George H. Warnock: "Seven
Lamps of Fire"
CHAPTER 2 HE WALKS AMONG THE LAMPSTANDS
burden has always been for His people. You ask, Is He not equally concerned
about the world? Of course He is—and that is why He left His church in the
world to be the Light of the world. And when men say—"Don’t bother me
with those far-out things—my burden is to reach the world for God"—How much
more ignorant can we get? He left His Church here in the earth to shine
with His Glory. And when the light of the lampstand flickers and goes
out—we are but a dead light bulb, having the form of a light, but it is not
shining in the darkness. The full glory of Heaven was here when Jesus
was here. And when He went away, the full glory of Heaven came down
again, to abide in His people in the earth. This is what the ministration of
the Spirit in our midst is all about. I think most of God’s people recognize
we are not walking in the glory of the Light that came at Pentecost. Why then
are we content to abide in the fading glow of a dimly burning lamp, rather
than coming back to the Light? He wants to walk in our midst with even more
Light, not with less than what we had in the beginning. For the path of the
just is that way—it shineth more and more unto the perfect day—and
the Lord promised greater works through His people, than what He did
when He was here, because He has all power in Heaven and in earth to
invest in His people. . .
shall Take of Mine and Show it unto You
people have always been prone to fall short of His desire. . .and it is
because we lack vision. We grow accustomed to the darkness, and think it is
normal. But God declares He cannot rest, till the righteousness of Zion
goes forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
Let us not think for one moment that we are intruding into forbidden
territory, if we seek to appropriate the glory of Heaven here and now. Jesus
admonished us to pray to the Father, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in
earth as it is in Heaven". Do you think then that God is displeased with us
when we pray that way? The apostle would remind us that what we now have in
the Spirit, is really a portion of the powers of the world to come (see
Heb. 6:5). Certainly much of what we are saying pertains to the next age. .
.but He would have us partake of those powers here and now. How far may we go
in that realm? Only as far as the Lord by His Spirit and His Word may lead us.
All power in Heaven and earth is His, and the apostle Paul prayed that
we might know "what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who
believe, according to the working of His mighty power which he wrought in
Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in
the heavenly places . . ." (Eph. 1:19, 20). These are the dimensions
of the power that is available in Christ. Our real concern, then, is not
"how far can we go". . .for we can go no higher than the Spirit will lead us.
Our real problem is to learn to abide in His yoke, and have an ear to hear
what the Spirit is saying to us. Then there can be no presumption in
seeking to go ahead of God, nor any unbelief that would cause us to fear the
unknown way. The heart of God continues to cry out for His people to move on
into those greater heights and depths in God, His concern always being lest
we fall short of His desire, not lest we go beyond it (Heb. 4:1).
we must guard our minds against presumption, in this matter of taking a
leap of faith, or stepping out in faith. I don’t know where they got that
from, unless they are thinking of Peter stepping out of the boat to go to
Jesus. But Peter knew better than trying to do that. His petition was very
clear: "Lord if You tell me to step out of the boat, and walk on the water—I
will do it". There can be no faith, if we move out on our own initiative,
rather than in the will of God. And only as we have presented ourselves to Him
as a living sacrifice, can we prove what is that good, and well-pleasing, and
perfect will of God. The very resurrection power that raised Jesus from
the dead is available to His church. . .but only available as we move in
the Spirit, and abide in His Presence. We are too short-sighted, like the
children of Israel. They thought it was great when two men brought a large
branch of grapes into the camp—carrying it on a stick between them. But when
God said, "Now move forward and take the whole land"—well, that was just too
far out. God told them to do that, and so there was faith inherent in that
word. . .if they would just walk in obedience. . .But they refused to obey,
and turned away in fear and unbelief. (See Heb. 4:2).
Let us not think the few grapes
and pomegranates we have received in spiritual gifts is God’s total answer. It
is just the foretaste to urge us forward . . .. to move us into the
fullness of God’s inheritance. I am afraid there is not much left of the
fruit of Canaan in our midst, and even those grapes of Eschol, and the
pomegranates and the figs of former revivals—are now but a fleeting memory of
the good old days. Many are looking for a return of those blessed times of a
past revival—instead of anticipating a still greater glory that lies ahead.
For no matter how great those days were in the past, the full measure that God
has reserved for His people is yet to be revealed. The Spirit of God abides
here in the Temple that we are, that in union with Him we might receive the
fullness of those virtues, powers, graces and riches that are in Christ Jesus.
Think not that this would rob Christ of His glory—rather it will bring greater
honor and glory to His Name. For Jesus said, "He shall glorify Me: for He
shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the
Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall
show it unto you" (Jn. 16:15).
What does this mean: Show it to us?
long as our Lord Jesus is the High Priest on the throne of Glory interceding
for His us, the Holy Spirit will be in His church to take from the exalted
Christ, and show it to His people. I recall in earlier days how this
left me with a certain sense of uncertainty, as to what He meant. To just gaze
on things that He shows me? I am not interested in just seeing more truth,
understanding more about the mechanics of doctrine. I didn’t feel it was
enough for the Lord to show me something from the throne. I wanted to
partake of it. But one day I understood that all that is in Christ, is
Light. Therefore when He shows us something He is actually shining it
forth into our hearts. He Himself is the Word, the living Truth. There is
no concordance, or the best of dictionaries, that can define truth in
any sense of completeness, so as to give us the full understanding of what God
has in mind. We appreciate the scholarship that seeks to explain clearly what
Bible words really mean, and I would not want to minimize that in any way. But
we must know that the Holy Spirit alone can cause us to see the truth that is
in Jesus. He shall take of Mine, and show it unto you. So I look up the
word show in my dictionary and it says: to describe, to present to
view, to point out, to display, to exhibit, to disclose, to appear, to come
into sight". The definitions are good, but I am blind, or I cannot see
afar off. I am also deaf, or hard of hearing. And my mind is slow to
understand as I should. I want to see. . .I want to hear. . .I want to
understand. So I come to Him in my blindness, and say: LORD SHOW ME THY
GLORY! and yet I continue in my struggle to see. Then one day I feel His
touch on my eyes, and I see dimly, like the man Jesus healed. . .and I observe
men walking as trees. But He does not leave me in that condition, if
indeed I long for truth and righteousness. He touches me again. . .and again.
He continues to look upon me. . .again. . .and again. For He is Light, and
when He shows us something "the entrance of His Word giveth Light". We
must come to the Light. It is the Light of His presence that causes us
to see. It is the Light of His presence that causes us to hear, and to
understand. My dictionary cannot do that. Jesus said, "the light of the body
is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of
light" (Matt. 6:22). Full. . .you mean completely full? With no
shades of darkness at all? Yes, Jesus emphasized that—"full of light. .
.having no part dark" (Lk. 11:36).
this is the Lord’s answer to us who bemoan how little we see and understand.
If He shows us we see it, because "He is the true Light, which
lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (Jn. 1:9). And therefore He
admonishes us to "walk while ye have the Light, lest darkness come upon you
. . .. and to believe in the Light, that ye may be the children of Light"
(Jn. 12:35, 36). Children of the Light! Born into realms of pure and
brilliant Light! All that the Father hath has been invested in Christ. He
is pure Light, and Jesus tells us "the Spirit shall take of Mine, and shall
show it unto you" (Jn. 16:15).
Changed. . .By Seeing Him
and I cannot see Him and remain unchanged. We are aware of our
darkness, and there is a tendency for creatures of darkness to seek out dark
places, because their eyes are not conditioned to see the brightness of light.
Yet He encourages us to "Come to the Light". . . for it is only Light
that can dispel the darkness. Then He says, "believe in the Light" until we
are born anew into realms of Light. Then as His Spirit abides within us—He is
faithful to take all those virtues, graces, and all the excellencies that are
in Him, and show them unto us with that penetrating, transforming Light
from realms of Glory. Then His illuminated ones show it to others. And
these enlightened ones show it to still others. And that’s what the
ministration of the Spirit is all about, so that each member of the body
participates in the Light and the Glory, and transmits the Light to others:
That "we all, with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass (reflecting as
a mirror) the Glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to
glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).
