Understand the True Bride of Jesus
LHC: Message Thirty-Seven (980809PM)
Week 37: Understand the True Bride of Jesus
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you understand the true bride of Jesus!
SUNDAY: The True Bride of Jesus I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. —2 Corinthians 11:2, emphasis added In Revelation 17 we find the collapse of the apostate world’s church. In the process we see Satan’s harlot bride: the delusion of religion. From Eden onward, Satan has been building his church. Although Eve was tempted and fell into sin, she never joined the old serpent’s assembly. Cain was Satan’s first member (1 John 3:12), and that church has flourished ever since. Today the church of Satan has many congregations. Whenever the God of Scripture is left out, there is only one other source of authority—Satan. Some followers meet in the ivory towers of academia where God is banished from education. Other congregations include those masses who ignore God altogether, and some even worship Satan directly. But the most insidious congregations meet in churches, synagogues, mosques, cathedrals, and temples where organized religion stresses the achievements of humans working their way to God. This “church of good works” promotes selfrighteousness: “I will do it my way.” When you join such a church, you are required to “follow the rules”—and hope that the good outweighs the bad in the balance of religions. This religion deceives mankind into thinking that there are many ways to God, and many gods to seek. Refusing to acknowledge that they were created in God’s image, these followers create their god in their own image instead. In the seventeenth chapter we see Satan’s ongoing system of counterfeiting the true church, the true worship, and the true seeking of God. Revelation 17 can therefore be divided into these sections: Satan’s plan exposed (vv.1–6); Satan’s plan explained (vv. 7–15); and Satan’s plan extinguished (vv. 16–18). To pass off counterfeit money, I would not show you a blue twenty-dollar bill, because right away you could tell it is a fake. The best way to fool someone is to choose currency that looks as much like the genuine article as possible. Most who talk and think about Satan’s church think of warlocks, witches, and human sacrifices. But I don’t think he spends much time on that. His goal is not to make a “blue twenty-dollar bill” but to make one that looks exactly like the real thing. Therefore, Satan slyly represents the real thing as closely as possible while still having a deadly difference that is damnable. So
when you think of Satan’s church, don’t be tricked into assuming that it simply involves Buddha, animists, and stone gods in the jungle. No, his church will also have Christ, the Bible, and words that are familiar to Christians. The deadly difference that is damnable is that the reality of the substitutionary work of Christ, and the essence of the gospel of grace, will be missing. That is Satan’s counterfeit church. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and make them His bride. He gave himself to purchase her from sin and damnation. Jesus ever lives as a Great High Priest to purify and cleanse His bride from all defilement. The true bride of Jesus is a pure and chaste virgin, washed in the blood of the Lamb, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and awaiting the day of marriage to Jesus. Satan also has a bride. We meet her in Revelation 17. She is a drunken, licentious harlot. She is the full-grown woman of the Tower of Babel. She is the queen of heaven of the Old Testament. She is the mystery religion in the cults of the Near and Far East. She is the one-world church of the World Council of Churches and National Council of Churches of America. Nothing is more satanic and deceptive in the entire world than the ecumenical (one united) church movement. God hates religious deception! She is also the embodiment of a false Christianity, led by a false Christ and embodied in the image of the very mother of Jesus. That is why John was so shocked. No other beast in sixteen chapters of death, demonism, and destruction shocked him until he saw this false harlot bride. As we start this difficult topic that is so crucial to the future, please pray that God will open your understanding about the end of days. My Prayer for You This Week: Dear heavenly Father, bless us with Your enlightening power. Open our eyes to behold wonderful truths from Your Word. May the humility of Christ, the insights of Your Spirit, and Your blessed plan be present in our lives. As we increase in knowledge, may we not become puffed up with pride, but rather humbly receive Your engrafted Word that we may grow in Christlikeness. We pray that in Jesus’ name and love we will go out to reach the world around us—the world that is dying without hope of the Savior. Help us to be constantly ready to step heavenward, and to know less of this world as our home and be more expectant of heaven. We pray all this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
MONDAY: Satan’s Plan Exposed And no wonder! For Satan . . . transforms himself into an angel of light. — 2 Corinthians 11:14, emphasis added The seventeenth chapter of Revelation describes the doom of the Babylonian system. This system is seen as a woman portrayed as a harlot. She seems to be a symbol of Satan’s world religion. This chapter records the demise of the counterfeit church Satan founded at Eden—the one he has worked on ceaselessly ever since. The beast (Satan’s incarnation as a false Jesus) finally destroys the apostate church and sets up unhindered satanic worship (via the beast and false prophet’s work). To make this happen, Satan’s ultimate goals in the world today are to forge global unity politically, religiously, and financially.
