looked, 'thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands of thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened."
Yes, we have seen enough beastly governments in the last twenty centuries to see the unveiling of an entime beastly government, but we take heart: The court is being seated, the books about to be opened, and the Lord Jesus is about to rule.
4. The Explosion Of Travel and Knowledge
This particular unveiling is something more recent to our consciousness.
A hundred years ago we were barely driving cars, and didn't get off the farm and into town much. Now we have worldwide travel and communication at the keystroke.
Twenty years ago we barely knew anything of information technology. Today, almost any knowledge, and half completed Wikipaedia articles, are right at our finger tips.
We are seeing and experiencing this travel and knowledge explosion, it's mostly a good thing. The prophecy of Daniel12,4 is coming true: 'Many will go here and there to increase knowledge."
Bible commentators like Ray Stedman also note that this verse also refers to an increase in knowedge of the book of Daniel and prophecy in general (raystedman.org/old-testament/daniel/thelastword). This is very interesting in that, as Stedman notes, it wasn't until the middle of the 19th century that an interest in prophecy came back into the church.
He's right- it lay dormant- sealed up in the Books of Daniel and Revelation.
This recent increase in prophetic knowledge is a great blessing and we need it to persevere in our salvation and to spread the gospel.
Daniel12,3-4 and 12,10 connect this increase in prophetic and human knowledge with purification and salvation.
Verse 3: "Those who are wise [those who know Jesus, the Ancient of Days judge of 7,9-10 and the Anointed One of 9,25] will shine as brightly as the expanse of the heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightness [same as the wise, Christian missionaries- we use our prophetic knowledge to spread the gospel], as bright as stars [angels] for all eternity." JB
Verse 4 But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge." NIV
And then verse 10 we learn what this increase in prophetic knoweldge and travel does for us: "many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand."
Remember we studied the Qumran community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the middle of last century, regarding the covenental aspects of adult water baptism. They saw themselves as "maskilim," the wise ones. They built their community on prophetic and apocalyptic salvation wisdom, just like the prophetic knowledge of Daniel 12, which we now of course interpret in a Christian way.
Jesus builds His body upon the gracious prophetic knowledge of salvation, that he shares, as light and truth, with us.
So this fourth unveiling is that increased salvation knowledge purifies us and fuels our capability to both pastor people and spread salvation in Jesus Name. (cf David Orton, The Understanding Scribe, TT Clark International, 2004, 148, First pub. 1989, Sheffield).
And as Orton (p.150) notes, Jesus teaches in just this same challenging and prophetic way in Chapter 13 of Matthew. Jesus is the ultimate wise one, the ultimate prophet-pastor, similar to the 'Teacher of Righteousness' at Qumran, like Daniel, like Zechariah, prophets as pastors, teaching and testing, but not fully sharing with the wicked.
For example, Matthew13,10-13:
"The disciple came to him and asked "Why do you speak to the people in parables" 11 He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them [the many, the unwise]. 12 he who has [knowledge] will be given more, and will have an abundance. whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables."
So, while sometimes the unveilings of prophecy and the end time can seem like parables and riddles, difficult and challenging, it is well worth the faith effort.
Only with such tested and refined faith wisdom can we pastor, prophesy, spread the gospel, and persevere as well.
5. God's Concern For All Peoples and The Equality of Human Personhood
Now many of us might not think that God's care for everyone and the equality of personhood is any big unveiling.
We get this already.
We may have heard that God doesn't play favorites, what he does for one person he'll do for another.
This is easy to say and conceptualize.
But not so easy to live, and to get it right down into our spirit, next to the Holy Ghost, where we live and move and have our being.
When I was in my first year in the seminary there were guys from all over the world, and one day one of the seminarians made a point of saying "I don't want no hand-me-downs."
And at first I didn't really understand what he fully meant. But then again I was coming from a culture of plenty, whereby new school clothes once a year were the norm. As a child of God he wanted new things. Now I'm not defending materialism, but when we live amongst different people groups and cultures we have the opportunity to see that God's equal concern for everybody.