John Writes to Brethren in Tribulation
was on the Isle of Patmos because of His witness for Christ, and the Lord gave
him the Book of Revelation to share with the church. John saw this One who was
like unto the Son of man walking in the
midst of the seven
candlesticks in the earth. For John was in tribulation, and God chose him
to be representative of His people, as your brother, and companion in
tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. We know he
was the beloved apostle—and an apostle is one sent of God to declare God’s
message to the people. But he cannot do that effectively except he takes his
place as their brother and companion. Every ministry sent of God has
authority from Christ. . .all the authority that he needs for the faithful
ministration of Truth to the hearts of others. But if his authority is going
to remain strong in the Lord, and strong in the church, he must take his place
as our brother, not as our lord and master. John was our brother in
tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. Moses went
through the wilderness with the people, and suffered with them all the trials
they experienced in that waste and howling wilderness. Caleb and Joshua
who longed for Canaan, remained with the disobedient ones another 38 years,
for they needed these men along the way to encourage them as they endured
suffering and trial and tribulation. Ezekiel sat with the captives of the
house of Israel. And Daniel went into captivity with the captives of Judah.
God said He would shorten the days of tribulation, "for the elect’s sake". So
His elect will be in tribulation, and will minister and give strength to
others in tribulation, as John did.
But what about the Day of Wrath? Doesn’t God say
we have not been appointed unto wrath? Yes, but let us read His
provision for that: "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should
overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of
the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep,
as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the
night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are
of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an
helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath,
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:4-8). It is as
clear as words can make it: we are delivered from wrath because we are
clothed with the armor of Light (Rom. 13:12)—because we are the
children of light, because we are sober and alert, because we are
wearing His armor, the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet on our
head, as the hope of our salvation.
Lord tells us clearly that it will be immediately after the tribulation
of those days when men "shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds
of heaven with power and great glory" and He shall "gather together His elect
from the four winds" (see Matt. 24:29-31). With God’s holy armor overshadowing
us, we are fully prepared for any tribulation that might come, when His wrath
is revealed from Heaven against the evil that is in the world. I say not these
things to confirm a doctrinal position, but to encourage God’s people in this
late hour to put on that armor, and to keep it bright and clean, for the Day
of the LORD is near. The whole armor of God is totally sufficient not
only to deliver us, but to make us effectual as soldiers in His army, to
overcome "in the evil day, and having done all to stand" (see Eph. 6).
Or as the old Weymouth translation says: "having fought to the end, to remain
victors on the field".
believe God wants to arouse His church to know that great tribulation is upon
us, and there will be no rapture at the sounding of the first trumpet, but
rather "at the last trump" (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). Some nations
have had their share of tribulation, and many martyrs are resting under the
altar awaiting God’s day of vengeance. But the Lord encourages them: "that
they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and
their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Rev.
Understanding the Symbols
are aware that the Book of Revelation is full of symbols, for we are told in
the introduction to the Book that the angel signified it unto John—or
made it known to him in signs, or symbols. We need the Lord’s wisdom, as we
seek to understand what God would show us. But our quest must always be for
the living Word. . .and not just an understanding of the letter of the Word.
And we must recognize that heavenly things are not to be calculated by natural
measurements, nor by man’s earthly time tables. It is not a case of
spiritualizing the Word, in the sense of making the Word less real and
less meaningful—for God’s order is: "first. . .that which is natural; and
afterward that which is spiritual". And so the spiritual nature of
things is higher than the natural. Knowing this we must be taught by the
Spirit, and only as He gives understanding by the Spirit will we know what He
means by numbers, and dimensions, and beasts, and dragons, and altars, and
precious stones, and tabernacles, and temples. The Spirit is more real
than the physical and the carnal. . .and God wants us to be spiritual men
and women. It doesn’t mean we are to become intangible and invisible. The
bread God gave Israel in the wilderness was spiritual bread, and the
water they drank from the rock was spiritual water—because its origin
was from Heaven, and its purpose was to make the people spiritually minded,
as they ate of the bread, and drank of the water (see 1 Cor. 10:2-4). The
Spirit has come into our lives to give us the spirit of wisdom and
revelation in the knowledge of Him—and only as we are taught by the
Spirit, will we understand what God would show us.
One Like unto the Son of Man
was in the Spirit, and this is what he saw:
in the midst of the seven candlesticks One like unto the Son of man,
clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden
girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His
eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they
burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in
his right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword:
and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength" (Rev. 1:13-16).
He looked like the One that Daniel
saw: "A certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold
of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of
lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet
like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of
a multitude" (Dan. 10:6; also Dan. 7:9). The men that were with Daniel at the
time didn’t see what Daniel saw, but His presence was so awesome that "a great
quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves". And even
Daniel, though he saw the vision, it robbed him of his strength, and his very
flesh seemed corrupt and horrible in his sight, and he felt weak and helpless.
How carnal must we be, if we can calculate and surmise WHEN the Lord of Glory
may appear. . .with hardly any thought as to HOW we need to prepare our
hearts for that awesome Appearing! If we could see the Lord of Glory stand in
our midst—as John saw Him. . .as Daniel saw Him—how differently we would walk
and work and minister in the church! How ignorantly we think of God, and speak
of God, as our big and loving daddy! Certainly He is all of that to babes in
Christ. But O how He longs that we come to maturity as sons of God. . .not
losing any of those child-like qualities of simplicity, purity and
tenderness—but fearing Him all the more as we grow older in Christ—knowing He
is "Glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders"? (Ex. 15:11).
"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in
reverence of all them that are about him" (Ps. 89:7). We are talking about
that holy fear for our Father, whom we love so much that we fear and
tremble lest in any way we offend Him, or do those things that grieve His
"Then they that feared the LORD spake often one
to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance
was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon
his name" (Mal. 3:16).
His Sacrifice. . .Totally Pleasing to God
who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands as our great High Priest
has everything that we need to conform us to His image and likeness, and bring
us into the full intention of His purposes. For by His death on the cross He
has fully dealt with the sin problem. It was there that our Lord became the
true Sacrifice for sin, not only to redeem us back to God, but to deliver us
from every vestige of sin and the curse that we inherited from Adam. Certainly
we have inherited sins and sicknesses of one kind or another from father or
mother or grandparents. But let us not waste our time on that, for there is an
unbroken line of problems, habits, unclean things, sicknesses, infirmities of
one kind or another that take us all the way back to Adam’s transgression.
Then the Last Adam was born into our family, and on the cross He bore the
curse of sin and death and all the sicknesses and frailties of the human race.
When cruel, violent men took Him and nailed Him to the cross, it was because
of their sin and ignorance and rebellion that they did so. They walked in
darkness, and could not tolerate the Light that was in Jesus. But it was God
who transformed the hatred and malice of men toward Christ, into a Sacrifice
that was holy and well pleasing in His sight. For "It pleased the LORD to
bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an
offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the
pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand" (Isa. 53:10). O mystery of all
mysteries, "That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not
imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of
reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did
beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2
Cor. 5:19, 20).
God’s Intention in Redemption
But our Redemption covers more
than release from the prison-house of sin, and reconciliation back to God. He
wants us to know that He purchased us for Himself that we might become His own
inheritance. . .His Church, His Body, His Temple, His Home, His Abiding Place.
As the High Priest on the throne, yet walking in the midst of the lampstands
by His Spirit, His desire is to impart all those virtues that are in Himself
to His people in the earth, that we might become that cleansed and holy
habitation that He desires for His praise and glory. When we come to this
understanding we can no longer be satisfied to remain where we are now. . .for
we are still far from that image and likeness of the Son, that God has
desired. And if God cannot rest until this happens—as we draw closer to His
heart we feel that same sense of unrest that He feels. Are we satisfied—just
to make it inside the pearly gates—when we know God cannot be satisfied until
righteousness of His people goes forth "as
brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth" (Isa. 62:1)?
could not rest until he concluded this matter as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer. The
corn he gave her was good. But he must have her as his own, and his
inheritance was to be her inheritance. God rested on the seventh day when He
finished the work of creation. But it wasn’t long before man sinned and God’s
rest was broken. Then God went on working. . .working in chosen ones in the
course of history. . .until He would discover that ultimate rest in His Love:
"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty: He will save, He will
rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee
with singing" (Zeph. 3:17). It was this longing for REST in God’s heart
that gave birth to the whole plan of redemption; and do we just want to
make it inside the gates and care less about God’s desire for a people in
His image and likeness? Our High Priest in the heavens cannot rest until He
has established righteousness in the church, cleansed her from all defilement,
and made her to be that holy vessel that is compatible with the heart of God.
