Dear Brothers and Sisters-
Thursday we will have our first bible study of the new year. It will be held at the church. We will meet for fellowship at the restaurant near the church that has such great soup.
The topic this week will be Revelation, Chapters 2-3, the letters of Yeshua to the seven churches.
Following are the major points we will look at.
1) Revelation was written by Yawheh Himself, given to His son Yeshua ha Messhiach, then to an angel (or the Spirit), then finally to John, to give to us.
2) Revelation is the only book in scripture we are given a special blessing IF we read it and IF we obey the teachings (two of the biggest of the 1,550 "if's" in scripture.
3) Revelation repeats the admonition given us in the Tannakh to neither "add to" or "take away" anything in the Word. (For those who want to skip the Genesis account of creation at the beginning of the Word Or the sometimes difficult passages of Revelation, buyer beware).
4) There are only 400 verses in Revelation (and only 48 in Chapters 2-3), there are at least 800 direct and indirect references to the "old testament" in Revelation. (Chuck Missler lists them all in the appendix of his latest book). It is said those who find Revelation difficult to decipher, it probably can be said their difficulties come not from Revelation itself BUT to an incomplete knowledge of the Tannakh or old testament. The author of Revelation is the author of the entire Word of God, God Himself, and, of course, He is comletely famliar with what He wrote before. If there is a message here, run dont walk to your continuing study of the old testament.
5) Many contemporary Christian teachers look at the first two words of Chapter 4, i.e, "AFTER THIS...." (In Greek meta tauta.), to mean that everything after Chapters 2-3 as having no relevence to Christians or "the church" thus discarding Chapters 4-22. The argument goes that since "the Church" will be raptured, everything given to us by the Lord in Chapters 4-22 have no meaning for us. This teaching, commonly held today in the west, comes from the theory of Dispensationalism. The great teacher Chuck Missler subscribes to this. Missler was begat of Hal Lindsey who was begat of the Dallas Theological Seminary who had noted teachers John Walvoord and Lewis Sperry CHafer. The Dallas Theological Seminary used/used not only the KJV but the Schofield study version of the KJV. The Schofield Bible was begat of John Nelson Darby who came out of the Brethren movement. BE VERY CAREFUL not to confuse teachings of men (or denominations) with the Word of the Lord. God's word IS inerrant. Men's teachings are NOT. As Paul so precisely said in ACTS 17:11 (to paraphrase in today's English jargon) - don't believe anything anybody says (including me), verify it yourself by study of the Word (itself). Not study bibles, not seminary teachings, not denominational viewpoints - only the Word.
6) Does Revelation 4-22 have meaning for us today? Most assuredly it does. Go back and read the chapters for yourself. See where God talks about His believers and followers in those chapters. You will find a message to read, to trust, to obey over and over and over again. God does not give us His word merely for entertainment. He gives it to us for a reason and there is a reason for us today in all of Revelation.
7) Note carefully that in ONLY ONE OF THE SEVEN LETTERS does God's word tell us that one "church" will escape tribulation (Philadelphia). One of seven. That hardly means ALL members of all "churches" will escape (via the "rapture") the great tribulation.
8) Just as our Jewish brothers and sisters had and still have both oral and written traditions, so do we today. (Remember the scriptural admonition to "don't boast").
The Hebrew word for "tradition" is takhanot (pronounced "toch ha note"). It means simply "MAN MADE." Tradition can be good, it can be true. Tradition can be exactly spiritual and for benefit. But tradition, because it is man made, can NEVER be trusted to be inerrant.
Just as we must approach the musings and writtings of the rabbis with care, we must do the same with our own "Christian" "rabbis". Schofield is no more inerrant than Hillel or Maimonides, the authors and teachers of dispensationalism or other man made schools no more than Rambam or the Besht (the Bal Shem Tov) or the Vilna Gaon. The point to remember is once again: test everything against the Word.
9) That being said, contempary teachers, primarily but not limited to the dispensational viewpoint, approach Revelation Chapters 2-3 in this way: the seven "churches" were picked from literally hundreds of churches in that day for a particular reason and in a particular order:
Ephesus - the "church" from Yeshua until 100 AD
Smyrna - the "church" from 100 AD until Constantine in 325 AD
Pergamus - the "church" from 325 AD until the medieval period.