In Revelation 17, as God’s Word unmasks the apostasy of false religions, we discover the true bride of Jesus. God reveals that the true bride is made up of His own saints who are “called, chosen, and faithful” (17:14). They are Christians who are called by God to salvation, chosen by God because He placed His love on us, and faithful to the One who called us. What a beautiful description of the church! There is a very significant contrast between the two women of Revelation: God’s saints are seen in Revelation 12 and Satan’s church is revealed in Revelation 17. God’s way is a narrow path, but Satan’s way is a broad path. Yet both are seemingly headed in the same direction. God’s way is narrow and straight—it is a hard path and few find it (Matthew 7:13–14). However, Satan’s way is broad, and the path is easy and level. In fact, the devil gives you a nice little slant so you can coast along. In contrast, God’s path is slanted upward, and it is difficult to climb. God’s way is exclusive, which is what bothers people so much. In fact, in a United Nations forum on global religion, the members discussed the bothersome exclusiveness of Christianity. In San Francisco there is now a group seeking to unite all the religions of the world. As they see it, a hindrance to such unity is the small part of religion in Christianity that they call “exclusive”—those who are devoutly committed to following God and His Word. The Bible, God, and His church with its so-called exclusiveness are thus continually attacked; satanic inclusiveness—where anybody can believe anything and go Satan’s way—is lauded. God’s way is the true church; Satan’s way is the false church. God has a true bride; Satan has a false bride. God says there is no other name under heaven whereby you must be saved. Satan says the way is ecumenical: Muslims, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in one god, so that is good; Hindus, down deep, don’t believe in one god, but they believe in truth, so they are also good. They find a way for every belief to fit in, and that is called ecumenical inclusivism. God says there is one way; Satan says there are many ways. God says that we are to look for a heavenly destination; most satanic, ecumenical religions put their focus on the earth. It is an earthly way, and most of the people in these religions are involved in preserving and worshiping the planet Earth. God’s way is Jerusalem; Satan’s way is Babylon. God’s way is the city of peace; Satan’s way is the city of confusion. God speaks in spiritual terms; Satan speaks in fleshly terms. God talks about an internal transformation; Satan talks about an external reformation. God is the God of Creation since He initiates; Satan is the god of evolution as things just somehow happen. God is a God of love; Satan is a god of hate. In God we have spiritual worship that is invisible; no images are involved. Satan is always associated with idolatry. Look at even the self-professed, not-idolatrous Muslims: how do they worship? At the Kabala they worship massed around a black stone in Mecca. Spiritual worship is at the heart of God’s true church; idolatry is at the heart of all earthly religions. God’s way is divine; Satan’s way is humanistic. God’s way leads to contentment; Satan’s way always leads to covetousness. God’s way is appropriated by faith; Satan’s way is merely intellectually appropriated.
God’s way is through the Spirit; Satan’s way is through religious rituals and works. God’s way put Christ on a cross of shame; Satan’s way puts a crown of pride on men. God’s way is a pure bride; Satan’s way is a wicked, unfaithful, impure harlot. Which way have you been following?
