The Seven Spirits of God


Part I

"Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth." Revelation 1:4, 5

     Grace and peace is extended to all the saints from three sources. We rejoice in this greeting even as we puzzle over just exactly who is sending it. God we recognize and Jesus Christ the faithful witness we know, but

Who or what are these "seven Spirits 
who are before His throne?"

   Our curiosity is aroused. Did you ever get a greeting from a source you did not know? It leaves you a little embarrassed. So this "grace" and "peace" which is being sent to you from the "seven Spirits who are before His throne" present an air of mystery. Let us hope that when we are finished we may together have a clearer understanding. You may actually know more about these "seven Spirits" than you thought you knew.

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John on the Isle of Patmos

Revelation 1:4 is a vital text in understanding how Revelation was written.

Sometimes we think that John was playing the role of a shorthand secretary who writes as Jesus Christ dictates.

Such was not the case.

    John saw Revelation 4 and 5 before he wrote chapter one. John injects into chapter one what he could not have seen until chapter four. For instance, it is in Revelation 4:5 that we are told about "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." 
    John recalls this vision and that these "seven Spirits of God" were before the great throne. However, in this chapter the "seven Spirits" were stationary.  They were not sent forth and no greetings were mentioned.
    John saw the vision of Revelation 5:6 in which he saw a "Lamb" with"seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." The "seven Spirits" are now identified with the Lamb. We have now been given three different descriptions of these "seven Spirits of God." It is not until Revelation 5:6 that the "seven Spirits" are SENT FORTH.

1. Revelation 4:5

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"Seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."

2. Revelation 5:6


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These same "seven Spirits"are identified with the Lamb and are called "seven horns"the power of the Lamb in the "seven churches."

3. Revelation 5:6

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The "seven horns" are with"seven eyes"the far-seeing wisdom of the Lamb expressed to the "seven churches."

    Revelation 4:5 speaks of the "seven Spirits" as "burning before the throne," but they were not yet sent forth. They would not be and could not be sent forth until the Lamb was found "worthy" to open the "seven seals" and release the information contained therein. 
    There is "but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (1 Corinthians 8:6) As long as the Lamb had not been slain, the "seven Spirits of God" just "burned before the throne" as "lamps" or "torches." They were a part of God’s plan and purpose, but they were not sent forth.  They were not activated. 
    So we see a stationary vision in Revelation 4, but in Revelation 5 the Lamb is energized and through him the "seven Spirits of God" are "sentforth into all the earth" to gather His elect from the "four winds of heaven and the four corners of earth."

 

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"The Words of Him Who Has the 
Seven Spirits of God and the Seven Stars"

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars."

Revelation 3:1

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    Here we learn that John saw Revelation 5 before he penned this verse. It is important that we understand this, because it helps us realize that the whole of Revelation is not given in absolute time sequences. 
    Revelation 4 and 5 were seen and absorbed by John before he wrote Revelation 1 and 3. Only God possessed the "seven Spirits of God" in Revelation 4. Then we find the worthy Lamb in Revelation 5, who is described as the "Lamb" as though it had been slain, "with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." 
    John comprehended the message of Revelation 5 before he penned Revelation 3. John, therefore, wrote with a great deal of understanding. He had absorbed the vision, and then subsequently recorded it. 
    The same is true of John's Gospel. Nearly one-quarter of his Gospel covers the last day of Jesus' life. John gives details no other Gospel writer supplies. Chapters 13-19 of John's Gospel have an intense focus on the last day of Jesus’ life. 
    John was the only disciple to stay with Jesus through the last night, and who absented himself perhaps for no more than an hour while Jesus was carrying the cross. Except for John's report, we would not have known what transpired during Jesus' last night. Only Jesus’ enemies would have been the witnesses. John seems to have total recall, recording Jesus’ discourse and his complete prayer in John Chapter 17. 
    Even though John was very old when he wrote Revelation, he did not lose his total recall or his artist’s eye for detail. Whether this was John’s natural ability alone or whether the holy Spirit strengthened his natural abilities, we are glad John did not miss any details. 
John was heaven’s choice to give us the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

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7 Stars Represent
the 7 Angels

   We learn in Revelation that Jesus has both "the seven Spirits of God" and the "seven stars." Who are the "seven stars"? 
    Revelation 1:20 says, "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." Jesus holds the "seven stars" in his right hand. That is a place of power. 
    It would be a tragic mistake to ignore the "star" or "angel" of the period of the church that we live in. Any insubordination on our part would be a grave offense to our Master. 
    Let us be careful not to imbibe the world’s infatuation with power and influence. The Scriptures tell us, "Let each esteem others better than themselves." In our time many are chaffing with the thought that anyone could be used of God in a higher way than himself or herself. 
    As a case in point, the woman’s movement is constantly attacking the Bible for excluding women from the pulpit. It has become an obsession. The devil is still at work telling the modern Eves that God is withholding from them worlds of power and light. They want and are partaking of the "forbidden fruit" again. The media has fanned the flames of ambition and power lust in all classes of society to the hurt and downfall of this present evil world.

