Everlasting Kingdom: Unraveling the Bible’s Secrets

The Seven Sabbath Keeping Churches of Revelation—Here and Now!

Ages or Attitudes—History or Prophecy?

Chapter 20, Part 1 Preview: Several opinions exist concerning what the “seven churches” of Revelation 2-3 represent. Some claim that they represent seven “attitudes” present during the entire “church age”. Many others claim that they are seven consecutive historic periods or “eras” of “God’s Church”. Does the internal evidence in the Book of Revelation about these “seven churches” support historic interpretations? Could they actually be seven 21st century Assemblies comparable to their first century counterparts? John’s narration is primarily stern forewarnings of the peril these assemblies face if they don’t measure up just prior to His return! Why would a book warning about what is to come at the end of the age, specifically addressed to these seven groups with very specific admonitions toward each of them, not self evidently indicate that they will be integrally involved in all of those events? Isn’t the entire Book of Revelation about the end of the age and meant to be understood? I submit that these warnings to the seven “churches” are a life and death concern for commandment keeping people during this very time period.

My 2024 More Specific View:

Back Next The Book of Revelation is entirely about the end of the age. It was specifically written to benefit seven differing but contemporary assenblies [churches, ref #1], just as the “prototype” seven assemblies were contemporaries in the first century. But the 21st century antetype is on a worldwide scale:

Revelation 2:4 From John to the seven assemblies [churches, ref #2] in Asia. Good will and peace to you from the One who is, and who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits who are before His throne ... —The Gabriel Bible

The context is not about segregated historic “eras”. It is about seven groups of people who will all be collectively present at the end of the age, just prior to the Great Tribulation:

Menorah

EPHESUS: “Do what you did at first, because unless you make amends for your sins, I WILL COME TO YOU SUDDENLY [Aramaic] and I’ll remove your menorah from its place!

PERGAMOS: “So amend your ways, or I WILL COME TO YOU SUDDENLY and wage war against them [the Nicolaitan overlords] with the sword of My mouth.

THIATIRA: “I’ll throw 'Jezebel' on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer GREAT TRIBULATION [NASB] unless they turn from her evil ways! 23 I’ll strike her children dead and ALL THE ASSEMBLIES WILL KNOW that I’m the One who searches the innermost thoughts and motives. I’ll compensate each of you commensurate with your works ... 25 But hold tightly onto what you have UNTIL I COME.

SARDIS: “If you don’t wake up, I WILL COME TO YOU like a thieving false 'minister' and you won’t know which annual time I’ll come to you.

These distinctive groups have this in common:

Revelation 12:17 The Dragon was furiously angry with the woman, and he went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who obey the Commandments of Yehovah [the so-called “OT”] AND have THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA [the so-called “NT”. So few of these would be Jews!]

Sabbatarian “churches” had almost if not entirely died out due to persecution over the centuries. I would like to think that a few Christians somewhere were obeying all Ten Commandments at all times, keeping a small light burning during the darkest of years. Seven eras proponents, especially many “Churches of God” maintain that seven successive eras of the church overlapped, leaving no lapses in time. They cite as evidence:

Jesus said that the gates of hell [hades] shall not prevail against His church” (Matthew 16:18), meaning that His church would continue to exist in spite of efforts to destroy it.”

But One of the Churches of God pretty much overcame the eras myth:

“Comment: The church’s traditional doctrine about eras teaches that the fledgling apostolic church represented the Ephesian era, lasting through the lifetimes of the original apostles and their immediate successors. The eras of Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira followed one after another through the Middle Ages until early modern times. Herbert Armstrong believed he became involved with the remnants of the Sardis era in the last century’s early decades and that God used him to preside over the next era, Philadelphia. With his death in January 1986, many members assume the final era, Laodicea, has begun.

“However, the book of Revelation provides only the barest hint of such an interpretation. If the seven thunders in Revelation 10 are the works of the seven churches, we can suppose they are successive, as counting seven distinct peals of thunder is only possible when they boom sequentially. Otherwise, the doctrine of church eras has been cobbled together by attempting to match details in the letters with historical evidence left by Christian Sabbath and Passover keepers and full-immersion baptizers down through the centuries. Many of the matches seem correct, but ultimately, they are unprovable.