TUESDAY: Satan’s Plan Explained Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. —1 Timothy 4:1, emphasis added Revelation 17 records the demise of Satan’s church. He began building his church in the Garden of Eden in anticipation of the moment when he can install his false Christ at the head of it. At that time he will destroy the scaffolding that built the church. That is why there is going to be a complete break with organized religion sometime in the Tribulation. The most likely time is when the image is placed in the temple of the Jews. All the earth dwellers who were never converted (those never born again) are going to be shocked when the woman portrayed as a harlot is destroyed and the beast installs himself as Christ and demands to be worshiped. Basically, the beast is Satan’s incarnation as the false Jesus. Satan’s ultimate goals in the world today are to forge global unity politically, religiously and financially. He doesn’t care whether Antichrist is called Christ or Satan— just that he is worshiped instead of God. He is content to be called Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, or any name at all as long as you are not worshiping the true God. Satan is orchestrating a worldwide political unity (the seven heads of Revelation 17 speak of totality of rule). It is not the world that thought up the concept of the United Nations; Satan is behind the scenes working in men’s minds and hearts to establish a one-world political unity: All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Satan is interested in a united earth]. . . . He causes all . . . to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13:8, 16– 17). Satan desires worldwide financial and business unity. He is also looking for a worldwide financial organization (Revelation 13:17). Why is that so critical? Because the one who controls the purse strings is really in charge. This is very interesting: the more you study prophecy the more you realize that it won’t be long before we will know who is really committed in the church. As soon as the government moves a little bit further, perhaps through an economic downturn or a non-linearity in the global economy, there are going to be some changes. When that happens, I am sure that church giving and similar kinds of donations will no longer be tax deductible. It will then be very unprofitable to be a Christian. Right now, it is very profitable for a lot of people; it will get you votes, and you are looked upon as good. But as soon as there is a financial, social, and political step back from Christianity, there will be fallout. Whenever it becomes politically incorrect to be a Christian, like it was for so many years
in Eastern Europe, you will be denied privileges. Just as there have been racial barriers in this country, there will be religious barriers. Satan desires worldwide spiritual and religious unity. This will be achieved as the beast is worshiped (Revelation 13:8, 11–12; 14:9; 16:2), the beast is beloved (Revelation 13:3), the beast is honored (Revelation 13:8), and the beast is confidently followed (Revelation 13:4). Because Satan has to control the purse strings, there has to be a global financial system. When that happens, a political control will follow right behind, and then a worldwide religion to pull together this worship. That is what it says in Revelation 13:8a, 11–12: All who dwell on the earth will worship him, . . . Then I saw another beast . . . And he exercises all the authority of the first beast . . . , and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. The same concept of global worship appears in Revelation 14:9–10a: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark . . . , he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” In Revelation 16:2 we see God’s wrath being poured out on the First Church of Antichrist when a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. This reminds me of a book by Peter Kreeft—Ecumenical Jihad, which I read in part. On the back cover, two well-known Christians recommend its reading. Do you know what the book is about? Briefly stated, the author, a Dutch theologian, was out surfing, got hit on the head, and had an out-of-body experience and stepped into heaven. The first to supposedly greet him and shake his hand in heaven was Confucius. The theologian asked him, “What are you doing here?” Confucius explained that he believed in one God, too, and assured him that it was the same god. Then he met Buddha and was really shocked. Buddha told him that the four laws of Buddhism are exactly what he, the theologian, believed. After thinking about it, he answered Buddha saying, “Yes, I guess I do.” Next, he met Mohammed and asked, “Mohammed, you are in heaven?” He said, “Yes, I believe in Mary, too.” And I thought: Okay, this must be a joke. Then the theologian met Moses in this out-of-body experience in heaven. Moses reportedly informed him, “Yes, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, and a lot of other people are here because we all are seeking the same thing. We are seeking to worship Jesus and his mother.”1 I shut the book right then. But as I shut it, on the back cover I noticed this recommendation by J. I. Packer: “Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox alike need to ponder Peter Kreeft’s vision of things—preferably in discussion. What if he is right?”2 (emphasis added.) To question whether something that God says is wrong—is wrong, and it is dangerous. For example, if parents tell their child no, that child shouldn’t ask a question that directly controverts what they said because that is a rebellious response. So then, as God’s children, we shouldn’t ask if what Kreeft says is true because we already know it is not. What Jesus promised is that this coming global church is not going to be a church of snake handlers and demon worshipers. It is going to be a church of purported Christ worshipers. Satan will form his First Church of Antichrist in place of Christ—not
against Christ. Members will worship a convenient Christ—a Christ that anyone can believe in because he doesn’t offend them. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30a). There can be no neutrality in this conflict of the ages: you are either an earth dweller who will worship the Antichrist, or a pilgrim who will be raptured before the Tribulation to worship and enjoy the Lord God Almighty forever!
