Tuesday, March 26, 2019

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 188

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 188) by J. Preston Eby.

THE BATTLE AT ARMAGEDDON (continued)
“And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, saying, It is done” (Rev. 16:17).

A great voice as of a multitude comes out of the temple of His body in the heavens of the Spirit, saying, “It is done!” While the words “it is done” are translated from a different Greek word, the meaning is essentially the same as that triumphant cry of the Christ upon the cross at the moment of His spirit’s departure — the conqueror’s cry, “Tetelesti,” — “It is finished!” More exactly, “It is accomplished.” The idea is not merely that a thing is ended, but that it is rounded out perfectly. That piece of work, that heavenly purpose, was Divinely Finished. Nothing can be added to it. Nothing can be taken from it. The word of the preacher in Ecclesiastes, comes with wonderful power in this connection. “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should reverence before Him” (Eccl. 3:14). It is that sense of completeness, of unchangeable fulfillment and consummation, which is wholly divine. Jonathan Mitchell has given some alternate renderings of the Greek: “It has come to be.” “It has been birthed.” “It has come into existence.” “It has occurred!”

When men say, “It is finished,” the world laughs at them. The ink is not dry upon the page of a Constitution before many people are clamoring for an Amendment. The law is not printed, oftentimes not signed by the proper authority, before defects are found. What a cry of triumph there was when the work on the formation of a Constitution for the United States was completed! But tell me how many amendments we now have. Twenty-seven! And it needs twenty-seven more! The moment a church organization says, “Now we have finished our creed,” and says of it, “We have the purest doctrine on earth,” that very moment the organization ceases to progress. Let anyone dare to interfere with the truth as they perceive it, which they have set in concrete, thus making it a static creed. “This is the creed,” they say, “it is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you do not agree with this thing which we have finished, Anathema; to the faggot, to the stake, to the cross, to the gallows, to the prison, to death with the man who dares to contradict this finished creed of ours! Throw him out!” Through the years various ones have written asking us for a copy of our “Doctrinal Statement.” We have never written one, and never will. Do you realize how many revisions we would have had to make just during my brief lifetime? The moment you write your creed you cannot go any further with God nor have any more truth shed upon your pathway, for you have crystallized truth into a restricted form. How wonderful the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is still leading us into all truth! How blessed the realization that we are still progressing from glory to glory, from experience to experience, from faith to faith, and from one level of truth to another!

You have probably seen cars on the road that have a primer coat of paint on them. They are on the way to becoming great-looking cars, but they’re not there yet. They are “in progress.” People are like that. God’s elect are like that! If you look around you today at those whom the Lord has called to sonship, you will see people who are unfinished products. I’m sure you have seen the button some people wear that says, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” Sometimes we forget that our brethren are people “in progress.” We are offended when they manifest some imperfection. Sometimes we also expect ourselves to be perfect, and we become discouraged or distressed if we fail to measure up to our own expectations. The great news we can focus on today is that God will bring His work in us to completion! Oh, yes, He will! That is the great revelation and comfort shining brightly through the words of our text. God has appointed a day — there will come a great voice out of the heavenly realm, out from the throne-room, proclaiming, “It is done!” Oh, yes, we will be God’s finished product! HE is the one who started the work. He planned it in eternity. He revealed it and has carried it out in history through the progression of the ages. He is GOD and He will finish His work in His apprehended ones! The seventh bowl brings the end of God’s perfecting work in all His people. The work has been carried forth through the opening of the seven seals, through the sounding of the seven trumpets, and now we have come to the pouring out of the final bowl of the seven last plagues. We stand at the end, the finish, the termination of the limitations and weakness of the flesh, the turmoil of the carnal mind, the pressures of the world, the testings of the devil, the deception and bondage of religious Babylon — the end of all that has hindered and defeated God’s people. “It is done!” What a word that is!

 Meditate upon the words of the preacher in Ecclesiastes, and realize the completeness of the divine. What the Christ did was a complete, finished work. Nothing can be added to or taken from it. He accomplished the work the Father gave Him to do, and all that His death meant and effected was carried forth successfully to its divine conclusion. Yet it was only laying a finished foundation for that building that was to be built up throughout the ages. Christ did not finish everything in the divine plan, nor even everything included in our redemption, when He yielded up His spirit on the cross. But the specific work He was accomplishing by His death was wrought out and brought to its divine conclusion. The foundation was complete. He finished the work, and upon the altar of His own completed work which He had Himself erected, He laid Himself down to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. It is finished! It is significant to note that “It is finished” are the very words the priest would say when the Passover sacrifice was completed! Christ our Passover is slain for us, and having died once…he dieth no more! Hence it never needs to be repeated. IT IS DONE! “Nor yet that He should offer Himself often…but now once in the consummation of the ages hath He been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

While all men everywhere were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, they were not perfected, nor were they conformed to His image, nor were they matured unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Right there is where many brethren misunderstand the “finished work” of Christ on the cross. If every saint of God would diligently and prayerfully study all the New Testament says about what was accomplished by the wonderful cross of Christ they would see clearly just what all is included in that “finished work.” And if every member of God’s elect would then carefully consider all the “shall” and “shall be” statements in God’s Word they would also be enlightened and instructed concerning those great and glorious things that are not included in that “finished work,” and therefore remaining to be accomplished in each of our lives by the mighty on-going processings of the Spirit of God. Time and space do not permit us to go into the many passages touching on this great truth, but in one precious verse we have an indication of just what was “finished” at the cross and of that which was not finished at the cross, yet to be wrought out in our lives by a very different process of God. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we SHALL BE SAVED by His LIFE” (Rom. 5:10).

And now, in our text, there is a great voice out of the temple in heaven, from the throne, and who can deny that it is the voice of the One who sits upon the throne, who also said: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21). Observe, then, how it is the Lord Jesus Himself, not Jesus on the cross on Calvary’s hill, but the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Christ who now again proclaims a finished work — “It is done!” This obviously cannot be the same finished work He announced on the cross! Ah, now that all His redeemed people have had visited on them the passion of God through the seven last plagues, to bring them out of captivity in spiritual Egypt, to deliver them from the tyranny of religious Babylon, to purge, refine, purify, perfect, and mature them into the image of Christ, there comes a voice, not from the cross, this time, but out of the heavens of the Spirit, out from the throne of power; THAT was atonement, reconciliation, redemption — THIS is deliverance, purification, perfection: “It is finished! It is done! It is accomplished!” ALL DONE! All the fleshiness, all the carnality, all the foolishness of religion, all the immaturity and childishness, all the sin and lack, all the misunderstanding, all the doctrinal delusions, all the unbelief, and all the worldly ways — the day of deliverance has come and now, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 17:7-9).

Paul Mueller commented on our text, “When the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air, which is the same ‘air’ that once was the devil’s realm, a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, said, ‘IT IS DONE.’ Something has been concluded, finished, and terminated. It is the continuing conflict between flesh and spirit, and between sin and death and the Life of God that has been terminated. For us, all that pertained to the past death-life will then be over. The attacks of Satan will then be over. Our bondages also will be over, and ultimately those of all mankind and of the whole creation. When God says, ‘IT IS DONE,’ we may be sure that it is done! The proof of this will be our transformation and the final fall of the evil powers of Babylon. The old creation, that was created by the old, carnal man, Adam, as ‘he’ was inspired by Satan, shall pass away. And the new creation, created by Christ and His brother-sons, shall then come forth to the glory of the Father.”

Just as the “it is finished” of Calvary refers to a different work than the “it is done” of our text, so there is one more “it is done” in the book of Revelation which also signifies a different work than either of the two preceding. “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make ALL THINGS new…and He said unto me, IT IS DONE. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:5-6). No longer just the body of Christ, but now the Lord moves to renew and restore ALL THINGS, the entire creation of God. All things which John had seen up to now were for the church, the people of God. But now the vision allows us to peer through the glory and to the very end, to an end which includes all things everywhere. Who would not longingly look toward that blessed consummation? And so certain is the Christ of the throne that all will be made new, that He declares “IT IS DONE!” And the glorious result is revealed in the words which immediately follow: “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” Even the rich man in hell will hear those words! Think of it!

VOICES, THUNDERS, LIGHTNINGS, AND A GREAT EARTHQUAKE
“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great” (Rev. 16:18).

Let us look a bit more at what John sees when the seventh angel pours his bowl into the air. Out of the atmosphere are seen proceeding voices, and thunders, and lightnings; then there is a great earthquake, the greatest ever recorded in human history. Three other times in the Revelation it speaks of voices, thunders, and lightnings. These things, of course, are the familiar accompaniments of a storm. It is significant that each time they are named in the book it is in connection with some direct action taken by the Lord out of the heavens of the Spirit which produces a reaction and has an effect in the earth realm. And each time there is some added action intensifying the scene!

A physical storm is caused by two areas of unequal temperature coming together. The storm is the process of the coming together and equalizing of the atmospheric conditions. The inference here would seem to be that the storm is created when the two “atmospheres” of heaven and earth meet, that is, when the atmosphere of the spirit realm touches the atmosphere of the earthy, carnal, soulical realm, and a storm results which equalizes the atmosphere, bringing clear weather, or true clarity in both the atmosphere of the spiritual and the soulical. It suggests that the Lord is taking the next step in bringing forth the revelation of Jesus Christ in all His people! He has risen up from His secret place, spoken from His heavenly temple, and come forth to bring judgment in the lives of all who name His name! And my, what a storm that creates within God’s people and throughout the church world! And what commotions of voices, thunders, and lightnings this produces in the midst!