“Thus, the idea of a historical succession of church eras linked to the seven letters of Revelation 2-3 is not out of the realm of possibility. Prophetic material in Scripture frequently has a type and an antitype. It sometimes has a physical fulfillment as well as a spiritual one. Nothing hinders us from supposing that these prophetic letters could have first-century and end-time applications along with a sequential one. But as the interpretation least supported by the Bible, understanding Christ’s epistles to the seven churches as historical eras is perhaps not the best way to view them.”

Unfortunately, Church of the Great God attributes the Herbert Armstrong pedigree to all seven churches.

I spent 27 years with the “Church of God” (WCG & LCG) before being thrown out over the calendar issue in 2000, even tho I never tried to “convert” anyone, even my wife, daughter and brother, (tho I did warn all of my friends in 1993 about the sneaky introduction of trinitarianism into the WCG under the name of “hypostasis” {trinity} and got booted immediately).

One comment on Hades, relative to these links: Hades is the name of the pagan god of the underworld. I do not believe that Yeshua or His disciples ever mentioned Hades in the Bible. It is another evidence to me that the “New Testament” was never first written in Greek! It was translated from Aramaic, the native language of Yeshua (Jesus) and His disciples. They would never have used a doctrine of demons to illustrate a point!

Here is a far more interesting explanation of “the gates of hell”.

So when the first man in jolly old England learned of the Sabbath and began promoting it, King Charles 1 had him endure extreme torture and then had him cut to pieces. It was quite a rocky start.

Revelation Chapters 2 & 3 explain that at the end of the age there will be seven distinct assemblies (churches) in existence! These people are described six times in Revelation as living by the entire Word of Aloha [God]—the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament”, not just select parts of the book!

If you arrange the “seven churches” of Revelation in the order that the ancient cities were founded or rose to prominence, rather than their distance from Rome on the postal route, (further away from Rome would have been a plus!) you get this descending order. Note that some of these cities had occupants in the vicinity for much larger periods, the cities were often conquered and names were changed. Some were destroyed by earthquakes and armies and rebuilt. Pergamon, for example features “Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman structures, reflecting Paganism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam”. These dates seem to be relevant from a first century perspective:

Ephesus: 12th century BC
Sardis: about 530 BC
Smyrna: 388 BC still recovering from prior conquest. Renovated: 316 to 281 BC
Pergamos: 323 BC
Thyatira: 290 BC
Laodicea: 261 BC
Philadelphia: 189 BC

Given that Revelation 2 and 3 shows that Yeshua will return to seven distinct and surviving Ten Commandment keeping “families” (including their “children”/splinters) at the end of the age, I am now suggesting a more detailned scenario. This would of course make some of my original scenario (below) incorrect, especially in regard to the Adventists. This wiki/List link should have all of the primary contenders there roughly in “families”. My main difference of opinion with wiki is that the Church of God (seventh Day) should NOT be classified with the Adventists, it should be part of the Church of God group that includes Armstrongism, as wiki terms it.

It is quite apparent that Yehovah set the bar quite low to give more people an opportunity to thrive. In fact, Israel was so luke warm that Yehovah made His offer so simple that it should never have been refused:

Jeremiah 17:24 “Still, if you pay attention to Me, Yehovah says, and refuse to bring any loads thru the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, and keep the Sabbath day 'special' by not doing any work, 25 then kings and princes sitting on David’s throne will enter thru the gates of this city, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, as well as the men of Judah, and the citizens of Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever!

It is apparent that a single one issue offer is also being given to the seven end of the age assemblies as well! The Sabbath alone gives people “a foot in the door” of New Jerusalem, and this offer, if accepted, allows it’s citizens to inhabit Jerusalem forever!

Certainly Yehovah favors some assemblies more than others, ranging from to killing their children to protection from the Great Tribulation. Every individual is like a unique star:

1 Corinthians 15:41-42 The magnitude of the sun is unique, as is the brightness of the moon and the stars. Each star differs from the other stars in apparent magnitude. 42 It is the same with the resurrection of the dead ...

The 7th day Baptists were the first Sabbath group to arise after Sabbath (Commandment) keeping had gone virtually if not completely extinct. The Adventists split from them. The Churches of God broke away from them. The True Jesus (Yesu) Church in China came next via sabbath keeping missionaries and others. Messianics organized in the 1980’s (as distinct from a few in messianic Judaism), and Philadelphia is yet to come (they will understand the messages to the seven assemblies).