Thyratira - the Jezebel church
Sardis - the reformation period
Philadelphia - the great missionary age
Laodicea - the current age
There is great value in this thinking and many good spiritual messages. Just remember the theory is a man made interpretation of the Word.
10) Remember the Rabbi's four fold method of discerning scripture, i.e., PARDES :
Pshat - the plain simple meaning
Remez - another added meaning, i.e., for us today
Drash - a third meaning, an dded meaning, i.e., what a parable meant
Sot - a mysterious meaning, i.e., the true meaning of the bread at communion
The point: the letters to the seven "churches" can and do have multiple meanings: for the churches at that time, for the churches throughout time, for the churches today, etc.
11) Ephesus: the first church chosen. The Ephesus "church" was begun by Priscilla (note a woman) and her husband Aquilla, then pastored by Sha'ul (Paul) himself, then by Timothy and for decades was shephered by John (where Mary, the mother of Yeshua is said to have lived and died). From its early flowering, by the time John wrote this message from God, within 40 years (Paul's letter to the Ephesians was written around 52 AD and John's message (from God) in the mid 90's, a short 40 years was this: they had LOST their first love.
12) In each of the seven letters, God gives encourgement first and then gives admonition for their shortcomings (only omitted in Philadelphia), then God Himself tells the churches
WHAT THEY STILL HAVE TO DO.
13) The second "church" is Smyrna and the focus is upon severe testing and severe trials from both inside and outside the "church" in an age where believers in Yeshua would come under severe attack (persecution then and "political correctness" today). The message is very close to that of the Book of Hebrews. You have a brand new Cadillac. Dont trade it in for an old used beat up Volkswagon. Today's persecution and testing is for a very short period and an eternity in the bosom of the Lord is forever.
24) The third "church" is Pergamos. The root of the word for pergamos is the same as the root of the word for bigamy. And that is the key to the message: Don't intermarry with the world. Nothing good can come from it. Note Pegamos was described as the home site of the Devil (that original temple was real, still exists, and in the Hitler age it was moved to Germany where it exists today). When the followers of Yeshua accepted the offer of the Roman emporer Constantine in 325 AD and the "Church" and "Rome" married, the message of the letter to the church at Pergamos was not only lost but completely REJECTED.
25) The fourth "church" is Thyatira. The key is the targeting of Jezebel. Many teachers see a connection with the "religion" of Mary, the historical remaking of Mary into part of God's deity, and today considered by Roman Catholics as "the CO-redemptress" or an equal if not ONLY way to salvation. Surely a message about false churches.
26) The fifth "church" is Sardis. The interpretation, by dispensationalists and others, equates this with the "church" of the Reformation period. Note well that Yeshua has identified problems here as well, that this "type" of church has much work to do - yet - and that this is not a finished or completed or totally pleasing to God result - even now.
26) The sixth church is the jewel - Philadelphai. Yeshua has nothing bad to say here. In fact, God is so pleased He promises this "church" - and this one ONLY - that He will
save them from the great tribulation.
27) The last church is Laodicea, which is explained as today's church - lukewarm and wanting the Lord to vomit.
28) Are their bits of each of the seven churches in us today? Most assuredly.
Do each of our churches (and each one of us individually) have some of the faults of each of the churches? You betcha. As believers, do we have some of the good points? Ditto.
Like all of the seven churches, are there things God wants us to DO - and keep on - DOING? Surely. Is our walk finished yet? By God's own Word, it is NOT. (It will be finished when we receive our heavenly bodies.)
29) Please note in reading Revelaton 2-3 there any repeated and frequent mentions of perhaps two of the most important words in the Bible. They are not dispensationalism or eternal security or any of the other popular words in "Christianity". They are IF and DO.
30) A final note in this teaching outline. Yeshua mentions Nicolaitans in these letters.
Who the Nicolaitans were has been a problem. There are two schools: One, that this referred to a school of Gnostic thought which probably or may have existed at that time. (Most commentators and study bibles use this school of thought.) The second is quite simple. The root of the two words that make up "Nicolaitans" are two Greek words: the first Nico means "those who put themselves OVER" and the second from the root of the word Laity, or people. Thus this second and in many ways more simple meaning is a warning against anybody who would put themselves over God's followers, those individuals or organized church leaders who place themselves as a mediator between God and His followers (individually or collectively). Following this school, there obviously follows a discernment from God - since He Himself has torn down the temple veil or curtain separating God from Man (at the Cross) - He is NOT happy with any one or anybody who would, by man's efforts, replace that veil. Surely a message for popes, patriachs, bishops, televangelists, pastors - and teachers.