The “storms” of the book of Revelation are interesting. In chapter eight a storm is created when something symbolically represented as “fire of the altar” is cast into the earth and becomes a disturbing element in the atmosphere of the earth causing great disturbance there. When the Lord comes in His Holy Ghost fire it always changes the temperature and creates a disturbance! The fire of God heats up the atmosphere of Adam’s world, quickening the spirit within man, and the heated atmosphere of the spirit meets the cold atmosphere of man’s soulical life, and a great storm is generated! God speaks out of the storm, and there are heard voices proclaiming heavenly things! In the storm God manifests His power in the thunderings! He gives brilliant flashes of illumination and revelation by the lightnings! By this storm He shakes (symbolized by the earthquake) everything of the old carnal understanding, the old natural life, the old worldly system of things, purifies the atmosphere, pours down the rain of His Spirit and Life, and MAKES ALL THINGS NEW! The vision reveals the great truth that in the outworking of God’s kingdom purposes, first something happens in heaven, and then as a consequence, certain events take place in our earth. And the outcome is glorious indeed!

Throughout the scriptures the earthquake was a regular feature of divine visitation. When God descended upon mount Sinai, “the whole mountain quaked greatly” (Ex. 19:18). Isaiah prophesied that men would hide in caves from the terror of the Lord, “when He ariseth to shake mightily the earth” (Isa. 2:19). “Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth,” writes Haggai (Hag. 2:6). Earthquake denotes a sudden, powerful, and violent disruption of the normal state of things. No human power can control or bring about earthquakes. Many times we have seen on the news cities that were shaken by temblors, and have seen the wreck of some of the finest dwelling places and commercial buildings the ingenuity of man can devise. In a few seconds, while the hearts of men stood still with terror, while no human hand could possibly aid them, the great concrete structures crashed and shattered to ruins in the street below. Men and women grabbed their babies and fled blindly for shelter — they knew not where. No human power can stay an earthquake, or even definitively warn of its coming.

Since Armageddon is the final battle in the saint’s perfection into Christ, it is fitting that the earthquake accompanying this battle is described as “a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” Now if that were a literal earthquake it would be horrendous indeed, for there have been historically some catastrophically devastating earthquakes. Pompeii was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 63. In 1556 there was an earthquake in the Shensi Province of China which took 800,000 lives. In 1693 an earthquake on the island of Sicily took 60,000 lives. Early in the eighteenth century the Japanese city of Edo (now Tokyo) was destroyed with the loss of 200,000 lives. In 1755 the city of Lisbon, Portugal lost 60,000 persons to an earthquake, the shocks of which were felt as far away as southern France and North Africa. In 1797 40,000 people were killed in an earthquake at Quito, Ecuador. In 1819 an earthquake caused 2,000 square miles to sink and become the bed of a lake in the state of Kutch in India. In 1883 a violent eruption at Krakatan in Sunda Strait caused the deaths of 36,000 people. In 1896 an earthquake in Japan took 26,000 lives. So there have been some mighty literal earthquakes which serve as faint shadows of the powerful spiritual shakings to come to God’s people in the battle at Armageddon!

On the physical level, an earthquake occurs where the cooling of the earth has caused two layers of earth to overlap rather than to come together flush. As they try to settle into a more natural position, great pressure and stress is created and suddenly they release energy, there is a mighty movement, and an earthquake takes place. Spiritually, this is fulfilled within each of us in those areas of our life where the flesh and the spirit, the carnal mind and the spiritual mind, truth and error, or our will and God’s will overlap within ourselves, causing intense pressures to be formed, evoking instability in our lives. We have these places deep within us where things do not fit together properly, where there are flaws in our thinking or defects in our character, and pressure builds up, for soul and body have not been synchronized with the spirit, so that they do not “mesh” together. When we meet a situation that begins to trigger these pressures and conflicts, a mighty rumbling and movement is set off! The flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit wars against the flesh! When both the spirit and the flesh want to dominate great pressures are created deep within. When God sets His hand to finally and ultimately deal with every aspect of our flesh-life He gathers us straight to that place called Armageddon!

As the Spirit of God moves sovereignly in our life, exerting a force beyond the capacity of the natural man, the great “earthquake” then ensues! The earthquake touches the fault-lines of our life, not just the surface things, but the very depths of being where the foundation is defective, imperfect, and unsound. It should not be difficult to understand that no man can be conformed to the image of God apart from spiritually devastating and destructive earthquakes! In order for creation to be delivered and restored into God everything of the natural constitution, the human mentality, the Adamic consciousness, the carnal mind, the flesh life, our own will and ways, yes, and even all our former heavens of spiritual experience must be shaken, utterly removed, and demolished! And when He has finished His great work, in the most powerful earthquake we have ever experienced or any man has ever experienced, the carnal mind, the human nature, the flesh, and religious Babylon will lie in ruins and eternal desolation! But the Christ-life will be exalted on high in our lives!

When the earthquake comes there are great commotions within and we react and feel in a spiritual way exactly like those people experience naturally who are victims of physical earthquakes. Cars in the streets roll back and forth, trees thresh about, broken like toothpicks; buildings collapse, the terrain moves violently, bridges buckle, hospitals are devastated, water supplies are broken, communications are cut off, highways and railways are split asunder, our whole equilibrium is thrown off balance, and there is great suffering and death. Oh, yes! When the spiritual earthquake occurs within us, the old world of our carnal understanding, the powerful citadels of the flesh, and all the entrenched spirit of man-made religion are wiped away! This is the awesome work of the earthquake that strikes when the word of our Father comes in power and shakes us out of heaven!

Some years ago Rosemary Garzon wrote, “We have recently heard of a prophecy given concerning a terrible earthquake this summer in this country. Through the years we have heard of similar prophecies being given, which most of you have also heard. Be that as it may. We do know that the hour of the manifestation of the sons of God must surely be nigh at hand. There is enough proof in His word that when we have a breakthrough of great intensity from the natural earth realm into the realm of His Spirit, an earthquake is assured! We might liken this reaction to the ‘sonic boom’ we are all familiar with when a jet plane breaks through the sound barrier. This reaction is one of God’s laws in His vast universe. When Jesus Christ broke through His flesh body and ‘yielded up the ghost’ we read of what took place. ‘And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom: and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent: and the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many’ (Mat. 27:51-53).

But there is a truth beyond just the personal application. It is significant to note that in chapter eleven of the Revelation we see a token fall of the great city Babylon, which is the fall of Babylon within God’s chosen and separated elect, while in chapters sixteen through eighteen we are shown Babylon’s total collapse and destruction, which is the fall of Babylon within the lives of ALL God’s people! “And the same hour there was an earthquake, and the tenth part of the city (Babylon) fell…” (Rev. 11:13). What is a tenth? It’s a tithe, a firstfruit, an earnest — that which is uniquely God’s and guarantees the balance! All of Babylon, the “great city,” will fall, but here it is a partial fall. The manchild company, the sons of God themselves, are the “tenth” part of Babylon that is now falling. As the Spirit of the Lord has destroyed the strongholds of Babylon within us, we are all aware that not all of this symbolic city has fallen! The other nine-tenths, the structure of the carnal church systems, has continued till today, but it has suffered some loss from the earthquake that has freed God’s elect from its clutches. What it has lost and is losing from itself is here called “a tenth.”

This reminds us that, when the prophet Isaiah was told about the destruction coming upon Jerusalem and its kingdom of Judah, he was told “there will still be within it a tenth, and it must again become…like a massive tree in which, when there is a cutting down of them, there is a stump; a holy seed will be the stump of it” (Isa. 6:13). The “stump” or “holy seed” proved to be the faithful remnant that survived the exile in Babylon and returned home to rebuild the holy temple at Jerusalem and restore the kingdom of Israel. Though the application is a little different, the principle is the same — the “tenth part” is the promise that the whole kingdom of Babylon will come down! Only after the blessed sons of God are manifest and the glorious bride of Christ has “made herself ready” will the entire city of Mystery Babylon be eternally desolated, burned with fire, and reduced to ashes!

“See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably” (Heb. 12:25-28).

Reference to the shaking of the earth and heaven comes closer home than just the upheaval and doing away with man’s earthly orders, governments, institutions, cultures, and religious systems. Certainly all of that, too, shall pass away! It also speaks of God’s dealings with all who aspire to become sons of God in the here and now. Not only the earth in us — our humanity with its faults, weaknesses, limitations, emotions, ways, powers, and attributes — but also the heaven in us must be shaken! The heaven in us embraces all our spiritual blessings and experiences of the past. The purpose of this shaking is not to destroy but to replace what has been of God in our spiritual journey but only intended for a specific time and purpose in our growth and development in Christ. The removal of those things is to reveal something far greater! Never does the Lord take something away unless it is to give us something better! He removes the natural to give us the spiritual. He replaces the good with His best. He takes away the “in part” to reveal in us His fullness. When the transitory (shadow, letter of the word) has fulfilled its purpose, He then introduces us to what is real, heavenly, and eternal (divine substance). Therefore let us be grateful for the shaking of even our heavens and for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken! This wonderful kingdom of our Father is earthquake proof — it will never pass away, and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be NO END!

THE SHAKING OF BABYLON
“And there was a great earthquake…and the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath” (Rev. 16:18-19).

