A Brief Chapter by Chapter Summary
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Chapter 1 Summary
Is Another Book Necessary?
Jesus said to His disciples that those who endure to the end of the age will be saved. Why would He say that unless those who fail to endure will not be saved? This introductory chapter calls the church to endurance rather than early rapture. Satan wants to confuse the church on this issue, for we are destined to crush him underfoot (Romans 16:20) while being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Satan has stolen the vision of the church in hopes we will fall away and perish rather than endure to see the vision realized.
Jesus compared the events at the end of the age to birthpains. Birthing is a process that involves pain, and we must look to the joy beyond the pain, even as Jesus looked to the joy beyond the cross. The book of Revelation has been described as God’s love letter to His church, because it outlines God’s plan to conform us to the likeness of Jesus while overcoming Satan. We might question the events described as God’s love, but we must understand that our Father is birthing transformed children out of a fallen creation. This is not a message of gloom and doom, but one of great joy and encouragement. The glory of a restored creation lies ahead. We must have our minds renewed, however, to align with the eternal purposes of God so that we can endure temporal birthpains without falling away.
Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation, but not to fear because He had overcome the world. We are destined to be victorious over Satan by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and that we love not our lives unto death (Revelation 12:11). God will crush Satan beneath our feet (Romans 16:20). The church will be victorious! But the path to victory will be along the path that Jesus walked. As He was treated, so we can expect to be treated. There is not one way for Him and another for us in spite of what Satan would have us believe.
Much of the church sees no reason to remain on earth, and expects to be raptured before these events take place. Because of this lack of vision and understanding, many will find their faith shaken when the events of the end of the age overtake them. Jesus said the love of most will grow cold and many will fall away. The purpose and burden of this book is to awaken the church to renewed understanding and trust in God in order that we will endure the coming times of tribulation and fulfill our glorious destiny.
Chapter 2 Summary
A Glorious Call; A Grand Plan
The glorious call of the church is not escape by early rapture, but to glorify God and allow the Lamb to receive His just reward. Ephesians 3:8-12 explains that God created all things in order to demonstrate His wisdom through the church to the powers and authorities in the heavenly places, which is His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ. The wisdom of God is the cross of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24). Therefore, it is the cross of Jesus Christ that God will demonstrate through the church at the end of the age to the powers and authorities in the heavenly places.
The church was created for this most glorious of destinies and will walk during the last three and one-half years of the age as Jesus walked, paralleling in many details Jesus’s public ministry of three and one-half years. It will be as the church walks in Jesus’s power and authority and in demonstration of the cross by laying down her life that God’s wisdom through the church will be demonstrated. This staggering and awesome destiny of the church is the reason for which He created all things.
Jesus came to defeat the works of the devil which He legally did on the cross. He then delegated the working out of that defeat to His church. Why? Because God has elected to demonstrate His wisdom through the church to the devil and his demons.
The very man that Satan deceived into sinning will be restored by the grace of God and in the power and authority of His Son will crush Satan underfoot. Satan is not about to quietly let that happen. Hence, there is an on-going war between Satan and the church. That war will intensify and come to a head during the last three and one-half years of the age, a time that Jesus called great tribulation. The church will not be removed from the earth during this time, for the church was created specifically for this time. This will be the final round of the decisive battle between Satan and the church during which God will demonstrate His wisdom through the church to all of creation. To teach that the church will not be around for this most crucial of battles between good and evil is to miss the essence of God’s eternal plan in Christ Jesus.
We must understand that God has elected to use His church to physically defeat Satan. He has left evil on the earth for the church to overcome. God sent Jesus to destroy the works of the devil by redeeming a people who would, in the power and authority of His name, defeat Satan. This is the calling the church must align with.
Chapter 3 Summary
Daniel’s Visions of the Cross
As the waters of mystery recede, the highest peaks of revelatory truth are the first to emerge. What the Bible reveals at first is always of foundational importance to all that follows. The dreams and visions given the prophet Daniel are the highest peaks of revelatory truth regarding the destiny of the saints. The saints of Daniel are identified as the saints of the book of Revelation and are further identified in Revelation as the church at the end of the age based on their relationship to Jesus Christ.
