Part 10 of "Unsealed By the Lamb: Revelation Through the Lamb and His Love"
The testimony of Jesus is that He is the favored and chosen One, "the living Stone —rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him... a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame." (1 Pt.2:4,6)
The commandments of God are summed up in the single command "Love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law... And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here." (Rm.13:8,10-12)
Paul wrote in 2nd Thessalonians 2 that before Christ returned, in "God's temple" there would first be a "rebellion" (or, a "falling away" or "apostasy"). The 'temple' of the new covenant is not a physical building, but is the Body of Christ (Jn.2:19, 1 Cor.3:16-17, Eph.2:19-22, 1 Pet.2:4-5).
The rebellion removes the cornerstone and capstone—replacing the foundation of the testimony of Jesus laid by the apostles and prophets—and preaches another law (lawlessness) over Christ's command to love one another (even our enemies) as He loved us.
CHANGING THE TIMES
After Jesus had risen from the dead and met with His disciples, they asked Him, "Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He answered: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Act.1:6-8)
The mission and charter of the church is to witness to Christ—the Lamb who was slain because God loved the world so much, even while we were His enemies. The power that God has given us (the Holy Spirit) has been given for this purpose: to witness to Christ.
The disciples had asked, "Are You about to restore Israel's kingdom?" Jesus set that aside completely—"That's not your business; your job is only to testify to Me!" And likewise the purpose of the power He gives is also not to help "restore the kingdom", but rather to witness to Christ.
But like in the Garden of Eden, the mystery of sin desires to know what God knows and to stand in His place, proclaiming His secrets. In the same way, Babylon is built on the foundation of confusion ("Babel" means "confusion")—attempting to "reach God" by human effort.
The rebellion and its lawlessness began in seeking to know what God alone knows, by trying to unseal prophecy—something that only the Lamb has the right and ability to do (Rev.5:2-5,9).
Seeking to proclaim what was sealed, and to bring about Christ's return and the kingdom, the "falling away" began by trying to explain what God had not yet revealed. The mysteries of Daniel defied penetration, but nonetheless the rebellion against God's sovereign sealing pressed on and created a system to interpret them.
"You were wearied by all your ways,
but you would not say, 'It is hopeless.'
You found renewal of your strength,
and so you did not faint.
Whom have you so dreaded and feared
that you have been false to Me,
and have neither remembered Me
nor pondered this in your hearts?
Is it not because I have long been silent
that you do not fear Me?" (Isa.57:10-11)
The rebellion did not fear God enough to lay down the 'mystery' of Daniel in frustration and simply surrender to His timing. If the lust for the mystery could have been set aside, rest and fulfillment could have been found instead in the simple gospel of Jesus Christ—for Scripture declares that Christ Himself is "the mystery of God" and that we have all fullness in Him (Col.2:2,9-10).
But for Babylon, the testimony of Jesus and His commandment of agape love were not enough. The way to divine favor was sought through 'mystery'—the mystery of Daniel and end-times prophecy.
To solve the mystery of Daniel and the end times, the wall of division was rebuilt between the circumcision and uncircumcision in God's temple (God's people). Standing in the place of God, the new system denied Christ's reconciliation (Eph.2:11-22) and declared that some are nearer than others regardless of Christ's blood.
"In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love... You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." (Gal.5:6,4)
Like Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the "falling away" created its own image and calls all people to acknowledge it, offering believers a 'pass' and guarantee that they will avoid the fire of tribulation in the end times. No longer was the way to stay in God's favor about His grace to us in Jesus Christ and loving one another as He loved us; because the foundation was not considered enough, the system gave a different way to guide God's people through the end times.
In accordance with the teaching of the rebellion, believers began taking actions in order to 'prepare the way' for His return. "Faith expressing itself through love" was no longer the only thing that counted; it was necessary to 'help' prophecy be fulfilled (according to the system's interpretations). The fruit that came of this has caused terrible conflict, but in cold love the rebellion continues exalting and strengthening the wall of division.
PREPARING WHOSE WAY?
"The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (Jas.3:17-18)
Christ Jesus is the manifestation of the agape love of God. It is because of Him that we know what 'love' is in God's definition (1 Jn.3:16,4:9-10). If we set aside God's law of agape love while seeking to help prophecy be fulfilled, are we truly preparing His way? If our "preparations" for His coming take priority over His wisdom and commands, then whose 'kingdom' are we really preparing the way for? Is the Bride called to make the world ready for His coming, or herself? (Rev.19:17) Has He called us to do anything besides simply living holy and godly lives as we await His coming? (2 Pet.3:11-12)
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." (Mat.7:15-20)
Babylon is a city of mixed wine; some drink from the wine of Christ while others drink from the intoxication of the rebellion's adultery. Many in the temple honestly believe they are preparing the way for Christ's return, and cannot see that they are preparing the way for the beast to receive power. For this reason God calls out, "Come out of her, My people!"
Could dividing His temple and "falling away" from His law of agape love be a rebellion that leads to desolation? (1 Cor.3:17, Dan.8:13)
"I will expose your righteousness and your works,
and they will not benefit you.
When you cry out for help,
let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
a mere breath will blow them away." (Isaiah.57:12-13)
Part 11: "The Fourth Seal"—A Powerful Delusion