 

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A Golden Candlestick with "Seven Lamps" 
and "Seven Pipes" and "Two Olive Trees"

"I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:

"And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof."Zechariah 4:2, 3

    The lesson is very clear and similar to Revelation in depicting the seven stages of the one Gospel church. We see the source of the church's sustenance. It is the two olive trees (the Old and New Testaments) on either side of the "candlestick."  There are two "golden pipes" bringing the "oil" from the trees to the candlesticks.

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Golden Candlestick of Zechariah 4

 

"What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?

"And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

"Then said he, These are the two anointed ones [the Old and New Testaments], that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."  Zechariah 4:12-14

    The church's source for sustenance is the "oil" from the two "olive trees" or, as in Revelation 11:3, the two witnesses of the Old and New Testament. Just as lamps need to be cleaned and maintained, so the church has needed angels or messengers to trim their lamps to get the true light and not a carbon-filled smoking flame that gives off more smoke than light. 
    When I was a boy, we had kerosene lamps. The wicks needed to be cut and trimmed. As wicks burned, they became filled with carbon, and the kerosene could not flow through the carbon-choked end. Then it would start burning more wick than oil, giving off smoke, soot, and very poor light. Left this way, the wicks would burn out. 
    Even the pure oil of these olive trees cannot burn through a carbon-choked wick. Likewise, as the light of the Lord’s Word burns through human wicks, our humanness gets in the way. Our carbon-filled personalities begin to give off smoke and soot. Instead of the pure light of God’s Word shining forth, we have soot-filled creeds and carbon-filled personalities giving forth more black smoke than light. 
    The Lord knew this and engaged "seven stars" or "seven messengers" to trim the lamp of God’s Word in each stage of the church, a very necessary service. The light would be the light of the Lord’s Word in each time and place. Happy are those who can receive it and walk in its light. But there are always some who say the old smoke and soot light was better.
    Zechariah 4:10 refers to "seven eyes." "Those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth." These "eyes of the Lord" represent the far-seeing wisdom or perfect wisdom of God which provides the churches with Heavenly Wisdom from above. God employs the eyes of His beloved Son in each stage of the church. 
    Hence, we read of, "A Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." Revelation 5:6 We see how Zechariah 4:10 and Revelation 5:6 speak in similar language.

 

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"After This"Rev. 4:1

"After this [the vision of the seven churches] I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter [that is, after the saints enter the open door and come up hither]." Revelation 4:1

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"...Behold, a door was opened
 in heaven..."

 

    The lesson of the open door indicates this "door" was not always open. Rather, it seems the "door in heaven" opens for the first time, and then the invitation is given to the John Class to enter through this "door" and to "Come up hither." 
    What a wonderful privilege is here extended to the saints. What an honor! It is not the great and mighty people of earth who are invited
only the John Class. Imagine the splendor as John ascends through this open door and sees the glorious vision of the throne scene reserved for those who love him.
    The first voice mentioned in Revelation 4:1 refers most likely to Revelation 1:10 in which John says, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day[the Sabbath day, the Millennial day], and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet [the King’s court majesty]." The same voice in Revelation 1:10 is engaged in Revelation 4:1, which shows us the throne scene of God. Appropriately, the majestic regal sound of a trumpet is employed to describe this vision.

"And immediately I was in the spirit, and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne."Revelation 4:2

    John could not enter through this door in the flesh, but in the spirit-begotten condition the John Class sees God’s throne and glory. 
    We see God’s glory in the Divine Plan of the Ages. Many in the churches today cannot see God’s glory. They see a throne in heaven, but on it they see a triune god, vindictively casting unsaved souls into a burning hell. Not much glory is there?
   The One seated on the throne is none other than the Lord God Almighty. The throne represents God’s Divine government, which is in complete control of all things animate and inanimate, except for sinful mankind. Even here, in the outworking of God’s Plan, heaven and earth shall alike be under God’s control and dominion.

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"And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald."

Revelation 4:3

 

   "Jasper" here probably represents a diamond. In Revelation 21:11 the jasper is said to be as clear as crystal. God is portrayed as translucent as a diamond. This seems to compare favorably with John’s description of Him, saying, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5 
    Paul supports the same thought in 1 Timothy 6:16, saying, God "dwells in unapproachable light." Because God’s true glory (character=thoughts and feelings = law of God, the Ten Commandments) could not be seen by anyone in the flesh, John is shown the nearest thing to describe God’s glory and purity.
    God is also described as being a "carnelian" stone, or a "sardine" or ruby
pure and translucent, but also red in hue. Red pictures love as shown in the ransom. Around God’s throne is a rainbow of emerald green representing God’s enduring or everlasting qualities. 
    The John class in the spirit-begotten condition is given a high and exalted view of God and His eternal government as seen from His glorious throne. This vision of God and His throne must never leave us. Only our knowledge of God’s plan through the ages, enables us to see God in such transcendent glory. It is a plan that promises "glory and honor for everyone that doeth righteousness."

