Surprise Element of Prophecy
History forces us to conclude that the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies was always accompanied by an element of surprise. This allows no greater advantage to the doctors of the law or the renowned students of prophecy. It is God who has the final word as to the fulfillment of prophecy. Whether it is the 70th week of Daniel, the inauguration of the church, or even the birth of Christ, it seems there is more safety in seeking guidance from the Holy Ghost than there is in the theological assumptions of institutional religion.
Was it not the most learned and elite Jews who rejected Christ? They had searched the scriptures and were acquainted with prophetic promises of the Messiah, yet because of that element of surprise, they misunderstood the time setting of prophecy, and, as a result, rejected that which they hoped for. (Jn. 1:11; 5:39-40). With this understanding, one should not formulate dogmatic conclusions or positive date setting in respect to prophetic fulfillment.
A good example of this surprise element to the fulfillment of prophecy is most beautifully reflected in the lives of the disciples. John the Baptist had declared with positive assertion that the kingdom of God was at hand. His message of repentance and the declaration of himself being “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” was supported by all of the gospel writers. (Jn. 1:23; Mt. 3:3; Lk. 3:4; Mk 1:33). They all agreed with the thought that John was the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 3:1. As far as they were concerned, the establishment of the promised kingdom was imminent. It was no surprise that Peter carried a sword, for he understood that prophecy predicted a major war prior to the reign of the Messiah. His use of the prophecy of Joel 2 on the day of Pentecost was not a misappropriation of prophetic time frame, but rather an honest and sincere conviction that what happened at Pentecost was the outpouring promised to Israel as a nation that should precede the establishment of God’s kingdom on Earth. (Zech. 12:10; Joel 2).
The disciples were all convinced that they would see God’s literal kingdom in their time. But God did otherwise! The church was suddenly included, even though there were no direct prophecies foretelling its commencement. The kingdom was delayed for at least another 2000 years! But this in no way made John the Baptist a false preacher, and Peter did not misappropriate scripture.
In our endeavour to understand prophecy we should never ignore the fact that God is never ‘boxed in’ to any of man’s scrutiny or predictions. Scripture states, “…God is greater than man…for he giveth not account of any of his matters.” (Job 33:12-13). “Who is it that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?” (Lam 3:37). “…God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased…” (Ps. 115:3).
However, utilizing the assistance of God’s Spirit and a God-called ministry, we, the Body of Christ, must understand enough of prophecy to reaffirm our hope and influence our sanctification from this present evil world.
“The Midnight Cry” publication will endeavour to expose those areas of prophecy affecting the lifestyle of God’s people. We will, by God’s help, bring to light as many “hidden things of darkness” that God allows us to recognize. The elect should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. (1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 2:11).
God’s Word: A Lamp
Prophetic scripture is a forecast, and, as such, is intended to alert the ministry of the progressiveness of evil. With much prayer and the assistance of the Holy Spirit, God’s true ministry will be able to offer the church a way of escape. (Lk. 21:36) Scripture was never intended to be an object for theological scrutiny in man’s arrogant effort to establish Christian dogma. We are to hide God’s word in our hearts so that we do not sin against Him. (Ps. 119:11). In this age of gross darkness, the word should be “a lamp unto [our] feet, and a light unto [our] path.” (Ps. 119:105). This illumination dispels darkness from our lives, allowing us to walk as children of light. (Eph. 5:8). But darkness is subtle, and is even more difficult to recognize when one is brought up in a society of gross darkness. It was no wonder that after being exposed to the Egyptian thought pattern for 400 years, the children of Israel thought and acted like Egyptians.
