The Revelation - A Book With 7 Seals ?
/ Ewald Frank
4. Chapter 3 - The fifth message, The Reformation Age, Strengthening the weak in faith
- Chapter 1 - Introduction, The Day of the Lord, Origin and significance of the prophetic word
- Chapter 2 - The seven messages of the resurrected Lord, First message, Keep the first love
- Chapter 3 - The fifth message, The Reformation Age, Strengthening the weak in faith
- Chapter 4 - A glimpse into heaven
- Chapter 5 - The mysterious book with the seven seals
- Chapter 6 - The opening of the seals, The unveiling of the power of the antichrist, A general view
- Chapter 7 - The sealed from the Jews
- Chapter 8 - The seventh seal, The silence in heaven, Mercy seat becomes judgement seat, Introduction to the seven trumpet judgements, The first four trumpets
- Chapter 9 - The incomparable torment, The fifth trumpet the first woe
- Chapter 10 - An intermediate vision The open book, The Lord as the Angel of the covenant
- Chapter 11 - The second intermediate vision, The measuring of the temple and the ministry of the two witnesses
- Chapter 12 - The woman clothed with the sun, Christ and His Own, Satan the red dragon and his followers
- Chapter 13 - The visions of Daniel in review of and in connection with the Revelation
- Chapter 14 - The Lamb and the sealed 144,000
- Chapter 15 - The seven bowl judgements and the multitude at the crystal sea
- Chapter 16 - The seven bowls of wrath, The final judgements of Gods indignation
- Chapter 17 - The woman riding on the beast
- Chapter 18 - The destruction of the great Babylon
- Chapter 19 - The rejoicing in heaven over the destruction of Babylon, The marriage of the Lamb
- Chapter 20 - Binding of Satan, Completion of the first resurrection by the martyrs, The Millennial Kingdom
- Chapter 21 - Announcing of the new heaven and the new earth, The glory of the New Jerusalem, The terrible fate of the lost
- Chapter 22 - The river of life and the trees of life, The paradise-like condition during the Millennial Reign
- Appendix - The 70 weeks of Daniel and the current events with Israel in the light of Bible prophecy
The fifth message to the Sardis church begins with the words, "These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars. I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If, therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." (3: 1-3).
This church age falls into the beginning of the time of Reformation. Here we find a reprimand on the believers. The church may appear to be alive, yet at the same time be spiritually dead. It is possible to have the appearance of spiritual life and even use spiritual gifts, but only the Spirit of God can bring about spiritual life. The spirit gets anointed in the second realm, but God creates divine life in the soul through the new birth.
The admonition is to wake up and strengthen those who are about to die. Their works were not found perfect before God: "Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent." (3: 3) As always is the case during that time, there was a small remnant who did not go along with the main stream of so-called Christianity but was different. Therefore it is written, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis that have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy." (v. 4).
The promise given is as follows, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (v. 5). There is a possibility that a name which is written in the Book of Life can be taken out. But from the Lamb's Book of Life a name can never be taken out. One has the names of those who are called and the other has the names of those who are chosen.
When Israel practised idolatry, God was ready to take their names out of the Book of Life. It was Moses who stepped into the gap as a mediator for the people. He wanted to atone for those who participated in the dance around the golden calf which they had declared to be their god. "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." (Ex. 32: 32-33). All believers are not crowned at the beginning but rather at the end of the pilgrim journey.
The church age of Sardis lasted up to about 1750.
In the sixth message the Lord addresses Himself as follows, "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.
I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (3: 7b-11).
This church age followed right after the reformation and therefore the time space of the open door and brotherly love. The Babylonian prison was opened and so were also the doors for the proclamation of the Gospel world-wide. Initially the believers had a little strength, but they kept the word and did not deny the name of the Lord. He made it that people who were of the synagogue of Satan came out and bowed before the Lord in the assembly, because of the powerful proclamation of the Gospel.
As the Lord also indicated, this period of time was just before the hour of temptation which would come upon the whole earth. He predicted here that it would happen right before His return and admonishes His Own, "Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (v. 11).
The promise is, "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name." (3: 12).
The church age of Philadelphia lasted until about 1900 A.D.
In this last message the Lord introduces Himself in His finality and starts with the complaint, "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.
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 spew 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." (3: 14-17).
This last church age is marked by the in-between situation; it is neither hot nor cold, but rather lukewarm. The Lord threatens that those who would not return to Him He would spew them out of His mouth. That is to say they will not hear His call at the first resurrection.
The deceptive assertion that the believers have everything and possess the fullness, having need of nothing, the Lord Himself corrects with the following words, "and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."(3: 17b). If someone in the natural is poor, blind and naked, that is terrible. But if the person does not even recognise it and is not aware of the personal situation, then something is wrong with such an individual. The same applies to the spiritual condition.
The tragic point in this last deceptive church age is that man does not realise he is fooling himself. He is living in an imaginary way and has not come to the understanding of his actual personal reality. According to the judgement of the Lord, the believers at the end of the time of grace do not have the right spiritual judgement. It's like living in a dream land and wishful thinking without knowing that whatever the Lord has put forth as a complaint is justified. In spite of all this He still knocks on the door of His Own and gives them the counsel, "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 salve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent." (vv. 18-19).
Only those who recognise and acknowledge their own condition and see themselves as the Lord sees them will take to heart what He says, receive what He promised and be prepared. Their eyes will be anointed with eye salve and only after this can they see the divine things pertaining to the Kingdom of God and receive the revelation of the Spirit as they acknowledge what the Lord said. He testifies of Himself, that He is standing at the door and knocking. Within the churches the singing and preaching about Him and the spiritual gifts continue. But He is on the outside. The church services take their course, but He is not permitted to speak within the church, and cannot reveal Himself therein. But His patience will of course run out.
Therefore, He addresses the individuals as He knocks at their heart-door, "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 will sup with him, and he with me." (v. 20). This is the description of the actual situation now. It is not the whole of churches that is addressed, but the individuals within the churches will hear His call, receive His counsel and open the door of their heart. Then He enters and sups with them. The table of the Lord was never in any church age as richly prepared as right now.
The promise given is the greatest of all, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (v. 21). In Christ, God made the beginning of the new creation by begetting. Therefore, He initially introduced Himself accordingly in this church age as the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. All who are begotten by His Spirit (Jn. 3: 3-7; Jas. 1: 18; 1 Pet. 1: 23; 1 Jn. 5: 1-4), make up the first-born assembly (Heb. 12: 23) and are also the new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5: 17-19) and will overcome as He overcame and sit with Him on His throne and reign with Him.
It is obvious that at the beginning of each letter, the thus saith the Lord is found. At the end of each message, the emphasis is to those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. That is precisely what counts, that is to say, to listen to the present speaking through the revealed Word by the Spirit. That is the actual message which is our special concern. In the first three messages, this statement is found before the promise; in the four last ones it is found after the promise.
In Matthew 13 the Lord specifically emphasised the necessity to hear and to see. He declared the eyes and the ears of those who see and listen blessed. The overcomers from all church ages consist of those who at their time received and believed God's message. Thereby, they had part in what God was presently doing. We also must hear what the Spirit has to say in our day through the timely message in order to participate in what God is doing now according to His promised Word. The true children of God do not only hear a messenger who would be the angel to the church age with the divine message, but will always hear the thus saith the Lord and believe the testimony of God's Word and thereby be the overcomers and inherit all things.