 

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Twenty-Four Elders

"Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads."Revelation 4:4

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24 Elders Around the Throne

    We understand the twenty-four thrones represent the foreordained twenty-four courses of the priesthood. In 1 Chronicles 24:1-19, David divided the service of the priests into twenty-four divisions. This method of service continued until Zechariah’s time. 
    In Luke 1:8,9 we read, "Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood." It was when Zechariah’s division was on duty that the angel visited Zechariah to tell him of the birth of John the Baptist. 
    It is our understanding that the twenty-four thrones represent the regal authority of the twenty-four offices of the glorified church. The twenty-four elders represent the (6,000) saints who occupy each office. In other words, 24 x 6,000 would be 144,000. 
    In the type, the rotation of priests in office was necessary because of the heavy task of offering countless sacrifices. The priests needed a long break after such intense service. In the antitype, we may conjecture, the world will be better served by having contact with different courses of priestly saints. 
    Each course of priests will bring a particular excellence to the office, as well as a different pool of experience and sensitivity. The rotating courses of priesthood may ultimately touch all the families of earth.
    David also divided the singers and musicians into twenty-four courses. They, like the priests, served their turn of office.
    In Revelation 5:8 we are told that the "twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps." Hence, the "elders" have "harps." There is a difference between having a harp and being a harp. 
    Revelation 15:2, 3 says that the saints "stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." The elders and the saints both have harps.

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24 Elders Having Harps of God

    What are harps? The Word of God. The "elders" are not the Word of God, but the elders have the Word of God. In THE NEW CREATION, Vol. 6, p. 233 we read:

    "And, thank God! we find that harmony existing, so that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute what the Lord himself designates ‘the harp of God.’ Revelation 15:2 And the various testimonies of the Law and the prophets are the several chords of that harp, which, when tuned by the holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts, and swept by the fingers of the devoted servants and searchers after divine truth, yields the most enchanting strains that ever fell on mortal ears."

    The "harps" are the Word. The elders have "harps." They are not "harps." The elders are not the Word of God.

00GoldSquare.jpg (705 bytes)   See "Casting Down Golden Crowns" for Detailed Explanations

 

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Seven Torches of Fire

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"And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices:

And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."

Revelation 4:5

    The "seven Spirits" of God are before the throne. This is the verse John refers to in Revelation 1:4 when he conveys the greetings of the "seven Spirits which are before his throne." 
    There is a stark contrast here. You have the throne scene up to this point being very staid and tranquil like a sea of glass. Then, in Revelation 4:5 the tranquility is interrupted by "lightnings and thunderings and voices" coming from the "throne."
    Lightning is bright and illuminating. As the flashes of light proceed from the throne, they raise voices and controversial thunder. This is the reaction to God’s flashes of light.
    The "seven lamps of fire," or torches, burning before the throne, embody "seven Spirits" or teachings of God. Hence, the "sevens lamps of fire" in essence are seven teachings or messages or spirits from God. That’s part of our answer. The "seven lamps" or "lampstands" are the "seven churches" we are told in Revelation 1:20.
    The scene turns tranquil again concentrating on the throne.

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"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal [undisturbed by the lightning and thunder]: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind."

Revelation 4:6

    The "sea of glass" portrays God’s purity and righteousness. It was illustrated in Solomon’s temple with the giant laver. Jesus taught, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." 
    This vision emphasizes the eternal aspect of purity and righteousness in the divine purpose. There can never be sin pollution here. God has a large universe, but not one square inch to spare for sin or sinners. 
    The idea that God is going to provide for sinners in a hell of torment is absolutely ridiculous. That would mean God would have to provide a part of his universe to house them and keep them. No! All the wicked will God destroy when his work is complete. God has zero tolerance for sin. Those who sympathize with sin persistently can have no place in God’s everlasting kingdom.
    The four "Living Creatures," representing the four attributes of God,are on each side of the throne. They are "full of eyes" which look forward and backward.  The eternity of the future and of the past is clearly seen.He who "inhabits eternity" also sees into eternity. 
    There have not been and will not be any conditions which our God could not or cannot harness to redound to His glory. The far-seeing wisdom of God guarantees his sovereignty. There never have been any emergencies with God, nor will there ever be.

Part II

"Four Beasts [Living Creatures]"

"And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle." Revelation 4:7

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Four Living Creatures

    These four "beasts" or "living creatures" represent the four attributes of Godperfect justice, perfect power, perfect love and perfect wisdom.

 

Lion =Justice 

    The lion is the king of beasts. We notice that David sat upon the throne of the Lord. Justice and judgment are the habitation of God’s throne. David was of the tribe of Judah. 
    Our Lord was David’s root and branch. Hence, we read that it was "The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof," Revelation 5:5. No one was found worthy to open the book until this "Lion of the tribe of Judah" appeared. He was worthy. He was just and could meet the requirements of justice. 
    In the real world, the "lion" helps keep the balance of nature. Man originally was to accomplish this task. But because of sin, he lost his dominion and control over animals. Hence the need of carnivores. Without them we would be overrun with rabbits and squirrels and deer and countless other creatures who multiply rapidly. The lion serves as the ultimate predator who serves to keep a kind of just balance in nature until man again takes dominion of earth.

 


Ox =Power

 

    The second "Beast" or "Living Creature" is like a powerful ox. The ox served back then as tractors do now. They were the source of power in plowing or pulling carts. The molten sea or laver of the temple was placed on twelve cast oxen, three oxen holding up each side with their heads facing outward. (See 2 Chronicles 4:3,4.) Here the water of truth was upheld by thepower of "twelve oxen." 