WEDNESDAY: Who Is the Woman on the Beast? Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.” — Revelation 17:1, emphasis added The woman of chapter 17 is in great contrast to the woman of chapter 12, who is of God. There are several clear identifying marks of the harlot bride of Satan in Revelation 17. If you think with me, you will understand what the apostle John is talking about. As we compare current events to the Scriptures, it gives us a good illustration of what may be the Revelation 17 scenario.3 The harlot is the apostate church. I personally believe that the apostate church will be the Roman Catholic Church merged with all the world religions. You may not believe that they would ever do that, but they already are. That is the horror of this. Most Americans don’t pay any attention to this fact, but everyone else in the world knows. The woman is a harlot: Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters” (Revelation 17:1). A harlot (prostitute) is a woman who has promised, but not kept her promise. It is a woman without faithfulness in spiritual worship. She is a spiritual fornicator—the great whore “with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication” (17:2). In verse 3 we see that the woman of chapter 17 is ungodly: I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The only thing that conspicuously qualifies here is the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church. A newspaper article reported that in 1986 the leaders of the world’s major religions gathered together with Pope John Paul II in Assisi, Italy.4 In addition to an immense group of protestant religious leaders, those present with all their objects of worship included snake worshipers, fire worshipers, spiritists, animists, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and North American Indian witch doctors. They all came to pray for peace. The Buddhists were allowed to place a drape over the altar of the Catholic church, add their little idols of Buddha, and worship. After the Buddhists took that down, the witch doctors were permitted to come in and dance around in their trance as they called out to their great spirit god. Next were the fire worshipers, the animists, and then all the pagan worshipers with the Dali Lama. The gathering allowed every religious group to come and worship as they saw fit because they said, “We are all seeking the same god.”
This is the only thing that was true in the whole article: they are all seeking the same god—and that is the problem. The god of this world is not sought on an altar that is given over to snakes, fire, images, great spirit gods, and occult trances. There is only one entity that has continuously sought and conspicuously promoted spiritual fornication, and that is the ecumenical movement that shows up in many world religions, including the Roman Catholic Church. After 1986, Pope John Paul II sought to gather every religious leader of the world, and he found them all willing to make a pilgrimage to his doorstep. The harlot wears purple and scarlet. This woman is not only a harlot and a woman, she was arrayed in purple and scarlet (17:4a). If you have ever watched any of these religious enclaves on the news, purple and scarlet is another identifier pointing to Rome whose external precious treasures of spiritual trappings are to make her beautiful. Purple and scarlet are the colors of the cardinals and the Roman religious system; they are also the two colors of the Roman Empire. In the ancient world, purple was the most valuable and exquisite material for making clothing. Because it was so costly, only the Caesars and the very wealthy could afford it. That is why they threw a purple robe on Jesus—to make fun of Him; they hit Him with a stick because they knew He could never afford such a robe. It was all a big joke to them. The Roman Catholic Church is conspicuous in the external precious treasures—the spiritual trappings. The first floor’s artwork in St. Peter’s Cathedral is incalculable in its value. Some of those sculptures are forty feet high and twenty feet wide. They are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and St. Peter’s Cathedral is just one of thousands of buildings and businesses owned by the Roman Catholic Church around the world. The harlot is wealthy beyond calculation. She is adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls (17:4b). No religious institution, past or present, even comes close to possessing the incalculable wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, which is estimated in the trillions of dollars by some Italian newspapers. Do you remember what Peter said? “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus [I come]” (Acts 3:6). In contrast, the Roman Church says, “Silver and gold? I have lots of it! And you can’t come in the name of Jesus anymore!” See how things have changed? This woman, the harlot, is wearing purple and scarlet and has wealth beyond description. The harlot is a city that sits on seven hills: “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits” (17:9). John was shocked at this. Perhaps it was because he saw it was a form of the church. (Or maybe that he also recognized Mary. It is interesting that Jesus commissioned John to take care of Mary until she died, which he did.) It really doesn’t matter what shocked John, but rather that nothing else in Revelation had shocked him until now. Rome, often called the Eternal City, has always been known as “the city on Seven Hills” (the Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Quirinal, and Viminal Hills). This city is the home of a church that is intolerant of biblical truth, gives birth to much religious error, is the center of a mystery, is guilty of spiritual adultery, and has a golden cup. It is wealthy, clothed in purple and scarlet, and is a woman and a harlot.