The sun rises on the good, and the wicked, the stranger, and folks who don't want any more hand me downs. We remember the reluctant prophet Jonah who didn't want to preach repentance to the dreaded and hated Assyrians. he didn't think the God cared for the Assyrians. We need this unveiling that God cares for everybody if we are going to be Christians with a witness that lasts, and also speaks to people, and is capable of living in peace with others.
Here's a couple of prophetic scriptures that show this unveiling.
Daniel 7,13-14: "In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom [a universal kingdom] will never be destroyed."
And Isaiah66,20 prophesies that gentile Christians, folks like you and me, apparent second stringers to Jewish Christians, will bring back to Israel non Christian Jews from around the world (happening today), and even will be priests in the new and final temple.
Could our God be any more generous and our equality any more plain?
Here's the verse by verse context before verse 20.
Verse 18 says the Lord is about to gather the nations, the gentiles to Jerusalem, and verse 19 prophesies the sign among them of Jesus risen from the dead, and then the missionary sending of Christian gentiles to the whole world.
And now verse 20: "And they [Christian gentiles, you and me] will bring all your brothers [Jews who don't know Yehoshua yet], from all the nations, to my holy mountain [back to Israel] in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord- on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels. They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them [Christian gentiles] also to be priests and Levites," says the Lord.
Then Zechariah at 12,10 says once they are back in Jerusalem, he will "pour out a spirit of grace and supplication" on those Jews who have returned, and they will look upon Jesus whom they pierced, with faith!
And while we don't have time to fully make this point, God is also trying to round up Muslims and bring them to a saving faith too. Remember the angel of the Lord who went running after Sarah's slave girl Hagar, after Sarah ran her off because of jealousy. There's also the amazing Chapter 19 of Isaiah, about the conversion of Egypt and the blessing of Assyria.
This is too good to pass up, begining at verse19:
"That day there will be an altar dedicated to Yahweh, 20 and this will be a sign and a witness to Yahweh Saboath in Egypt. When they cry to Yahweh for help because of oppressors, he will send them a Savior and leader to deliver them. 21 Yahweh will reveal himself to Egypt, and the Egyptians will acknowledge Yahweh that day and wil loffer sacrifices and cereal offerings, and will make vows to Yahweh and perform them. 22 And if Yahweh strikes Egypt, having struck he will heal, and they will turn to Yahweh who will hear their prayers and heal them."
verse 23, regarding peace between Assyria and Egypt and Israel. This speaks to peace among and between Muslims, and the need for peace and security for Israel:
"That day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyria will have access to Egypt and Egypt have access to Assyria. Egypt will serve [the Lord] with Assyria. 24 That day Israel will make a third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing at the centre of the world. 25 and Yahweh Saboath will bless them in these words, 'Blessed be my people Egypt, Assyria my creation, and Israel my heritage."
A Blessing at the centre of the world, that's surely what we need in the Mideast, the centre of the world.
Have you experienced the biblical unveiling of God's love for all people and the equality of all people?
We need to see this as part of our endtime faith, for peace in our hearts, and peace between nations, and to fight off the amazing lawlessness that is spreading in our world, and to expand our notion of who are our neighbors in God's eyes.
6. Big 'For Profit' Media As The Image Of The Beast
Stay with me- this may be the most difficult unveiling to see. I used it when I taught ther book of Revelation several years ago on 'the Preaching Hour."
This discernment has been brewing in my spirit for perhaps ten years, since say big for profit media told us that Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction" and that "shock and awe" is world peace.
And "regime change" is good.
Again we are seeing now the tremendous cost of regime change and ousting national strongmen and messing with God's set up of nations.
That being said, we live in a media and tech saturated culture, and we love it.
Media is fun.
It's something we all can do too.
And I'm hopeful to still think that one person, and all manner of media that speaks the truth, even sometimes big 'for profit' media, can still have a positive impact as it exposes darkness.
In fact, I think such good media as this and good faith in Jesus are two of our last defenses against tyranny and ignorance, and 'the god of this world.'