The paradox of the cross is examined. The saints who are warred against and physically defeated in Daniel’s visions are nevertheless ultimately victorious and inherit the Kingdom of God. These saints who are overcome physically by Satan are the same saints who do overcome Satan by laying down their lives. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and that they loved not their lives unto death." (Revelation 12:11)
Daniel did not have a revelation of the cross and could only process his dreams and visions with his Old Testament theology. He was told to seal up the book and that it would be reopened and understood by a people alive at the end of the age. This little book is the same one now open in the hands of the angel in Revelation 10:2.
The age will end in a specific period of three and one-half years in which the power of the holy people will be shattered. They are warred against, worn down, shattered, and destroyed, yet emerge victorious as recipients of the kingdom. It is the process of being purged, purified and refined that has transformed the saints warred against into the holy people. That is the essence of the destiny of the saints portrayed in the book of Daniel.
Daniel was staggered to the point of illness by these revelations. The church must understand that we will be victorious, but that the road to victory at the very end of the age as mapped out in the book of Daniel involves our physical destruction. How bitter and impossible to swallow that destiny seems to be for us. Do we also hear but fail to understand? We the church will never be able to embrace this destiny without the mind of Christ. Only for the joy set before us in valid eternal perspective will we be able to endure these things.
Chapter 4 Summary
Identifying the Church in Revelation
One of the justifications of the pre-tribulation rapture position is that the term "church" is not found in Revelation Chapters 5 through 19, and therefore the church must have been previously raptured prior to Chapter 5.
The term "church" does not need to be spelled out in order to identify various groups identified in Chapters 5 through 19 as the church. The church is established by her relationship to Jesus Christ, not necessarily by a label and not by an argument of silence.
Who do you call those having their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb if not the church? Who do you call those martyred for the word of God and their testimony if not the church? Who do you call those with God’s name and the Lamb’s name on their foreheads and who follow the Lamb wherever He goes if not the church? Who do you call those who stand before the Lord of the earth and who lie dead in the streets where their Lord was crucified and then are resurrected to heaven if not the church? Who do you call those who are warred against by the antichrist and are encouraged to keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus if not the church? Who do you call those harvested at the end of Chapter 14 who are immediately heard in heaven singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb if not the church? All of these groups are found between Chapters 5 and 19 and they all fit the description of church members based on their relationship to Jesus Christ. The book of Revelation is written to the church, for the church, and about the church. We must not sacrifice the plain and simple truth of Scripture in order to support comfortable man-pleasing doctrines.
Satan the deceiver is behind any false teaching regarding the role of the church at the end of the age. Any teaching which does not identify the church in Revelation Chapters 5 to 19 can only be a deception birthed from the pit of hell designed to trip up the saints and keep them from fulfilling their glorious destiny at the end of the age, which is to see Satan crushed underfoot and themselves transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Any teaching which detracts from Scripture involving this process can only be in the best interests of the enemy of our souls. This is not an attack on the saints who teach and hold to the pre-trib position. It is an attack on the deception which has been spawned by Satan himself with the destruction of the church in mind. It is not a casual concern nor should it be treated as such.
Chapter 5 Summary
Matthew 24...To the Present-day Church?
Christian bookstores are plentifully supplied with reassuring books that Matthew 24 does not apply to the "true church", and that a rapture will remove the true church prior to the events described.
But Jesus taught otherwise. Jesus taught His disciples that as He was hated by the world, so they would be hated, and that as He was persecuted, so they would be persecuted. He told them that an hour was coming when those who killed them would think that they were offering God a service. He told His disciples that He was telling them these things specifically so that they would not stumble when these things came to pass. He told His disciples that those who endured to the end of the age would be saved. He did not mention an optional plan. We need not speculate whether Matthew 24 applies or not to the contemporary church. Jesus’s prophetic words to His disciples are this day being fulfilled in the persecutions and martyrdoms of Christians worldwide to an ever increasing degree.
