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Another Coffee Break:
Pictures of Tribulation & Wrath, Part 2
Felicitations and Blessings!
Before I get into today's Coffee Break, I have an issue that needs attention. One of our primary forums for publishing these posts -- Multiply.com -- has decided to cease operating in its present form. Our forum -- http://RegnersRangers.Multiply.com -- has already been closed to any updating. It is up to date as of a couple weeks ago, but eight years worth of Coffee Break archives will vanish as of December 1, 2012. With something on the order of 100,000 readers who access the 30+ Multiply forums on which these columns appear will suddenly be without access. That means we will have to scramble to move the Coffee Breaks to a new site -- and that site has yet to be determined. If any of you are looking for something to do and you have the necessary skills to create a whole new site from scratch, please contact me immediately.
Secondly, for about the umptieth time, my MSN account was hacked and a large number of you received spam messages which purported to come from me. Once we are able to get a substitute website up to replace the Multiply site, I will be dumping MSN as an email provider. Even though I've been with MSN for nearly 20 years, the fact that privacy issues are not a priority with them, and the fact that -- increasingly -- users of MSN are nearly as prone to hacking as AOL users makes it necessary to make these changes.
Anyway, onward and upwards!
Let's begin today by drawing a completely different picture of tribulation than the one (or ones) referred to in the previous Coffee Breaks. First, let me lay a foundation for this from Revelation 5:9-11.
"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 us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands."
(Note: The KJV translates the Greek zoon as "beast." This is a somewhat misleading translation since the word actually should translate as "living being" or perhaps more accurately, "living creature," without actually identifying the kind of "being." That, however, is a separate discussion for some later time.)
In sharing the Revelation of Jesus Christ, one of John's opening remarks (see Revelation 1:5-6) goes like this: "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. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
Where we're going in our picture of tribulation that John is instructed to share is preceded by the fact that we are FIRST AND FOREMOST "kings and priests unto God;" and that being the case, we are given an assignment and a responsibility, specifically: "and we shall reign on the earth."
OK, so far? The ability to "reign on the earth" is a direct byproduct of overcoming each of the enemies described in the seven letters -- and this is important to our understanding of where John is taking us next.
Notice also that the 5th chapter of Revelation opens with John seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lion of Judah being handed a book which was sealed with seven seals. Each of those seals had a prophetic significance for which John now receives understanding and revelation.
Chapter 6 is a clear description of the opening of the first six seals and gives us an understanding of events which have been taking place in the earth since the day(s) that John was first given this Revelation.
The first seal is opened by the Lord, a sound of thunder (the Greek word, bronte: a roar, an explosion of sound) is heard and John sees a white horse and a rider with both a crown and a bow going forth to conquer. What John is seeing is the spirit of antichrist. The particular Greek word used here is the same word (actually the root) which appears in Revelation 2:6 and 2:15 as "Nicolaitanes." In previous Coffee Breaks (and in a forthcoming book titled SEVEN NATIONS, SEVEN LETTERS) I have dealt with the "doctrine of the Nicolaitanes" as well as "the deeds of the Nicolaitanes" which the Lord specifically labels as "which thing I hate!"
The unique thing about the word "Nicolaitane" is that it is a reversible contraction of two words: nicos [or nicaos] -- meaning, power; and laos -- meaning, the common people. As previously noted, depending on how you contract these two Greek words you wind up with "power over the people" (or hierarchical church structure) or "power to the people" (more simply described as democracy in the church) or "congregational" church government. No matter how you slice it, you come up with humanism and humanistic control -- i.e., "man in control" -- rather than the government of God.
It is antichrist because it substitutes mankind -- whether that be power filtered down through tiers of leadership, or power exercised by the masses -- in place of the Lord Jesus Christ and/or the leadership of Holy Spirit. It presupposes that a man (or men) lack the individual ability to hear what Holy Spirit is saying and how He chooses to lead His people; and it substitutes man-made decision-making for direct leadership AND THE ANOINTING of Holy Spirit.
Thus, depending on how you render nicos and laos, you have a single individual (or a small group of individuals through tiers of leadership) exercising the power to conquer the masses in the body of Christ; or you have the masses in the congregations dictating (through the taking of votes) who their leader is to be, how that leader is to lead, and what he (or she) is permitted to preach or teach. You have a form of Godliness. You have some real, genuine preaching of parts of the Gospel, but the demonstrable authority of Holy Spirit is missing; and the promised signs to follow the believer are absent. There is no "gospel of the Kingdom" with the attendant authority and power to demonstrate.
In this illustration (in Revelation 6:2) of the rider on the white horse, you see the false Christ going forth "conquering, and to conquer." It was already happening in John's day, and it certainly is happening today!