Then the Son will say of His many brethren. . .and in the same breath: "Look
at Me. . .and Look at these children that God has given Me". Talk about signs
and wonders! These His sons and daughters are the ultimate sign and wonder
that God is preparing for display before angels and before men. The Captain of
our Salvation was made "perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10). Our Captain
came from Heaven to earth to find this quality of perfection, and do we
think we just go from earth to Heaven to find it? He comes into our nature,
that together with Him He may introduce us as signs and wonders in Israel:
"Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given Me are for signs and for
wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion" (Isa.
8:18; see Heb. 2:13, 14).
Our Great High Priest
And so we have a great High Priest
in the heavenly sanctuary who is totally sufficient in Himself to accomplish
the other half of our redemption. . .to take this company of redeemed slaves
and so minister to them, and change them, and transform them. . .that they
might become the sons and daughters of the Most High. They are to be fully
graced and beautified with all the graces and virtues and perfections of the
Son. Priesthood is the essence of His present reign in the heavens—"a
Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4). He reigns as a
"Priest on the throne" (Zech. 6:13). And His priestly ministration is for His
redeemed people, for whom He shed His blood. He is endued "with all power in
Heaven and in earth" to accomplish the desire of God’s heart. And like Aaron
He bears on His heart and upon His shoulders the names of His people. In that
first high-priestly prayer that He prayed while yet on earth, He was
intentionally praying aloud, so His disciples would have some understanding of
His exalted priestly ministry when He was raised into Life, and glorified.
"As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh,
that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this
is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom Thou has sent" (Jn. 17:2, 3).
He prayed for His chosen ones that they would
have this quality of life, that is called eternal life. . .and He defines
eternal life as knowing the Father and the Son.
He prays for those whom the Father gave to the
Son, that the Father would keep them from the evil one.
His people are to have the same glory: "the glory
which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are
He emphasizes again and again, this quality of
union with His people that would come about as they partook of the same glory
that was on Him.
then because of this glory that was first on the Son, and now on His many
brethren the world would know "that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as
Thou hast loved Me". Then having finished the work on earth, He was glorified,
and enthroned as our High Priest to intercede for us before the throne. John
was "in the Spirit" and saw Him walking "in the midst of the seven
golden lampstands" with majesty and awesome authority. He is prepared and
qualified to deal with His church, no matter where they are, or what their
problem might be. He speaks to the seven churches—and through these letters to
all the churches to the end of time. He is totally sufficient for every
situation. He gives John a message for each church. But there is always a
church within the Church, as it was with Israel. "They are not all Israel,
which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are
they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Rom. 9:6, 7). He
speaks to all, but His appeal is always to that one "who has an ear to hear
what the Spirit is saying". That’s how it was in times of old: "The Lord sent
a word unto Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel" (Isa. 9:8).
To the Church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7)
He stands before the church at
Ephesus as the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand. He
wants us to know He has full authority over the ministries that He has set in
the church. The prophets understood this kind of discipline in the hand of
God. Jeremiah came to a sense of futility, because the words he spoke to the
people from the heart of God—sounded like a joke in the ears of those who
heard it. He finally decided, enough is enough. "I will not make mention of
Him, nor speak any more in His Name". So he tried to hold it in. . .and the
fire that should have gone forth to others kept burning in his bones so
intensely that he had to let it out (Jer. 20:9). It was no golden trophy in
those days to became a prophet of God—it was rather a burden that brought
reproach and shame. Isaiah also had the feeling that his ministry was a total
failure. . .yet he knew he was
hidden in the hand of God, and that the word he
spoke was like a sharp sword. "He hath made my mouth like sharp sword; in
the shadow of His hand hath He hid me" (Isa. 49:2). This is the secret of
the true word. He who conveys the truth of God to others, must himself be
hidden away in the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand. Only then
will that word come forth as God intended: alive, powerful, penetrating, and
"sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12).
The whole body of Christ in the
assembly ought to be a part of this ministration of truth. Special ministries
are set in the church, to bring the whole body to this place of maturity—so
that each member will be a ray of light in that particular Lampstand. We know
this is scarcely happening, but this is God’s intention: and a faithful
ministry will seek to edify the members of the body in such a way that each
member will find his place in the body: whether it be the mouth, or the
ear, or the eye—or some other vital organ. Only then will the body
of Christ see clearly, and hear accurately, and speak with authority and
purity. But the
lampstand must be illuminated with the Light of
Christ, if it is to be a true Testimony of Jesus in that particular area.
Lord commends the Church at Ephesus for their labors, their patience, their
hatred of evil, and for trying and proving the apostles who would visit their
assembly. And so it appears they had good doctrine. But because they
had left their first love He declared He would remove their
lampstand—if they did not repent. We see a lot of excitement, a lot of
emotion, and hear a lot of good music emanating from churches all over the
land. But we can only wonder how many of them realize that the Lord has
removed their lampstand—and that they are no longer the Testimony of
Jesus in their community, that they once were. When the people of God leave
first love—the Lamp of God will burn low, and will soon die out—no matter
how good their doctrine might be. Their advertisements in the newspapers and
in front of the church buildings may continue to announce that their church is
one of the best—but the Lamp of God may no longer be there, and they do not
know it. He calls the Church at Ephesus to repentance—but He appeals
especially to those who have a hearing ear: "He that hath an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit saith unto the churches". And to those who overcome He gives
this promise: He will give them "to eat of the tree of life, which is in the
midst of the paradise of God".
To the Church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11)
stands before this church as "the First and the Last". He presents Himself as
the One "which was dead, and is alive". He is the fullness of all the graces
and qualities that are mentioned in all the letters—but this is a suffering
church, and He reminds them that He is touched with the feeling of their
infirmities. For He Himself suffered much. . .was crucified and is now alive.
He does not call them to repentance. No doubt their sufferings had already
brought them to a place of repentance, and to a contrite heart. But the battle
is not over yet, and He would encourage them to faithfulness and endurance.
Again His word goes forth to all. All may not embrace it, but He knows there
is power in the spoken Word to make it effective in those who "hear" it. They
had suffered much, but the test is always this: "Be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life". Again He appeals to those who "hear
what the Spirit saith unto the churches". And to these overcomers, who stand
in jeopardy of their lives daily, He reminds them. . ."He that overcometh
shall not be hurt of the second death".
To the Church at Pergamos (Rev.
the Lord is seen holding "the sharp sword with two edges". The people are
living in the midst of a stronghold of Satan, but they will find the strength
and power they need—in the sharp sword with two edges. They are holding
fast to His name, and keeping the faith, and at least one of them had been
martyred. But the Lord had a few things against them. Our Lord requires
a church that is holy and clean, and He must deal with the few things
that are troubling the church. A little leaven may leaven the whole lump.
There were some who held to the doctrine of Balaam, the false prophet who
counseled Balak to invite Israel to come and worship their gods, and to eat
things that were sacrificed to their idols, and to commit fornication. These
unclean spirits of Balaam abound in the world about us—and like the men of
Israel who bowed to the gods of Moab, the church has opened her doors to many
unclean and defiling spirits that alienate their hearts from God. The
allurements and enticements that are spewing into our homes through books and
videos and the internet are reaching mammoth proportions, and mothers and
fathers had better do all they can to keep their homes clean, and dedicated
unto the Lord. Our Lord’s weapon against them is "the sharp sword with two
edges". . . but too often the sword we attempt to use has only one edge, and
it is so dull that it does not penetrate the heart and soul. Our Lord is ready
to arise in our midst to cleanse His church; and when God’s people seek Him
desperately, all the resources of Christ will once again shine forth in our
midst, by the Holy Spirit. But He asks us to drive out the abominations that
grieve His Holy Spirit. . .who like the Dove, is easily offended—and flies
away. Then the sword of the Lord will be "quick, and powerful, and sharper
than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and
spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).
There was another problem in Pergamos. Some held
the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. . .which He does not explain. But the word
itself is a combination of two Greek words that mean: conquer the people.
From that we gather there was a sect in Pergamos who sought to take
control over the people, rather than ministering righteousness and life that
would bring them into the liberty of the Spirit.
these messages to all the churches, God wants us to understand that our High
Priest in the heavens has every provision in His own Being. . .not only to
bless, and give good gifts, and heal the people—but to cleanse from all
defilement of flesh and spirit. We are quick to latch on to the blessing part.