What dreadful thoughts and feelings are awakened in the soul by the very sound of the words Mystery Babylon! They are terrible words. They bring before us at once, that vast mass of professed Christians who call themselves “the church,” but are not. Mystery Babylon is a dark and dreadful anomaly. It is neither one thing nor the other. It is not “Israel, nor the Gentiles, nor the church of God.” The “great city” spoken of is neither natural Jerusalem nor is it the heavenly Jerusalem from above, the mother of us all. It is a corrupt mysterious mixture, a spiritual malformation, a hideous mutation, the masterpiece of Satan, the corrupter of the truth of God, the distorter of the character of God, the perverter of the ways of God, the destroyer of the souls of men, a trap, a snare, a stumbling block by which men are made two-fold more the children of hell than before. It is the corruption of the very best thing — the body of Christ — and therefore the most vile of corruptions. It is that thing which Satan has made of professing Christianity.

It is worse by far than Judaism; worse by far than the darkest of pagan religions; because it has higher light and richer privileges, makes the very highest profession, and occupies the very loftiest seat. It is without doubt that awful apostasy for which is reserved the very heaviest judgments of God — the most bitter dregs in the cup of His righteous wrath. If the words penned by John on Patmos do not say this, then I have no understanding or comprehension of language. I doubt if one Christian in one hundred thousand has anything like an adequate sense of the true character and inevitable doom of that system together with all the teachings, rituals, traditions, holy days, programs, organization, promotions, and religious exercises which surround them. If they had it would solemnize their minds and hearts, and cause them to sense the urgent need to flee at once out of Babylon’s clutches, and stand apart in holy separation from Babylon’s ways, that they might escape such awful judgment as is about to be executed, for “strong is the Lord that judgeth her.”

In our text, as a result of the “great earthquake,” the “great city” was divided into three parts. Elwin Roach gave the following commentary on this thought, which I think is excellent. “‘Divided into three parts’ indicates a division of a whole unit. In God we have one unit with three parts, but not divided: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In man we also have a tripartite being: spirit, soul, and body. To be complete, whether it be God or man, there can be no division. It is the same with a natural city which consists of man. If it is divided in its common interest then it will surely fall. Not only that, all the other cities in her dominion will also be desolated. ‘And the cities of the nations fell.’ This is what we see happening to this “great city” — a division before the fall. This division also happened in seed form with Eve. She was tempted, seduced, divided herself from her husband, conceived sin, died spiritually, and was judged of God. We should be able to see the parallel here. The city is divided, but this time it is by the hand of God — an earthquake! But before the shakings could cause the division she would have had to already have separated herself from God. Otherwise the earthquake could not have moved her, for that which is founded in God cannot be moved!” — end quote.

In another sense the great city, Babylon, is split into three parts by the shaking of God, that is, it is brought to a complete break-up, to complete ruin — for three is the number of completeness. The two statements — “the great city was divided into three parts” and “the cities of the nations fell” — indicate that the whole city and every structure in it fell in a heap in utter ruin. Every structure collapsed, one wall falling to the right, another to the left, the roof and the floors falling down between them. It is total disintegration! There is, of course, an individual and personal application as the Babylon within each of us is judged. The mighty earthquakes come to each individual as the Lord shakes each believer from the death-hold of the spirit of Babylon, to be loosed unto the complete control and Lordship of Jesus Christ through the indwelling Spirit. All the cities (the religious strongholds, dominating hierarchies, denominational headquarters) of the nations fall. They fall within the affections of each of us! They all fall before the greater revelation of Jesus Christ! Every island of religious gatherings flees away. Every mountain of religious achievement, fame, and power crumbles and are no more. The ultimate truth of God’s great hail falls unrelentingly upon every thought, concept, doctrine, and tradition of man, crushing it into the earth. The spirit of Babylon is marked “finished” because the Lord, by His Spirit and His Word, puts down all rule, authority, and power! Isn’t it wonderful!

EVERY ISLAND FLED
“And every island fled away” (Rev. 16:20).

This also is the result of the “great earthquake” as God shakes the kingdom of Babylon within us. Islands signify that separate, individualized, independent gathering and effort of man to do his own thing, build his own kingdom, gain a following, and make a name for himself. This is one of the roots of the Babylonian religious system which separates, divides, and exalts itself into a domineering, cultish form — “WE are the true church, WE are the body of Christ, WE are the repository of all truth, WE, and WE ALONE, are God’s anointed instrument in the earth!” How many times have you heard that! Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, certain “sonship” groups, and the list goes on and on. But all spiritual egotism, self-centeredness, self-exaltation, and sectarian spirit will be dealt with by the Lord! All this is the “way of Cain” who “went out from the presence of the Lord…and he builded a city” (Gen. 4:16). He sought to exalt his own name, gain a following, and build a kingdom around himself. The final result of that spirit became Babylon — first ancient Babylon and now Mystery Babylon. But all the efforts of man will fail, for God sends His great earthquake and the “great city” is divided and demolished and every island flees away! Oh, yes!

THE MOUNTAINS ARE NOT FOUND
“…and the mountains were not found” (Rev. 16:20).

Mountains always occupy a dominant position in relation to the surrounding terrain and are imposing and strong, consisting primarily of rock. From this standpoint they fittingly picture kingdoms, governments, organizations, and strong dominating powers which impose themselves over men. Thus mountains signify great and strong kingdoms of man, either within ourselves or that which is built up outwardly. The kingdom of God itself is symbolized by the stone cut out without hands which smites the image in its feet, grinds it to powder, and then grows to become a “great mountain” that fills the whole earth! The prophet Micah saw that “in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain (kingdom) of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains (above and over all other strong kingdoms), and it shall be exalted above the hills (above and over the smaller kingdoms), and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths…” (Mic. 4:1-2). As the prophet Daniel reveals, the end result shall be that all these earthly “mountains” shall be swallowed up by THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD! “…and the mountains were not found.” All the kingdom-building of man shall cease. The empires — religious, economic, or political — which were monuments to the abilities of the flesh will be brought low.

HAIL
“And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (Rev. 16:21).

The plague of hail is also reminiscent of the seventh plague that God sent upon Egypt at the hand of Moses. It was this plague that brought total devastation to the land of Egypt. Men, animals, and plants were violently killed by the hail and lightning that rained down from heaven upon Egypt. This plague was somewhat unique because Yahweh constantly reiterated the fact that this plague was intended to prove to all the Egyptians that He was the one, true God who was to be reverenced and worshipped (Ex. 9:14, 16, 27, 29). This plague brought “very grievous hail, such as hath not been seen in Egypt since the foundation thereof” (Ex. 9:18). Many gods of the Egyptians were humiliated by the events that came to pass as a result of the plague of hail. Because many cattle were killed, the bull and cow gods were again proven to be powerless. Because the trees, plants, and crops were destroyed by the hail, Renenutet — the harvest goddess was shown to be impotent. Seth, the god of storms and protector of crops was ineffectual. As cattle and men died in great numbers, Isis, the goddess of life was humiliated by this plague, as was Shu, the god of the air, Tefnut, the goddess of moisture, and Osiris, a god of vegetation. And there were others! The plague of hail was undoubtedly a direct affront on more Egyptian gods than any other plague that had come before! And without doubt, the plague of hail in the Revelation is a powerful and devastating judgment against the many “false gods” of the religious systems of man!

The size and weight of this hail is designated to be “about a talent.” A talent is estimated at various weight figures, and this need not surprise us when we consider that the modern concept of having a standard gram or kilogram had not pervaded the ancient world. Suffice it to say that it was probably in the vicinity of 95 pounds. Hail of such magnitude, weighing almost as much as a 100 pound bomb, would indeed be an unquestionably lethal weapon! To be struck on an arm or foot would mean certain severe damage, and a strike landing directly on the head would bring instant death. The property damage to buildings, cars, planes, and infrastructure would be incalculable. Here in Texas I have heard of hailstones as big as baseballs. A lady in Iowa said she could top that — she had seen hail fall in great chunks. Yet most of us have seen how hailstones no bigger than the end of your thumb can devastate a cornfield, a cotton field, an automobile, or a house roof. The destruction of hailstones of a talent weight can hardly be imagined. The Roman catapults threw stones this size into Jerusalem, according to the historian Josephus.

This, of course, is all symbolism, emphasizing the power and effectiveness of God’s judgment upon spiritual Babylon! Job 38:22 asks the piercing question, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail.” The sweet singer of Israel spake unto the Lord the words of a song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hands of his enemies, and from the hand of Saul; in one place in that song David says concerning the intervention of the Lord on his behalf, “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave His voice; hailstones and coals of fire” (Ps. 18:13).

Notice now the sublime message in the words of the prophet Isaiah wherein he says, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies…and your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand” (Isa. 28:16-18). I think that’s a marvelous passage because what the inspired prophet is declaring is that the hail which He sends as judgment will REMOVE THE REFUGE OF LIES which is a covenant with death and an agreement with hell — and it will do it through the tried stone, the precious corner stone — the mighty Christ within our spirit! Christ is the word of God and He is the truth. The “great hail” is another symbol for the word of God and the truth. It is not the truth of God as the gentle rain of blessing, but the “hard word” of correction and judgment! If you pause to think, you will become fully aware that only HE can remove the refuge of lies beneath which the whole church world has been enshrouded! Who can deny that a vast amount of what the church systems teach about the nature of God, His purposes, the church, heaven, hell, eternity, sacraments, baptisms, the end-time, the great tribulation, the rapture, the millennium, the antichrist, free will, the judgment, and a hundred other things is just that — a refuge of lies!