But we have also seen and heard totally profit driven media, that prints and speaks and exerts itself before the facts are in, tries to sell things about which there is no consensus, just by the mere repetition of what it says.
There's a Uruguayan music group called "No Te Va Gustar," that is, "You Won't Like It" and they have a song from their "El Camino Mas Largo" 2008 release that's called "El Mismo Canal," "the same channel."
Putumayo Records features this song on their 2013 compilation disc 'World Reggae Releases:"
"Willing to lie on paper/ Willing to lie on camera three/ Whatever we say is fine/ Or at least from above I've been told it's ok/ You watch me at the same hour on the same channel/ Don't you see, I'm still here because of you." (Putumayo translation?)
Big 'for profit' media, concious of it or not is the image of the beast. Again it's not all bad, but in our modern age the medium is the message, and there are folks who are just glued to that same channel at the same hour, watching the same face, and whatever that face says is true. This makes me think that in the end big 'for profit' media, will repeat whatever the political and religious beast want said.
Revelation13,14-15. Here is the false prophet church, the religious beast, doing seemingly miraculous signs on behalf of the first or political beast, the revived empire, taking care of us. The false Christian religious beast, the false prophet church system, by decpetion orders the deceived inhabitants of the earth to set up an image of the revived empire beast:
"Because of the signs he [religious beast, false prophet church] was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed." NIV
The NJB says he "persuaded" them to set up an image in honor of the beast.
My first thought was that this image must be an religious idol, a religious physical statue.
But I can't imagine, yet anyway, how any talking physical statue is going to give breath, give life, to the image of the first beast.
We'd see right through a physical idol, talking to us.
Consider this instead. How are sweeping and often unpopular political policies sold to us in our modern era?
Do we get to see the legislative bills?
Do we see great debates in the halls of Congress, that we share at the water cooler?
How was Nafta sold to us?
How was the Wall Street bailout, free money to the Wall Street Banks, sold to us?
How is the easy money policy for the big banks, who then can buy treasury notes, and make more money, rather than lend it out?
How was the Iraq war sold to us?
On televison, by big 'for prift' media, 24/7 repeating images, ever changing idols of the moment, again and again.
The same television channel, el mismo canal, the talking image of the beast.
Different big media corporations, players, kingmakers, all sort of "one" channel, barely saying anything different, one from another.
Why did Glenn Beck leave big media? (not that I agree with so much of what he says)
He couldn't bring in any explicitly religious values. Everything in big for profit media has to be couched in social and political terms, not moral or biblical terms, and must cut out all New or Old Testament bible terms because that hurts the bottom line.
How could the false prophet church order or persuade the people of the world to set up such an idol?
Have you seen false prophets on TV?
Are they effective at what they do?
Are they persuasive with their flocks?
This is one of Revelation's non linear truths, so stay with me, you can think whatever you want. In two thousand years of church history do you think the false prophet church has taught politicians a thing a two?
And vice versa.
Have they taught politicians how to whip up folks and get votes in terms of apparently religious but not explicitly religious values?
Have they taught big media corporations how to keep peoples attention, make disciples of them, disciples of brand name outlets?
No one image or one statement or slogan or physical idol is going to give breath to the wordlwide political image of the first beast. Why? Because the image and slogan and message has to change slightly, day by day, trend by trend, year by year, accumulating power and breath, one freedom loss after another, for the endtime control to be effective. If it were just one statue or one image, people will see right through it, but as big media repeats itself again and again it can give great breath and life to any idea. This is what will empower the first beast, and make the "false prophet" the willing "slave of the beast" as the passage heading in the NJB puts it
It's a beastly "trinity" of sorts.
1. False prophet church historically, and in the end to save itself, shows political beast how to manipulate on a universal scale, and persuades the masses to idolize the political beast;
2. In return, the revived worldwide political beast, with an antichrist to appear, couches social and political change in religious terms, having gained the blessing of the false prophet church.
3. big profit media, making money on the shock and awe of endtime events, as the "image of the beast", breathes life into beast and speaks for it, whether it knows it or not.