If we fall for the deception that the church is not in view in Matthew Chapter 24, we will have played into the hands of the enemy and ignored our Savior’s most crucial end-time warnings. I pray that you sense the work of the deceiver in this. Do not be led into this trap. The obvious spin-off of the church not heeding these warnings will be great numbers falling away when the truth becomes obvious. The disciples that Jesus told to go into the world and preach the gospel are the very same disciples that Jesus said would experience this persecution.
We have just understood from studying Daniel that the primary calling of the church at the end of the age is to overcome Satan by allowing herself to be physically overcome even as Jesus allowed Himself to be physically overcome. The birthpains described in Matthew 24 are part of that process. The plain sense of Scripture is that Matthew 24 is written and applicable to all of Jesus’s disciples, the elect/chosen Jews and Gentiles of all ages, and that those elect living at the end of the age must endure to the harvest at the end of the age in order to be saved. Notice that Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling." We must understand that these warnings are to Jesus’s followers, to His disciples, to you and me. It is potentially devastating to teach that these warnings are not applicable to the current church.
Chapter 6 Summary
A Theology of Suffering
All creation is groaning as in birthpains for the birthing of the sons of God. God has turned over the creation to futility, but out of that futility will come a birthing into restored glory. This chapter explores the redemptive nature of suffering in God’s plan to restore His creation to its original glory.
The differences and purposes of wrath and tribulation are discussed. Tribulation is seen as God’s loving discipline to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. Wrath is His destruction of the unrepentant. Persecutions and afflictions are said by the Bible to make us worthy of the Kingdom of God. The purposes of tribulation are redemptive in that they are the crucible fires that refine us into the likeness of Jesus, who learned obedience from His suffering. Our endurance in the midst of suffering and our Christ-like response is the very means of overcoming Satan.
A call to martyrdom is sounded for all believers. Israel as suffering servant is discussed in conjunction with Jesus the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. The relationship of Jew and Gentile and the history and future of the redemptive suffering of each for the other is discussed. How can we theologically appropriate the massive loss of life of God’s chosen saints which is prophesied at the end of the age when we have not been able to theologically appropriate the Jewish holocaust? We must come to a mature understanding of God’s purposes in allowing the suffering of His creation and particularly His chosen people. We must understand that these sufferings are redemptive in God’s plan to restore creation to its original glory. Birthpains are the process that God has decreed for the restoration of the Kingdom of God on earth. The sooner we appropriate this, the sooner we will be able to shoulder our responsibilities as end-time soldiers in the army of God and set our faces like flint toward our own Jerusalems which will result in the overcoming of Satan and our transformations into the likeness of Jesus.
We need not be concerned about the ashes of the likes of Auschwitz. God is going to bring beauty forth out of ashes. He is going to do beyond what we can think or imagine. Speaking to His chosen people who lie in the graveyards and ash heaps of history past, He proclaims, "Your bones will live!"
Chapter 7 Summary
Restoring the Stolen Vision
This chapter begins by pointing out the astonishing parallels between Jesus’s public ministry of three and one-half years and the prophesied walk of the church during the last three and one-half years of the age. The reasons for Jesus’s death save one are made applicable to the church. The church of course could not die for itself because it would not be a worthy sacrifice. But now that Jesus has died for the church and raised the church up to sit with Him in heavenly places, the purposes for which Jesus came to earth, beyond setting the church free, are directly applied to the church. For instance, Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan. But we see that He has turned the working out of that task on earth to His church. Jesus also came to serve as a light to the nations. And we understand that He has delegated His church to be that light on earth.
A less understood role that Jesus came to serve and that now has been turned over to the church to be worked out on earth is the role of suffering servant to return Jacob back to their God. I believe the willingness of the church to lay down her life for the nation of Israel at the end of the age will be the demonstration of the cross through the corporate body of His Son that God is seeking before He turns again to that chosen nation and pours out His mercy to resurrect them. Perhaps it will be this demonstration of love by their Christian brothers that drives them at long last to jealousy. Perhaps it will be this that will prompt them to cry out, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!"