The elect of the Lord should be aware that water, especially rain falling from heaven, is used in the scriptures as a type of God’s word and God’s spirit combined, that is, the living word of God! Usually it indicates that He is sending a blessing in the time of drought. When God sends the rain that refreshes, sometimes it has come to us as a prophetic word. The Spirit speaks words like these, “Yea, my son, thou art mine, thou art precious in my eyes; I have called thee, I have chosen thee before the foundation of the world unto a high and holy calling. Yea, thou shalt be a great one, a mighty one in my kingdom! My goodly spices shall flow out from thee and thy fragrance shall fill the earth in the day of my moving! I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, I will be with thee in all of thy ways, yea, my hand shall bring thee unto thy appointed place, saith the Lord!” Oh, yes, we all love a word like that, and in days past the Lord has spoken in just such endearing, encouraging, and faith-inspiring promises to many of us! But not so when He sends His word that comes as hail!

Water flows, and also it becomes sometimes hard as ice and hail. When it falls as hail it is not a blessing, as we think of blessing. When it falls as hail it always brings destruction, depending on its size, quantity, and duration. Hail is water, but it is frozen water, thus it bespeaks a hard word from the Lord! It is the word of God that strikes us and knocks the carnal-mindedness out of us! It is the word that rebukes, chastises, and corrects us! It gives us an attitude adjustment! It is not an easy word, not a flowery word, not a sweet, soothing word, but a word that devastates our field and beats down the carnal mindset, ways, and works that grow out of our earthly nature. What large hailstones of a “hard word” fall from the heavens of God’s Spirit into our land as He smashes our religious idols and all the things we treasure more than His will and way! The “refuge of lies” speaks of all the false ideas, false concepts, false doctrines, and false ways of the Lord’s people!

You can be a good Christian and embrace these false teachings and practices, but you’ll never be a son! The dealing hand of God must come into our lives to thoroughly correct, purge and purify us from all the defilements of religion! Multitudes of believers want only the rain of God’s word and God’s spirit, only the blessings from above. To these the Lord says, “Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto sons, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every SON whom He receiveth. And if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement…then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Heb. 12:5-8). Oh, yes, the Father will give us His glory, His nature, His wisdom, authority, and power, and raise us up to judge the world and rule the nations with a rod of iron. But before He entrusts into our hands such awesome responsibilities He will put His finger on every aspect of our lives, He will bring training, discipline, order, and judgment to our house. He will send the hailstorms into our lives to beat down and destroy all the refuge of lies, all the falsehoods of the doctrines of men, all the foolishness of the religious systems, in which men take refuge, in which they trust for their blessing and eternal salvation.

In the statement above I substituted the word falsehoods for lies because lies infer a deliberate, intentional, malicious deception. Very few preachers, teachers, and church systems deliberately intend to deceive God’s people. They themselves are deceived and the message they proclaim is laced with falsehoods. The hail is a strong, hard, corrective word from the Lord which He sends into our lives with such SOLID IMPACT that it sweeps away our refuge of falsehoods. I have experienced the hail, and I tell you that in just a very brief period of time the word of God can come to us in such power that it completely lays to ruin all our strongholds of carnal thinking and religious error! The ultimate result of this wonderful deliverance is that He will abolish our covenant with death and destroy our league with hell! (Isa. 28:17-18). It is a complete salvation, yet it cannot be wrought apart from the hailstorm of God’s strong and powerful word which sweeps away the falsehoods that have kept us from laying hold upon life and immortality. He is doing this now in the life of each member of His called and chosen elect, but before it can be said that “the bride has made herself ready” He will also accomplish this same work in ALL OF HIS REDEEMED PEOPLE! Aren’t you glad!

This certainly edifies me more than to think Russia is going to invade Israel or that there will be some kind of nuclear holocaust over on the plains near Megiddo, somehow causing giant hailstones to fall upon the people. If any of this is literal, we have some glaring inconsistencies. Notice — if the great earthquake has shaken everything apart, the great city split into three parts, the cities of the nations fell, great Babylon was judged, every island fled away, none of the mountains could be found — who or what could even be left for the hail to fall upon! We have all kinds of carnal-minded prophets of doom and gloom in the land today talking about hailstones as big around as beach-balls, Godzilla monsters walking down Main Street, giant insects invading the homes, hideous demons riding horses, scorpions as big as bulls crawling up out of the earth, and other foolishness too ridiculous to enumerate — all of which they imagine is revealed in the book of Revelation! I often wonder how people who have received the Holy Spirit of God can fail to see that all these things are symbolic, they are metaphors representing great spiritual realities within our lives and in the experience of mankind. I really have to question whether a man has truly been filled with the Holy Spirit of Truth if he can listen to such literalistic trash, such carnal drivel, and never say, “Wait a minute — there’s something about this that doesn’t add up — how can that be the revelation of Jesus Christ!”

I’m sure there are some who read these lines who have attended seminars where the literalistic doom and gloom were taught, and when you left there you thought, “You know, that really doesn’t bear witness with my spirit,” but for lack of a better answer you thought, “This brother must know what he’s talking about!” Yet, a voice way down in your inner being whispered to you even then that it wasn’t true. There was a sudden flash of lightning, a momentary burst of illumination, that suggested to you that there was a truth deeper and higher in God! And today prophets of God are openly proclaiming that truth which you knew in the very depths of your life but which you were unable to clearly focus or articulate. The truth does not speak from outside of you. Truth speaks from inside of you, out of the inner sanctum of your spirit. If it is the voice of our Beloved it will make our inner-son leap! That is what is happening within God’s elect in this hour as the message of Christ in the Revelation is quickened within our hearts!

THE BLASPHEMY OF MEN
“…and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (Rev. 16:21).

For a time men will blaspheme God “because of the plague of the hail,” for it will be devastating in its working. This verse, however, it is not placed at the end of the judgment upon Babylon and the final deliverance of God’s people. This work continues on through chapters seventeen and eighteen. Only then does the seventh plague complete its grand purpose! Therefore, the “blasphemy” of men is a response along the way in the process of judgment. When the work is finished Great Babylon will fall to rise no more, the church — the bride — will have been purified and made herself ready, the city of God will be adorned with the glory of God descending out of the heavens, and the nations will walk in the light of that city which is the bride of the Lamb. The whole of creation will be subdued before Him, joyfully to live in His sight, all things will be made new, and all will be gathered into Him — for HE is the beginning and the end!

It is the Truth that is to fall on men and cause them to blaspheme. The carnal mind and the old Adamic reasoning always resist the mind of the Lord, for they are enmity against God and cannot receive the things of the spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned. The truth hurts carnal-minded men and causes them to resist it in resentful blasphemy. This is the natural man crying out because his death-knell has arrived, his day has ended, his time has come, and he will now sink into oblivion to be reckoned with no more! The Lord employs nothing with which to defeat error and correct men except the Truth. The adversary attempted in the beginning of human history to defeat the purposes of God and destroy the life of man by and through deception and falsehood, and not through the employment of physical or any form of super-human power. God will likewise send a hard word with such devastating power that it will prevail and sweep away the refuge of lies. Falsehood swept away, Babylon is disarmed and helpless, and her armies must perish by the sword of the Spirit!

To be continued…

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 187

THE BATTLE AT ARMAGEDDON (continued)
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs…for they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Rev. 16:13-15).

The battle of the great day of God Almighty, like everything else in the Revelation, is a spiritual battle just because it is God’s battle! God does not fight His battles with carnal weapons of tanks and guns and missiles and bombs, but with the sword of the Spirit, which is the living word of God! The setting of this battle is concerned with the destruction of Babylon the Great and the judgment which is sent upon it. Hear it! “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath (passion)” (Rev. 16:19). As we move from this passage on into chapters seventeen and eighteen everything is about the judgment and destruction of Babylon! The dealing of God upon Babylon is a mighty spiritual operation of God — not a literal warfare. But the carnal-minded theologians and the ignorant secular world have seized upon the word “Armageddon” and have used it as a cryptic synonym by which to describe the final world conflict. Some of the erroneous usages of the word “Armageddon” include such definitions as: “Site of the great end-of-the-world battlefield of the Apocalypse”; “Atomic Armageddon”; “Will the next war be Armageddon?”; “Armageddon occurred in the holocaust of the Second World War”. There is no scriptural or spiritual basis for any of this when one reverently considers the context as a whole.

The battle at Armageddon occurs first of all within the Lord’s people, but also through His people. And as God assembles the “kings” to this battle He says, “Behold, I come as a thief.” The church and the world are both going to be greatly surprised when they learn that the so-called “battle of Armageddon,” the “battle of the great day of GOD ALMIGHTY,” unleashed in all its fury, is first and foremost the greatest display of divine power and glory, revealed through God’s people, that this world has ever witnessed! It has been said that heaven would be hell to the sinner. And that is exactly right. The unveiling of the might and power and glory of God in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation is going to produce on the one hand great consternation, distress, shrieking, gloom, and destruction to all the hardened hearts and organized systems which are opposed to God, and on the other hand life and victory and deliverance when the judgments have accomplished their work and every knee bows before His majesty.

As we have pointed out again and again the battle at Armageddon is the battle of THE GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY. The prophet Joel prophesied of this great “day of the Lord,” saying, “Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision, for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon (ruling powers) shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion (the mount of sonship), and order His voice from Jerusalem (His holy city); and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope (shelter) of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain (kingdom): then shall Jerusalem (the Lord’s people) be holy…and it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains (strong kingdoms) shall drop down new wine (joy and revelation), and the hills (lesser kingdoms) shall flow with milk (of the word), and all the rivers of Judah (those who are a praise) shall flow with (living) waters, and a fountain (of life) shall flow forth from the house of the Lord” (Joel 3:14-18).