John next sees the second seal opened, and with that seal a rider on a red horse who was given the ability to steal peace in such a way as to cause men and women to turn on each other with accusations, personal attacks and even kill each other. You'll observe that John describes this particular rider as having a great sword. What you are seeing is a classic picture of a religious spirit being driven and motivated by the Fear of Evil. The word in the Greek text translated here as "a great sword" is the word machaira, and it is a commonly-used term meant to describe the execution of judicial punishment.
Although this spirit is certainly alive and well and operating in the earth today -- with a vengeance, I might add -- it is my personal conviction that John saw the tribunals under the various Roman Emperors and the Inquisition that took place in the Dark Ages in which false accusations were leveled against Christians, and they were put to death through absolutely unbelievable methods. Torture, mutilation, beheadings, being burned at the stake, thrown to the lions, used as target practice for gladiators -- these were but a few of the means used to try to get Christians to recant their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (If you haven't read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, I strongly recommend it to you.)
Tribulation? Yesssirrrreeee!!! We're at war, folks! We are at war against Satan, his hordes of demons and his agenda of lies and deception against the people of God. He opposes us. He opposes the Lord Jesus Christ. He opposes the Plan that Father God put in place before the foundation of the earth. Anyone who thinks they can live in this world and walk as lights in this generation without suffering tribulation is simply deluding him- or herself. So long as we walk with the Lord we will be opposed, persecuted and fought against with death as Satan's purposed objective.
Now John sees the third seal opened, and with that seal the release of a black horse with a rider whose primary objective was to change weather patterns that would alter growing seasons in such a way as to ruin crop harvests, bring drought and release pestilence. His plan? To starve people through famine and release plagues of diseases across the earth. Have we seen this? You bet! So that you understand that John was seeing something that was about to unfold in the near future -- let alone the distant future! -- between 400 AD and 800 AD, the population of Rome lost 90% of its inhabitants due to famine and starvation.
Let me bring this more up to date. Between 1810 and 1849, four famines raged throughout China taking 45 million lives. Between 1959 and 1961, a continuous cycle of famine took another estimated 43 million lives in China. Even more to the present, in 2009 an estimated 10 million Kenyans lost their lives due to famine and disease, and that doesn't count those in Somalia, Ethiopia, East Africa and Niger. And we haven't even begun to talk about the famines that have occurred within the past decade in Russia, Siberia, Vietnam or North Korea!
Let's continue with the opening of the seals. Let me remind you that we are NOT seeing the wrath of God! This, folks, is tribulation -- GREAT tribulation -- and it is going on (and has been ever since John was allowed to see it!)
The fourth seal is opened, and John sees a pale (Greek: chloros > green) horse. The rider in this instance is Death, and John tells us that "Hell followed with him." In this instance we have the picture of death having authority over a quarter of the earth. Specific delegated authority was given to kill with the sword (persecution, wars and conflicts), famine, pestilence (all kinds of diseases -- some of them exotic diseases) and with wild beasts (Greek: therion > savage beasts, venomous creatures).
Here again we have a picture of something that has been going on nonstop for the past 2,000 years. I will remind you that literally millions of Christians were killed at the hands of the various Roman emperors for their testimony. Wars of one kind or another and conflicts have raged throughout the centuries. The significant difference was the beginning of the 20th Century in which -- for the first time in history -- much of the entire world was engaged in a conflict. The world was still recovering from World War I when Hitler came to power in Germany, Stalin came to power in Russia and Mussolini came to power in Italy.
Everyone thinks that Hitler was the measurement standard of all that is evil when he slaughtered six million Jews, (and we're not arguing that) but no one thinks about the 13 million Christians and Jews (and people in general who opposed Stalin) murdered during Stalin's regime. Add to that the estimated 1.25 million killed under Mussolini's regime and you have more than 20 million people who were murdered under these three dictators between 1939 and 1945.
Let's make it a bit more recent. How about the uprising in Tahrir Square in Cairo? How many of you saw the news piece on CNN and on MSNBC (on February 2, 2011) where they were covering the uprising? In the video clip there is a very clear picture of a pale green rider on a pale green horse riding into the crowd. The rider has a sword in hand, and two angelic beings accompany him. Suddenly the rider and the accompanying beings disappear as though they simply faded away. The appearance of this rider really caught the attention of the news media, but Christian commentators latched onto it immediately as a sign of a prophetic event unfolding. Perhaps you've seen the news being reported in the past few days by FOX News, the Washington Times, World Net Daily and other news media where the Muslim Brotherhood is crucifying Christians on trees in plain sight for the world to see.