We have seen that Ephesians 3:8-12 states that God created all things in order to demonstrate His wisdom through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. The wisdom of God is defined as the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24). We can then say that God will demonstrate the wisdom of the cross of Christ through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. The wisdom of the cross that God demonstrated through His Son will again be demonstrated through His Son’s corporate body, the church.
Love covers a multitude of sins. Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his fellow man. The love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross will be the love that the church demonstrates at the end of the age and will be the essence of the demonstration of the wisdom of God through the church that will overcome the evil of the powers and authorities. This is the vision of the church that must be restored.
Chapter 8 Summary
The church is encouraged to keep her eyes on Jesus and to follow Him. Peter was doing fine walking along on the water until he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the surrounding details. The timing and nature of end-time events can be potential stumbling blocks should they cause us to take our eyes off of Him and focus on that which is of lesser importance. However, these events are important if they have the potential of becoming stumbling blocks. Jesus told us what to expect so that these events would not stumble us. Famines, plagues, the inability to buy or sell without the mark of the beast; these are all potential stumbling blocks that could cause us to take our eyes off Jesus and begin to sink in the fearstorm of surrounding events. Doctrines and ministries as well can be issues that cause us to take our eyes off Jesus.
Jesus questioned whether He would find faith on earth when He returns. We are not promised escape from the midst of destruction, but we are promised protection through it. We must mature in our understanding of what God is going to do at the end of this age and how it relates to His church. This can be our time of greatest witness or it can be the time of our love growing cold and many falling away.
These need not and must not be times of anxiety. It is written that we are to cast all of our anxiety on Him. Our heavenly Father is trustworthy. He has already demonstrated that He knows how to preserve a nation in the midst of a barren desert by raining manna from heaven and issuing water from a rock. He has demonstrated that the container of oil and of flour need not fail. He has demonstrated that He can shelter His people from plague and famine and wild beasts and fiery furnaces. These evidences of God’s faithfulness are provided for the benefit of us upon whom the end of the age has come. He has not and never will fail anyone who puts their trust in Him.
Anything that we consider essential or a support other than the trustworthiness of God is an idol and will be stripped in the day of testing. Otherwise it would not really be a day of testing. There will be a time for vengeance, but that vengeance is God’s. When Jesus returns as the Lion of Judah, the winepress of God’s wrath will be trampled. Until that time, we are counseled to walk this earth as lambs...wise as serpents, but gentle as lambs. That counsel has never been revoked. It is no longer an eye for an eye. We are in a new covenant defined by the beatitudes. It is the wisdom of the cross that will overcome Satan, not our militancy.
Chapter 9 Summary
The Timing and Sequence of Key Events
The timing and sequence of key end-time events are explored beginning with the obvious and going from there. The framework is based on revelation I have sensed from the Holy Spirit and that aligns with Scripture. Details are filled in based on the logic of Scripture.
Confusing the timing and sequence of end-time events blurs understanding of the church’s role and destiny on earth. Satan’s clear intent is to confuse the church not only about her role on earth during this period of time, but also to convince her that she has no purpose to be around. More space is devoted to the last three and one-half years of the church age in the book of Revelation than to all other periods of church history combined. This period of time reveals the calling and destiny of the church and identifies the standards of a church brought to maturity in Jesus Christ.
Nine distinct "benchmark" conclusions based on Scripture and personal revelation supported by Scripture are presented and established as a framework to be filled in with further detail.