How's that? The false prophet church, using the name of Jesus, but speaking for the revived empire, trying to save itself, will say "this is the world we live in. Any nation, say like Israel, that stands in the way of our humanitarian aims must cede to our demands." See Revelation16,13-14, all three working together anbd saying the same thing.
And by the way "everyone must take the mark of the beast for their own benefit and the efficient distribution of limited resources."
And by the way everyone must take the Antichrist's name, his number, his presence, on our right hand, on what we do, and on our forehead, what we think, just to be able to buy and sell, just to survive (Revelation13,17-18). By doing so we would become little images of the beast, not images of Jesus by His one Spirit and our one baptism in His name.
Or, be weaned out, "to save scarce resources" don't you know.
Big media already has a mighty say in our world, and in the end, it will be even more so.
Thank God for our presnt freedom of speech- use it or lose it.
I do believe there are other images of the beast, the Lord showed me another one, right in keeping with the expansive nature of the Apocalyptic, and it fits perfectly with this image of the beast, but we'll save that for another time.
7. Overconfidence About Salvation Among Churchgoers
I have been reading scripture for over thirty years and confessing Jesus for about that long, and never once have I been tempted to be overconfident about salvation.
And I'm not one of these timorous souls that imagines his every next breath is a sin. I can without hesitation, praise his name and his blood, "I'm saved."
According to what the bible says.
But could we please not mistake trusting Jesus and His mercy, with a sort of campy unbiblical overconfidence?
Does first 1Peter3,20 say "Once saved always saved?"
Does it say "I'm an exception, and you're an exception, and besides we know better, and therefore don't have to get baptized as an adult?"
Does it say "infant baptism is OK?"
Does it say "everyone who ever did a sinners prayer is baptized in the Holy Ghost?"
I mention the biblical doctrine of adult baptism because the false prophet church only preaches money makers. Adult baptism is not a money maker. It's not sexy. It's awkward- adults dressing up only to get dunked in public!
Very few "Christians" really want to do it.
Very few really have done it.
That's why I love to preach it.
Yet there are folks who claim they are "saved," yet who haven't done the first thing the gospel tells us to do, repent and get baptized.
This is part of the unveiling of overconfidence in the body of Christ.
What does 1Peter3,20 say?
"In it [the ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes [faithful] baptism which now saves you also- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It [faithful water baptism] saves you by the resurection of Jesus Christ,...
Eight people were saved in the ark, through the water.
Eight is not very many, might we all take notice of this fact?
Let's go to Zechariah13,7-9 and talk about the concept of winnowing, reducing the numbers. I don't winnow. I'd want to let everyone in.
It's strange to me but here we are in Vermont a small state where only 17% go to services. And my joy in preaching here on 'the Preaching Hour" is that I know, from the Lord, that there are people who follow this and they might never get to a church before Jesus comes back, but as that dreadful and joyous day comes, they will at least know enough to cry out for salvation in Jesus Name, and if they have time seek baptism in His name. Praise the Lord.
Come early or come late to salvation, 1 soul or 6 billion, it's still the same salvation. Though your sins be as scarlet, come now, winnowed from the body, or last calf in the round up in Vermont, praise Jesus.
Zechariah13,7-9 and the unveiling of overconfidence.
Some say, like Br. Ryrie in his study bible, that this is a prophecy of the percentage of Jews who will come to Christ, like one third. But the passage says that even this third will be sorely tested and refined, so even less. I see this as a broader based prophecy representing us Christians whether Jew or gentile.
Yet, I don't think we need to be that specific here, to make our point of the unveiling of overconfidence in the body of Christ:
7 "'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!' declares the Lord almighty. 'Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered,' and I will turn my hand against the little ones. 8 In the whole land [Israel], declares the Lord, 'two thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one third will be left in it. 9 This third I will bring into the fire [into the prophetic knowledge, fight or make fire of purification with fire of Holy Ghost] I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them: I will say, 'They are my people, and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.'"
1Peter3,20 says eight souls on the ark, and likewise some of us will be saved .
Zechariah13,7-9 says of the one third, and also those who come through the fire, part of which is the fire of prophetic knowledge, these will be his people, his saved.