This is my more refined concept that was written during the Days of Unleavened Bread, 2024, prefacing my original 2004 article:

Ephesus may exist as the 7th day Baptists (the oldest existing Sabbath observant “church”) that came from nowhere in about 1614 in England and then in Germany as German Seventh Day Baptists (my great great grandmother was one of them) that merged with the English Sabbath keepers. They may correspond to the oldest of the seven literal cities listed in Revelation 1 in geographic order. The 7th day Baptists certainly endured wickedness and persecution. They were forced to flee Europe: “2 I know your works, your toil and your endurance. I know that you can’t tolerate the wicked, and that you have tested those who claim to be 'apostles' and aren’t, and you’ve found them to be liars.” The next verses may refer to watered down zeal over four centuries: “3 You’ve persevered and endured burdens because of My name, and haven’t grown weary. 4 Yet I have some things against you. You have forsaken your first love.”By 1530, following the Protestant Reformation, and the German Peasants War of 1524–1525, large areas of Northern Europe were Protestant, and forms of nontrinitarianism began to surface among some “Radical Reformation” groups, particularly AnaBAPTISTS” (including Seventh Day Baptists): “5 So remember the ‘height’ you have fallen from and make amends. Do what you did at first, because unless you make amends for your sins, I WILL COME TO YOU SUDDENLY [Aramaic] and I’ll remove your menorah from its place! 6 But you have this in your favor, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans that I also hate.” I strongly suspect that the “first love” included “forms of nontrinitarianism”. A notice on wikipedia indicates that trinitarians? want to purge this article. To this day 7th Day Baptists reject the “top down government” aspect of the Nicolaitins. They operate on the local level! But there is more to Nicolaitism than government.

Sardis: Adventists including William Miller used to be primarily Sunday keepers until after 1843 when Miller convinced perhaps a million Americans that Jesus was about to return. Various Christians were involved in “the great dissapointment” including some Seventh Day Baptists. Of course the advent never happened, but Miller was converted to Sabbath keeping along the way and was instrumental in the creation the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which was officially founded in Battle Creek, Michigan on May 21, 1863. But Yehovah is very displeased with Sardis! 4 “Yet you have a few good names in Sardis who haven’t defiled their clothing. They’ll walk with Me in white because they are worthy.” I spent an entire Feast of Unleavened Bread with a gathering of break-away Adventists. They were very disturbed at how far into apostasy Adventism had advanced. I have a friend who grew up as an Adventist. He told me that the only thing that they have is the Sabbath. If the Adventists are Sardis, then my friend would be right: “1 To the messenger of the assembly in Sardis, write: “He who has the seven spirits of Yehovah and the seven stars says, I know your works, you’re name [or reputation] 'means' that you are alive, but you’re dead.

Smyrna: If the Church of God (7th day) and her offspring, the Armstrong “Sabbatarian Churches of God” or simply the “Churches of God” or “the COG” is Smyrna, then the one prominent fault associated with them is: 9 ‘I know your works, your suffering and your poverty, but you are rich, despite the blasphemy coming from those who say that they are Jews, but are really from the cabal of Satan.” This is reminiscent Jude 1:4 “...some men have crept in among you unnoticed, who from the beginning were prophesied to be condemned, wicked men...”. They split from the Adventists over some of Ellen Whites teachings, and in 1884 the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh_Day) was organized. While the 10 days likely has prototypical first century fulfillment, it certainly has future fulfillment: “10 Don’t fear the things you are about to suffer! Look, the Accuser is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you’ll suffer tribulation for ten days. But be faithful until death, and I’ll give you the crown of life.” I like how this article explains the “ten days”. I am somewhat familiar with the Church of God (7th day). My in-laws settled into this “church”.

Pergamos: “where Satan’s throne is”the Dragon? Sabbath keepers were active in China as early as 635 AD, but they had long vanished before the seven latter days assemblies began forming. The True Jesus [Yesu] Church was established in China in 1917. It was influenced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and others. “You didn’t deny My faith in the days when there was conflict with My faithful witness who was martyred among you where Satan lives.” “In 1951, Isaac Wei was arrested and ‘disappeared’ [into the concentration camps]. How and when he died is unknown. Li Zhengcheng ... replaced Isaac Wei as the main leader of the TJC ... “15 Also, some of you cling to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. 16 So amend your ways, or I WILL COME TO YOU SUDDENLY and wage war against them [the Nicolaitan overlords—a shocking history], with the sword of My mouth”. These people are enduring severe persecution, which seems to fit the Revelation description. In the ancient world, Satan had a literal headquarters in Mysia, in NW Turkey. Could he be more interested in China now? What about the Kings of the East?

