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THE SHATTERING BEFORE TRIUMPH
KEYNOTES AND PERSPECTIVES
The concept of the breach of the worldly power of the people of the Lord is strong is the Bible, as an immediate prelude to Christ's return, and the features of the end. It is surrounded with immensely heartening features, just as its coming is a trial and a test.
Thus not only Deuteronomy 32:36, but Revelation 11:7-11, and 13:7 all connote the same, along with Daniel 12:7. Just as God created alone (Genesis 1, Isaiah 42:5, 45:12,24), so He alone has saved (Isaiah 43:10-11, Acts 4:11-12, Colossians 1:19ff, II Timothy 1); and He alone will have the final dispositional power, that for judgment both of nations and of persons. He does not sit back and let man do it, or this or that power. In one aspect as in all, HE ALONE DOES IT, without contribution from the power of man.
We are not partners in divine strategy, perspective, power, but recipients of what He deems fit to accord; and it is only then that friendship becomes apt. He does not cease to be God because He is a friend (John 15:14-15). When God moved out Hebrews in the Exodus, HE did it; man abided in His directions. So in Micah 7:15, it is comparable to the Exodus, when God acts in the near approach of eternity.
In accord with this generic prelude, that is, this shattering of the this-world and visible power of the holy people, as the entrance of the power of God comes into sight, brimming on the horizon of history, which has waited long for it (cf. II Peter 3:9), certain features have become visible in our contemporary world. The power of the British Empire (centred in a land with a Protestant heritage and the Bible as the source of wisdom, as shown in the coronation) has become if not defunct, then defiled.
This movement has been not only in terms of reduced military might, which remains in measure (though there was a move to join British and French fleets, which is amazingly different from the case in the early 20th century). It has also been in the 'motherland' a trend in finance, morality, clarity of religion and patriotic fervour.
Nor is Britain alone in this. In the USA, which twice has come to the assistance of liberty in Europe, at no small cost, there has been in each of the above categories, a movement of the same kind. As to military might, instead of looming on the horizons of worldly power with an atomic monopoly shared with Britain, gained at vast expense and application of morally impassioned mind, the USA has a world with this same weapon in the hands of Pakistan, India, Russia, China, Japan, North Korea and impendingly, Iran, not to mention Israel.
The madness of misplaced religion could without regard to man or this globe, through realised technical power, ruin whole areas of this world, without much difficulty; just as even isolated powers of a local kind, could invest a desire for vengeance (for something or other), with epic proportions. China continues her nuclear submarine provisions, Russia her more than dubious liaisons in the Middle East, Korea her impoverishment of her people as she enriches uranium, while China and Japan have no small problems with small objects that are felt to lead to greater results. The world is in uproar, and clambering for content, is readier and readier to accept radical solutions, such as the loss of realistic freedom of speech or approach, in the interests, as with rats, of survival. WHAT survives is becoming relatively indifferent, so that its character fast becomes all but unspeakable. Base character with vast power and vast debts spells loss of hegemony for the USA; and with Britain, her relative power wanes, so that this aspect is ready for ruin.
When the moral and religious aspect of a nation ALSO goes with such weakenings as in these, then the betrayal readily comes from within, not only in stark lack of patriotic fervour, some sense of giving a worthwhile lead to the world, but in citing Christianity, and then betraying it, on the part of a leader, or a movement towards becoming flamboyant and unrealistic about the security of a nation, or ally, as if this world's current (and diminishing) liberty were but a small thing. When the heart rots, then the limbs lose tone ...
In Revelation 11, you see the resultant in the world disposition of power, relative to the liberty in Christ, which in terms of biblical authority, does not force others. Here in the first verses, you find the Church Age stretched out, till the appropriate end of the Age, when the resurrection occurs. That as shown earlier (Ch. 9, above), has its numerical side, and in the two witnesses (cf. *6 of Ch. 9), it has its specialised application: that is, to the Christian Church in its functionality in terms of rule and redemption, to present the message and act on it, found in the basis of Zechariah 4.