But we must turn our faces again to the Lord of the Church. . .and see Him
standing in our midst with the sharp sword with two edges—not to
destroy us, but to circumcise our hearts and minds. Only then will we come to
true worship—that state of heart and mind where we "worship God in the
Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the
flesh" (Phil. 3:3). He must have an overcoming people in Pergamos—for we
are certainly dwelling where Satan’s throne is, and we are not prevailing
against him. God help us to hear the cry to the church at Pergamos: "he that
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches". And then for
the overcomer He has this promise: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat
of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new
name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it".
To the Church at Thyatira (Rev.
same Lord speaks to the church at Thyatira—but again He doesn’t look the same
as He did in His appearance to the other churches. He doesn’t change—but He
has many facets of His Being, and there are many graces and virtues and
judgments that He must bring to His people. "These things saith the Son of
God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are
like fine brass". O how we need to see Him as He is. . .if we are
going to be changed into what He wants us to be! He acknowledges the works,
and charity, and service, and faith, and patience of the church. Then what
more does He require?
Thyatira He must deal with that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a
prophetess. Because of her charisma and her wonderful prophecies, some of
God’s servants were living in fornication, and eating things sacrificed to
idols. Jezebel was Ahab’s wife. Ahab was king—but Jezebel would act as a queen
in her own right; and if Ahab would have certain leanings toward God, she
would be quick to take matters in her own hands. What is foremost in her heart
and life, was her hatred for the word of the Lord, that comes from the mouths
of His prophets. There is a lot of uncleanness in many of the churches, and
that Testimony of Jesus which gives a clear word from God, is not there in
counsel and in might, to deal with it. . .
know God is going to begin a cleansing in the
prophetic word that is going
forth. Many are crying out for another Elijah! Another John the Baptist! But
there is a prophetic movement in the church now—and there is a lot of mixture
in it. It has not yet come to the place where there is a true Testimony of
Jesus. Generally the
prophetic utterance is not bringing forth a purging,
cleansing work in the people. . .but because there are wonderful prophecies,
the people are blessed, while the leaven of evil is still working. When have
we witnessed what Paul spoke about. . .when one comes into the assembly who is
an unbeliever, and prophecies are going forth, and the secrets of his heart
are revealed, "and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and
report that God is in you of a truth" (1 Cor. 14: 25)? It is almost unknown.
The Lord stands in the midst of this charismatic church of Thyatira, with
eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like fine (burnished) brass,
calling them to repentance. His judgments will be true and righteous, for
there is a ministry in His hand that the Lord is preparing for the day when He
will rise up in judgment. We must look into those eyes that are as flames
of fire, and our feet must be purged on the altar of burnt offering,
before we will be able to deal effectively with the sins in others.
Then there will be an anointing to minister righteousness and truth in the
fear of God, bringing conviction and righteous judgment.
When those holy flames from the throne come into
our midst. . .those whose hearts are turned to God will cry out: "The LORD He
is the God! The LORD, He is the God!" And the prophets of Baal will be
destroyed. Later on Jehu was anointed, and commissioned to deal with Jezebel,
and she was trampled under the feet of his horses. Many in the church are
inclined to feel that if one is able to bring forth beautiful, powerful
prophecies, that surely God must be in their midst. The true vindication of
prophecy is whether it strikes the hearts of men with conviction, and
heart-searching, and the fear of God. "I the LORD search the hearts, I try the
reins, even to give every man according to his ways. . ." (Jer. 17:10).
the faithful in Thyatira He gives words of caution, and assurance: "That which
ye have already, hold fast till I come". And to the overcomers He gives this
promise: "To him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule
them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to
shivers". All this may sound very drastic and cruel for the followers of the
Lamb. But they are not ruthless dictators. They will do nothing that the Lamb
of God will not do. . .they are simply following Him, and doing as He is
doing, by His anointing and authority.
The word rule in the above passage speaks
of the rule of a shepherd. It is the rule of the Shepherd Lamb, and of
those who follow Him wherever He may go. The true shepherd will lay down his
life for the sheep as Jesus did. These overcomers will not be judgmental nor
dictatorial. But their word will be powerful, as they abide in their Lord. It
was only through the word that proceeded from Jeremiah’s mouth that he would
be able to root out, and pull down, and destroy, and throw down. All of
this was to clear the land, that he might build and plant by the same
living Word (Jer. 1:10).
is an added promise to the overcomers in Thyatira: "And I will give him the
morning star". As the Lord shares His power over the nations, with the
overcomers; so He shares the glory of the Morning Star, for He tells us: "I am
the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and Morning Star" (Rev.
22:16). The overcomers in the church will yet arise in the earth as the
morning star, radiating the Light of Christ, and proclaiming to creation
the promise of a new Day.
To the Church at Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6).
"These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven
stars". Do we see what He is showing us? This dead church at Sardis must see
the One who is glorious and magnificent. For it is only as we see Him, that we
will be like Him. He shows Himself to us that we might come alive, by seeing
Him. This is what His mediatorship in the heavens is all about—and this is
what the ministry of the Spirit in the earth is all about—"He shall take of
Mine and show it unto you. He stands in the midst of Sardis as the One
who has the Seven Spirits of God. The number seven speaks of
completeness, of fullness. We have no problem believing that all facets of the
Godhead have come to fullness in our Lord Jesus. But our struggle now is to
see and know that all this fullness that is in Christ has been invested in His
church, by His Spirit who dwells within us. And though Sardis had the
reputation of being a LIVE church. . .it did not appear that way to the
Lord. "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead", and the little
life that was there was close to death. But why would the Lord show Himself to
this church, as One full of Light, and resplendent with Glory? Because this is
what our churches need to see, if they are going to spring forth in life. "In
Him was life; and the life was the light of men" (Jn. 1:4). He shines forth
into the darkness, that He might cause the darkness to flee away. He comes to
us who are "dead in trespasses and in sins". . .to give us life and light, as
we find the grace to respond to the Light. And He continues to exhort them:
"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die".
They had a good reputation in their city. But God says, Repent. . .your
reputation in the eyes of men means nothing. Consider the things you have
heard and been taught, or "I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not
know what hour I will come upon thee". "I will come upon thee". . .He said.
But some would remind us, "This of course is not the Second Coming".
Perhaps not. But is He not the same Lord? I am confident that when the Lord
reveals Himself in the church with those flaming eyes of fire, it will be a
coming of the Lord as awesome to that church, as when He comes in clouds
to judge the nations.
He will have an overcoming church
in Sardis. . .for He rises up in Sardis with Seven Spirits (described in
another place as Seven Lamps of fire). He takes authority over that church
which has despised His Lordship, for He holds the seven stars in His right
hand. He is grooming a people in His right hand, for faithful and true
ministry in the House of God. He has the power and authority to execute His
righteous judgments in their midst. And to the overcomers He gives this
promise: "the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out
his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my
Father, and before his angels". "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit saith unto the churches".
To the Church at Philadelphia (Rev.
To this faithful Church, our Lord gives this
message: "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
Lord shows Himself to this church as the One who is holy and true, and has
"the key of David". The Key of David is only mentioned once in the New
Testament (in this passage), and once in the Old. And it was long after David
had passed away, when Isaiah was prompted by the Spirit to mention the key
"And the key of the house of David will I lay
upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut,
and none shall open" (Isa. 22:22)
The Key of David, What is it?
We have no reason to believe
that David had any insight as to the eternal significance of the House of
David until God revealed it to him through Nathan the prophet. God would not
allow David to build Him a House, as David had proposed to do. But in
refusing this, God sent Nathan to David with a word that was much higher—a
promise that had eternal significance.
God was not interested in a Cedar House (2 Sam.
7:7),—or a House of any other kind of material, for that matter. But somehow
it lingers on in the hearts of religious people, that they must build some
kind of structure For the Glory of God. He did ordain tents and temples
in the past, but only as types and shadows of the True Temple, not built with
hands. His desire has always been a desire for a Habitation in the humble
and the contrite heart.
"For thus saith
the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell
in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble
spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the
contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15; also Isa. 66:2)
God was going to build David a House (vs. 11).
True, David’s son Solomon was appointed to build a Temple, and God gave David
the blueprints for it (see 1 Chron. 22:7-10; 1 Chron. 28:11-12). But even
Solomon recognized that it was not in any sense a dwelling-place for God. It
was just to be a house of prayer, a place where God’s name would be known in
Israel, and among the nations (2 Chron. 6:18, 40).
The House of David was to endure forever (vs.
13). . .for His Seed, even the Lord Jesus Christ—would come from the
House of David, and "of the increase of His government and peace there shall
be no end" (Isa. 9:7).