Thyatira: If the Sacred Name Movement is Thyatira, then it seems that the Jezebel commentary would only figuratively relate to them since no woman fits the role: “20 But I have a complaint against you. You tolerate that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she deceives My servants into sexual immorality and into eating things offered to idols. 21 I gave her time to change her ways, but she didn’t want to turn away from her sexual immorality. 22 I’ll throw 'Jezebel' on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer GREAT TRIBULATION[NASB] unless they turn from her evil ways! 23 I’ll strike her children dead and ALL THE ASSEMBLIES WILL KNOW that I’m the One who searches the 'minds' and hearts. I’ll compensate each of you commensurate with your works.” Sacred names groups arose in the early 20th century out of the Church of God (Seventh Day). This is confirmed in great detail here. I spent two Feast of Tabernacles in two states with these groups, and tho they had a problem with my disagreement with their “sacred name”, they provided perhaps the two most plesant and memorable of my 51 Feast of Tabernacles. On one of them I was flat on my back with sciatica the entire time, lying on the floor! Interestingly, unlike Ephesus, Thyatira’s works were increasing rather than decreasing. “The Sacred Name Movement arose in the early 20th century out of the Church of God (Seventh Day) movement. The movement was influenced by Joseph Franklin Rutherford [a Sabbath keeper!] after he changed the name of the main branch of the Bible Student movement to Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931. C. O. Dodd, a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) who began to keep the Jewish [Biblical] festivals (including Passover) in 1928, adopted sacred name doctrines in the late 1930s.” I must note that Nehemia Gordon has been searching the entire world this century for ancient Hebrew documents, especially the Hebrew Scriptures for the “sacred name” and was utterly astonished to find over 2,000 documents that contain the tetragramaton—that also include all of the vowel points: YeHoVaH. He has yet to find a single historic Yahweh reference, known among the Samaritans who still retain it! I have followed this since he found the first such document—the Leningrad Codexhidden in plain sight of all Bible translators—the Hebrew basis for every English translation!

Laodicea: Messianics/Hebrew roots basically have their roots in the 1980’s (again as distinct from a few in messianic Judaism who are still practicing Judaism, with a twist). Like all of these other assemblies, they were begun by people formerly associated with an existing Sabbath group. Wikipedia (at least for now) has an excellent article on the evolution of Hebrew roots. I am familiar with most of the players. If like all of the previous branches of the menorah, the Hebrew roots have an “angel”, meaning a messenger, as in “To the angel of the church in Sardis write” (NASB), it might be, Dean and Susan Wheelock, who received their federal trademark for the term “Hebrew Roots” in 1994. I spent a dozen years among two Hebrew Roots assemblies. Most of these people are straight out of Protestant Christian Churches. Individually they essentially just add Torah to whatever they came out of. Right from my beginning with them in 2009, I believed that they represent Laodicea, based entirely on the total lack of serious effort to harmonize the entire Bible—the “old” with the “new”. 15 ‘I know your works, that you are neither hot or cold. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and aren’t either hot or cold, I’m about to vomit you from My mouth.’ In those 12 years, not once did I hear a single chapter from Yesua’s Testimony read, while several chapters from the Torah are read every single Sabbath without fail (except for when I was given an opportunity). Festival attendance is quite sporadic but well known. While the groups were quite small, averaging maybe 20 in attendance each week, I encountered hundreds of individuals just kicking tires, wandering in for one Sabbath, but never to return! I stayed with them because my being quite different made no difference to them, tho none really knew how out of place I was. So no one thought they should throw me out (unlike every sabbath “Church of God” group that I relate to considerably better.) Both groups I met with have now disbanded. If aliens ever ask any of them to “take me to your leader” the aliens will be out of luck; there is only local government.

