In the early days of the church Satan’s deep secrets came in the form of pagan idolatry, in later years he promoted his lies through the philosophical gnostic (knowledge) cults, but today they come better disguised.
In the last few posts I have picked up some points from the letters to the first three of the seven churches and in this article I will tie together three threads that appear in the letter to Thyatira. I have commented in previous posts on Jezebel, who is a focal interest in the letter, but now I want to bring together the ‘so called deep secrets’ she taught with Jesus’ injunction to ‘hold on to what you have until I return’, and his declaration that those who overcome will have ‘authority over the nations’.
During the twentieth century there have been many Christian and pseudo-Christian heresies who’s originators have claimed special, and often secret, revelation. In the last couple of decades we have seen the emergence of the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ (NAR). Sometime in the future I will be writing extensively on this movement but for now I will need to describe it in, perhaps, oversimplified terms. The NAR, contrary to what its name suggests, is not really new at all. Much of its core theology comes from the Latter Rain movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. To this has been added Postmillennial Dominion theology (I will explain this shortly) and what is often referred to as Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare. (One definition of this is ‘praying against territorial spirits, seeking to “map” their strategies over given locations by discerning their names and what they use to keep people in bondage, and then binding them so that evangelism may go unhindered’).
Postmillennialism is one of the various end-time teachings and enjoyed some support before the World Wars. The core idea is that Christianity will become so dominant in human affairs that the world will experience a golden age of peace and prosperity (the millennium) at the end of which Jesus will come again to claim his now perfected bride, the church. The horror of two world wars demonstrated conclusively that human society was not getting progressively better and so postmillennialism quickly fell out of vogue. Now it’s back in a particularly aggressive form labeled Dominionism, a belief that Christ will rule the world through the church by gaining either direct or indirect control over education, government, business and so on. This is how NAR teachers would understand the application of Jesus’ words, “I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26).
Earthly dominion was never on Jesus’ agenda, the first disciples certainly did not see it as the church’s mandate, and it cannot reasonably be argued from an exhaustive study of scripture
Verses 26 and 27 of Revelation chapter two are complex and require far more analysis than I can give in a short article. These verses quote from Psalm 2 which is generally accepted as a messianic prophecy fulfilled in Christ Jesus. When Jesus began his public ministry the devil tempted him by offering him authority over all the kingdoms of the world, but he rejected this out of hand.. At the end of his public ministry Jesus was asked by Pilate if he indeed was an earthly king and his answer was, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Earthly dominion was never on Jesus’ agenda, the first disciples certainly did not see it as the church’s mandate, and it cannot reasonably be argued from an exhaustive study of scripture.
When Jesus instructs his church to “hold onto what you have until I return’ he is commenting on what his disciples have been taught by the apostles as opposed to the teachings of Jezebel. In other words, “Stick with what I have taught you and do not get caught up with any so-called deep teachings”. If Jesus and his Apostles did not teach what NAR ‘apostles’ teach then what do they claim as their source of authority? Well, they claim to receive special ‘revelation knowledge’ and by this they usually mean that the Holy Spirit gives them special insight into the meaning of certain scriptures. How this occurs is often by way of allegorical interpretation of types, patterns, and isolated texts, usually drawn from the Old Testament. For instance, the army of locusts in Joel is understood as a type of the end-time church army that will gain dominion over the earth, and so on.
There is some room for responsible allegory because Paul used it on occasions (Galatians 4:21-24 1 Corinthians 10:4) and Jesus sometimes spoke allegorically (John 10), but a good rule for interpreting allegorically is to ensure that any ‘deeper’ meaning is consistent with the literal first intended meaning of the text. By this I mean that any additional meanings of a Bible passage must be consistent with the more obvious meaning of the text and not contradict or present something unrelated to its essential message.
Much of what we hear taught as ‘prophetic revelation’ is based on unfounded allegorical interpretations of Old Testament scriptures. These are not the deep things of Jesus, so we are left to wonder at their source and the validity of those who teach them.
In my next post I want to focus on the phrase ‘morning star’ that Jesus used at the end of his letter to the church in Thyatira, and I am sure you will find it ‘illuminating’.