"Then David went in, and sat before the LORD, and
he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me
hitherto?" (vs. 18). It was no doubt in the Tent of David, where he sat and
exalted the Lord for His greatness and mercies—summing it up in these words:
"Do as Thou hast said. And let Thy name be magnified for ever" (2 Sam. 7:25,
In the context of what Isaiah had said about
the Key of David—He was talking about the irresponsible government of
Shebna, who was over the House of David, and how God was going to displace his
government with another, who would be faithful in his stewardship.
were breaches in the City of David, and Shebna was not ruling in a responsible
way. Isaiah said, "It is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of
perplexity. . .a day of breaking down the walls, and of crying to the
mountains". The defenses of Judah were inadequate to protect the city. There
were "breaches of the City of David"—and they were tearing down the houses to
fortify the wall. Their water supply was endangered. But Isaiah’s charge was
this: "Ye have not looked unto the Maker thereof". God was calling for
weeping and mourning, but they chose rather—"joy and gladness. .
.eating flesh and drinking wine". And God declared he would violently take
away the old government, and roll it like a ball into a large country.
Shebna who was over the king’s house was living in ease and splendor, while
all this was going on. . .heedless of the troubles that were piling up, and
God said He was going to install a new government, and lay the Key of David on
his shoulder. This was the first mention of the key of David, and the
Lord quoted this prophecy in His letter to Philadelphia—confirming that He was
the One of whom Isaiah had spoken.
so the real application of this Key, is for the Government of Christ. God is
going to bring forth a new ministry, a ministry that has concern and respect
and honor for the House of God. A key is being cut and formed and prepared for
the hour of still greater troubles that lie before us. Our Lord has that Key
on His shoulder, and He holds true ministry in His right hand. He knows when
to close doors, and when to open doors. . .and no man will be able to close
the door that He opens, nor open the door that He closes. Man will have
nothing to do by way of electing the elders and counselors of the flock, nor
in dismissing them. The ministry will not be subject to the will of people,
nor will they lord it over the people. Elected superintendents or bishops or
archbishops will not set up ministers under them, hire them or fire them, and
move them from one assembly to another. The democratic system of government
will no longer exist in the church, for Government in the church is a
spiritual ministration—just as spiritual as the ministry of apostles,
prophets, teachers, miracles, and healings. The Lord of the Church holds
the key of David. . .and He will open doors and close doors at His
discretion (see 1 Cor. 12:28). . .The name Eliakim means God raises up;
and I believe we may expect some awesome changes in the church, as the Lord in
our midst raises up a true spiritual ministry in the House of David. I am
talking about the Church of Christ. A carnal ‘church’ may still be functioning
in that day by the name ‘church’—but the One who has the Key of David will
exercise His Lordship in the called out people of the true Church.
The Preparation of the Key of David
As we consider the life of David, it is evident
how God prepared the Key that would rest on his shoulder. The Key was
something that was formed in his life, as he submitted himself to the ways of
God. One does not receive the Key as a free gift. Nor was David aware, in all
the trials and tribulations that he went through, that God was forming a Key
that would remain in his family through all generations. Let us consider how
God formed this Key in the life of David.
1. God had chosen David, and David was aware of
must know we are here by God’s choosing, if we are going to move with Him in
the stream of His purposes, and come forth with a heart after the heart of
God. God simply chose David. . .and I’ll leave it to others to search out
the reason why. Nevertheless it is always true that He requires from His
chosen ones—faithfulness and endurance and patience. The called and chosen
of God must also be faithful. And because they know they are
called, this knowledge nurtures a godly fear that produces faithfulness in
their lives. With every step along our pilgrim way we know we were destined
for higher things than anything we see about us, and we seek to know His will
and direction in all we do, lest we mar His purpose in calling us. Without
this knowledge we would be inclined to do what we could in our own strength,
and arrange and promote schemes to make our ministry effective in the church,
or in the world about us. But with the knowledge of His call and His choosing
in our lives—we hesitate to walk the highway that leads to success. Rather we
will seek out the pathway that He desires for us—and ask for grace to walk the
rugged, or the narrow, or the unpopular, or the unknown way—though it may seem
meaningless in the eyes of others.
know the story of the downfall of Saul, Israel’s first king. God designated
Saul as king, at the hands of the prophet Samuel; but the whole thing came
about because the people wanted to be like the nations around them, and they
demanded a king. God went along with their desires, but He had other plans
prepared for the day when man’s plan would come to naught. He appointed David,
a man after His own heart, to replace the man that was self-willed and
rebellious in heart God in His predetermined ways does not wait till calamity
strikes before He starts working on the solution. He makes provision for it
while things are still moving along successfully. And we can be sure He
is doing that today. He that hath the Key of David is going to use that Key,
to establish righteous government in the House of David. God’s people who
understand the deplorable state of the church, must be encouraged to know that
He is grooming the hearts of men and women who are called and chosen and
faithful—who will be ready to stand in the gap when the kingdoms of men
come tumbling down. God is preparing a people after His own heart who will be
ready to don the mantle of a meek and humble shepherd, when the hirelings flee
from the flock, or when God drives them out. He is preparing a people of
mercy who will be ready to stand in the gap, when our social structure
collapses. They have God’s anointing on them now—in the day of their weakness.
Often they feel like David when he said in his trouble: "I am this day weak,
though anointed king" (2 Sam. 3:39). For weakness, and suffering, and
rejection for the sake of the truth is one of the ingredients of the holy
anointing oil. It takes the myrrh of suffering to give true incense to the
ointment on the head of the one who in the purposes of God will become a
vessel of mercy. For God must have vessels of mercy in this world that is
full of hate and malice and cruelty. And the irony of it all is this: that
earthly governments which profess to be merciful and helpful to people in
distress, are making laws. . .or tolerating laws, that promote a reckless
disregard for God and the Bible, in the name of human rights—in the
consequence of which our families suffer more trouble, more abuse, and more
devastation than ever. The bottom line in all of this confusion is: "There is
no fear of God before their eyes".
2. David respected Saul’s anointing.
knew the grace and strength and meekness that was in that holy oil, for he
could never forget the day when Samuel poured the oil on his head, and the
sense of God’s fear that invaded his spirit at that time. He knew also that
Saul had received a portion of that same anointing. However, unlike Saul—the
anointing that David had was mingled within him. He said, "I shall be
anointed with fresh oil" (Ps. 92:10). And the word anointed in this
passage means more than poured upon—it means thoroughly mixed and
mingled together. In reality David’s whole being was invigorated and mixed
with the anointing. This is certainly God’s intention for His people, for "God
hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to
that part which lacked" (1 Cor. 12:24). It was the same kind of oil on Saul’s
head—but in Saul’s case it never really penetrated his heart and mind. So in
spite of Saul’s intense hatred toward him. . .David was very much aware that
Saul was God’s anointed, and that he must never use the anointing he had to
fight against another anointed vessel of God. We in the church must
remember this, and never try to cause any damage to another anointed ministry,
nor rejoice in his downfall. It is the prerogative of Him who has the Key
of David to deal with rebellious, yet anointed leadership.
David truly grieved over Saul’s jealous heart,
and did what he could to help the man in his obstinacy. While still very young
he would minister to King Saul with songs from the Lord, giving the king
temporary relief. But he would dodge Saul’s spears and leave them in the wall
behind him—rather than throwing them back. The door to the kingdom of David
was open to him on at least two different occasions, but because he knew it
was not God’s open door to the kingdom, he simply closed that open door.
us be sure we understand this important thing about open doors and closed
doors. With the Key of David you open closed doors—but with that same key
you close open doors.
So many of God’s people do not realize that. "The
door is open, so I must go in" seems to be the thought. Otherwise, "Why would
God open a door, if He did not want me to enter?" I know at least one
reason—and I have already mentioned it. God was testing David’s heart as to
his faithfulness. God arranged an opportunity for David to take the
kingdom—to test the reins of his heart. God even caused a deep sleep to
come upon Saul and his men, to make the key easier for David to use. Had he
not known he was called and chosen—He might very well have taken the
reasonable course, seize the kingdom there and then. . .and fail the test of
faithfulness. The key on David’s shoulder was becoming more and more
real to him, and he simply closed the open door. We can not help but
wonder how many times we may have rushed our way through open doors, or
even tried to pry them open with our wrecking bar—when in fact God was
"searching the hearts and trying the reins".