Philadelphia: They are yet to form as I see it. No church seems to me to conform close enough to what the first century Christians practiced. Not that Philadelphians are not here in the present, it’s just that there is no “angel” to the “church” of Philadelphia to draw them out yet. Philadelphians all know that something is lacking wherever they meet. The spiritual gifts and miraculous signs presently seem in very short supply, and Yehovah has not yet revealed a modern day Moses. I believe that a lot of change needs to happen first. I used to think it was significant that the ancient city of Philadelphia was founded by a man from Pergamos. After the two witnesses formally appear there will be exactly 1,260 days before the Jubilee year comes, and Yeshua and His Father are here (Daniel 7:9-14). (They may arrive or already be here before being empowered.) Evidently Philadelphia will not be in the dark as to the Father’s and the Son’s names!

Revelation 3:4 I know your works. See, I have placed an open door in front of you that no one can shut, because you have a limited strength and you’ve obeyed My Word and haven’t denied My name!

The open door sounds quite promising. About His name:

Proverbs 30:4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has gathered water in His clothing? Who has established all the boundaries of the earth? WHAT IS HIS NAME AND WHAT IS HIS SON’S NAME? Surely you must know!

Using their names is a sign of propriety and respect—it’s not a salvational issue! One more thing:

Revelation 3:9 I have something for those of the cabal of Satan who claim to be Jews and aren’t, but lie, I’ll make them come and kneel before your feet, and realize that I love you!”

Obviously that did not happen centuries ago. It’s without doubt a prophecy about Philadelphians on Judgment Day! We are now so late in the game that I think it’s likely that the seventh assembly will likely begin on the commemorative day when the seventh shemitah of the Jubilee cycle begins, which would only allow Philadelphia to exist for the exact 3.5 years prior to their time of protection. Next year Philadelphia!:

Revelation 3:10 Since you’ve patiently obeyed My Word, I’ll protect you from the time of testing that is about to overtake the entire inhabited world, to test those who live on the earth.

Ironically, these assemblies are in unbroken succession, members of an earlier assembly always associated with the newest offspring—while none has ever displaced a previous assembly! From decades of personal experience, I most certainly notice direct associations between the Messianic groups and the Worldwide Church of God, as explained in the Laodicea link—unique errors common to both—sort of like the minor genetic mutations that identify true Levitical lineage. Commonalities are surely due to the Worldwide Church of God’s amazing success in all forms of mass media at the time. A Messianic minister I knew well was the son of a long time WCG family. But I never once heard Herbert Armstrong’s name mentioned during a service during my 12 years among Messianics, and only once dispariagingly otherwise, directed to me.

My current 2024 understanding of who the Seven Assemblies are, now factoring in when the first century prototype cities were founded, contradicts some of my original thoughts below. I am revising it some. Long ago I had given up on trying to identify all seven assemblies from the meager descriptions. I happen to know of a ministry that is probably aware of this page that scoffed at the idea of someone believing that the seven churches are seven independent, Sabbath keeping, contemporary, end-time church groups. So I tried to see if someone, other than yours truly, might be making that point. A google search of “seven churches” Revelation & Sabbath should always make that point. How else could someone make that point? It is exceedingly rare for all of those words to be in one search, and after extensive checking, no teaching shows up with that concept. Adventist posts indicate that all seven are really one group over 2000 years (but just one right now.)

Revelation 1:4 From John to the seven assemblies [churches] in Asia. Good will and peace to you from the One who is, and who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits who are before His throne ...

But John used the identifying sign (Exodus 31:13-18) as to the common denominator of these seven assemblies:

Revelation 12:17 The Dragon was furiously angry with the woman, and he went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who obey the Commandments of Yehovah [the so-called “OT”] AND have THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA [the so-called “NT”. So few of these would be Jews!]

It seems fitting that no Sunday church is claiming that the entirely end-time Book of Revelation is addressed to seven contemporary end-time churches (Revelation 1:4) with seven differing “flavors”, (without specifying that they would have to be the commandment keepers that John specified in Revelation 14:12), but that search result never shows up. Searching: “seven churches” revelation and “all contemporary” (without “Sabbath”) also finds no search results. Maybe someone has a duckduckgo.com account with a “verbatim” search to find such a nonexistant? claim.

The Seven Churches of Revelation {My 2004 Commentary With Updates}

Why is Pergamos told ? And why is it that the “long gone Thyatira era” is warned that they “ ... will suffer GREAT TRIBULATION (NASB) unless they turn from her evil ways!”, and that “ALL THE [other 6] ASSEMBLIES WILL KNOW that I’m the One who searches the innermost thoughts and motives”, if they are alone in time? And why are they told to “hold tightly onto what you have UNTIL I COME”, since they can’t be there for His return because they are all supposedly dead and gone?