"As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle." Ezekiel 1:10

    We notice a strange difference in Ezekiel 10:14: "And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle." Notice the ox is not mentioned. It is spoken of as a cherub. 
    What is a cherub? Possibly it is an ox. Ezekiel 10:22 seems to confirm this: "And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward." This is a reference to Ezekiel 1:10 where Ezekiel saw the vision by the river Chebar. (See Ezekiel 1:1.) 
    The cherubim of the Tabernacle may have been, in fact, oxen with wings. Oxen have horns and horns are symbolic of power. Remember the horns of the altar, or the power of the altar.

 

Face of a Man =Love

 

    Here the divine quality of love is seen. Man was created in the "image of God." As God is love, so man was to be love. He will be love when he returns to the family of God.

 

Flying Eagle =Wisdom

 

    The eagle is noted for its far-seeing vision. They tell us the eagle can see a mouse from a mile high. We believe the flying eagle is used to illustrate the fact that if you want to see far you need to be up high. The eagle perched in a tree would not have the far-seeing vision, as one flying high. The landscape would obscure its vision. So this far-seeing quality of an eagle would illustrate God’s wisdom which plans for eternity without the possibility of failure.

 

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"Four Beasts [Living Creatures] Had 
Each of Them Six Wings"

"And the four beasts [living creatures] had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which WAS, and IS, and IS TO COME." Revelation 4:8

    The "four beasts" [living creatures] have six wings. Wings go in pairs. You never saw a bird fly with one wing. Two wings are necessary for flight.
    The expression, "WAS and IS and IS TO COME" seems to imply these three pairs of wings operated in the past, are operating in the present, and will be operating in the future. The wings are full of eyes, far-seeing wisdom, to insure that God’s purpose and glory are fully served in all time, eternity, past and present and future. 
    It reminds us of God’s awesome power and omniscience. There is nothing unknown or anything God is not equal to. God’s "two wings" through all time maintain the sovereignty of God. They protect His subjects and carry forth His plan with unerring purpose.

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Four Living Creatures

    These four "beasts" [living creatures] never cease to sing: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty." The Alexandrine MS says "Holy" three times. Most MSS say "Holy" nine times. The Living Creatures constantly affirm God’s completeness in these four Holy Attributes of justice, wisdom, love and power. While the word "holy" means complete, we understand the completeness referenced to be in these four attributes.

 

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Isaiah 48:9-11

 "For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.

"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

"For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? And I will not give my glory unto another."

    Here God speaks of how He restrains His anger, not for Jacob’s sake, but for His own sake and glory. That was the very reason for which Moses entreated God, so that the nations might not say that God led His people out of Egypt but could not bring them into the Promised Land. God’s glory would have been impugned. God rightly accepted Moses’ appeal. Here He says the same thing through Isaiah. He cannot give His glory to another.
    In the world, executives who seem always on hand to take credit for all that goes well, never seem to be able to take responsibility for the wrong. In Watergate, Nixon tried to play innocent until he could not talk his way out of his guilt. Nixon’s subordinates went to jail while Nixon was pardoned. He tried to escape his responsibility. 
    The same was true with Irangate. Reagan and Bush claimed they were out of the loop. All these things mysteriously happened without their knowledge or consent, even though they were totally in charge. The subordinates were chastised, but Reagan and Bush claimed no responsibility.
    Well, dear friends, that could never happen in God’s Kingdom. His own attributes hold God Himself responsible for maintaining perfect justice, love, wisdom and power. God could never place the blame on His subordinates.

God assumes full responsibility for His universe. He cannot give his glory to another.

He Himself was always responsible, is responsible and will ever be responsible for all things in His everlasting dominion.

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    This does not mean God cannot delegate power and authority to others, mainly to His beloved Son. It does mean, however, that no matter how much authority and power He delegates to others, He will always bear the responsibility for all things in His infinite universe. God’s four attributes will accept no scapegoats. God can never be less than totally responsible for His everlasting dominion.

 

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Isaiah 6:1, 2

"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord(probably Jesus is referred to, see THE ATONEMENT BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, Vol. 5, p. 4700GoldSquare.jpg (705 bytes)sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

"Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly."

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Seraphim of Isaiah 6

 

   We notice again the pairing of wings. In this picture the wings seem to serve another purpose. Two wings cover the Lord’s face. His face is hidden from men. Just as when Jehovah would lift up his countenance upon Israel, it symbolized his favor and blessing.
   When he turned his face away from them it was usually their period of punishment. When the LORD JESUS covers his face from men, they cannot see his countenance and his favor is turned away from them.
    With "twain he covered his feet." The feet of Jesus are his body members which make contact with the world. Isaiah says regarding these feet:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth." Isaiah 52:7

    It is the feet of the Christ at this end of the age who are engaged in such glorious work. These poor feet are beautiful to God and to the risen Christ, but the world holds them in contempt, even as they did the Master. The feet members should be beautiful in our eyes, as we see them with painstaking efforts trying to walk in the footsteps of the Master and bearing witness to the glorious plan of the ages.
    "With twain he did fly." Two wings carry forth the mission of Christ. We believe these two wings are closely identified with the Words of the Old and New Testaments. Our Lord moves irresistibly forward in carrying out the Holy Word. Not a jot or tittle fails of fulfillment. Heaven and earth could pass away more easily than for any part of God’s Word to fail. God has placed the carrying forth of His plan in the hands of His beloved Son.