The harlot rules over the kings of the earth: “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues’ ” (17:15). In verse 3 she is first seated on the beast, which means for a time that she directs the beast. This global political influence where she “sits on waters” stands for all peoples, which has often been wielded by the Roman Catholic Church in both European and present world history. There is only one religion that has ruled over the kings of the earth. Yes, the Muslim religion enslaved a lot of people. Yes, there are different religions that have political connotations, but there is only one church that has “sat” to raise up and put down kings. There is only one church that has determined the fate of the nations. If you read history, you will know that church—the Roman Catholic Church. She is sitting on the beast when we first meet her, and then the beast will consume her. But what does that mean for our lives today? This truth prompts me to want to follow the disciplines that Paul charged Timothy to follow in 1 Timothy 4: nourish my soul in the Word of God daily (v. 4:6b), meditate on God’s Word (v. 15), plus take heed to doctrine and hold on to it (v. 16). When we live in the end times, and the world is filled with deceiving spirits (v. 1), our only hope is in God, through His Word, and by His Spirit!
THURSDAY: What Is the Mass? Not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. —Hebrews 9:25–26, emphasis added The harlot is a woman wearing purple and scarlet with wealth beyond calculation, but the most graphic telltale mark is that this woman, this harlot, is wicked in spiritual adultery. If we apply the first law of interpretation of the Bible, we will reason: What did the Apostle John think about when he heard those words? (Not: What do those words mean to us today? And not: How can we somehow shoehorn somebody to fit into this standard?) All the way through Revelation 17, you have to remember that this is the Apostle John who is on a sun-baked island out in the middle of the Aegean Sea as a prisoner of Rome. When he saw purple and scarlet, he saw the Roman Caesars and Legionnaires. When he saw inestimable wealth, he saw the city of Rome. When he saw the city that ruled over the nations of the world, he was looking at the city of Rome. I find it interesting that the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian Empire, the Egyptians, and the Greeks came and went. However, the Romans came and they have never gone. Did you know that the Roman Empire was never defeated or destroyed? It just broke up and dissipated. But there have been efforts to regather it: Napoleon, Bismarck, and Hitler all have tried. When John saw it, he saw a kingdom that had not been destroyed and is going to come back. But when he thought of this “golden cup” with the “abominations and the filthiness of her fornication,” he was not talking about peep shows and pornography shops. From God’s perspective, he was speaking of spiritual abominations, spiritual adultery, and spiritual fornication.