What can be more clear than this: the great day of the Lord brings the shaking of heaven and earth, that is, judgments from the Lord — while at the same time, in that same day, in God is shelter and refuge and new wine and milk, and refreshing waters from the house of the Lord! Little wonder that the day of the Lord is called both a “great” and a “terrible” day! A battle unto victory is always both great and terrible! Armageddon brings the triumph of God’s kingdom within His people. It brings the glory of the saints. “Then shall Jerusalem be holy.” “So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion.” It brings to an end the rule of religious Babylon over the Lord’s people, the destruction of every system and device of man, life and liberty to the captives. The veil of spiritual blindness that hangs like a pall over God’s people shall be removed and at last they shall see things as they really are and behold the glory of the Lord. Wine and milk and living waters shall flow as life-giving streams to every saint of God everywhere. What a day! A day of darkness and gloominess on one hand, but to those who wait upon the Lord it is “the morning spread upon the mountains.”

As God assembles to this battle He says, “Behold, I come as a thief” (Rev. 16:15). This battle comes “as a thief” upon those who are attacked by the Lord! By this we are to understand that the sleeping church recognizes neither the war of Armageddon nor the day it ushers in. What divine sense that makes! For the masses of God’s people are still looking for a war in the Middle East instead of God fighting the battle in their hearts! How often we look in the wrong place to find our enemies. Our true enemies are WITHIN. These are the enemies that prevent God’s people from possessing their full inheritance in their promised land — CHRIST. Kings in the Middle East have nothing to do with that! The Lord’s people are blind and asleep in relation to the true battle of God’s great Day. A thief comes while people sleep, unheralded, unsuspected, and unrecognized. He blows no trumpet; he wants no fanfare. He works in secret and by stealth. Then when the morn comes, they learn of their loss, but too late. The thief has come and gone, and with him their treasures. Thus the Spirit conveys to us the great truth that when God sets His hand to deliver His people out of Babylon He slips up on them and they aren’t aware that He has conquered their hearts and delivered them of all their “earthly” and “religious” treasures until the work has been accomplished! What a marvelous strategy!

There is a coming of the Lord as a thief. It happens at the battle of Armageddon! Nearly all Bible teachers have missed this fact. This is not a coming or appearing of the Lord that is before the public. It is not an unveiling before the multitudes. You will see no report of it on CNN. A thief does not go down to the public square with a sound system and say, “I’d like to make an announcement. At three o’clock in the morning I’m going to visit the wealthiest lady in this town and I’m going to steal everything I can get my hands on.” He doesn’t do that! He comes at the darkest part of the night. He comes with softest tread, without noise, without light, without warning. He comes as silently and stealthily as possible, unobserved by the sleepers. He comes to rob. He comes to take away everything that he can. He is after gold and pearls and jewels of great price. Men are unaware of the event until he has come and gone and the items of value to the owner have disappeared with Him. The Lord Jesus says that at the gathering of the forces to Armageddon HE WILL COME AS A THIEF!

The “rich lady” to be robbed is Babylon! As our friend Connie Asbill once wrote, “Like Israel who was rich in covenants and promises, this woman (Babylon) is rich with the word that has been brought to her, not only by the scriptures, but by those men who have been raised up out of the midst of her to speak truth under the anointings of God. In Revelation 17:4 she is seen ‘arrayed in purple and scarlet color, decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand…’ Babylon is, indeed, a RICH WOMAN. That she is rich by the hand of God, and is not merely pretending to be rich, is seen in Hosea 2:8 where the Lord Himself affirms that He is the source of her wealth. Babylon is not, however, aware in the depths of her being that He is her supply, and therein lies her ultimate undoing, for the Lord said, ‘She did not know that I (the Lord) gave her corn and wine and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold…therefore will I return and take away my corn in the time thereof and my wine in the season thereof and will take away my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness, and now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers and none shall deliver her out of my hand.’

“Babylon is a rich woman — but it is with these very riches from the hand of God that she has prepared her own idols, having held the truth in unrighteousness and changed these riches and truths of God into a lie. That is what the Lord says in this passage: ‘She did not know that I gave her corn and wine and oil…which THEY PREPARED FOR BAAL.’ Deceived by the very riches that were given to bring her to God, Babylon exalts herself because of that which she possesses, saying within herself, ‘I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow’ (Rev. 18:7). Now, I am aware that the highest meaning of Babylon does not mean the organized church system but is, rather, a condition in the mind or spirit of man, which means that we have all, at one time or another, and perhaps even until now, are partakers of her. But the Spirit of the Lord quickens to me that in this case He is specifically talking about the church system, as such. All that the church possesses was given to her out of the anointing of God, imparted to her through anointed men, and these men of bygone generations she admires. Nothing has changed, however, since the days of Jesus when He said to the religious leaders, ‘You garnish the sepulchers of the dead prophets — but kill the living ones.’ The anointed word has been set in concrete in the church system, and like the rephaim — the physicians of no value who embalmed Israel — so has the church system so embalmed the Christ — fixed Him in a static position so that He can move no further. Holding the very form of truth, the church system denies the essence and life of that truth…and boasts in her wealth! Yet, the Lord says, ‘Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods (doctrines and forms and rituals and eschatology charts) and have need of nothing (not even the anointing) and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…’ Because of all this, ‘I will spew you out of my mouth!’” — end quote.

Our text reveals two significant truths. First, the battle of Armageddon is fought for the destruction of Babylon. Second, in this battle the Lord comes upon Babylon as a thief. He comes in a spiritual visitation of judgment to strip and purge from His people in Babylon the death of the carnal mind; those outer, earthly things they cherish above the spirit and truth and glory of Christ. That is what a thief does — he plunders the house, carrying off those things treasured by the householder! He appears as a thief in the night, and there have often been times in the lives of all of God’s called and chosen elect when He has stolen out of the dark hour of our ignorance some carnal concept, some religious tradition, some perverted doctrine, some Babylonish garment of exquisite design that we have hidden in our tent of experience. Ah, we must stay awake to joyfully receive Him in His coming to us, His appearing in us; if we fail to do so He will come like a thief, He will come into our world uninvited and unannounced, He will overtake us unexpectedly and break up our life style and smash our religious games, exposing our pretense. Those who are awake to reality do not have their houses plundered. These willingly yield up the things they once prized, which now are counted but dung that they might win Christ.

Armageddon happens to every individual in a personal sense. Every man’s heart is an Armageddon, a battlefield in which the forces of flesh and spirit struggle against each other. Within our own inner man is where the great battle of the day of God is fought, and God in our spirit must prevail against the world, the flesh, the devil, and the spirit of Babylon that are striving for the mastery there. No person who comes to the full knowledge of the truth, no person who comes to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, no person who comes either to manifest sonship or to the marriage of the Lamb can escape this battle!

As we have previously shown, Armageddon is a Hebrew word signifying the “mount of Megiddo.” The town of Megiddo occupied a very marked position on the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon, and commanded an important pass into the hill country. This locality was the great battle-ground of Israel, on which were fought many of the famous battles of Old Testament history. There Gideon and his little band alarmed and discomfited the Midianites, who destroyed one another in their flight (Judges 7:19-23). There Deborah the prophetess met the enemies of Israel, like grasshoppers for multitude and armed to the teeth, and without a weapon, just when it seemed Israel was being surrounded to be totally exterminated from the earth, out of heaven God sent His deliverance (Judges 4 & 5). There the backslidden king Saul was defeated by the Philistines (I Sam. 31:1-6). There king Josiah was slain by Pharaoh-Necho in one of the most disastrous conflicts in the history of Israel (II Chron. 35:22-25). There also king Ahab and his wife Jezebel lived, in the city of Jezreel, where Jezebel afterwards met a horrible death (II Kings 9:30-37). Because of its commanding position, many other nations, according to secular history, warred around Megiddo — Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Crusaders, Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, and Arabs have all pitched their tents on the Plain of Esdraelon.

Today, the “mount of Megiddo” or “Armageddon” lies in ruins. Actually, the city had been deserted for more than five centuries when John saw his vision on Patmos! But the choice of Megiddo as the type of the greatest of battles was no accident. In John’s day, even after so many years, Megiddo’s violent history still commanded fear. The ruins aren’t impressive. The palaces and temples were destroyed, removed by archaeologists on an expedition in the early twentieth century as they uncovered city after city built one on top of the other. The huge trench they dug now dominates the site. Megiddo’s magnificence derives from the fact that a visitor can stand on a ledge overlooking the trench and see fragments of life from more than twenty different cities — five millennia of human history cut into bedrock. Each group that came built on top of the ruin of the city there before it.

The one thing of importance here is that the book of Revelation is a book of symbols in which is set forth in symbolic form the final and ultimate struggle within the Lord’s people between truth and error, the mind of Christ and the carnal mind, righteousness and unrighteousness, spirit and flesh, light and darkness, the Lamb and the dragon, the world system and the kingdom of God, and the true church and Mystery Babylon. In this portrayal are used, on the one hand, such symbols as “beast,” “dragon,” “false prophet,” “Babylon,” “harlot,” “unclean spirits,” “frogs,” etc.; and on the other hand, “Lamb,” “manchild,” “144,000,” “overcomers,” “bride,” “holy city,” and others. “Armageddon” is another of the symbols used in the book, and it is associated with the great and final deliverance of all God’s redeemed people from the carnal church systems of man and all the ignorance, delusions, errors, carnality, and limitation of that realm. It is the day when Christ arises as the Mighty Conqueror within His people! It introduces the third spiritual feast — Tabernacles!