1. The great tribulation is over by the sixth seal.
2. The trumpets occur late in the last three and one-half years of the age.
3. The little book of Daniel is the little book of Revelation.
4. Revelation 10 and beyond deals with the last 42 months and beyond.
5. Revelation Chapters 11 to 14 deal repeatedly with the last 42 months.
6. Revelation Chapter 14 identifies the trumpet judgments before the harvest.
7. The great multitude at the sixth seal are martyrs, not raptured saints.
8. There are two phases to God’s wrath, the trumpets and the bowls.
9. The last week of Daniel’s 70 weeks is the last seven years of the age.
The derivation of these "benchmarks" and their implications to the walk of the church on earth at the end of the age is discussed. One significant point of these is that Chapter 14 of Revelation lists six distinct trumpet judgments before the harvest. Jesus said those who endure to the end of the age, the harvest, will be saved. The church must therefore endure on earth amidst the trumpet judgments. The numberless great multitude who come out of great tribulation at the sixth seal are therefore not harvested (raptured) saints but martyred saints, as the seals and trumpets are seen not to overlap but to occur in series.
Chapter 10 Summary
Logic Trains of Rapture Timing
I initially accepted the pre-tribulation rapture teaching as a new believer because the popular Christian books on prophecy and end-times that I read at that time were all of that doctrine. As the years passed and the Lord seemed to be revealing a vision for the church, a pre-tribulation rapture became more and more inconsistent with that vision. The primary issue for the church at the end of the age is still not rapture timing, but how she will glorify God. However, as the end of the age draws nearer, the issue of timing takes on greater importance in the context of that primary consideration. God’s plan for His church dictates rapture timing, not vice-versa. Any teaching that obscures the vision of the saints and is contrary to God’s plan is a serious problem and will become more serious as the end of the age approaches.
Most current end-times scenarios deal with rapture timing as an end in itself rather than as a supporting role in God’s plan to demonstrate His wisdom through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. When God’s purpose and plan becomes foundational in the study of end time events, the church’s presence on earth at the end of the age will be seen as mandatory. The thesis of this book is that the church has a glorious destiny while on earth which will be only fully played out during the last three and one-half years of this age. In the examples of Scriptures which deal with rapture timing, we see that the church is clearly portrayed as on earth up until the harvest at the end of the age.
A number of different "logic trains" regarding the rapture timing are presented. I call them "logic trains" because they are logical progressions of Scripture that follow parallel tracks of thinking and end up at the same conclusion. They are composed of direct passages from Scripture which deal with the timing of the rapture. Seven different "logic trains" of Scripture are presented which consistently place the rapture near the end of the age on the day of the Lord.
The concept of a "three-phase harvest" in conjunction with the rapture is discussed. A possible scenario of the last days and the return of the Lord is presented. However, I want to add that some of these details are somewhat subjective and must not detract from the heart of this message which is restoring the vision of the church.
Chapter 11 Summary
Who Are the Two Witnesses?
Are these two really Moses and Elijah, or are they a corporate body of the church? The intent of this chapter is to define their witness as the ultimate witness of the church at the end of the age, and also to excite the church about praying for the possibility of being included as part of this witness company. But regardless of who they are and how many there are, there is much to be learned from their ministry that impacts the vision and calling of the entire church at the end of the age.
If a snapshot of the church operating in the full power and authority of Jesus Christ ever existed, this is it. As difficult as it may be to positively relate these two witnesses to two larger corporate bodies, there are many prophecies to the church fulfilled by these two be they two individuals or otherwise. What greater prophetic calling exists than to be one of these two witnesses at the end of the age? Should our response be any different whether there are two or two million of them? This is the ultimate destiny of the church on earth, to walk in the fullness of the power and authority of Jesus and to lay our lives down as testimony.
I believe these two witnesses represent Elijah who is to come, not a resurrected Elijah, but a corporate body in the spirit and power of Elijah. These are among those upon whom the Lord has poured out His Spirit without measure as described in Revelation 12:10. These are at least in part those who will overcome Satan by the Blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives unto death. These are the recipients of the deluge of the latter rain that will walk this earth as the greatest witness for Jesus Christ the world ever has or ever will see. This is Acts 2 but even more so. These are those that all creation has been waiting to see revealed on earth. This is the fullness of the representation of Jesus Christ living in and through His people.