The harlot is wicked (17:4): The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. This woman in purple and scarlet has a golden cup in her hand. This is the holiest instrument in Roman Catholicism: the golden chalice of the Eucharist. No doctrine in the world is more damnable than the Doctrine of Transubstantiation (re-crucifying Jesus at every Mass in every church around the world every day). This cup is a picture of a false and vile counterfeit of true communion with God. The golden chalice is filled with the filthiness of her abominations. Did you know that this is what they teach? They transform the “host” into the real body of Jesus; then they symbolically crucify it again. They pour out His blood again because they do not believe that His blood was sufficient when He shed it on behalf of the sins of the world—past, present, and future. Thus, they have to repeatedly re-offer Him. The biblical view of the sacrifice of the Mass, the very heart of Roman Catholicism, is a denial of the completed work of the cross, which states that “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28a). Verse 28a does away with Romanism: not once an hour in the big cathedrals; not once a day at all the other ones; not all day long at those chapels surrounding St. Peter’s Cathedral, the largest Roman Catholic Church in the world, but ONCE FOR ALL. This is the stake in the heart of Romanism. To those who trust in that once-for-all sacrifice, and eagerly wait for Him, He is going to appear—but not to those who are looking to be saved by crucifying Him over and over again. Do you see why this teaching is so important? Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not against Catholicism: I am against Romanism—the Mass, purgatory, confessions, sacraments, Mary, penance, extreme unction, beads, robes, cathedrals, and Popes. True Catholicism is Peter, Paul, Jesus, John, and the New Testament. I love born-again Catholics, and all Catholics everywhere, but I hate any false teaching that denies salvation, as does Romanism. Most people don’t realize the dominant role the Roman Catholic Church has had. Did you know that the calendar of the world (except for the Muslims, Hindus, and Jews) was instituted by the Pope? The reason why there is a French Canada and a Catholic South America is a result of Papal edicts. The reason we are here in protestant North America is due to a miscalculation of the Pope. So many things in the culture of the world have been decided by the Roman Catholic Church, which has exerted incredible control over civilization for 2,000 years. However, they are not the only culprit. The harlot is a system (17:17): “For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.” This will occur when false world religions are united. As we saw in Revelation 13, the beast will change all religions into the worship of Antichrist. What is amazing is that the Roman Catholic Church is just a part of this whole system Satan has built. This is the system that substitutes God and His way for Satan’s way, and God’s truth for Satan’s lies. The whole system evolved into a religion and, as we saw in Pergamos, when Rome conquered the world, they moved the center of the Babylonian’s worship, including all the altars in Babylon, and brought them to Rome. Today, you can go through a building called the Pantheon (“all gods”) that houses all the gods brought by people in the Roman Empire. That Pantheon is now a Roman Catholic Church.5
The problem is not just that they utilize those little temples, but that they worship the same way. Until the Roman Church began its domination under Constantine, there were no robes, no beads, no rosaries, no venerated images, no scapulas, no holy artifacts, no feast days, no confessions, no penances, no indulgences, no sacraments, no candles, no saints, and no Lent. Those things were assumed or developed after they took over the Babylonian traditions. The harlot is a city (17:18): “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” The “great city” is Rome. No other existing city in the world has a three-thousand-year history of continuous inhabitation, once ruled the world, and once headed a worldwide empire that has never been destroyed—only Rome. So John was shocked because he saw the church he loved, and had given his life spreading the gospel for, merge into one with the Roman Empire. Should this city of rebellion that is to come discourage us? No, we must always remember what city we are to be looking for. We should not spend our lives looking for the city that will be destroyed, rather, as Hebrews 11 instructs us, we are to look for “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10). We ought to live each day seeing it “afar off” (v. 13), and be trusting our great and faithful God who has “prepared a city” (v. 16) for all who believe in Him and seek Him here on earth (v. 6).