When we take these important facts into consideration, the word Armageddon assumes a significance just as definite as does Waterloo, although a very different one. It reveals a struggle in which God is specifically interested and in which HE totally and completely directs the issue, assuring final and glorious victory for the spiritual forces of His kingdom. Since this is the last great spiritual battle to be experienced by those who comprise His church on earth, it must result in the defeat of all the agencies and influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil — thus opening up the way for the deliverance of all God’s people from the Babylonian religious systems and their growth, development, and perfection into the fullness of Christ. This is why it is described as “the battle of that GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY!”

 When we consider this great battle, we are not, therefore, to expect any gathering of the nations literally to the hill of Megiddo. Rather we are to look for that which is symbolized by that mountain. Armageddon is to be viewed in a spiritual sense as is everything else in the book of Revelation. It is first and foremost a spiritual battle within the Lord’s people, yet it also involves the great red dragon and the manchild — the manifest sons of God. The battle actually begins in the heavenly realm and then spreads to the earth-dwellers and the sea-dwellers. “And there was war in heaven: Michael (Christ) and his angels (messengers) fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev. 12:7). This is why, when the sons of God have prevailed and have cast the dragon out of the heavenlies, the cry goes out, “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). The devil’s passion and determination meets head-on with God’s passion and determination — and Armageddon begins! We shall, therefore, see this battle carried forth in both the heavenly and earthly realms — both individually and collectively.

All through the ages men have, by faith, reached out and appropriated some measure of deliverance from the carnal mind and the carnal nature; but corporately as the body of Christ and as the church we have never really done so. But let me say that the deliverance of the Lord’s people as a body and as the church is just ahead and the completion and consummation of that perfecting work the Spirit has been progressively bringing forth in a company of saints over the past several decades. God’s people have been groaning with the apostle Paul for the past two thousand years, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). God has certainly heard our cries, and soon He shall bring His Army into a glorious liberty in the spirit, wherein they shall be completely delivered from their sins, from their carnal minds, from the spirit of Babylon, and from all sickness, pain, and death! The perverted soul of man shall finally be restored under the dominion of the spirit and in union with the spirit, and even this vile body shall be transformed, fashioned like unto HIS body of glory. This great deliverance MUST COME!

Let us stop trying to justify ourselves, insisting on our outward holiness of conduct, when we ourselves know that inwardly we are yet raving beasts, and beholding our strife, pettiness, envyings, and fleshiness it is apparent to everyone about us that we do not possess it. “Living epistles” do not have to tell the world how holy or how spiritual they are! This world will see it and will be amazed to discover something real and genuine in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. The victory of which we speak is the victory of CHRIST HIMSELF. When we attain to this victory, there will be no need to formulate weak excuses why the victorious saint can again fall into carnality and sin and suffer defeat — for this place in Christ knows no defeat. We shall not have to explain how Satan gained an advantage over us and planted a new seed of unbelief in our heart, and the victory we once had was lost; for this victory is the very victory of Christ. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once…” (Rom. 6:9,19). Here victory over death is linked with victory over sin! Christ died to sin once, that is, completely — therefore He was raised from the dead to die no more! He that overcometh enters into the very victory and triumph of Christ — a victory which is complete and can never be lost, reversed, or forfeited. It is the very victory of Jesus Christ Himself over sin and death, and the overcomer is therefore “more than conqueror” through Christ that loved him.

And now the faithful dealings of God to bring this very thing to pass have come: the purgings, the strippings, the processings, the refining fires, together with the raising up of the faith, nature, character, revelation, wisdom, and power of Christ within us. Ah, it is truly a picture of darkness and gloominess on the one hand, but on the other hand it is “the morning spread upon the mountains!” It is indeed — Armageddon! It is the battle which shall finally usher the Lord’s people into the FULLNESS OF REDEMPTION, spirit, soul, and body, free from the curse, delivered out of Babylon, having passed through their Armageddon, to lay hold upon the fullness of Christ’s victory and triumph! Yes, friends, we are still talking about Armageddon! The last battle! Armageddon is the end-game. That is what final judgment is all about! For you it will not be 2,000 years from now. Your Armageddon may be today, ten years from now, or in the next twenty-four hours. I dare say, it is going on right now! It is within you, it is within God’s elect, it is coming within the whole church, and it is coming wherever the beastly carnal nature and the bestial world system seeks to place its mark of ownership on men. Whenever it comes, it will bring an end to your rebellion, to your struggles, to your captivity. It will bring glorious and eternal deliverance! And in this battle the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death! And sin is the enemy destroyed just before death! How much greater, grander, more glorious are the fruits of this victory than any that could be obtained by some carnal war over in the Middle East!

This is Armageddon! The battle of the ages. The overthrow of the adversary, and of sin, sorrow, limitation, and death. It is here, within, that the devil, carnality, bondage, error, sickness, pain, and death must be dethroned. It is here that the flesh, the carnal mind, and the world must be overcome. It is here, within, that the kingdom of God must come in righteousness and power. The death in us must be conquered. Sin in us must be overcome. The curse in us must be removed. Rebellion in us must be subdued. Life in us must break forth in fullness. Then we will really have something to minister to a sin-weary world in its darkest hour of despair and hopelessness. We will possess within ourselves the answer that can lift men out of Satan’s bondage, out of sin’s clutches, out of religion’s grip, and out of death’s darkness — once and for all. Church history has never produced a people that could do this. But the day of the Lord is at hand! Press on, saints of God, for we are on the winning side! I know, for with anointed eyes I have read the last chapter of the Book!

KEEPING YOUR GARMENTS
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Rev. 16:15).

In the midst of this conflict, Jesus inserts a word of encouragement and warning. He lets us know that we are dealing with a spiritual truth — not a natural event. He states that we must be watching. It helps to note just what “watch” means. It does not mean counting dates. It does not mean standing gazing up into the sky. It does not mean keeping up with world events on the news. But “watching” means being ready, that is, alert, attentive, vigilant, awake, alive to what God is doing, aware of what is taking place, and guarding, protecting, and preserving our garments, our spiritual covering, and in so doing we shall be blessed! Those who do not do so will be found naked, and men will see their shame. Our text above proves beyond any doubt what this battle is all about! To be naked means to have one’s flesh exposed. Therefore, during the heat of the conflict “keep your garments,” your spiritual covering, so that you will not be found naked — your flesh exposed — and people behold the shame of your carnality! Therefore the great purpose of the battle is to conquer and get rid of ALL CARNALITY!

In the very earliest pages of man’s history we read of Adam and Eve, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife.” It seems to the unenlightened mind that this little statement could have been omitted. Of what importance is it whether Adam and Eve moved about in Paradise naked or clothed? Yet it is an important and necessary little statement; it uses a rather insignificant fact, as it appears to us, to show forth something wondrous in the whole economy of God. Ah, beloved, the story of Adam and Eve in Eden is far too intricate and wonderful for my little mind to fully grasp, but I am able to see that the Holy Spirit has been very faithful and remarkably specific in recording the exact state of being of man in the beginning and of us IN OUR BEGINNING!

Adam and Eve were both…NAKED! That is the divine assertion. I do not see, as some teach, that Adam walked in the Garden clothed upon and enveloped in some kind of effulgent light. There is not one verse of scripture in the whole Bible that even suggests that Adam was originally clothed in heavenly light, or that he lost his vesture of light when he sinned. What is stated, unequivocally, is that he was NAKED…and in that state he was not ashamed. Following the fall there was a great difference, man was still naked but…was ashamed! He did not don the apron of fig leaves because he was newly naked, but because he now knew, understood that he was naked! Can we not see by this that man’s first state in Eden was that of innocence — naked but with no shame. Little children are naked and are not ashamed simply because they are innocent! Among all the creatures which God made, Adam-man stands out unique…stark naked…which means devoid of true wisdom and knowledge, with his inner nature revealed, opened up, exhibited, and made bare. Oh! that God may give us understanding to see that to be naked simply means to have THE FLESH UNCOVERED AND EXPOSED!

Then suddenly “they knew that they were naked” — they became conscious that their flesh lay bare and exposed — sad fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! No sooner does a man discover his nakedness than this knowledge gives birth to a sense of condemnation and there follows the impulse to make an effort to cover the nakedness. Thus, in the case of Adam and Eve, the discovery of their nakedness was immediately followed by an effort of their own to cover it — “they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons.” This is the first record we have of man’s attempt to remedy, by his own device, his condition, but this was not the single act of Adam of old, it is truly the act of each of us, yes, OUR VERY OWN! The Spirit would make very real to our hearts, dear reader, that Adam’s effort to cover his nakedness was not a mere physical or moral act, it was a RELIGIOUS ACT. The nakedness in Eden bespeaks the revealing of a carnal state of being, and the attempt to cover that nakedness was indeed an expression of RELIGIOUSNESS!

In an attempt to appear other than he is man sews together very wide leaves of the fig tree, that is, he tries every device he can, including multiplied religious works and observances, to gloss over his true condition. But all the garments which men devise to hide their nakedness become mere “spider’s webs” when the dazzling light of God’s revelation shines upon them. There is nothing more obvious than the fact that leaves quickly wither, turn brown and brittle, and fall off and, indeed, clothed in all the dead works of religion man’s flesh shows through and it becomes manifest that his covering is pitifully insufficient.