As if dead in the streets from all worldly power, the church becomes an object of rejoicing, finished they think, at last, shattered above ground. However the gates of hell will certainly not prevail against it, and while worldly power seems to have it tamed with such devices as those in Revelation 13, yet this is far from so. Seemingly stricken as if the body of Christ in this figurative sense, could be reduced to ruin, they are, as was Christ's own body, physically resurrected and return home on call, to the glorification in store (Revelation 19).
Thus the Church arises from underground to the heights, and the resurrection of Isaiah 26:19, I Corinthians 15, John 11:25-26, occurs. The call, COME UP HERE! similar in outcome to the case with Elijah, who foreshadowed the same, comes from heaven, to which they then go. When they are gone, what then for the world, with peace-makers evacuated from the rousing war scene and scenario! It is then as in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21-22, unique in vehemence and vice.
No, the resurrected bodies are nowhere around, as with Elijah; but evacuated from the fiery scenes to come, having endured much (as in Revelation 13, when some still resist the beast's mark), they are now taken to better things (as in tableau of Revelation 7).
As now (Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1), many in Israel join in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, there is an extended Church, the special people (I Peter 2:9), now without the fake bodies such as Rome bred (cf. Revelation 14:8 with 18-19). This extended body, minus Rome and its kith and kin, but plus many from Israel, it is this which comes into the realm of maximal persecution, now encompassing the fruition in Israel with those amid the Gentiles. It is now directed to both as to one. It is in this section of Revelation 11, all His being rescued and resurrected, that there is from heaven heard the joy in the glory of the rescue operation and the impending judgment to rescue what may be redeemed in this world. "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever an forever."
The voice of proleptic praise then comes and is heard from Revelation 11:17-18, an exultation in the power, presence, purpose and purity, the majesty and the crowning conduct of many to the conclusion now in sight, and in heart. These things are not incidentals, like afternoon tea on a vessel on voyage, but crucial in Ch. 11, with its scope of the Church Age, the surging of irruptive evil power, and rescue in resurrection just as this world is preparing to congratulate itself immodestly on its specious and short-lived glory!
By this time, then, the elect of Israel, eyes opened as in Romans 11:25ff., converted as in Zechariah 12:10ff., and those outside it, are one and as one receive the 'treatment' of the untrue, and it is this finale we witness as the "two witnesses" arise to glory.
These things lead us to consider four ASPECTS for viewing, in looking at the last things in Revelation 11-14.
First, there is the Revelation 11 exposure of the GROUND PLAN FOR THE CHURCH AGE (cf. 11:1ff., 11:11, 11:15).
Next, in Revelation 12, there is the CELESTIAL BACKGROUND, issuing in virgin birth through the medium of Israel (12 tribes noted), and relentless spiritual war prosecuted by an aroused devil, where not only believers in Israel, place of inception of the Christian Church by Jews, but those others amid the Gentiles who obey the commandments are in action, ALL sought after by their pursuer, in his pride, both purposeful and plundering as he may (cf. James 4:7).
Revelation 13 provides another perspective for these things. It is the FINALE OF SPIRITUAL FRENZY, as the powers-that-be, being bestial in character, seek to make life IMPOSSIBLE for the saints. When the boil bursts, murky indeed are the issuances.
Revelation 14 is wedded to the concept of harvest. There is a representative harvest of the holy, those who love the Lord; then of the hypocrites, who provide alternative power sources, like someone who not only has the national electricity grid on call, but has a generator on site, to make up other things at will. There is not here ONE Master and ALL others brethren (Matthew 23:8-10), that one being Jesus Christ, distinguishable by being eternal, prior to incarnation, sinless and the everlasting God, the Word in the trinity, who before Abraham was, could say, I AM (John 8:58).
Here goes the hypocrisy battalion, Babylon now fallen (expounded in Revelation 18-10), and the beast's mark appearing as squalid securings on the part of this rampant and raging 'beast', seen in composite as essentialised, in his political seat. In many as in much, is the spirit of surrender and compromise, qualified and innovated christs and defective gospels (Galatians 1:6-9, II Peter 2). Here too come the grapes of wrath, the exposure of the inward parts of what had appeared a grape harvest, the tissues breached, the follies flowing outwards, which had been kept within. The whole now reeks with judgment.