FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 7
The Seven Churches:
Church’s Seven Periods from Pentecost to the Remainder of Time
In keeping with the rules of prophetic interpretation we have been considering in these series, particularly in studying Daniel and the Revelation, God chose seven of the many churches in Asia during the first century of the Christian era to represent the seven distinct periods of the church. Not to understand this is to fail to appreciate God’s omniscience, love, and control over the church which He endearingly calls “the apple of His eye.”
We start with these all-embracing, vital quotes as a sweeping backdrop regarding God’s purpose, promises, and provisions for His church, assuring the ultimate triumph of truth as revealed through the church triumphant,–His purified bride—all the overcomers through the seven periods of the church—at His glorious Second advent!
“The church of Christ, is God’s agency for the proclamation of truth; she is empowered by Him to do a special work; and if she is loyal to God, obedient to His commandments [not man-made or even church-made], there will dwell within her the excellence of divine power. If she will honor the Lord God of Israel [not the gods of this world], there is no power that can stand against her. If she will be true to her allegiance, the forces of the enemy [“the gates of hell”] will be no more able to overpower her than is the chaff to resist the whirlwind.
There is before the church the dawn of a bright, glorious day. If she will put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness, withdrawing from all allegiance to the world.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 11, 12.
From Acts of the Apostles by Ellen G. White, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911 edition, pp. 9, 11, 12:
“The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church,those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory [of character and of the law]. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places’ [Eph. 3: 10] the final and full display of the love of God.
“Many and wonderful are the promises recorded in the Scriptures regarding the church [the following verses quoted: Eze. 34: 26, 29-31; Isa. 43: 10-12; 42: 6, 7; 49: 8-10].”- Ibid, Acts of the Apostles, p. 9-11..
“The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only begotten Son. From the beginning faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor [see Eph. 6], others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation to Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven [see Eph. 3: 14-21]. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people.”-Ibid, p. 11.
“Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that he has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He has predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell [not predestinate!] has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.”- Ibid, p. 12.
“During ages of spiritual darkness [particularly during the rule of pagan Rome followed by papal Rome], the church of God has been as a city set on a hill [Matt. 5:___]. From age to age, though successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within her borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear [throughout all the ages], the church is the one object upon which God bestows His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts.”- Ibid.
NOTE: While it is “By grace that we are saved,” His church on earth is “the theater” of this saving grace! Apostle Paul says of Christ’s church: “You are our epistles written in our hearts, known and read by all men” 2 Cor. 3: 2, 3. We have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”1 Cor. 4: 9. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1: 26, 27, etc.
“’Whereunto,’ Christ asked, ‘shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?’ [Mark. 4: 30] He could not employ the kingdoms of the world [not even America, especially now!] as a similitude. In society He found nothing to with which to compare it. Earthly kingdoms rule by ascendancy of physical power [or worse!]; but from Christ’s spiritual kingdom every carnal weapon, every instrument of coercion, is banished. This kingdom is to uplift and ennoble humanity. God’s church is the court of holy life, filled with varied gifts, and endowed with the Holy Spirit [the true Vicar of Christ!].The members are to find their happiness in the happiness of those whom they help and bless.
“Wonderful is the work which the Lord designs to accomplish through His church, that His name may be glorified. A picture of this work is given in Ezekiel’s vision of the river of healing [Ezekiel 47: 8-12 quoted].
“From the beginning God has wrought through His people to bring blessings to the world. [Let’s review brief history here]. To the ancient Egyptian nation, God made Joseph a fountain of life. Through the integrity of Joseph the life of that whole people was preserved. Through Daniel God saved the life ofall the [pagan] wise men of Babylon. And these deliverances are as object lessons; they illustrate the spiritual blessings offered to the world through connection with the God whom Joseph and Daniel worshipped.”- Ibid, p. 13.
“Everyone in whose heart Christ abides, everyone who will show forth His love to the world, is a worker together with God for the blessing of humanity. As he receives from the Savior grace to impart to others, from his whole being flows forth the tide of spiritual life.”- Ibid.