3. David learned to walk in strange and difficult
Knowing God was leading him in these very distressing ways caused him to draw
near to his God, rather than to run from Him. When the billows of trouble went
over him, and it appeared he would be swept away, he cried unto God. . .and
those very billows of trouble caused a "deep, calling unto deep" (Ps. 47:7).
Blessed is that man or woman, boy or girl—who finds it in their heart to cry
out to God, to pant after God like the hart panteth after the waterbrooks
when troubles assail—and praise Him in all situations, though it seems God
is nowhere in sight, nor cares. David longed to walk in God’s way, far more
than he desired to possess the promised kingdom. As a good shepherd of Israel,
he knew he himself was but a sheep. . .and in this way he won the hearts of
the sheep of the Lord’s pasture. His friends in the days of his rejection
found love and fellowship with him. . .and followed him not for reward, but
out of love for the one upon whom they recognized the grace and the anointing
4. David maintained a healthy fear of God.
He knew God had a plan for his life. . .and this
knowledge produced in him a godly fear. He sought to keep His heart fixed on
God. He could never forget the anointing oil that flowed from the horn that
Samuel brought to Bethlehem that memorable day when he was a young lad tending
sheep (1 Sam. 16:13). He recognized the folly, and the snare of acting on his
own. . .the snare of making choices that might seem to be to his advantage,
but not in accord with the will of God. He was not an opportunist. God was
forming a key in his life that would lead to open doors into the true
riches of Christ. If we know God has a plan we had better be diligent to go
God’s way, rather than seeking to unfold that plan ourselves. We cannot miss
God’s plan if we walk in His way. But we can sure miss it if we think we know
the plan, and try to make it unfold with our own ingenious keys. The key of
David was always very simple: Let God arrange it. . .Let God put it
together. Peter in the prison house could rest and sleep, and wait for the
angel to shake him, and command him to walk out of the prison a free man. But
he too had to learn that he was only free. . .to become the Lord’s
bondslave. Slothfulness in the eyes of men might very often be an inward
wisdom in the eyes of God. If it is God’s plan, God will cause it to happen in
His own way. David knew how to deal with the bear out of the woods. . .and the
lion, that attacked his sheep. And this gave him confidence to deal with the
Philistine. He had learned God’s way, and he knew the armor of Saul would only
cumber him with a heavy burden, and he chose to go forth against the enemy in
the Name of the Lord God of Israel. He knew he had come to the battle
for that day and hour. But the success and the glory of that moment did not
consume him with pride, because God allowed persecution and rejection to come
on the heels of his victory. Through jealousy, Saul had become his enemy. .
.and on the verge of a successful career in the kingdom, David was suddenly
forced to flee for his life.
years David walked in rejection, all the while honoring Saul and loving
him—until one day Saul was slain in battle at the hands of the Philistines,
Israel’s avowed enemies. David mourned and lamented over Saul, rather than
rejoicing in his downfall. Nor did he make plans to take over the kingdom. Why
should he meddle with it now, when he knew God alone was responsible for the
anointing he had, and for His watchcare over him all his days? He waited
rather for God to open the door in His own way. He didn’t go looking for the
lost and perplexed sheep of Israel. He had found a safe refuge among the
Philistines. . .at least much safer than what he could find anywhere in
Israel. Now that Saul had been removed from the scene, he asked God if he
should return to Judah. God said, "Yes". "Where?" David asked. And God said,
"Go to Hebron" (2 Sam. 2:1). Imperceptibly at first, but with greater and
greater clarity of understanding as we walk with God—the Key of David is
progressively formed in the lives of His obedient people. Then the men of
Judah came to him, and anointed him as king over the house of Judah. And
several years later the other tribes of Israel came, and anointed him king
5. David longed for a Habitation for God.
was quick to repent of his sin, with godly sorrow. He came to a place of
humility and contrition of heart, and wrote that beautiful Psalm in which he
testified: "A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise" (Ps.
51:17). The contrite heart is a heart that is broken, crippled, torn. And yet
the prophet Isaiah could say that God desires a people like this for His own
habitation: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,
whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is
of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to
revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). The bruised ones, the
crushed ones, the ones who are torn and crippled—O how can we imagine the high
and lofty One desiring such a heart for His own habitation? Except as we see
Him revealed in Jesus, condescending to come from realms of glory, to live as
a pauper among men: poor and needy, rejected, forsaken. . .and ultimately
bruised and broken for your sins and mine. And so because Jesus is like that,
and God is like that, He desires a habitation with those who are like that.
David’s great passion was not to do great things, nor even to take the
Kingdom—but to discover God’s habitation. He said, "I will not give sleep to
mine eyes, or slumber to my eyelids, until I find out a place for the LORD, an
habitation for the mighty God of Jacob" (Ps. 132:5). And so his very
sufferings and tribulations in the wilderness experiences of his exile, these
actually became the key of David that opened the door to God’s
May we learn from all these attitudes in David
that became factors in the formation of the Key on his shoulder. What do we
desire more, the Kingdom. . .or the King? A throne. . .or a Habitation for
God, and with God?
6. David was quick to shut down a Faulty Program.
desired to go God’s way, but when he missed it—he had enough wisdom to shut
the program down. Would God that His church could recognize that her programs
are simply not working. But David learned the hard way—and discovered The
Key to Mount Zion. The key of David was a key that was formed in
his life, as he sought to walk with God. . .but there was much more that he
had to learn concerning God’s ways before he could use the key effectively.
The kingdom was now his; but a part of Jerusalem was still under the control
of the Jebusites, who felt very secure in their stronghold of Zion. But
David’s men took the stronghold by ascending a tunnel like entrance up the
side of the mountain, and came upon the Jebusites by surprise. Mount Zion then
became David’s capital city, and his kingdom was solidified. But because David
had a priestly heart he longed for the return of the Ark of God, which had
remained in the house of Abinadab for many years. The people had never sought
after the Ark all during the reign of Saul, and up to this time. So they sent
the priests to bring it back without seeking God for His way. It was
just a thoughtless decision. . .and so easy to make. They chose the way
of the Philistines—which is always man’s way, and the logical way: Let’s make
a cart for it, get a team of strong oxen to haul it, and have a couple of
overseers there to make sure everything will go well. Man’s actions are
generally determined by common sense, and the thought is: Does it work? David
had good intentions, but he never sought God as to His way in the
matter. The result was total disaster: the oxen stumbled a bit and the strong
man put out his hand to steady the Ark, and God smote him dead. David had made
a serious mistake. . .but he had wisdom enough to shut the program down when
He realized God was displeased. True to the key that God was forming on
his shoulder—David sought the Lord earnestly, and God showed him the right
order. The priests of the Lord must carry the ark on their shoulder. The ark
was designed with that purpose in mind for it had staves on each side, which
rested on the shoulders of the priests. And so they brought the Ark back the
right way, and to the right place.
7. The place of David’s Kingdom. The place of the
had learned a tremendous lesson from his mistake. He shut down the program
and sought God. Surely the priests at Gibeon were anticipating the Ark
coming back to be placed in the Tabernacle where it belonged. But God had
revealed to David that the place of his kingdom was also to be the place of
priestly ministry, and of God’s habitation. And this revelation gave birth
to a prophetic song that David wrote concerning God’s dwelling place in Zion.
David had already taken Zion for the seat of his kingdom. But now God showed
him that it was to be more than that—it was also to be the place of God’s own
habitation, in the Tent of David. David’s kingdom was to be of a priestly
nature. The kingdom was not to be one thing, and the priesthood
another. A man who has power to do great things, kingdom things—can easily
become corrupt. But if he has a priestly heart, he has partaken of sacrifice
and offering to God, and God is pleased to abide within Him, and do kingdom
things through him. The kingdom of David would be priestly in nature, and
strong in kingdom authority, because its very essence was priestly access into
God’s presence, and God’s habitation with him in Zion:
the Lord hath chosen Zion;
hath desired it for His habitation.
is My rest for ever:
will I dwell; for I have desired it.
will abundantly bless her provision:
will satisfy her poor with bread.
will clothe her priests with salvation:
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy" (Ps.
had discovered the key to shut doors, as well as to open doors. He was
not a priest, and as a king of the tribe of Judah he had no right to go into
the Tent to worship God. . .who dwelt between the cherubim, in the Most Holy
place. But God was beginning to reveal to him "the Key of David", and he
opened the door of Zion for the Ark, and left the Most Holy Place of the
Tabernacle, empty. The most holy place was now in the Tent of David on
An Open Door into the Tent of David
(See also our writing
From Tent to Temple, Chapter 2).