If God, by His Spirit, has translated us out of the kingdom of darkness, (Col. 1:13), we must “…cast off the works of darkness, and…put on the armour of light.” (Rom. 13:12). The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:8), admonished the saints to remain sober and not walk in darkness. It was apparent that a continuous walk in darkness resulted in spiritual drunkenness. (1 Thess. 5:4-8). Drunkenness, sleep and darkness are all symbolic to an apostate and worldly condition. We shall pay a little more attention to these terminologies as we briefly look into some aspects of the 13th and 17th chapters of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation is one of the most relevant books for our time. Whoever it was that introduced the book rightly declared a blessing to those who “…readeth, and they that hear…and keep those things which are written therein…” (Rev. 1:3). As we take a glimpse into the 13th chapter of Revelation, may the Holy Ghost cause us to understand its proper interpretation and application to our lives. We shall, by God’s help, keep this as simple and straightforward as possible.
The Panoramic View
Revelation 13 describes a seven-headed beast coming out of the sea, having 10 horns. Upon each of the heads was the name of blasphemy. John saw the wounding and healing of one of the heads, and identified the dragon as the source from which the beast receives its “power” and “great authority”. The vision also describes the entire world wondering after the beast, and thereby worshipping the
dragon. The beast is then given a mouth to speak great things and permission is given to him to wage war against the saints and to overcome them. The prophecy emphatically states that all the world wonders after the beast, except those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Standing upon the foundational teachings of the past, we have understood the beast to be civil government, with the seven heads reflecting seven outstanding civilizations: i.e. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Pagan Rome and Papal Rome. This conclusion is based upon the comparative scriptures in Daniel chapters 2 and 7. In Daniel 7:17, the four beasts are described as four kings.
The “sea” from which the beast comes up, is the same as the “waters” upon which the whore of Revelation 17:1 sits. This is described in Revelation 17:15 as the mass of humanity.
The wounded head is Papal Rome, which received a wound by the Protestant Reformation. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church was not destroyed, and, as we can see, its deadly wound has already been healed. Careful note should be taken at this time to the fact that even though the seventh head was wounded, the beast itself was still alive. The healing process of the seventh head, did not in any way hinder civil government from continuing to exist. The subtlety of this scenario distracts us by causing us to focus on the healing of the wounded head while overlooking the fact that the beast itself was still alive and still had a controlling influence in society.
The dragon is the Devil, as described in Revelation 12:9. It is of paramount importance that we pay attention to this fact. Satan gives power to civil government to exist and function. Every area of society that is controlled by civil government is under the inspiration of demonic powers. This includes fashion, sports, commerce, education and entertainment, to name a few. The Apostle Paul describes Satan as the “god of this world” in Corinthians 4:4, and in Ephesians 2:2, he is labelled as “the prince of the power of the air”. It was no wonder that the Devil had the audacity to offer our Lord “all the kingdoms of the world”. (Lk. 4:5-8).
In John 17:14-18, Jesus prays for the sanctification of His disciples, from the evils of their present world. They were not to be taken “out of the world”, but, by an implementation of God’s word in their lives, be ‘set apart’ from its evils. It is impossible for a child of God to love the world and the things that are in the world, and, at the same time love God. (1 Jn. 2:15). Emphasis is strongly placed on the fact that friendship with the spirit of the age is enmity with God. (Js. 4:4).
The world that wonders after the beast is the majority of mankind that accepts the authority and influence of a ‘satanically controlled’ civil government, and all that it offers. This mass of gullible and naïve humanity should not include the Body of Christ: those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Rev. 13:8)
The woman that rides the beast in Revelation 17:3 is symbolic to false religion. Associating the woman with the seventh head of the beast, we can positively conclude that she is Latin Christianity, or in today’s viewpoint, the Catholic Church. Her harlot daughters are all that came out of Catholicism as a result of the Reformation, but were still under some of her doctrinal influence and pagan customs.
The cup of wine in her hand that was full of the abominations and the filthiness of her fornication is symbolic to the overpowering influence she possesses over civil leaders, as well as society. The inhabitants of the earth (the world) were all intoxicated by her influence. (Rev. 17:2). The combined effort of woman and beast take unprecedented control of humanity.