What does Matthew7,13-14 say about overconfidence: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
Sounds like Qumran again, sounds 1Peter3 and Zechariah 13, like a winnowed community, again.
Matthew 7,21 in this same discourse continues in this same winnowing vein: "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day..."
Have you got this unveiling of campy overconfidence?
Or, are you completely confident in your 'sinners prayer' at 12 years old, and your church attendance?
Or, are you completely confident in your infant baptism, your occasional church attendance, and your membership on the church rolls?
8. The Refreshing Of Pentecost And The Dawning Restitution Of All Things
Here's another endtime biblical unveiling, not the most difficult, but perhaps not the easiest either. Stay focused- we can do this!
Acts3,19-21. This is the Apostle Peter's second major address to his fellow Jews.
It's after Pentecost, after the initial church is born and is meeting in houses. They are still going to the Temple precincts during the day to pray and evangelize. Peter and John have just prayed in Jesus' name for a lame beggar, and by faith in Jesus and His name this man has been healed, and is now walking, and praising the Lord God of Israel.
This attracts a crowd, which Peter addresses. Then he testifies that it was in Jesus name and through faith in him (v.16) that this man was healed.
And then, like on the day of Pentecost, Peter tells his fellow Jews what they must do at verse 19:
"Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and 20 so that the Lord may send the time of comfort [or refreshing Isaiah28,12]. Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, 21 whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration [restitution] comes which God proclaimed, speaking through the Holy prophets [salvation and land promised in Abraham, by faith, to Jews first and all nations]."
The day of Pentecost was a pre-taste of this kingdom time of comfort, of the restored kingdom of a unified Israel, when Jesus, the messiah returns and gathers up Jerusalem, and according to the stated desire of his followers at Acts1,7 restores the kingdom to Israel.
Just before Jesus ascended his followers wanted to know when the kingdom would come, and he says at verse 7 "It is not for you to know times or dates that the father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive the power of the of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witnesses...."
So big picture, the first Pentecost was a foretaste of the kingdom, a time of great repentance and faith by and in Israel, and of Jesus then coming back which would be the full refreshing. And Peter, upon the miraculous healing, says in paraphrase, God wants more repenting and faithing, because the more of that there is, the sooner Jesus comes and institutes the kingdom.
Likewise the Pentecostal re-awakening at the end of the 19th and into the 20th century and into our 21st century is a foretaste of the kingdom, where by faith we experience the power of God in healing and knowledge and tasting the full redemption of our lives.
There can't be the full restitution of verse 21, all that God wants to redeem and have with him in the kingdom, nations, peoples, unless there's more refreshing by way of more repentant faith, the faith that draws Jesus back, ready to judge, redeem and restore, and then reign on earth.
Mark 16,15 says we must preach the gospel to all creation and then Jesus comes back. And with worldwide media and the internet that day appears in sight. So everyone gets a fair shot to be fully refreshed, kingdom ready, and then part of the restitution of all things.
That's what the unveiled word of God says.
Again our friend and bible commentator John Gill does well explaining this universal restitution of the kingdom:
"the accomplishment of all the promises and prophesies concerning the bringing in the fullness of the gentile, and the conversion of the Jews, and so gathering in all the elect of God; and concerning all the glorious things spoken of the church of Christ in the latter day; which sense is confirmed by what follows: 'which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began." John Gill Acts 3,19ff biblestudy.com
Gill quotes a rabbi Pirke Abot, c.4 section 17 for the idea of kingdom refreshment unto restitution: "better is one hour [hb. for refreshment], of "refreshment," in the world to come, than the whole life of this world."
Jesus' resurrection brought a foretaste of this refreshing by way of our faithful repentance. The first Pentecost did as well, and comfort. The Pentecostal awakaning of the church in the late 19th century, and baptism in the Spirit in the church, brings this refreshment of kingdom and power and authority, the authority that Jesus shared with us just before he ascended.
This foretaste of Pentecost is given at our baptism in the Spirt. This foretaste is an unveiling that makes us hunger for the coming full refreshment and restitution of the kingdom.