what an open door it was for David! With the key on his shoulder, David
went ahead and pitched a tent for the Ark on Mount Zion. It was just a flimsy
tent, but it became known as "The Tent of David" for his generation, and for
the generations yet to be born. Amos spoke of it as a
prophetic type of the
expanded Israel, when God would begin to call out a chosen people from the
Gentiles, and join them together with Israel in the Tent of David. And the
apostle James confirms this, when he spoke before the Council at Jerusalem. He
advised the Council not to try to make Jews out of these converted
Gentiles—because God had said through the prophet Amos, that the other nations
would be brought into the Tent of David in later times. And now that this was
happening, James advised the Council to receive the Gentile converts freely
without all these Jewish rituals. They all knew that the Tent of David was
very much unlike the Tabernacle of Moses, and had nothing to do with Jewish
ritualism. (see Acts 15:17; Amos 9:11, 12).
knew that Mount Zion was not only the place of his own kingdom, but also the
place of God’s habitation. He would go inside that tent and commune with His
God who dwelt between the Cherubim, and God’s people would sing about
it in the church that was yet to be born—even as the singers did who were
appointed to praise and glorify the Lord before the Tent of David:
"One thing have I desired of the LORD;
That will I seek after,
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple" (Ps. 27:4).
had discovered an open door into a new and different kind of
Tabernacle, which was nothing other than the Most Holy place. No
lavers, no altars, no special vestments to wear, no tables of bread—nothing
was needed but a humble and a contrite heart. . . He would walk freely into
his own private sanctuary, and there commune with his God. It was the
beginning of the transfer of an old order to a new. . .the beginning of a
priestly kingdom, where self sacrificing priests would have kingly authority
to rule and reign in righteousness and peace. Kingly authority I say. .
.but exercised by humble and contrite priests whose concern was for the House
of God, and not for themselves. Our exalted Lord Jesus holds the key of
David that will open the door into the Holiest of all, "by a new and
living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to
say, His flesh" (Heb. 10:20). This is the ultimate open door that Jesus
sets before the church. It is access into the very presence of God. . .not
through priestly ritual. . .but through One Mediator between God and man,
the Man Christ Jesus. The key is on David’s shoulder—for the
shoulder is a place for carrying burdens, and that is where the staves of the
ark were placed. The priests of the Lord in Israel must carry the ark—rather
than delegate their burden to others. It was called the Ark of His strength
(Ps. 132:8). It was a heavy burden, but they were not to organize some
kind of an institutional cart with wheels, to make the job easier. But along
with the weight, there was also the weight of God’s glory, that dwelt between
the cherubim. Paul carried heavy burdens, but he called them our light
affliction, because he knew that they were actually preparing him for "a
far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17). Jesus
bids us to come into His yoke. That means carrying a burden. But He tells us
that if we are in His yoke we will "find rest unto our souls", because we
carry our yoke in union with Him who is our Strength, who worketh in us
The Door is Open, for Refugees
from Satanic Strongholds
the context of the letter to Philadelphia, the emphasis concerns the doors of
false Satanic religion, which Jesus calls the synagogues of Satan. The
true Jews in the sight of God are those who are circumcised in the heart.
Before the new converts were called Christian, which first happened in
Antioch, the converted Gentiles were simply part of the Jewish synagogues, for
the true Jew is really one whose heart has been renewed by the Spirit. "For he
is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is
outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision
is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is
not of men, but of God" (Rom. 2:28, 29). Paul recognized the true meaning of
circumcision—it was never intended to be a mere ritual, but a sign that the
man was a true son of Abraham. Long before the gospel went forth, there were
many Gentiles who attended the synagogues, who believed in the God of the
Jews. But according to the law these Gentiles must be circumcised, in order to
become a Jew. And so the Gospel of Christ in the beginning was preached in the
synagogues. Paul likewise preached in the synagogues, whenever there was an
open door—and he evangelized with this principle in mind: "To the Jew first,
and also to the Gentiles". But with the light of the Gospel that God gave him,
the Lord Jesus was the Messiah. . .and Christ the Messiah must be All. Paul
could not tolerate the mixture of Judaism with the Gospel of Christ. It was a
new day, and the Gospel Paul preached emphasized that circumcision was not
enough—Christ must become Lord in our lives, and there must be a circumcision
of the heart. Very often he found himself in conflict with the synagogues
because of his teaching, and finally he turned to the Gentiles.
In refusing the Lord Jesus as
their promised Messiah—it was inevitable that some of these synagogues would
become the synagogues of Satan. It was evidently this way in
Philadelphia. It wasn’t that the disciples were trying to make inroads into
the synagogues of Satan. With the Key of David on our shoulder, we do not
try to make things happen. We must always wait for God to do it His way.
Rather, because of the faithfulness of this church the Lord Jesus said He
would "make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that
I have loved thee". . . The Seven Spirits of God go forth into all the
earth—and He went forth and began working in the synagogues of Satan,
without the church even knowing what God was doing. . .
God must Go Before—Then His Glory will Follow After.
God does not go before us we become entangled in the wilderness, and come up
against a Red Sea, with nowhere to go. The children of Israel were terrified
when they realized they were shut in—with the Sea before them, and the enemy
behind them, and a wilderness on either side. But God was leading them by
the Pillar of Fire by night, and the Pillar of Cloud by day—and this is
always the Key to victory. Then when the enemy came near, the Pillar moved
through the host, to the rear. There is no point of going, if God is
not sending. And when He sends, He will go on ahead, and His glory will
follow after. "For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the
LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward (your
protection behind you)" (Isa. 52:12).
is always God’s way. We read of the great revivals of Charles Finney, and
certainly it was a tremendous awakening. But the hearts of the people were
impacted with great conviction and awareness of their need of God—long before
Finney went to their city. You can’t make these things happen. God has not
changed, and He will do things like this again, and greater—but it will be
through a people who walk close to the Lord, as in Philadelphia. Then the Lord
in their midst has the Key—to do what He wants to do—and His people hear what
the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Spirit of God had gone before, and began working in Gadara, before Jesus had
arrived—and this poor victim who lived in the tombs was in the right place
when Jesus stepped out of the boat. Suddenly the demon possessed man saw Him,
and "when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him" (Mk. 5:6).
He didn’t need any one to explain to him how he should worship. All we need,
all the world needs, is to be impacted with His mighty presence, and catch a
glimpse of His glory. But in the absence of that mighty presence, we organize
worship teams for the house of God, to show the people how to do it—and then
try to attract the sinners into our congregations to hear the beautiful music.
Music can add much to the praises of His people, but only if the musicians are
instruments in God’s hands, and are themselves in tune with God. Otherwise, it
becomes mere entertainment.
God went before Paul, when he felt the Lord
leading him to Ephesus. Nor did he organize an army of Christians to go
against the evil strongholds in that city. But the impact of the presence of
God brought frenzy to the evil strongholds, "And fear fell on them all"
because of this "Jesus whom Paul preacheth" (Acts 19:13-19).
are no closed doors anywhere in the world, if we walk with Him who has "the
key of David". Neither are there any open doors. But the ultimate secret of
the key of David is knowing that our Lord Jesus holds that key; and that we
must leave it on His shoulder, rather than seeking out some ingenious
locksmith that will try to open the door for us. Our Lord would not be
pressured by anything. . .except by the will of the Father. Jesus said of His
own brothers: "My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready" (Jn.
7:6). He wasn’t slothful, neither was He ambitious to fulfill His ministry.
It was this quality of obedience that brought about our salvation. And God
must have an obedient people, always ready to do His will—but moving only in
God’s way—before we are going to make an impact on nations.
After David had been anointed as king of Israel,
the Philistines heard about it—and came against him. Naturally he considered
he should go forth in battle—but he was becoming more sensitive concerning
the key, so he inquired of the LORD. "And the LORD said unto him, Go up;
for I will deliver them into thine hand" (1 Chron. 14:9, 10). God gave him a
great victory. The Philistines were routed, and David’s men burnt the gods of
the Philistines that they had left behind when they fled.
But a while later the Philistines came again and
set up their camps in the sight of Israel. And again David inquired of the
LORD. . ."Shall I go against the Philistines"?. . .and God said "No!"
it worked before—isn’t that sufficient reason to use the same method again? If
you discover something that works in the work of the Lord, keep doing it.