Part III

"Glory and Honor" 
to Him Seated on the "Throne"

"And when those beasts [living creatures] give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

"The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne."Revelation 4:9, 10

    The "four living creatures," which are the four attributes of God, give glory and honor and thanks to Him on the throne. God’s own heart qualities glorify and honor Him. Virtue is its own reward. These attributes are thankful God does not violate His justice, love, wisdom or power. If He did, there would be conflict and immediate disharmony. 
    We see what evils are created in the world when justice is laid aside, when love is locked out, when wisdom is turned to deceit and exploitation, and when power is used selfishly. How terrible it would be if God acted like sinful man in even the slightest way.

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How beautifully these attributes 
glorify and honor 
the One seated on the throne.

 

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How Can the "Twenty-four Elders" 
Fall Down Before God’s Throne?

    The "twenty-four elders" appear here even before the Lamb was slain. How can this be? This may seem a problem. We might think the church could not be mentioned before the Lamb is slain and glorified. 
    However, just as David created the twenty-four courses of the priesthood before the temple was built, so God had foreordained this priesthood whenHe foreordained the Lamb to be slain from the foundation of the world. In other words, the "twenty-four elders" here are the elders elect and foreordained in God’s plan. They do not exist in person in this vision. 
    In the outworking of God’s plan the day will come when that which God has foreordained and those who are called to this foreordained office will become one. That which was foreordained and those who are elect and ordained will merge into reality. They exist in God’s purpose in Revelation 4, not in reality.
    How can they fall down before Him seated on the throne, casting their crowns before Him? What is the calling of the church that comprises these "twenty-four elders"? 
    Ephesians 1:14 tells us the answer. We are called for "the praise of His glory." That is the primary reason why we are called and chosen and required to be faithful. Anyone interested in glorifying himself or herself will not be a part of this company. No! No! No!
    When these "twenty-four elders" "cast their crowns before the throne," we understand this to be an act of deference on their part. It is an acknowledgment that their power and authority comes from the One on the throne. That is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is not false modesty. It is an acknowledgment of reality.

In Revelation 4:11 the "twenty-four elders" sing, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

The Alexandrine MSS omits the phrase, "and were created."

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    The basis for God’s praise is well founded. No blind evolutionary process has brought about all creation. It exists and was created by the One on the throne. It is proper that this truth be acknowledged always by all. 
    The expression "for thy pleasure they are and were created" is rather peculiar. How could they exist before being created? If we have the correct reading here, we might say that some things exist in blueprint stage before they are created. Even the purpose for being is determined. That purpose again is that they should be for "the praise of His glory."

 

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A Scroll Written Within and on the Back

 

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""Who is worthy 
to open the book, 
and to loose the seals thereof?"
 
Revelation 5:2

 

    Here the scene changes and we begin to see activity and movement. First we see a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals in the hand of Him seated on the throne. Then a "strong angel" proclaims with a loud voice, "Who is worthy?" It seems no one can step forward to meet the angel's demands.
     As John looks on he becomes very sorrowful and weeps because no one was worthy to open the scroll and loose the seals. The vision was so real to John that he becomes emotionally involved to the point of uncontrolled weeping.

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Levitical High Priest

Apparently, he knew the scroll contained valuable information for the churches, and he was upset that the scroll could not be opened.

Why didn't a Levitical priest step forward?

    Then one of the "twenty-four elders" said to John, "Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof," Revelation 5:5. 
   Who was this kindly elder? If it represents a course of the priesthood, who might it be? 
    We believe the Apostle Paul, who was the spokesman for his course of the priesthood, was the elder speaking. Paul showed in Hebrews 7:14-16,

"For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

"And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

"Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life."

    In Romans 15:12, Paul quotes from Isaiah 11:10:

"There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious."

    In these two quotations Paul identifies Jesus as the worthy priest replacing the priesthood of the Law arrangement. Yes, he is worthy. He is glorious. He is "a priest for ever." Paul tells us additionally that he is a priest who is able to justify.

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Mercy Seat in Most Holy

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

Romans 5:1,2

    Hence, Paul, the elder representing a course of the priesthood, identifies Jesus as the "Lion of the tribe of Judah." None from the Levitical priesthood were worthy or could bring justification. In the appointed time one stepped forward from Judah and prevailed to open the seals.

 

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A Lamb Standing, 
as Though It Had Been Slain

"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the EARTH." Revelation 5:6

    Again, the focus is on the Lamb. The Lamb still has not been engaged, but is standing there as though he had been slain. Now usually a slain Lamb would not be found standing, would it? It would be lying there as though it had been slain. Hence, this pictures the resurrected Lamb, who lives, but who was dead.