At this time, careful note should be taken to the following:
1. Since the woman is symbolic to false religion, her riding the beast suggests a strong relationship between civil government and false religion. The wounding of the seventh head dethroned false religion (the woman) in that era of its influence over government. On the other hand, the healing of the seventh head will restore this woman to her ‘seat in the saddle’. It seems apparent that civil government in our era will come under the influence of Catholicism and her harlot
2. We should also note the interwoven relation between beast, woman and dragon. Revelation 12:13 describes both beast and dragon as having seven heads and 10 horns. The woman intoxicates the inhabitants of the earth with her wine (Rev. 17:2), and “they” (the world) wonder after the beast. (Rev. 13:3).
War On The Saints
Revelation 13:7, describes the beast as being given power to make war with the saints and overcome them. Society is already under the control of the woman and the beast, and the saints are targeted. As we look at society’s willing submission to everything offered by this evil system, the questions of the day arise:
- Are the saints already overcome?
- Do we wonder after that which is offered by the beast?
- Are we intoxicated with the wine of the woman’s fornication?
- Is there a difference today between the Body of Christ and the body of the beast as it ought to be?
- Are we trying to drink of the “cup of the Lord” and the “cup of devils” at the same time?
- Do we have the name of the Father written in our foreheads, or the marks of the beast?
- Are we so busy with theoretical analysis of the beast that we fail to recognize his claws around our own throats?
Sanctifying The Church
Israel, a type of the church, was commanded by God in Leviticus 18:3-4, not to hold on to the ungodly practices of the land they were coming from, and not to come under the influence of their present environment. The Lord commanded. “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do…Ye shall do my judgments.” Are we guilty of similar transgressions?
Scripture describes the world today as spiritual Egypt, Canaan and Sodom. The purpose of the church is to sanctify God’s people from the influences of the Egyptians, Canaanites and Sodomites around them. Paul stated in his letter to the Ephesians, “Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it…that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27).
In John 17:15, the Lord Jesus prayed for God to keep His disciples from the evils of their society. Both James and John warned the saints about the dangers of loving and being friendly with the world. God’s children should not be overpowered by the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, or the pride of life. (1 Jn. 2:15-17; Js. 4:4).
The Apostle Paul recognized the subtle darkness that overpowers society, and beautifully describes the work of reconciliation in Colossians 1:12-23. He shows how God delivers His people from darkness, and though we were enemies, our Lord Jesus will present us holy, unblameable and unreprovable in His sight. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world…” (Phil. 2:15).
God’s work must indeed be separated from the evils of this present age. However, Satan has successfully blinded the minds of religious leaders as to the reality of what this present evil world is. Let us not ignore scripture that warns of the increase of evil in our age. Matthew 24:12, warns of “iniquity” abounding, and “the love of many” waxing cold. Paul warns about “perilous times” for the work of God. (2 Tim. 4:1). Jesus explains that “tares” will engulf the fields and many false prophets doing miracles will be the highlight. (Mt. 13:24-30; Mt. 24:5; 11-15, 24).
For the sincere child of God, apostate religion may be “the wine of her fornication” that is being drunk in innocence. History portrays that at the conclusion of Malachi’s ministry, Israel was without a prophet for over 400 years. To substitute for the voice of God
doctors of the law and theologians were born. But man’s carnal dogma will only produce an educated society. It was no wonder that our Lord bypassed the lawyers and doctors of His day, and chose the simple. This should also apply in our time.
As ministers, we need the Holy Ghost to communicate to our hearts so that we do not feed God’s sheep with apostate junk. Education should never replace illumination. The church’s greatest threat is from ministers who “drink with the drunkards” — those who imbibe knowledge and inspiration from any Babylonish source. (Mt. 24:49).
As we reflect again on history, it is clear that in the absence of prophets, doctors of the law and theologians were born in man’s frail effort to substitute for the voice of God. Malachi did not bring an end to religion. Illumination was substituted by education. It was no wonder that the prophet Isaiah described our Lord Jesus as a root coming out of a dry ground.