This is man’s reasoning, because he does not understand that God never
repeats Himself in like manner as He did it before. This is why God’s people
get frustrated when they follow all the principles of past movements of God,
past revivals, and try to make them work for a new revival. And of course I am
not denying that the principles of seeking God, obedience, hearing His voice.
. .are always necessary and always valid. But His way is in the sea, and
His path in the mighty waters. . .and we can never search out His ways by our
own wisdom, for His ways are untraceable.
God said, "No, do not go against
them. . .but go around them, and take your stand by the mulberry trees",
"and when thou shalt hear a sound of going (of marching) in the tops of the
mulberry trees, that THEN thou shalt go out to battle"
Chron. 14:15). Why is that so important? It’s just another lesson we must
learn regarding the key of David. David’s ear was becoming more and
more sensitive to God’s voice, and God’s ways. "Wait!" God said (and I am just
paraphrasing)—"Wait till you hear the marching of the heavenly hosts in the
top of the mulberry trees—then you will go forth, and you will know the Hosts
of Heaven have gone before you. . ." It was a tremendous victory, and the
Philistines as well as the surrounding nations knew it had something to do
with David’s God. "And the fame of David went out into all lands; and
the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations" (vs. 17).
was not too long before when "David was afraid of God"—because God had
smote one of his servants dead for touching the Ark. But he learned from his
mistake—he knew he must always seek God for His way. And now David
becomes famous because of this great victory, and the fear of David comes
upon all nations.
Nations are not going to fear our God, nor obey
the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, until there is a return of a holy fear of
God in our midst.
The key of David for Mount
Zion, is also the key of David for all nations.
had better be sure we have the key to Zion, the key to God’s Presence in His
church, the key that will bring a holy fear of God back to His people—before
we assume we can come up with keys for taking the nations for God.
The key is nothing less than moving in the
anointing, walking in the Spirit, and knowing His abiding presence in our
lives. And knowing for a certainty that He carries the key on His shoulder,
and that we must let Him be in full charge in whatever He wants us to do.
But it is a learning process. Unlike the gifts of God, this key is a
progressive working of God in the lives of His chosen ones. They learn through
experience that they simply cannot make anything happen that is worthy of
God’s approval, except as they move in the will and in the way of God.
confident that it was our Lord who closed the doors to China in the middle of
the last century. . .for He would have a true and vital church in that
great land. But this kind of revival did not happen until He who has
the key of David put a stop to the missionary programs of the church in
the free world. I do not say these things to discourage any man or woman
who is called to minister in certain nations. We must be faithful to know His
voice, and go as the Lord may send. But we must be sure that it is "He that
hath the key of David" who is opening the door. Those nations out there that
have known physical, as well as spiritual famine, and persecution. . .do not
need our expertise, our musical bands and dance troupes, and our Christian
Rock-N-Roll to bring our gospel to them. This will do more harm than good,
and the fame of the church will become more infamous than it is now in many
nations. I want to quote a few excerpts from what is called: "An Urgent
Message from the Persecuted Church in Russia"? Here are a few excerpts:
"For thirty years we have suffered intense
persecution, and now freedom is bringing another great harm to our churches.
This damage is coming from the Christians in America who are sending rock
music and evangelists accompanied by rock bands.
young people do not attend these meetings because we have all committed not to
participate in secular entertainment.
"This is a great burden to our hearts. Many come
with Bible in hand and rock music. We are embarrassed by this image of
Christianity. We do not know what words to use in urging that this be stopped.
We abhor all Christian rock music coming to our country.
need spiritual bread, please give us true bread, not false cakes. . .
"We were in prison for fifteen
years, and eleven years, for Christ’s sake. We were not allowed to have
Christian music, but rock music was used as a weapon against us day and night
to destroy our souls. We could only resist with much prayer and fasting. . .
"Now it is Christians from America who damage our
souls. We do not allow this music in our church, but they rent big stadiums
and infect teenagers and adults with their rock music. . .
call this music from hell. We urge all Americans to stop giving money for the
organization of such concerts in Russia." (Peter Peters, and Vasilij
Ryzhuk, Moscow. . .excerpts from a letter written in 1991).
God Most High must be grieved with this kind of nonsense. And all we can
wonder is, how long before He stands before the church here in the West, and
in other affluent ‘Christian’ countries, with eyes as flames of fire,
and with the sharp sword with two edges.
our Lord has a Philadelphia Church alive in the earth. . .though perhaps small
in numbers. God has set before them an open door, and no man can close it.
They are keeping the word of His patience, in the midst of trial and testing.
God said He will not test them beyond what they are able to endure, "but will
with the temptation (trial, test) also make a way of escape, that ye may be
able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13). Many in the earth have known trial and
tribulation beyond what any of us here in the free world can imagine,
and they testify that God has been faithful in their hour of trial, and ‘made
a way of escape’ and enabled them to endure it. And many have sealed their
testimony with their blood. I believe many of the persecuted churches have
already had their share of tribulation, and will be spared when greater trials
come upon the world.
the overcomer in Philadelphia He gives this promise: "I will make him 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, which is New
Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon
him My new name".
To the Church at Laodicea (Rev.
Lord of the Church stands before Laodicea as "the Amen, the faithful and true
Witness, the beginning of the creation of God". We pray our prayers, and say
Amen. It is the last word of our petition before God: "Lord, may it
come to pass". He is the Amen to the heart’s cry of His people, who
have long been crying out to Him. And He is the Amen to His own
intercessions before the throne of God, on behalf of His people.
is a lot of boasting in Laodicea, but God knows it is false. We say, "We are
rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing"—but the Lord sees us
as "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked". The song and the
laughter continues in the House of God, and they call it the joy of the
Lord. I know God wants us to rejoice in the Lord in good times or
in bad. But I wonder if God is not very often saying, "Take away from Me the
noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols" (Amos 5:23).
And even a true prophecy is often like it was when Ezekiel spoke the word of
God to the people: "Lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that
hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy
words, but they do them not" (Ezek. 33:32).
Lord sees us as border-line Christians: "thou art neither cold nor hot;
I would thou wert cold or hot". He stands by our lampstand, fully prepared to
correct us, and He tells us why: it is because He loves us. We are
often inclined to think that His goodness is the proof that He loves us—not
realizing "that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom. 2:4).
But hear what He says: "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous
therefore, and repent". He has every provision to make us rich with the true
riches of Heaven, to clothe us with the pure white garments of His own
righteousness, and to anoint our eyes that we might see with clear vision. He
wants to shine upon us with the Light of Heaven. He is "the faithful and true
Witness" and He wants to make us to be the true Testimony of Jesus in the
earth. He has not forsaken Laodicea, but He stands outside the door—because He
cannot tolerate what is going on inside. He wants intimate fellowship with us,
not senseless programs and entertainment.
wants to Come in, and Dine with us
people inside feel they are doing very well, because God is blessing, and the
church is prospering. But He is outside the door, and He calls out: "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". He says I want to
"eat with you. . .and you with Me". I want to have supper with
you. I want to share My life with you, and I want you to share your life with
O how little do we understand that this kind of
mutual fellowship with Him is God’s total answer to a world that lies in the
bondage of corruption. We profess we want to take the Bread of Life to the
world. But He is in Heaven now, and He wants us to be that Bread to a famishing
world. Only as we partake of Him, do we become the Bread of Life that He wants
us to be. And this can only happen when we dine with Him, and He with us. We
cannot eat of the Bread of Life, and fail to see Him, and know Him—and then
become the Bread of Life for others.
After the conversation the two
disciples had with the Stranger who joined them in their journey to Emmaus—it
appeared the Man was going to leave them at the crossroads, and go in a
different direction. But the words He had spoken so burned in their hearts that
they invited Him to come and lodge with them. He was not surprised about that—I
am sure He was hoping for the invitation. But He may have gone in a different
direction, if they had not constrained Him. He always looks for the invitation.
came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and
brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him" (Lk.
He longs to dine with us. He wants to eat with us,
and we with Him. He wants us to share His Life, and become the Bread of Life to
the world, when He would go back to the Father. So He joins us unto Himself in
one body—that we might be one with Him, and have His Life to share with others.
Only when He takes the bread in His hands and breaks it. . .only then shall we
see Him and know Him. And only then do we become broken bread in His hands. .
"The bread which we break, is it not the communion
of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body,
for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Cor. 10:16, 17).
The Lord has promises for those in Laodicea who will hear His voice—as great as
He has for any of the other churches: "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". But we do not sit with Him in His throne over there, if
we do not sit and dine with Him here. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what
the Spirit saith unto the churches".