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A Lamb Slain before the 
Foundation of the World


    The Lamb is then pictured with "seven horns and seven eyes." Usually a lamb would not have horns. Only a grown ram would have horns, but then it would only be two horns. This Lamb has "seven horns." 
    If that isn’t enough to command our attention, we are confronted with the fact that each "horn" has an "eye." This is unlike anything we have ever seen. We believe the "seven horns" signify the power of the Lamb throughout the seven stages of the church and the "seven eyes" represent the far-seeing wisdom of Christ to the churches. Christ is our wisdom. He is our power. Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing."
    After identifying the "seven horns" and "seven eyes," we are told these "are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the EARTH."
    Why aren’t they sent forth into seven churches? Why are they sent out into all the EARTH?
    This whole vision is very much like a play with various stages as the story develops. While the offices of the "twenty-four elders" are foreordained, and the qualifications of the "elders" who fill these offices are also foreordained, the persons to fill those positions have not yet been selected out of the world at the time of this vision. 
    When they are called and chosen, they will be a part of the "seven churches" spanning the Gospel age. We must always remember that the foreordained "twenty-four elders" and their offices existed in the plan of God before the persons to fill them existed. 
    Here we see the power and wisdom of the Lamb. They go forth into the world to select the "elders" for the foreordained offices. Hence, in each stage of the Gospel age the "seven Spirits" go forth to call and elect the church. Hence, the need for power and wisdom.

 

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The Lamb Takes the Scroll

"And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints." Revelation 5:7-

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    We notice it is the "Lamb," and not the "Lion," that takes the scroll from the hand of the One seated on the throne. The Lamb dominates the scenes in Revelation. 
    The four living creatures, the four attributes of God’s justice, power, love and wisdom, fall down to acknowledge the Lamb, because he meets the same standards as his Father. The "twenty-four elders," who at this point are only the foreordained priesthood, also acknowledge the worthiness of the Lamb because he meets the Divine standards. They also have "golden vials [bowls]" full of incense to be offered with the prayers of the saints. 
    From this point, the vision moves forward combining the called and chosen saints with the office of elders they have been called to.

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"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed [omit us] to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

"And hast made us [them] unto our God kings and priests [a kingdom and priesthood]: and we [they] shall reign on the earth."

Revelation 5:9, 10, Sinaitic in brackets.

 

    We believe it is the elders who claim that they were "redeemed" "to God" by the "blood" of the Lamb. It is certainly they who are made a kingdom and a priesthood who will reign upon the earth. It is easy to see how they are given over to praising the Lamb.
    Now our study is not about the "twenty-four elders" and the "twenty-four thrones." We have only locked in on them temporarily to give a basis for understanding this whole vision.

 Part IV

"The Seven Spirits of God"

    We notice the evolution regarding these "seven Spirits." 
               
First they are described as "seven lamps of fire" burning before
               God’s throne.
               
Then they are said to be "the seven Spirits [or teachings] of
               God," although not yet sent forth from the throne. 
                
Then in Revelation 5 we see the slain "Lamb" standing before the
               throne, with "seven horns" and "seven eyes." 

              

Then we are told these "are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth," Revelation 5:6.

Suddenly there is motion and the  "seven Spirits" are sent forth.

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    Why aren’t they sent to the saints of the "seven churches"? 
    Because the saints need to be called out of the world first. When they accept the call and consecrate, then the "seven Spirits" will speak to them. Hence, these "seven Spirits" of God and of the Lamb begin calling the saints while they are still in the world during each stage of the church. 
    We believe chapters 2 and 3 were written after chapters 5-7 were seen. In other words, Jesus, the "worthy Lamb," opens the seals before writing to the "seven churches." 
    Supposing Revelation 2 and 3 were written before Jesus read the messages and the information of each seal. How unfortunate it would be, because it would mean he wrote the "angels of the churches" before he had clear knowledge and information of each period. That is unthinkable. Hence, we see Revelation is not written always in the sequence that we might suppose. 
    We know Jesus had the "seven Spirits of God" when he wrote to Sardis in Revelation 3:1, for he says: "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars." This proves that Jesus saw Revelation 5 through 8:1 before he sent his messages to the "angels of the seven churches."
    We believe Jesus saw and interpreted the scroll sealed with "seven seals" after which he wrote to the "angels of the seven churches." Jesus is the one to open the scrolls and seals. He, therefore, saw what would transpire during each period of the church. Upon being imbued with such knowledge, he then wrote with great illumination to the "angel" of each church. Does that make sense? 
    We see that Revelation was written to conceal from the many what it reveals to the saintly few. That is why sign language is employed and why sometimes sequences are transposed.

 

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Are the "Seven Spirits of God" the 
"Seven Messages" to the "Seven Angels"?

    Very often we hear explanations that deal with these "seven Spirits of God" which associate these "seven Spirits" with the seven messages to the "seven angels of the seven churches." 
    We think there is merit to this application, but it does not get to the core of the matter. It approximates the answer, but is not the real essence of it.
    When we look at the messages to the "seven churches," there is both rebuke and praise. In the first four "seals" we are shown "a horse" riding forth.

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The first "horse" identifies the conditions of Ephesus  a "white" horse, picturing doctrinal purity.

The second "horse" identifies the conditions of Smyrna  "red" horse, picturing heretical and sinful doctrines going forth in this time frame.