“God chose Israel to reveal His character to men, [not because they were better or superior to other men or races!]. He desire them to be as wells of salvation in the world. To them was committed the oracles of heaven, the revelation of God’s will [summarized in the Decalogue]. In the early days of Israel, the nations of the world, through corrupt practices [streaming down from Cain’s line], had lost the knowledge of God [that Abel and Seth’s line preserved]. They had once known Him; ‘but because they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, . . . .their foolish heart was darkened.’ Rom. 1: 21. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence [as He did with the antediluvians]. He purposed to give them an opportunity of again becoming acquainted with Him through His chosen people.
The Jewish economy: a compacted prophecy of the gospel. “Through the teachings of the sacrificial service, Christ was to be uplifted before all nations, and all who would look to Him should live. Christ was the foundation of the Jewish economy. The whole system of types and symbols was a compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption.”– Ibid, p. 14.
“But the people of Israel lost sight of their high privileges as God’s representative. They forgot God, and failed to fulfill their holy mission. The blessings they receive brought no blessing to the world. All their advantages they appropriated for their own glorification. They shut themselves away from the world in order to escape from temptation. The restrictions that God had placed upon their association with idolaters as a means of preventing them from conforming to the practices of the heathen, they used to build up a wall of separation between themselves and all other nations. They robbed God of the service He required of them, and they robbed their fellow-men of religious guidance and a holy example.
Legalism, self-righteous works—the religion of the Pharisees. “Priests and rulers became fixed in a rut of ceremonialism. They were satisfied with a legal religion, and it was impossible for them to give to others the living truths of heaven. They thought their own righteousness all-sufficient, and did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion. The good will of God to men [as announced by the celestial choir at Christ’s humble birth] they did not accept as something apart from themselves, but connected it with their own merit because of their good works. The faith that works by love [Gal. 5: 6] and purifies the soul could find no place for union with the religion of the Pharisees, made up of ceremonies and injunctions of men. “- Ibid, p. 15.
From the Jewish leaders to the disciples. “The Jewish leaders thought themselves too wise to need instruction, too righteous to need salvation, too highly honored to need the honor that comes from Christ. The Savior turned from them to entrust to others the privileges they had abused and the work they had slighted. God’s glory [character] must be revealed, His word established. Christ’s kingdom must be set up in the world. The salvation of God must be made known in the cities of the wilderness; and the disciples were called to do the work that the Jewish leaders failed to do.” – Ibid, p. 16.
Similarity between the Jewish Church and the Church of Rome. From the Great Controversy by Ellen G. white, 1911 edition, Pacific Press Association, pp. 567-8:
“Yet to him who loves self-indulgence, it is more pleasing to confess to a fellow-mortal [RC Confessional] than to open the soul to God. It is more palatable to human nature to do penance than to renounce sin; it is easier to mortify the flesh by sackcloth and nettles and galling chains than to crucify flesh lusts. Heavy is the yoke which the carnal heart is willing to bear rather than bow to the yoke of Christ.
“There is a striking similarity between the Church of Rome and the Jewish Church at the time of Christ’s first advent. [Imperial Rome and its pagan religion was the universal power when Christ was born]. While the Jews secretly trampled upon every principle of the law of God, they were outwardly rigorous in the observance of its precepts, loading it down with exactions and traditions that made obedience painful and burdensome. [These “traditions and commandments of men” were what Jesus was denouncing, not His Ten Commandments!] As the Jews professed to revere the law, so do Romanists claim to reverence the cross. They exalt the symbol of Christ’s suffering, while in their lives they deny Him whom it represents.
“Papists place crosses upon their churches, upon their altars, and upon their garments. Everywhere is seen the insignia of the cross. Everywhere it is outwardly honored and exalted. But the teachings of Christ are buried beneath a mass of fo senseless traditions, false interpretations, and rigorous exactions. The Savior’s words concerning the bigoted Jews, apply with still greater force to the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church [Matt. 23: 4 quoted]. Conscientious souls are kept in constant terror fearing the wrath of an offended God, while many of the dignitaries of the church are living in luxury and sensual pleasures.” (see real, not “fake” news on this in the internet, etc.).”- Ibid, Great Controversy, 1911 ed. p. 568.
(To be continued next week)