What is this “flesh” which can be “exposed,” making a man “naked”? The word sarx is the Greek word translated “flesh” in the New Testament. Sarx means the meat of a physical body, whether it be man, or beast, or birds, or fishes of the sea; not the outer layer of skin immediately visible to the eye, but the raw meat under the skin. To physically have the flesh “exposed” in this sense would mean to have the outer skin removed, causing the raw meat underneath to be visible. Thus, the flesh speaks of more than just our physical body with its normal needs and desires for food, clothing, comfort, rest, exercise, etc. God made our body, He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are but dust, and there is no condemnation for being tabernacled in this body of clay. But “the flesh” literally speaks of that inward nature which is earth-minded, with its lusts and self-centeredness, its ego and I-will which are in rebellion against the spirit. Thus, the flesh is not the outward, visible man of meat, muscle, and bones, but the inward nature.

The flesh is the name by which scripture designates our NATURAL LIFE, our HUMAN NATURE — soul and body. The soul at creation was placed between the spiritual or divine and the physical or worldly, to the end that both soul and body might be raised up into perfect union in the spirit which would result in man attaining his destiny — a spiritual body. When the soul yielded to physical lusts, it came under the power of the body — it became flesh. And now the flesh — human nature, soul and body united in one — is not only without the spirit, but even hostile to it: “The flesh lusteth (wars) against the spirit!” (Gal. 5:17).

To be naked means to have the flesh uncovered and exposed. Good flesh or bad flesh, it really makes no difference. In the “knowledge of good and evil” both the good and the evil are flesh! The “good” of that tree will kill you just as quickly as the “evil” of the tree. Adulterous flesh or religious flesh, it matters not. I can guarantee you that I’ve been seen naked a few times! Oh, yes, I had my natural clothes on, perhaps my finest J. C. Penney suit, but I was nonetheless caught naked! Have you ever been caught naked? Have you ever had someone slip up from your blind side in a moment when you were not expecting them and you didn’t reveal anything to them but what you are in your flesh, by some ungodly act, some angry outburst, some un-Christ-like attitude, some trait of religiosity, or some carnal self-assertiveness, and you could only hang your head in shame and confess that for whoever saw you, you didn’t leave one ounce of witness of the life and nature of the son of God that you are, nor did they behold the glory of God at all in you? Then dear brother, precious sister, YOU WERE CAUGHT NAKED, you were discovered with your flesh exposed, you were found with your carnal nature displayed! You may have had your store-bought clothes on, but you were no less naked than Adam and Eve in Eden.

It means that in that moment your carnal state was made bare, laid open, exhibited, and men did not see the Lord’s life, all they saw was your natural, Adamic life. They beheld your nakedness and then you felt ashamed when you realized what you had revealed unto them. In innocence there is no shame when our flesh is exposed. Before God has dealt with us and revealed His robe of righteousness to us, there is no shame. But after He speaks and clothes us with the robe of righteousness, there is always the sense of shame when our nakedness appears before men. And never forget, dear one, that “good” flesh is no better than “bad” flesh! Ministering without the anointing, serving God out of human zeal or with man-made methods, going through the religious motions of worship performed by rote rather than from the spontaneous arising of His life within — all this is as much an exposure of our flesh as if we were caught in bed with our neighbor’s spouse!

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” This gives us the picture of a Roman sentry supposed to be on guard duty through the night. They wore a garment, a robe, a uniform; the robe was the profession they made to be guards, the insignia or proof of their position, just as nurses, policemen, and many other professions wear today. There was a captain. At certain and unannounced hours the captain made his rounds to inspect and relieve the watch; sometimes he took one guard and left another. At times a guard became weary and slumped down. Presently he was asleep. Is there anything more despicable and criminal than to sleep at the post of duty? What must be said of a captain who sleeps on the bridge? Or a soldier who sleeps at his post? Or a light-house keeper who sleeps in the night? Or a soul who sleeps in the deceptive bed of religious activities, unaware of the movings and wooings of the Spirit? When the captain of the guard discovered the sleeping sentry, as the custom was, he grabbed the tunic from him without waking him. When he arose his shame was evident, the captain had come and gone, had stripped off his profession, made him naked and put him to an open shame.

So we are exhorted to “watch” for the Lord’s coming at Armageddon, for He comes as a thief! Those who are faithless will be stripped of their profession, naked and ashamed before the bare light of day. He comes like a thief to steal from the “professing” church the garment that has under it no “possession.” This is the Lord’s warfare against Babylon! He is coming to snatch away the religiosity, the mere profession, and make it naked before the gaze of judgment. He warns all who name His name to be on the watch, and for each one to keep his garment; that is, to “hold fast” to the robe of righteousness. “Behold, I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11). Cling fervently to the hope within you today, dear child of God. Embrace and never let go the reality you have found in the Christ within. Trade it not for the worthless tinsel pandered by the harlot system in the broad ways of Mystery Babylon. Treasure the truth you know as you would treasure the most priceless gem of earth, and guard it with all the vigilance of your being, for there, and there alone, is reality, life, immortality, and glory eternal!

The great truth of being spiritually “clothed upon” appears early in the revelation of God to mankind. As soon as man sinned, God made them garments, the Bible declares. Some say that the “skins” with which God clothed Adam and Eve were the outer covering of a mortal body, the “skin” of the flesh. It is my conviction, however, that the sinning couple needed a covering just because they were flesh — for suddenly they “saw that they were naked” and commenced to sew together aprons of fig leaves. It is obvious that in their sense of guilt they perceived that their flesh was exposed! The slain lamb is the figure all through scripture for God’s gracious provision of “atonement,” and the word atonement in Hebrew simply means “to cover.” Was it not, therefore, the “skins” of the slain Lamb with which the Lord, in a figure, clothed father Adam and mother Eve? And that is the “robe of righteousness”! These are beautiful word pictures with which the Holy Spirit conveys to our understanding eternal and heavenly truths!

The first thing God does is strip away all the artificial, man-made, religious coverings, and presents His own glorious covering, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world! In the symbolism of the garden of Eden story Adam and Eve silently watched as the Lord God selected a lamb and slew it there, fastening it to a tree before their wondering eyes, the victim then being made naked, stripped of its skin, that a covering might be provided for the naked ones. Thus, with this one wondrous act does the God of heaven introduce the cross, the atonement, and the Christ as man’s covering! When God clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of the slain Lamb, yet dripping with the precious blood, He showed that they were COVERED WITH THE LIFE OF THE LAMB! When God covers a man with the covering of His own Lamb the covering is so complete that no flesh will be seen — only Christ! This is not merely a reference to our initial salvation, but speaks further of the finality of our perfection as the sons of God! Fully clothed in the life of the Lamb, we bear the Lamb’s own image, likeness, and identity. Therefore, blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame!

THE BOWL POURED INTO THE AIR
“And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done” (Rev. 16:17).

The previous bowls have been poured out upon the earth, the sea, the rivers and fountains, the sun, the throne of the beast, and the great river Euphrates. This, the last and greatest, is poured into the air; and immediately there is heard a voice out of the temple in heaven, proclaiming, “It is done!” What, then, is symbolized by the plague poured into the air? Of what is the “air” the emblem? In the Revelation the whole of nature is used as a great complex parable or symbol. What does the atmosphere especially signify? And the answer is not difficult. If earth, sea, rivers, fountains, the sun, a throne, etc., denote manifest spiritual realities, the air obviously would symbolize an invisible spiritual realm. And here we are helped by sundry hints of scripture usage.

This plague is certainly not any natural phenomenon like the explosion of an atomic bomb or a nuclear device in the atmosphere or in outer space above our earth, causing a deadly fallout and contaminating the very air we breathe. Nor is it some form of biological warfare spread through the atmosphere by terrorists. To aid our understanding of the symbolic significance of the term “air” in scripture, let us turn to another mention of it. “We…shall be caught up together with them…to meet the Lord IN THE AIR: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:17).

Many years ago, while meditating upon this precious passage of scripture, the Spirit unfolded within my consciousness the significant truth that our catching up “into the air” can never be properly understood apart from the inspired words of the same apostle Paul wherein he states, “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, THE SPIRIT THAT NOW WORKETH IN THE CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE” (Eph. 2:1-2). There are several key words or terms that unlock the storehouse of spiritual truth contained in these verses. Consider — PRINCE, POWER, AIR, SPIRIT, WORKETH, and IN. According to these plain statements of scripture there exists a “power of the air.” This “power of the air” is identified as a “spirit,” and this spirit is located “in” the children of disobedience, wherein he “works.” Can we not see by this that the “prince of the power of the air” is not something or someone outside of us, but a spirit-power that operates right here WITHIN MAN. Furthermore, this spirit-power that works within man also emanates from man, exerting an influence throughout the atmosphere that surrounds the earth, giving motivation to the myriad activities and events that transpire in the world, which Paul calls “the course of this world” that men walk in under the control of this “power of the air.” Thus it is called the “POWER of the AIR.”

Dr. Charles Price wrote a little book entitled Made Alive in which he shares this instructive information: “Every atom of matter — every piece of mineral — indeed everything which is the result of God’s creative intelligence is surrounded by an ‘aura’ or an emanation which is identical with and corresponds to the nature of the substance from which it comes. There is a sense in which personalities are possessed with this ‘emanation’ and ‘extension’ of themselves into their surroundings. It is a radiation which can be felt when someone walks into a room in which you may be seated. Our personality becomes affected by their personality. They have power to elevate or depress.”