The third "horse" identifies the conditions of Pergamos  a "black" horse, representing dark creeds supplanting the truth.

The fourth "horse" identifies the conditions of Thyatira  a "pale" horse, lifeless or without spiritual life, wherein the antichrist went as far as it could go in corrupting the truth of God’s Word.

    We see the deteriorating conditions facing the first four stages of the church. Obviously, the "seven Spirits" of God and of the Lamb were not for the apostate elements within the church. Apostates have been in all seven stages of the true church throughout the Gospel age. They are the planting of Satan in the church. Satan’s purpose was to either destroy or to apostatize the church of God. 
    The point we are making here is, there are many within these "seven churches" for which the "seven Spirits" of God and Christ would have no message. God's messages in all seven stages of the church are ultimately to the overcoming saints. It is to these saints that the "seven Spirits" of God and Christ are addressed.

 

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What Are These Seven Spirits 
of God and Christ?

    We believe the "seven Spirits" of God are contained within the seven messages to the seven churches. Notice how Jesus sends forth his message to the seven churches. Jesus does not tell John to write to the church of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. 
    John is told to write to the "ANGEL" or MESSENGER of each church. Without exception, the message is sent to the "ANGEL" of each church. Jesus held these seven messengers in his right hand, Revelation 1:20, and he does not ignore or bypass them.

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7 Stars Represent the
7 Angels or Messengers
to the 7 Churches

    Like a big corporation which has many departments with department heads, we see there is organization to the New Creation. Christ does not speak to the churches directly. He does so through the "angel" of each church.
    This tells us something. Instead of expecting Christ to deal with us directly, we must be prepared to receive his instructions through his appointed messengers. This may sound parochial and old fashioned to some. Some may even chafe at the idea that Christ would chose a chain of command employing apostles, messengers, teachers, pastors, evangelists, and prophets to represent him before the church. 
    However it may sound, it is the very word of the Lord. (See Ephesians 4:11, 12; Revelation 1:20.) We not only need to have total dedication to the Word of the Lord, but we need to have a meek and subordinate spirit. In the quest for individualism and self-expression, we are in danger of losing the true spirit of humility and subordination. 
    If God and Christ chose to deal with us using various levels of servants, why should this cause us such disquietude? 
    There is danger that a cavalier spirit of insubordination may be at work among the Lord’s people. It irks some to think that God and Christ could use anyone else in a higher capacity. However, this is how God and Christ have chosen to deal with the church in all seven stages. Let us not resist the holy Spirit. 
    It is humbling to accept that others have been chosen above us. More people have been offended with God’s method than any other single factor. If God and Christ chose to deal with everyone on an equal basis, there would be millions upon millions that would respond. Yes, they would live and die for Christ, if only he would use them and speak through them directly. But this is nothing more than pride. God has chosen the best method to develop the New Creation. Let us not resist the holy Spirit.

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Charles Taze Russell
7th Angel to the Laodicean Church

    If Bro. Russell was not the "angel" of the Laodicean church, we should not rest day or night until we found out who was the "angel" of Laodicea. Then we should park on that messenger's doorstep trying to learn all that we could from him.
    Fortunately, most of us believe we know the "angel" of Laodicea. Therefore, we should continue using the Six Volumes and Tabernacle Shadows as Christ’s meat in due season. Does this seem oppressive? Clearly, the very word of the Lord places such constraints upon us.

 

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At Last the "Seven Spirits of God"

     Once more we ask who are these "seven Spirits of God"? 
    This time we shall give you our answer. Let us look again at the messages to the "seven churches" of this Gospel age. Let us bypass the general exchange given to each church with its commendations and criticisms. 
    You will notice at the end of each message given to the "angel" of each church that there is an exceeding great and precious promise given by theSpirit to the churches. Here is where God and Christ speak directly to you and to me and to all the members of the body of Christ. Nothing stands between you and the Spirit’s exceeding great and precious promise. Well, maybe that is not exactly true. There is one small matter that limits these seven promises. That is the matter of "OVERCOMING."

 

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Seven Promises of the Spirit 
to the "Overcomers"

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The promise is perpetual life in the paradise of God.

The earthly paradise in Eden was only a token paradise compared to the true paradise where God dwells. Eden will have to be replanted and cultivated again to return to its former glory.

The "paradise of God" exists in full glory and is ready to receive all the "overcomers" of this age.

 


Second death will have no power over the overcoming church. They will not be on trial or in danger of judgment. Their trial will have been successfully completed. They shall then be rewarded with immortality, to have life within themselves even as Jesus has been given life within himself.

 

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The "hidden manna" was incorruptible. The natural food, which we all eat, is perishable and corruptible. If we do not eat it within a certain number of days it must be thrown out. The "hidden manna" is forever. Those who eat it will have everlasting life.

The "white stone" carries with it two thoughts. First, it is the seal of the holy Spirit in our hearts forever. They would split a white stone in half and this would become a symbol of friendship. When these two stones were fitted to each other it would identify that the two stones were really one and the bearer of this stone was united with the other bearer of the broken stone. This, then, is more than a promise of life. Rather, it is a guarantee that the "overcomer" will have a special relationship to the One on the throne.