9. The Unveiled Heart, The Rendered Heart Of The Endtme Christian
2Corinthians3,18 was one of the scriptures with which we began this teaching: "And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit."
The image into which we are being transformed is Jesus. People are meant to see the glory of Jesus' image on our faces, a glory that will never fade, as the glory did from Moses' face. His image, like on Stephen's face, will keep us from taking the mark or image of the beast.
In chapter 4 of this 2Corinthians Paul is contrasting his ministry, which bears the image of Jesus, you can see it on his face, with the deceptive ministry of those apostles who are living in shameful secrecy, trying to hide their own immorality and at the same time peddle the gospel for profit according to the 2Corinthians2,17: "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God."
We don't know much about these 'apostles" but the fact is false men have always tried to preach themselves, pastorianity, their guru status, or a softer gentler kinder version of the gospel (Mark8,38).
Perhaps they are preaching a wimpy gospel because they are too ashamed of the gospel and hiding their own immorality by trying to be popular.
Or they preach their churchianity and it's rules, and declare 'you must obey because we say so.'
Alll these are all veiled versions of the gospel, beholden to 'the god of this world,' preached by veiled or deceitful preachers who think they can lead immoral lives and fleece the flock at the same time.
That's the context of 2Corinthians3-4, but the upshot for us is to let ourselves be transformed by God's grace into Jesus' image, a saved one, a conqueror, a mercy worker, a faither who loves prophecy, an overcomer, someone hungry for even more hidden manna, more unveilings.
We do this by living by faith, "confidently acting again and again on the promises of God, again and again" (Scott) knowing full well now that 'the god of this world' wants us to take the mark of the beast, wants us to take on his spiritually ugly image.
Have you seen how spiritually ugly people act these days, cursing, mocking, hating?
So many Christian faces and hearts are just as veiled as those in the world.
"Blessed are the pure of heart, they shall see God."
If we want to represent the glory of Jesus in our hearts and faces, we have to surrender our layers of spiritual ugliness, and put on a layers of his glory.
One faith decision at a time.
We don't just veil things on our faces and in our hearts from others, we also try and hide them from Jesus. We should not do this. Bring it all to him, to his fiery blood and cross. He is the only one who can peel away the image of this world and replace it with something glorious, His image.
He'll do it gently, thourougly and with great compassion and love, and give us noble and radiant face to replace the spiritual ugliness of 'the god of this world.'
Conclusion: Unveilings Received By Faith
All these unveilings are in the Word and can be received by faith and through the Holy Ghost. They may come to us gently, and slowly and in silence just like His healing, or right away, as if we were knocked off our own high horse, and loudly.
But the Word says we are Spiritual people and therefore we can understand and receive the unveilings of His word: "An unspiritual person refuses what belongs to the Spirit of God; it is folly to him; he cannot grasp it, because it needs to be judged in the light of the Spirit. 15 but a spiritual person can judge the worth of everything, ..16 Who can know the mind of the Lord or be his counsellor? Yet we possess the mind of Christ." 1Corinthians2,14-15
As Spiritual people, we know that Jesus can and will light up all the dark places in this world and in us.
I want to end this preaching on nine unveilings by stating that it confirms the message of the gospel.
"All this confirms for us the message of the prophets, to which you will do well to attend; it [the gospel message of the prophets] will go on shining like a lamp in a murky place, until the morning star [Jesus] rises to illuminate your minds." (2Peter1,19 ESV)
The ninth and final unveiling is perhaps the most important because it involves our own personal savation and health. If we want the dawn from on high to break upon us, if we want to see Jesus as and when He comes again, we must allow Him to knock us off our high horse, and take the scales off our own eyes.
Then, like the Apostle Paul, we too can live lives of faith unveiled to both God and men, and cease all the wordly phoniness that keeps us in darkness and keeps us from seeing all that God would have us see, for his glory and the spread of our saving gospel.
Related Videos: The 25 Controlling and Historic Deeds of the Nicolaitans (4 parts in order):
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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...