I want to move these two witnesses from being "them" to the realm of possibility of being "us". They are the Lord’s witnesses and therefore members of His church. Won’t it be interesting if we find out that the number of these witnesses operating in this extent of power and authority was up to us? These are people of choice, as they have been given power and authority to smite the earth with every plague as often as they desire. What do we desire? What is our choice?
Chapter 12 Summary
Who Are the Woman and Her Children?
This is perhaps the most challenging and yet foundational vision in the Bible concerning God’s plan for the outworking of the redemption of His creation at the end of the age. Identifying the woman and her children is crucial to understanding the makeup of the company of the redeemed.
The heavenly sign of the woman and her children are matched to their flesh and blood counterparts on earth. The vision is interpreted as taking place three and one-half years before the end of the age. Her children are identified as the church based on their relationship to Jesus Christ. The man-child is matched to the 144,000 firstfruits of the overcoming church of Revelation 14:1. The rest of her offspring, who are the majority of the church alive at the end of the age, are the saints warred against by the antichrist system during the last three and one-half years of the age. Those who remain alive until the end are raptured at the harvest at the end of Revelation 14. Those who are martyred are matched to the great multitude who come out of the great tribulation in Revelation 7.
The woman is seen not as the church but as the mother of the church. In this context, she is matched to the remnant of Israel who will remain supernaturally blinded until the end of the age when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. At that time she will be restored to the full extent of her covenant promises. In the meantime she remains figuratively as Zion in labor pains until the purposes for which God is holding her in birthpains are fulfilled. All nations will be blessed through Israel. This is a non-revocable covenant promise.
Although the book of Revelation is written specifically to the churches, the Old Testament is pregnant with prophetic promises to Israel which have yet to be fulfilled. God has said that He will never forget His chosen people Israel, yet a largely Gentile church sometimes does. Mixing these key players can result in loss of vision for the church’s role in the end-times scenario. The woman is specifically protected from Satan, whereas the "rest of her offspring" are warred against by Satan; and their spiritual calling, as we have seen, is to defeat Satan in part by allowing themselves to be physically overcome by Satan. This is a critical distinction which involves the very heart of God’s plan for His church and for Israel.
Chapter 13 Summary
Who Are the 144,000(s)?
We should not automatically assume that the first group of 144,000 in Revelation Chapter 7 is the same group presented in Chapter 14. There are significant differences between the two groups, both in their descriptions and the timing of their appearances on the scene. Those of Chapter 7 are selected from every tribe of Israel, while those of Chapter 14 are selected from among men. Those of Chapter 14 are in heaven before the gospel is preached to the whole world and before the trumpet judgments, while those of Chapter 7 are on earth being sealed to go through the trumpet judgments which follow the preaching of the gospel to the whole world. Those in Chapter 7 are marked with the seal of God on their foreheads, while those in Chapter 14 are marked with the name of God and the name of the Lamb on their foreheads.
These points are explored and the 144,000 of Chapter 7 are linked to the woman of Revelation 12. The conclusions of the last chapter were that a reserved and blinded remnant of Israel must be supernaturally protected during the last three and one-half years of the age in order to fulfill the prophetic role of Zion destined for labor pains until her children are brought forth. These 144,000 of Revelation 7 fit that description.
the 144,000 of Chapter 14 are linked to the man-child of Revelation 12. These are represented as firstfruits of the overcoming church. The offspring of the woman of Revelation 12 are two: the male child and the "rest of her offspring". The rest of her offspring are clearly identified as the saints warred against by the dragon (Satan), while the male child is snatched up to heaven out of reach of Satan’s grasp.
They have matured early as firstfruits into the likeness of Jesus. There is no need for them to be further tested and refined by the great tribulation as they are ready to be taken into the house of God. Hence they correspond to the overcoming saints of the church of Philadelphia who are said to be kept from the hour of testing coming upon the whole earth and who have the Father’s name and the name of Jesus on their foreheads. They also correspond to the overcoming saints of the church of Thyatira who will rule the nations with a rod of iron. All indications are that they are a mixed company of Jew and Gentile. What is revealed here is a pre-great tribulation rapture of the select few who will qualify as firstfruits. The bulk of the saints will endure the great tribulation to the extent necessary to purify them into the likeness of Jesus and overcome Satan by loving not their lives unto death.