Now, let's add to all of this the incredible famines we've already talked about; and then there are all the stories in the news about pets turning on their masters and killing them, zoo animals escaping and killing people in the streets, wild animals -- cougars, bears, mountain lions (you name it) -- coming into communities and attacking people. OK, you say, but we've heard these kinds of stories for years! Sure you have, but how many years? 10, 20, 30 years? Compared to the last few centuries, folks, these stories are increasing dramatically.
The picture now changes as the Revelation continues to unfold for John. The fifth seal is broken and John sees the great altar with the souls of the thousands and millions of people throughout time who had been murdered because of their testimony, and because of their faithfulness in standing for and upon the Word of God. He hears the cry coming forth from them asking the Lord how much longer the wicked would be permitted to continue before the blood of those slain was avenged.
The Lord lets John know that white robes (wedding garments) were given to all of them, and that they should just relax a bit longer until those who still remained who would be killed were put to death. If you understand this picture, then you understand that the tribulation and persecution seen when the second and fourth seals were opened was still incomplete, and that there was yet an additional number of believers to die because of the Word of the Lord in them, and because of their testimony.
Let me pause for a moment to comment on remarks I've heard from numerous Christians over the past few years. A common point of contention among many is that a loving God would never put His people through such persecution and tribulation, allowing them to be murdered in cold blood because of their testimony. What these misguided Christians fail to see and understand is that, first of all, God is NOT a sadist! He isn't the one doing all of this.
This is the work of Satan who opposes and exalts himself above all that the Lord Jesus Christ is (and has been) doing. With every cell of his existence, Satan seeks to prevent the Lord from receiving His inheritance in a people who are His exact counterpart, His other self, His precise image! These are a people who victoriously rise above the persecution, the opposition, the tribulation and the threat of death to overcome every effort of the Enemy to prevent them from being that counterpart of Jesus Christ.
Death is no threat to them whatever! They have no fear of death! The comfort of their flesh is irrelevant when compared to the Glory of the Lord being revealed IN THIS HOUR!!! And John saw it! He could testify firsthand to it. Let's not forget that when John was given this Revelation of Jesus Christ and put it down in writing for the body of Christ to read, the Roman Emperor, Domitian, had tried to put John to death. Failing that, he tried to torture John by dipping him into a vat of boiling oil. John came out of that vat unscathed and unmarked. When that failed, he exiled him to the Isle of Patmos so as to rid the empire of John's influence. Even that failed! John could therefore write the Revelation as a victorious survivor and overcomer.
If we are to believe historical documents, John lived to the year 116 or 117 AD, finally dying in Ephesus at an age easily exceeding 110 years. The early church father, Polycarp, who suffered martyrdom himself, was a disciple of John being mentored in the Gospel by a man who clearly understood the message of the overcomer.
Here's how John saw it, personally experienced it, and described it: "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
Get it? John is seeing the final moment of victory when every effort and every device of Satan is put down because of (1) the legal authority given to the believers by and through the blood of Jesus, (2) the faithful testimony of the overcomers as they testified to what the blood of Jesus accomplished in defeating Satan, and (3) they never let the threat of death deter them, even though -- for many -- torturous death did come as Satan tried to force them to change their confession.
I've said it before and I'll say it again! Great tribulation? You bet! Getting raptured or caught away out of it so that you don't have to experience great tribulation? NOT if you want the Glory of the Lord to be revealed in the here and now AND gain the final victory that Jesus has given us over Satan!
Next week we'll look at the breaking of the sixth seal and the significance of the events that John saw, and if we have the time to do it we'll look at the eighth chapter to see the wrath of God.
"A phenomenal opportunity to encounter and embrace our Heavenly Father is being given to the Church around the world today. It is one that must be welcomed and protected. With the dawning of this new day in Church History, the anointing of Heaven is disbursed in the spiritual atmosphere so those truly seeking Truth can lay hold of it and obtain great insight with understanding. As Sons of the Kingdom ask with sincerity for this deposit, it will be received. Our spiritual eyes will be illumined to see the Scriptures from Heaven's perspective, not merely man's.
The spiritual realities that are being birthed in the earth now will have no end. They will literally flow into the Millennial age and the coming manifestation of His Kingdom on the earth.
Though we do not know when those days will be fully revealed, we do know that the purposes now being birthed will advance directly into that age. We will begin to taste the good Word of God and the power of the age to come. Like the beloved disciple John in his notable revelations, we will be allowed to eat the open book containing the full manifestation of the Lord's redemptive plans and purposes. This will be the tasting of His Kingdom Word and a demonstration of Kingdom might, in order to wonderfully introduce the Lord Jesus in truth and power, to an entire generation. (Prophetic Word from Paul Keith Davis)
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
709 South 7th Street
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
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