Ministry Comments

We Must Remain Vigilant

I read a true story about life in Beirut, Lebanon during the civil war that tore that country apart from 1975 until 1990. The story went like this: a lady of some means had invited guests to her apartment for dinner one evening. Her apartment was near what was called the green line. The green line was the dividing line between the different factions fighting in Beirut. The location of her apartment meant that her apartment could be hit by rockets launched during the fighting, and the shock waves from surrounding explosions could be felt. As the guests gathered in the dining room, she posed the ironic question to her guests, “Do you want to dine before or after the shelling?”

To me, this is a startling example of how societies and individuals carry on with life under the most trying conditions.

Another example of this was related to me by a friend who was a teenager living in Beirut during that war. He is an American. He told me that when his brother and he would be coming home at night after being out with friends, they would hear the rockets coming. They would have to rush to a doorway or stand under a stairway along the street to take shelter. I asked him why they would be out in the streets under such conditions. He replied, “We wanted to go out with girls.”

Such accounts make you consider Christ’s admonition to watch and not be ignorant of the times we live in. They reveal how people will be striving to maintain normalcy in their lives even as the sure signs of Christ’s return multiply. He warns us that society will be attempting to hold on to their usual pattern of life while ignoring the extreme seriousness of what is taking place around them.

Matthew 24:36-39 tells us: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

It is not wrong for God’s people to attend to their normal activities while we watch and wait. Our young people need to educate themselves, marry, etc. At this fall Feast of Tabernacles we will have the largest number of infants for the Blessing of Children ceremony I have ever seen. That’s a wonderful blessing to all of us in the Church. But God does warn us not to take our eye off the goal of being in His Kingdom by succumbing to the temptation to wrap ourselves up in our day-to-day affairs. We must continue to watch world events and stay abreast of what is happening all around us. Like any society or nation that is about to meet with great catastrophe, we must remain vigilant. We do know what is coming.

Luke 21:34-36 warns: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the son of Man.”

David O’Malley

Released From Captivity

Once again my wife and I have finished our annual viewing of the movie, The Ten Commandments.  While I don’t watch that movie for doctrinal instruction, I do watch it because it rehearses the mighty miracles that were performed to bring Israel out of “bitter bondage” into freedom to worship the true God.  It is interesting that as great as those events were, they have not been passed down from generation to generation as part of our cultural heritage.  The reason being, of course, Israel lost this knowledge when they fell into bondage once again; and the history of their great deliverance has been lost to them, except as men like Cecil B. DeMille have striven to preserve it.

I want to draw your attention to Matthew 20 regarding release from bondage.  The words I will quote were spoken by another deliverer, not Moses.  In verses 27-28 Christ says, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” A ransom is needed for those who are held captive.  The whole world, as we see it today, is held captive; but they don’t know it.  

Now, we have been released from that captivity.  We are free – free to worship the true God; and so we have been delivered out from under the oppressive hand of the ruler of this world (Though he still strikes at us, he does not have authority over us).  We have come out of Egypt, and our focus is to make sure we don’t allow the ways of Egypt to remain in us.  We are in a constant battle to shake off any vestiges of those sinful things we learned during our enslavement.

In a recent phone conversation with one of our brethren, the gentleman I spoke with talked about how hard it is to watch the news in these times.  The terrible things that are being reported, the sordid, vile crimes people are committing, the constant focus on economic woes, and the fierce storms that are wreaking havoc on this world can be overwhelming just to read about.  We are living in a world wherein people are held in a “bitter bondage” that is consuming them.

This Passover season, let’s think about the blessing we have already received that the unfortunates of this world still await.  We have been freed from under the oppressive hand of the Pharaoh of this world and have come into the household of the true ruler of the universe.  We are greatly blessed brethren.  Let’s thank God for our freedom from that bitter bondage, and pray diligently for our brethren who have yet to be led out of Egypt.

The Meaning of the “Two Women’” Portrayed in the Book of Revelation

In this Minister’s Commentary I am going to explain the meaning of the “two women’” portrayed in the Book of Revelation. The chapters I will focus on are chapters 12 and 17. In chapter 12 John outlined the history of the true church from the time of John’s writing forward. In verse 1 the woman represents God’s True Church, the spiritual Israel (see Gal. 6:15-16 and Heb. 12: 22-23). The Church is the spiritual mother of God’s people (Gal. 4:26). But the verse also refers to the Old Testament Church, the nation of Israel. The reference to the woman and the twelve stars is referring back to Joseph’s dream described in Genesis 37:9. The sun and the moon were the parents of the twelve sons of Jacob – Joseph and his eleven brothers. This reference is to the foundation of the Old Testament nation of Israel, which was the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38).