I would like you to really get a grasp of this thought. We all know people who by their very presence can lift us up, and impart a sense of well-being, who can lift our spirits up to heights of joy and happiness. Others can leave you feeling depressed just by spending a few minutes in their presence. The thought I want you to get is the fact that every created thing has this aura surrounding them, which is an actual radiation of their nature and personality into their surroundings. It is an extension of themselves into their environment on an invisible spiritual level. This aura or emanation is our nature and emotions radiating from us into our surroundings, and it affects everything and everyone around us. It is a radiation that flows from our spirits or our souls, and the stronger our spirits or our souls are the greater the radiation. If you find it difficult to believe the very atmosphere or air waves are charged by the emanations of energy, positive or negative, then go directly from a worship service where the saints are worshipping in the spirit, and enter a night club where ungodly men and women are drinking, cursing, lusting, laughing, and singing, and the difference you feel in a very real and powerful way is the difference between the positive and the negative life force.

Grasp it! A couple centuries ago we could not have understood as we do now how communication by sound and picture can be broadcast instantaneously THROUGH THE AIR. Wherever you are as you read these words, chances are there are myriad voices, pictures, and music IN THE AIR around you. A radio, television, or other electronic device tuned to the right wavelength would make them audible to you. You may not have realized it, but both spirit and soul in every man are a receiver and a transmitter. You may be tuned in on the wavelength of the Holy Spirit or you may tune in on the wavelength of the negative realm, the demonic, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Prophets are uniquely sensitive to the spirit realm of God, whereas “psychics” are often sensitive to the soulical realm of man. You don’t hear anything with your natural ears because spirit and soul do not broadcast in audible words or sounds. Spirit broadcasts in thoughts, attitudes, impulses, and emotions. The flesh broadcasts in thoughts, attitudes, impulses, and emotions of lust, perversion, greed, vanity, jealousy, anger, envy, deceit, fear, competition, strife, hatred, rebellion, violence, bitterness, debate, etc. Here is the real cause of all the world’s evils! Why do movements like communism, New Age religion, the hippy movement, the rock culture, the drug culture, casual sex and sexual permissiveness, and a hundred more movements contributing to the deception of masses of people and the moral breakdown of society, suddenly rise up and sweep across the earth within a few short years like a plague, permeating everywhere, changing the attitudes, outlook, societal character, and moral fabric of everyone, including the people in the churches? What is this? It is the work of SPIRIT — invisible, intangible energy — power! Invisible, but very real. And very powerful! There is constantly in this world a transference of spiritual energy from the invisible world into the visible. Ah, it is the power of the air, the powerful spirit organization in earth’s atmosphere, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience!

That awesome negative spiritual energy permeates the atmosphere, producing a SUPERCHARGED ATMOSPHERE, influencing, impressing, affecting, impacting, swaying, impelling, changing and altering the opinions, convictions, desires, and actions of vast masses of the population. The people hear no audible voice, they do not see a visible Satan, and they comprehend not from whence come such attitudes, impulses, and desires. The adversary has a large elemental power. The natural man breathes in, as it were, the satanic influence. In their daily lives they think and live by this spirit influence and according to this world’s system of things. On the other hand, when great and glorious revivals spontaneously break forth and sweep across a community, a nation, or around the world, it is the spirit of the living God moving, energizing, quickening, transforming, permeating the very atmosphere, sweeping men up into the living presence and power of God! Oh, the wonder of it!

The word for “air” in the Greek language is aer meaning “to breathe.” The “power of the air” is thus the ENERGY OF BREATHING! Thoughts and influences from the invisible realm and unconscious realm breathed in and breathed out — expressed in words in the conscious realm and lived out as deeds in the physical world — going forth as energy, power, spiritual influence in the atmosphere of earth. These are not merely thoughts or merely words, for both spirit and soul of man are tapped into the timeless sphere of eternity wherein is that which is called by the scriptures “the powers of the heavens.” This is the realm of PURE ENERGY, and the unconscious mind of man is tapped into this vast supply of energy, and not only tapped in, but when the mouth is opened, the energy is brought forth from the unconscious realm and released into the atmosphere of man’s physical world, carrying a very real power capable of either blessing or cursing mankind. The ungodly movements of the world, be they social, entertainment, political, religious, educational, or otherwise, are the direct result of negative spirit influence transmitted to the masses through faithful ministers of unrighteousness who have become filled with the un-holy spirit, and consequently transmitters of the same, producing the supercharged atmosphere of sin and death. In this way Satan is indeed the “prince of the power of the air,” meaning that he is the invisible ruler, which activity and authority he exercises in and through men — “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience!”

The air is the realm of the firmament, or a dimension of heaven; therefore the air signifies the spiritual atmosphere, either positive or negative, where men walk. All realms of life have their “atmosphere” — the air. If you go to a bar there is an atmosphere there. If you go to a brothel there is an atmosphere there. If you go to a rock concert there is an atmosphere there. If you go to a Baptist church service there is an atmosphere there. If you go to a Pentecostal church service there is an atmosphere there. The atmosphere at a Catholic mass is altogether different from the atmosphere at a Charismatic meeting. Every realm has its atmosphere! When you enter the presence of a son of God who knows the truth as it is in Jesus, who walks in the wisdom of the mind of Christ, who expresses the unconditional love of God, and dwells in the glory of God — there is a clear, powerful, victorious, confident, peaceful, transforming atmosphere there!

The message is just this — “the air” in its spiritual sense bespeaks the atmosphere of man’s consciousness and understanding — especially his spiritual understanding which today is super-charged by fleshly and satanic energy radiating from the cosmic heart of unregenerated and religious men. But I have some good news for you, my friend! Satan shall be bound, removed from his sphere of influence and authority “in the air”! “And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done!” What does this mean? It means that when the seventh angel pours out his bowl “into the air,” he is pouring out GOD’S WRATH OR PASSION on the realm of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, which in this context signifies particularly the SOULICAL RELIGIOUS CONCIOUSNESS AND THE FALSE RELIGIOUS SPIRIT OF BABYLON and its fruitage among the Lord’s people. It is the intervention of God into the consciousness of His people who are captives to carnal church systems of man. We must always remember that above all Satan is religious! Oh, yes! When “the prince of the power of the air” is judged and cleansed from the realm of the “powers of the heavens,” THAT POSITION IS NOT GOING TO GO UNFILLED. ANOTHER POWER MUST BE RAISED UP INTO THAT VACATED REALM OF DOMINION TO BECOME THE ENERGY FORCE THAT INFLUENCES, AFFECTS, IMPACTS, SWAYS, IMPELLS, CHANGES, AND TRANSFORMS THE UNDERSTANDING, CONVICTIONS, DESIRES, AND ACTIONS FIRST OF ALL THE PEOPLE OF GOD, AND EVENTUALLY OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE WHOLE WORLD, GIVING DIRECTION AND MOTIVATION UNTO TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS!

THAT, my beloved, is what it means for the saints of God to be “caught up IN THE AIR!” As Satan and all the religious spirits that control God’s people are dispossessed from their position in the heavens of man’s consciousness, God’s chosen and separated elect are caught up or elevated into that place of influence, power, and authority. God is now preparing a company to fill that place, that sphere of spirit-energy and control that has been occupied by the false religious spirits, and thus the sons of God become “the power of the air” and “the powers of the heavens,” and our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed as the true “Prince of the power of the air.” Glory to God! We are raised up into that realm now, in the measure that we have appropriated it, but the fullness remains to be revealed. What a prospect! God’s people now under the power of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, delivered, enlightened, quickened, renewed, transformed, and filled with the glory of God under the power of the Righteous Ones! What changes shall yet be wrought in the church and in the earth! What righteousness, peace, truth, and joy shall then flow forth unto the people of the nations! Oh, the mystery of it! Oh, the wonder of it!

The natural-minded Christian is looking to be suddenly snatched up into the air, away from the earth, to inhabit mansions on golden streets somewhere in the blue beyond. The spiritually-minded child of God looks to be laid hold upon by a higher power and lifted into a heavenly realm in the Spirit from which he can do something for this world. The almighty Father is preparing a people who shall bind the devil and all his false religious spirits and usurp their place of cosmic power in the atmosphere of man’s consciousness, supercharging even the very atmosphere of earth with vibrations and influences of life, light, love, righteousness, truth, and glory! When the Righteous Kingdom is in power, the cruel usurper will be absent; when the Righteous Kings hold sway, and the great tempter is overcome, men’s motives to godliness, truth, and life will be unhindered. The present activity of God is devoted to selecting, training, testing, developing, and perfecting this conquering, ruling company. Just think — you have the unique potential to be a transmitter of the LIFE-GIVING ENERGY of God Almighty here upon this earth!

The glory of God is the emanation or radiation of His nature, and this glory surrounds Him. As we become partakers of the divine nature, we also radiate the glory of His essence. This is the real purpose of our calling, and the meaning of being caught up in the air. Recognize, O saint of God, the radiant glory that is even now vibrating from your being, and seek His presence, that the glory and power might be greatly increased for the sake of His body as well as a lost world. Release the Christ within! Praise God, what a day! You can change the atmosphere about you, regardless of how dark or hopeless it may appear. You can radiate with His power and glory, like a blazing light where darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people. Arise and shine! Your light has come! The glory of the Lord has risen upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon thee!

To be continued…