Jesus Christ the Fiery Serpent

Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

Posted on FEB.11, 2017

A Prophecy About God’s Church

The book of Revelation is all about world news! What God gave in the Bible’s most important book of prophecy is a description of world events that carry this world to the time of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming! The Apostle John recorded the prophecy, but he didn’t understand most of it. It is for this time right now, and it is mostly about the chaotic present. The terrible events besieging our world were all prophesied in Revelation. We can see it as never before: The events it describes are beginning to unfold before our eyes! Revelation gives us a time sequence of major events. It supplies the story flow. Every gigantic step in world events is described in that book, where we can read and study it. God gives His Church a great responsibility, and He expects a lot from us. He charges us to deliver a message of hope and good news. But that message also includes a strong warning about the worst suffering ever to strike this Earth, just before Christ’s Second Coming. God commands that we do all we can to broadcast this message to the whole world. A lot of insight about the Church’s commission can be found in the earliest chapters of the book of Revelation.

PROPHECY FROM THE FATHER

Consider what is revealed in just the first few words of the book of Revelation: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). These words introduce God the Father and Jesus Christ. The first verse of Revelation demonstrates God’s royal family government. The Father is the Head of His Family. The Apostle John recorded this prophetic message, but this book came from God the Father. He structured everything precisely and carefully. He wants us to know that all this revelation came from Him—not from Christ, not from an angel," "certainly not from John—never from a man! This book contains the Father’s prophecies about future events which He gave to Jesus Christ to share with His servants. The Father is the originator of prophecy. This reveals the Father’s thinking about His coming Family, the Kingdom of God—the good news that is the gospel." "Verse 7 describes the event that will introduce that Kingdom to the world—Christ’s return: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him ….” The book of Revelation is all about the Second Coming. Our lives must revolve around that great cause—to the extent that, if necessary, we would die for it." "Prophecy also reveals the terrible events that will precede Christ’s return, including the dreadful Day of the Lord. Revelation depicts this in detail, starting in verse 10, where John wrote: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” The Day of the Lord is the theme of this book. So much of Revelation describes the events that occur right before the Second Coming. Zephaniah called it the day of God’s wrath (Zephaniah 1:15, 18). The book of Revelation reveals God’s wrath on the people of this world. It foretells the time when God will send plagues upon plagues." "Then, at the end of that day of wrath, events will climax with Jesus Christ returning to Earth! Revelation shows the exact sequence of events that will lead to that grand-smash event."

Regarding His Second Coming, Jesus Himself said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Only the Father knows “that day and hour.” The book of Revelation is about “things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19). It is a book of prophecy that must come to pass! God the Father will see to it!

SEVEN CHURCHES

In Revelation 1:4, John addressed this book “to the seven churches which are in Asia.” Why seven churches?

Verse 10 concludes with John hearing “a great voice, as of a trumpet”—and then notice what immediately follows: “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea” (verse 11).

Again we see seven churches, and here they are specifically listed. These were literal congregations that existed in the region of modern-day Turkey during the first century a.d. These churches, Herbert W. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, “were located along one of the mail routes of the old Roman Empire. Riders would follow the route—carrying messages from town to town. The messages to the seven churches have words of both encouragement and correction, and they clearly show the dominant characteristics of each of the congregations at that time.”

However, as Mr. Armstrong went on to write, these messages to the seven churches—recorded in detail throughout chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation—were intended for a much larger audience than those dwelling in Asia Minor.

“I will build my church,” Jesus Christ said, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Christ promised and prophesied that He would build His very own Church and that it would never die! It would remain in existence until His Second Coming. So that Church has to be on this Earth somewhere, or Christ is a liar!

But Christ didn’t tell us how to identify His Church in Matthew 16. God does that in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation.

These seven churches in Revelation 1 through 3 are, prophetically, seven eras of the New Testament Church! These messages are actually a series of remarkable prophecies about the future of God’s true Church. They describe seven successive Church eras, beginning with the first-century Ephesus era started by Jesus Christ when He was on Earth and continuing to the seventh and final era in these latter days—Laodicea.

Mr. Armstrong wrote, “The history of the Church would fall into seven distinct eras—each with its own strengths and weaknesses and its own special trials and problems. Just as a message could pass along the mail route from Ephesus to Laodicea, so would the truth of God be passed from era to era. It was like a relay race—in which the baton is passed from runner to runner, each one doing his part, until the finish line is reached” (ibid; emphasis mine throughout).

Many people say that these seven churches are only history. But think on this. Remember what it says in verse 1: This book of Revelation is meant to show God’s servants “things which must shortly come to pass.” Revelation is a book of prophecy. It puts all prophecy into a time frame—a chronological order. That is why this book is so critical!

The seven eras became history only after their prophecy was fulfilled.

Smyrna and Ephesus were only about 35 miles apart, yet one is in tribulation (Revelation 2:10), and the other is not. Why, if this is only history? The Sardis Church is dead (Revelation 3:1). A few miles down the road is Philadelphia, one of the best churches (verses 7-12). This wouldn’t make sense if it were only history.

But there is a much greater proof that those churches refer to more than just history. The sixth era, Philadelphia, was fulfilled under Herbert W. Armstrong, who died in 1986. He left a superabundance of history and prophecy of the Philadelphia era and how it tied to the five eras preceding it.

Map

The seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were part of an ancient mail route through the Roman province of Asia.

Now we are in the last hour of the seventh and final era—the Laodicean era. There is abundant proof of this era being fulfilled now and how it is connected to the other six eras of God’s true Church— and, more importantly, to the prophetic Second Coming of Christ!

The greatest proof that these seven eras are not just history is found in the published messages of the last two eras. All of these messages are freely available in books, booklets, magazines and a 36-lesson correspondence course. They are also available on the Internet.

The world has never understood these messages. Christ addresses them specifically to the seven eras of His Church. They give the all-important overview of the history and prophecy of God’s true Church.

IN THE MIDST OF THE CHURCHES

In Revelation 1:12, John turns toward the powerful voice he heard and sees “seven golden candlesticks,” or lamps. These golden lamps symbolize the seven successive Church eras (verse 20). Each lamp would be the only source of spiritual light in a very dark world. God’s saints clearly see this glorious light. The world in general, however, is oblivious to it.

In the rest of the chapter, John describes a vision of the glorified Jesus Christ. “And in the midst of the seven [lamps] one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle” (verse 13). Read the next verses to get the vision of this spectacular Being! John was so moved that “when I saw him,” he wrote, “I fell at his feet as dead”! (verse 17).

Take note that this fiery God is standing “in the midst of the seven candlesticks”—the seven eras of God’s Church. The glorious Jesus Christ is RIGHT IN THE MIDST of the seven churches, deeply involved in them! That is how each era does a dynamic work for God. It all depends on Christ dwelling in the middle of God’s Work. Christ personally and powerfully guides and directs His true Church, era by era. He explains our responsibilities and provides guidance to help us fulfill them. The power and dynamism of each era exists in direct proportion to how much it relies on Jesus Christ!

This vision shows us that Christ dwells only in the midst of these seven churches. Obviously, there were many other church congregations when John recorded this vision. So why would God direct him to focus on just seven? Because these seven represent the entire Church of God from the time of Christ’s first coming to His Second Coming. Seven is the biblical number of completion. So the seven churches are the seven eras from the time of Christ’s first coming to the end of this age. That is the complete picture.