Chapter 14 Summary
Who Is the Bride?
The bride cannot be reserved to just those alive at the end of the age, for Jesus came as the bridegroom two thousand years ago, and it was the church members at Corinth that Paul was eager to present as spiritual virgins to Christ the husband (2 Corinthians 11:2). However, Scripture indicates that the bride company will not be ready until the very end of the age, not only in total numbers but also in maturity. He’s coming back for a bride without spot or wrinkle.
Clues to the identity of the bride are that she is not ready until the great tribulation is over, that she is dressed in white garments which are the righteous acts of the saints, and that she will be the people of a heavenly city whose gates stand for the twelve tribes of Israel and whose foundation stones stand for the twelve apostles (Revelation 21:12-14). I believe this indicates that the saints of Old Testament Israel are included in the bride company. The bride would then include every redeemed Jew and Gentile from all of history in addition to those last-generation saints of Revelation Chapters 13 and 14 who have just emerged victorious from great tribulation. These saints are the last portion of the bride company for which completion of the bride awaits.
The major portion of this chapter is devoted to the makeup of the bride, for that is what we the saints at the end of the age need to be concerned with. What is the meaning of her white garments, the righteous acts of the saints? A key Scripture is Jude 23 which indicates that flesh can pollute an otherwise clean garment. The impurities which must be washed away in order to achieve bride status are then not just the overt sins we commonly associate with sin, but also the pollution of flesh (self); i.e., our own fleshly soulish life in the form of motive, will, desires, preferences, agendas, efforts, etc. Holy and blameless will apply only to those who have given all to follow Jesus. The final bride company will consist of those who have been purified to this degree. Perhaps the great tribulation will be more concerned with burning away these impurities rather than the more obvious sins we normally associate as "sin". We are called to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. To the extent that we do not, it is sin which must be purged. To the extent that we have allowed our garments to remain spotted, we have done away with the cross and not embraced it to the extent required.
The remainder of the chapter explores what it means to do away with the cross.
Chapter 15 Summary
Holiness and Victory
This is a chapter I never planned to write, but one evening during the early months of 2000, just before the book was about to be final edited for publishing, I got a distinct input that it was to be completed by a look at the topic of holiness. The Holy Spirit seemed to say one evening that without holiness there would be no victory. As I started to write, I had no idea where it would go and what conclusions, if any, would be drawn. One of the first things that came up, and I’m quite sure it was of the Lord, was the observation that as the male child of Revelation 12 goes up, Satan comes down. It was not a mere coincidence of timing. It was the description of a cause and the resulting effect. That tied in with the vision that Jesus had of Satan falling like lightning from heaven upon the successful return of His seventy disciples from their first missionary trip. And what came out of all of this was a fuller realization that Jesus has turned over all of the outworking of victory over Satan, both in heaven and earth, to His church. All creation is groaning in waiting for the sons of God to be revealed, because it is the sons of God who are going to gain the total victory over Satan who currently holds all of creation in bondage. No wonder all creation is longing for the sons of God to be revealed! Satan will not be thrown out of heaven until the church rises to the maturity and purity required to gain the authority to do so. We have been given all authority over the evil one, but have we appropriated it? Do we walk in the power and authority that Jesus walked in? And since we do not, why don’t we?
How much of our inability to walk in the fullness of this authority and power is due to the impurity of the vessel? The challenges to walk pure and holy lives in the midst of an increasingly perverted and decaying world is the challenge we must rise to meet. Satan is ever ready to accuse us for the slightest infraction. But one day that accuser will be thrown down by a people who have risen to the likeness of the Son of God, spiritual virgins, blameless, and without lie in their mouths. That is the nature of the finish line that we are called to cross in this race.
The chapter ends with a closing prayer that we, by the grace of God, might endure to the glorious and victorious destiny God has designed for His church at the end of this pathway of the cross.