31) We will delve into Revelation 2-3 on Thursday. As always, it is helpful if you read the Bible text beforehand. And as usual, if you will, as you should, begin the reading a few (10-15) verses before and the same afterward. AND, as always, begin your reading with a prayer to the Lord that the Spirit will "come""fortify (or strengthen)" you in your discernment.
Praise the Lord for His Word.
THE END TIMES
by Ray LeRoux
The Book of Ezekiel tells us that in the last days, or end times, 10 nations will rise against God's chosen abode as described many times in the Scriptures. All 10 nations will be of the sons of Ishmael. As this scenario unfolds and it is not a question of "if" but of "when" - the world, yet under the temporary dominion of the evil one, hurtles toward catastrophe. We believe the Jewish people do NOT own the land but are merely tenants holding the land of the Scriptures for its true own - GOD Himself. He has chosen this land for His abode. It is His. It is exactly where He has promised to come again, where He will rule the entire world for 1,000 years and until a new heaven and earth replace this one. Every nation or group of nations that have allied themselves over time with the evil one have come to swift justice from the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Winston Churchill, presiding over the British Empire on which it was said the sun would never set, said in 1948 he wanted no more to do with Israel. The sun began to set on Britain at that point and suddenly it was no more. Untaught, the world's nations continue undaunted to meddle in Israel, having forgotten the Word of the Lord. The nations have been told over and over and over that God will bless those who bless His land and just as surely He will curse those who curse His land and His people. Not maybe but surely. This week's current version of man's insanity and the evil one's persistent march to failure (knowing he cant win, satan wants to take as many followers with him and away from the Lord) is an astonishing US-Russian idea to take all nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction out of the Middle East. No middle east nation currently has nuclear weapons. Iran is close if not there. The only nation that has nuclear weapons of course is Israel. The US-Russian ploy is simply a ploy to take away from Israel the one weapon in its arsenal that holds Islamic hordes from their promised and predictable march to eradicate Israel and God's chosen land. Israel can not and will not agree if the US-Russian plan is passed, whether or not the UN, the EU, the world community agrees or not. This sets up a scenario where US President Barak Hussein Obama pulls US support from Israel for its failure to knuckle under and for Russia to eliminate all restraints from helping so called agreeable nations. Like all American presidents since Israel was formed, with the possible exception of President Harry Truman, Obama wants to merit his historical place to imposing a man made peace on God's land. If he persists,he will make the Churchillian retreat from God's side pale by comparison. Seen through the crystal clear prism of God's Word, the world is hurtling toward a climatic end. God can not be happy with the players in this contemporary errand of the evil one. As an American, we are totally convinced that God is NOT happy with a once Christian nation's march away from HIM and to the evil one. Is this week's massive oil spill and environmental disaster accidental? Surely not. The rabbis God does not operate in coincidences. This week in the west is national prayer day. Our small band of believers, perhaps the remnant,will pray all day at the local hospital. We shall go. It is prescient that the prayer takes place in a hospital, where illness is addressed. My country is spiritually ill. We have wandered very far from the Lord, from the Word. We offer our babies to Moloch in the name of "free choice:", we boast of our renunciation of marriage between a man and a woman. We are politically correct and biblically wrong in addressing idolatry and false gods (as the Saviour NEVER was). And worse yet, my country not only assembles with but shoves others aside so my nation can be in the front ranks of the evil one's leadership in working against God's Land and God Himself. Yesterdays sermon was about the unforgivable sin,of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Visiting after the sermon with the pastor,we remarked that the very first blasphemer surely was the evil one who blasphemed when he thought he was God's equal. Blasphemy,as God commands and warns,is not a page in an old book. We are seeing it is today's sin and just unforgivable now as when the evil one lost his throne. On prayer day (EVERY day is prayer day) we will plead for God's mercy,a mercy my nation hasnít earned, and a plea that repentance will come upon a sufficient number of government members to forestall, dearly and hopefully end this foolishness of stripping Israel of its armour. We remember the fate full words of Cardinal Wolsey who remarked on his way to his beheading in the Tower of London "If I had served my Lord as I had served my king, I would not now be naked unto mine enemies." Even so, Amen, come Lord Yeshua.
A Murder of Crows Salvation Download the first chapter by clicking on here