Also, the "overcomer" will receive a "new name." Probably a pet name, peculiarly fitted to each overcomer, but one which will show God’s affection.

 

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Additionally, they will receive the "morning star." Would you like the bright and morning star? We know that Jesus is that "bright and morning star." Revelation 22:16 He is not yours for the asking. Rather, he is yours for "overcoming." What wonderful promises the "Spirit" gives.

Many followers of Christ have grabbed for power over the nations throughout the age. They have engaged in unholy wars, killing and scheming and plotting to gain power over the nations, to no avail.

God has promised this position to the "overcomers." When they receive that power they will not do as the churches have done, that is, cozy up to the civil governments to live deliciously with them. No, they shall "dash the nations to pieces like a potter's vessel."

 

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The overcomers will no longer need the robe of Christ’s righteousness. They shall be clothed with their "house from heaven" and possess inherent righteousness.

The "overcomers" will have the unspeakable joy of having Jesus confess them before his Father and before his angels. Only a celebrity could be treated with such distinction. That is certainly the red carpet treatment.

While we are on this side of the veil, our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life on a probationary basis. This means our name could be blotted out. Once in grace not always in grace. Normally, a blotter dries the ink, but Jesus’ blotter will wipe our name out of the "book of life" if we do not "overcome."

 

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Here the "overcomer" is promised a vital place in the true temple of God, the Christ of God. A pillar cannot be removed while the structure exists.

They will also receive the name of Jesus’ God written indelibly upon them. Also, the name of the city of Jesus’ God, the New Jerusalem. They will also receive Jesus’ new name written upon them, the name of the glorified Christ. His Name IS "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS"!!!

 

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Just as Jesus had to overcome before he sat down with His Father in His throne, so the saints must overcome before they can sit down with Jesus in his throne.

A place in the throne of God and of the Lamb is just too great to comprehend. We live with such limitations while we are overcoming, but then power and glory and honor will be ours. Oh, not to surfeit ourselves with, but to use to glorify our Father in Heaven.

 

    So the "seven Spirits" of God first originate with God "before the throne." They are then given to Jesus, as though a "Lamb slain" to send forth with "horns" of power and "eyes" of wisdom into the world. As the call to become partakers of the divine nature goes forth with exceeding great and precious promises, the saints are gathered throughout the seven stages of the church. As these come into Christ they are then in line to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. 
    Finally, the "overcomers" of the Gospel age are rewarded with these seven promises fulfilled. The elders who were foreordained become, at last, the ordained and living members of the Christ of God. The plan of God reaches its grand fulfillment when the "overcomers" receive these unspeakable promises.

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

    This is repeated seven times. These seven promises of God and Christ are the "seven Spirits of God." It is like a huge magnet drawing the "overcomers" to their final destiny of glory and honor and immortality. As Peter declares,

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature." 2 Peter 1:4


"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:14-20 
 

The condition described is rather pathetic for the Christian community.

They fancy themselves as being in a splendid condition and fail to realize that from God’s vantage point they are "poor" and "blind" and "naked."

However, the highlight of this period is that the "Lord is standing" at the door and will enter into every heart that will open unto him.

These may feast with the Lord who brings the supper, the best "meal on wheels" in our time (Luke 12:42).

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The harvest is the "end of the age" (Matthew 13:39).

This was to be a time of separation of "wheat" from "tares." The time for them to be together was ended.

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    The "wheat" is to be gathered into the Gospel Garner. The "tares" are bound together in bundles. They obviously like being "bundled" because it gives them the allusion of strength and greatness. However, the "tares" fail to realize this "bundling" will lead to their being piled high and burned as "tares," or as professing Christians. 
    The "tares" look at the small clumps of "wheat" with disdain. They actually prided themselves in being bundled into large church organizations, and then in having these church groups join in Federated groups such as the World Council of Churches. Little do they realize this massive grouping is nothing more than piling high the "tare" bundles to be burned to their profession of being Christian. One of the ways the "tares" will be burned is when they come to realize what is the real church of Christ.


The end of the "harvest" will find the remaining saints placed in a position to make a strong defense of the Truth acting as the "sword" of his "mouth" (Revelation 19:15).


Revelation 18:1, 2

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     Not only are the "tares" separated, but also before the harvest ends Elijah must be separated from Elisha. The "wise virgins" must be separated from the "foolish virgins." The harvest will not end before this happens.
   The story of the "seven churches" covers the Gospel age, consummating in the triumphant completion of the true church of God. Each of the seven churches saw the Lord calling to his sheep and guiding the faithful. To all the churches were given the seven "spirits" or promises of God. All the promises were theirs. Jesus Christ, after opening the seven "seals," knew what would transpire and was thus able to prepare the "angel" of each church appropriate warnings and encouragement that would sustain the faithful while reprimanding the wicked.
    The ending of the seventh church will see the separation of the "wheat" and "tares" completed. Then "shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Matthew 13:43 
 

Victory, victory, victory at last comes for the true church.

All the "exceeding great and precious promises" will at last be realized by the "more than conquerors" of the Gospel age.

This will be the crowning moment in God’s eternity, when at last He has His jewels for an eternal possession.

In Zephaniah 3:17 we read: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."

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