These verses reflect the continuity between the physical nation of Israel today and the spiritual nation of Israel, which is founded on the corner stone, Christ, and the twelve apostles who will rule in the Kingdom of God.

Verse 3 of Revelation 12 describes another parallel of the Old and New Testament. This woman, both physical and spiritual Israel, has always been under attack by the adversary, the serpent called the Devil and Satan (vs. 9). Verses 4-5 of chapter 12 describe Satan’s attempt to abort God’s plan of salvation for mankind, which includes Christ’s victory in the resurrection and his ascending to the throne of the Father.

Because it was not time for Christ to establish his throne on earth, Satan continues to rule the earth. His relentless attack on the church continues throughout the New Testament and on down to this day. Satan’s persecution of the church drove the church into the outer regions of civilization during the middle ages (Rev. 12:6-13). At the end of verse 12 of Chapter 12 it is made clear that this persecution culminates in the end time just before Christ’s return “because he (Satan) knows that he hath but a short time” before Christ’s return. The persecution described in verse 13 is the fifth seal described in Revelation, Chapter 6, verses 9-11. Satan’s full fury known as the tribulation is yet to come upon this earth.

The fifth seal of Revelation 6:9-11 is a prophecy of this Great Tribulation to come. Revelation 12, verses 6-12, describes the history of Satan’s persecution of the New Testament Church beginning from Christ’s ascension to the Father’s throne. Christ fulfilled his mission of starting the spirit-led church. The persecution by Satan is not only directed at the woman, the New Testament Church, it is meant to take over all peoples of the earth; but it concentrates on the church and the descendants of Jacob, the Old Testament Church of God. Jeremiah 30:7 states, “Alas — for that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.”

Revelation 12 ends with the woman, the true Christian church, being split into two groups: those virgins who have made themselves ready for Christ’s return and are taken to a place of safety, and the unprotected remnant of the Church that is not ready and must face the tribulation of Satan’s wrath in order to prepare them for the Kingdom of God.

Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation focuses on the woman who is symbolic of the people of God throughout history and their battle with their adversary Satan the Devil. But there is also a second woman who is symbolic of another church. This woman is portrayed in Chapter 17.

This woman is called the “Great Harlot”. This harlot church is intimately involved with “many waters” interpreted as the governments and nations of this world. Through these involvements this church becomes known as the Universal Church. She deceives the people of the world with her false religion to the point they have no understanding of the truth of God (“Rev. 17:1-2). This church is wealthy with the wealth of the nations, and seduces the nations with her “spiritually provocative” pagan religion. This woman is called “Mystery Babylon” because she hides her true origins and suppresses the teaching of the truth of the Bible, typing it as a “mystery”. She gives birth to her daughter harlots that come out of her. These daughter churches maintain many of the mother harlot’s ways, but rebel and protest against her form of government (Rev. 17:1-5).

This harlot church is not content to just deceive the peoples of this world. This harlot church is obsessed with persecuting God’s saints. It sees God’s pure church as its enemy and is bent on killing or corrupting the followers of Christ. There was a period in history between 1200 A.D. to as late as the 1800’s that the harlot church carried out a murderous reign of terror against those who would not conform to her pagan doctrines. This sanctioned program of persecution, torture and terror was known as the inquisition. Thousands, and by some accounts millions, suffered because they refused the authority of this church.

In this modern age it is difficult to see how this harlot church could carry out such persecution. However, it is prophesied to happen again. The history of the inquisition explains the church’s willingness to use brutal, inexplicable tactics to gain its ends:

In Europe during the Middle Ages the Universal Church had tremendous influence over the kings and rulers of Europe. They had authority to convene what would be known as Ecclesiastic Courts. These courts were in essence church courts separate from government courts. These courts could try people for crimes against the faith of the Universal Church. Once convicted in these church courts the “guilty” were turned over to the civil or government authorities to be tortured then burned at the stake, beheaded, or hung and quartered under the supervision of the bishops of the Universal Church. The harlot church prosecuted all those who were perceived as threats to their authority. This included some of God’s people.

Today God promises his faithful people protection during the coming tribulation brought on by this Harlot Church to those who persevere and keep his commandments (Rev. 3:7-12). These are those who refuse to drink from her “golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication” (verse 4 of chapter 17).

Christ is vivid in his description of the two women of the book of Revelation. One has its origins in God’s chosen nation Israel and is founded on Christ. The other is intimately involved with the economy, politics, and leaders of this world, teaching the false doctrines of demons and all unholy traditions.

God’s people must follow Christ’s admonition to “come out of her my people”.