FRIDAY: The Origin of Paganism in Romanism “But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble.” —Jeremiah 44:17, emphasis added How did Rome inherit such wickedness? Here is a brief overview of world history. Pagan Origin: It is shocking for Roman Catholics to learn that the proposal of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrifice was first made in the ninth century by a Benedictine monk, Radbertus, who was the subject of many fierce verbal battles by the bishops until Pope Innocent III declared it an official Roman doctrine in A.D. 1215. The very principles found in the bloodless sacrifice of the Mass, as it is in the church of Rome today, can be traced back through the labyrinth of paganism to the fountain of idolatry— ancient Babylon. Rome’s most blasphemous and massive religious fraud originated in Chaldean idol worship and will continue until the time of the end when, according to Revelation 17 and 18, amid the wonder and admiration of the world, Rome will be judged with violence and be thrown down and shall be found no more at all, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. This brutal, bloody, and blasphemous harlot is none other than the universal false church, the wicked wife of Satan! “God had no sooner begun the blessed work in preparing for himself a people than the devil did likewise. In fact, the first baby to be born on this Earth later became Satan’s original convert!” See Genesis 4:8; this is where religion starts. As 1 John 3:12
explains, Cain was the tool of Satan. We shall now consider the historical, current, and future activities of this perverted prostitute.6 The Harlot Viewed Historically: Satan’s church began officially at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1–9. This is the beginning of organized religion, nearly twentyfour centuries before Christ. Here, in the fertile plain of Shinar, probably very close to the original Garden of Eden, the first spade of dirt was turned for the purpose of devilworship. The first full-time minister of Satan was Nimrod, Noah’s wicked and apostate grandson (Genesis 10:8–10). Secular history and tradition tell us that Nimrod married a woman who was as evil and demonic as himself. Her name was Semiramis. Knowing God’s promise of a future Savior (Genesis 3:15), Semiramis brazenly claimed that Tammuz, her first son, fulfilled this prophecy. Semiramis thereupon instituted a religious system that made both her and her son the objects of divine worship. She became the first high priestess. Thus began the mother-child cult which later spread all over the world. From Babylon it spread to Phoenicia under the name of Ashteroth and Tammuz. From Phoenicia it traveled to Pergamos in Asia Minor. This is the reason for John’s admonition to the church of Pergamos in the book of Revelation: “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is” (Revelation 2:13). In Egypt the mother-child cult was known as Isis and Horus. In Greece it became Aphrodite and Eros. In Rome this pair was worshiped as Venus and Cupid. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost writes, “Several years ago I visited an archeological museum in Mexico City. A recent find had just been put on display, which Mexican archeologists had authenticated as belonging to the period about 200 years before Christ. The object was the center of religious worship among some of the early Indians in Mexico. To my amazement, it was an image of a mother with a child in her arms. This Babylonian religion spread abroad to become the religion of the World.”7 What was the teaching of Semiramis’ false church? That Semiramis herself was the way to God. She actually adopted the title “Queen of Heaven.” She alone could administer salvation to the sinner through various sacraments, such as the sprinkling of holy water. Her son, Tammuz, was tragically slain by a wild boar during a hunting trip. He was, however, supposedly resurrected from the dead forty days later. Thus, each year afterward, the temple virgins of this cult would enter a forty-day fast as a memorial to Tammuz’ death and resurrection. After the forty-day fast, a joyful feast (Easter) called Ishtar took place. At this feast colored eggs were exchanged and eaten as a symbol of the resurrection. An evergreen tree was displayed and a Yule log was burned. Finally, hotcakes marked with the letter “T” (to remind everybody of Tammuz) were baked and eaten! This is similar to the practice of using wafers in the Mass today that are stamped with a symbol to make it a bloodless sacrifice of Christ’s body. In light of this history, it should be easy to understand the need to be discerning. Most of what is called “Christian” today is engineered by Satan, who masquerades as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Ask the Lord daily to lead you in Truth so that you may be alert to “the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
SATURDAY: Satan’s Plan Extinguished Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. —Hebrews 2:14, emphasis added How will Satan’s masterful plan be extinguished? This is how. When the true church exits, the wheat and the chaff will be separated—the true bride of Jesus will be with Him in heaven while the false church remains on earth! What is our hope as believers in Christ? We, like those converted during the Tribulation’s horrors, are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 13:8 sums it up: All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. You see, those who are in the Lamb’s Book of Life will never worship the beast. Instead, we will joyfully witness of our faith in Christ. Look at Revelation 17:8: “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” There are six glorious elements describing those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life: 1. They are victorious ones because they are overcomers: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and . . . I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5). 2. They are joyful witnesses because they are secure: Help these women who labored with me in the gospel . . . and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3). 3. They are newborn ones because it is the Book of Life: Anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). 4. They are blood-bought ones because it is the Book of the Lamb that was slain: There shall by no means enter in anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). 5. They are glorified ones because they can enter the heavenly city: Those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). 6. They are the before-known ones because the Book of Life was written before the foundation of the world: In the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). That is so interesting! God has known what is going on all along, which fits with His sovereignty and omniscience. Those who are in Christ are known and called, chosen and faithful (Revelation 17:14b). There has been and always will be a tension in Christendom between those who are not comfortable with the idea of the sovereignty of
God and those who are. But one place where we all meet is at the Scriptures—whether you are of the Wesleyan, Armenian, Charismatic background or of a Reformed Presbyterian Calvinistic persuasion. This we all know to be true: God calls and chooses, and we faithfully respond. That is the gospel. I like the way Warren Wiersbe puts it: “When you are headed toward heaven, you see a giant sign blinking that says, ‘Whosoever will may come.’ When you get there you are going to look back and it will say ‘chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.’ ” Did you know that the sovereignty of God is something to be talked about in heaven rather than being a crippling debate fought over on earth? On earth we shouldn’t argue over the implications of “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.” What we are called to do is tell everyone: “Whosoever will may come and take the Water of Life freely.” There is not a group of people on this planet that I will not preach the gospel to and say, “You, too, can come to Christ today!” That is what Jesus did, and that is what we should do also. People just don’t walk around with a big “E” stamped on them to show that they are among the “elect.” But because God has said so, the elect will respond to the gospel. But that is only understood in heaven, and not on earth. It is a mystery! Are you worshiping our Lord who has called you—and chosen you—the One to whom you should be faithful all your days? Make a choice to live in hope: If you are a member of the true bride of Jesus, God has loved you with an everlasting love! With loving kindness He has drawn you to himself. He chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world that you should be holy and blameless before Him. Because you have been called and chosen, be faithful to Him—as a pure bride for her husband. You can choose to live in hope in these end times by rejoicing that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Rejoice that you will never be plucked out of your Father’s hand! Rejoice that you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and will never be deceived from your faith and hope and joy in Christ! Rejoice that you are thus eternally secure! I exhort you, with all my heart, to pass on that same faith and hope and joy to others. You are acquainted with many people who don’t share that hope because they don’t know your Savior. God has left you here on earth to take some of them with you to heaven. So I pray that you will streamline your schedule to make time to tell people about Jesus, to nurture them in the faith, and then have them as your hope and joy and crown of rejoicing when He comes or calls you to himself. In the apostle Paul’s letter to his “beloved and longed-for brethren, [his] joy and crown” at Phillipi, he encouraged them to “stand fast in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1)! To those “whose names are in the Book of Life,” he urged: “Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:3c-4). His exhortation applies to us as well. And I dare say that if he were alive today, Paul would wholeheartedly sing “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart.” May the Lord make the words of this beloved song a reality in your life as well. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart Rejoice, ye pure in heart, Rejoice, give thanks and sing
Beneath the standard of your God, The cross of Christ your King. Bright youth and snow-crowned age, Strong men and maidens fair, Raise high your free, exulting song, God’s wondrous praise declare. Yes, on thro life’s long path, Still singing as ye go; From youth to age, by night and day, In gladness and in woe. Still lift your standard high, Still march in firm array, As warriors thro’ the darkness toil Till dawns the golden day. Refrain: Rejoice, rejoice, Rejoice, give thanks and sing. —Edward H. Plumptre (1821–1891) 1 Paul Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), p. 100.
3 Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994); Ray Stedman believes this chapter gives ten clues about the identity of the woman, see God’s Final Word (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1991), pp. 287–97.
4 Peter Gould, “Pope Lights Beacon of Hope,” BBC News (January 24, 2002), accessed online at http://www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1780792.stm.
5 Further description and photos may be accessed online at http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Pantheon.html.
6 Harold Wilmington, Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible (Chicago: Tyndale House, 1981), p. 536.
7 J. Dwight Pentecost, Prophecy for Today (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1989), p. 133.