Three Popular Interpretations

I have summarized the most common explanations of the “seven churches” into three theories. We’ll start with the “eras” and “attitudes”.

New Jerusalem
INDEX

Theory #1: The politically correct belief is that these seven represent all of Christianity down thru the ages, culminating in the end-time. This theory maintains that there are seven broad “attitudes” that comprise every brand of the Christian “faith”. The warnings and promises are for anyone, at any time, who thinks of themself as a believer.

Theory #2: A narrower interpretation is that the “seven churches” represent seven uninterrupted “eras” of Yehovah’s “true” Assembly of believers extending from the time of Peter to the end of the age. This is a form of the “Apostolic succession” teaching of the Catholic Church. Adherents to this teaching often have a Papal like adoration for their own “Vicar of Christ”, whatever they may call him (or her). The theory often maintains that today is the “Laodicean era” and that the other six “churches” are all but deceased.

Theory #3: There is also the “preterist” explanation that these “seven churches” existed historically and that the warnings are totally irrelevant for us today; as they claim about almost every other prophecy. I don’t care to even comment on that notion.

(Note: the word “church” is directly derived from the name of the pagan goddess Circe. Yet the origin of the English form of the word “church”, and many European languages is of no concern to most people.)

The first two theories are quite similar with the exception of how exclusivistic the theorist is. If you believe that “all roads lead to heaven”, then Theory #1 is the explanation for you. On the other hand, if you believe that only those people who accept the teachings of your favorite guru (and his alleged or actual predecessors and successors) are true disciples, then Theory #2 is for you. Theory #2 appeals to total exclusivists so much because they can view the “seven churches” as history rather than prophecy—despite their placement in the KEY book of end time prophecy! In this way they can still believe that their organization has always existed under the control of one “church government”. The idea that “the Way” can exist in seven differing forms at the same time is anathema to them.

The first man to suggest the idea of church eras was a 13th Century Catholic monk named Joachim of Fiore. Later, Nicholas of Lyra was the first to suggest actual dates. The Catholic Church eventually rejected Joachim’s theory, but a form of it later resurfaced with some of the Protestant Reformers. Most of the “era” proponents have associated themselves with “the church of the Laodiceans”, the last supposed “era”, and taught that Yeshua’s (Jesus’) return was imminent. Of course constant revisions of the end time schedule of events need to be made as each new generation of “end time Apostles” come on the scene.

The “church eras” theory was promoted by Ellen G. White, “prophetess” of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the idea is preserved in her writings. She taught that the Adventists were the last era of “God’s true church”. In the last century, Herbert Armstrong taught that the Worldwide Church of God was the “Philadelphian era”, because the benefits package was much better than that of Laodicea (presented as the 7th era). Others have stepped forward in recent years to “bear the burden” of being end time “Elijahs” presiding over either the “Philadelphia era” or the “Laodicean era”.

Attitudes or Works?

James 2:26 A body without the spirit is dead, just as faith without works is dead.

Some people, particularly those who may see problems with the eras approach, latch onto the “seven different attitudes” approach, saying that there are seven distinct types of people with distinctive “attitudes” within Yehovah’s one Assembly. They see this as the condition of the body of Yeshua since its inception. Actually, there are only two “attitudes” at work in the end time congregations—good ones and bad ones. Most of the “seven churches” have both attitudes present. However, that is not the issue. There are two paramount factors addressed in this prophecy—“works” and “heresy”, (being divided into sects is literally “heresy”). Most of the world’s churches teach that good “works” are not a factor in salvation. Try telling that to these Assemblies!

Revelation 2:2 ‘I know your works ...

Revelation 2:9 I know your works ...

Revelation 2:13 I know your works ...

Revelation 2:26 To those who are victorious, persevering in My works TO THE END ...

Revelation 3:1 To the messenger of the assembly in Sardis ... I know your works ...

Revelation 3:8 I know your works. See, I have placed an open door [2] in front of you that no one can shut, because you have a limited strength and you’ve obeyed My Word and haven’t denied My name! [3]

[2] What does the “open door” represent here? Now note the closed door to Laodicea in verse 20 that some may open. Now just two verses later (Revelation 4:1) we have “an open door in the sky” leading to 25 thrones, and John is being invited up! Is this New Jerusalem? [3] How many assemblies even know He has a name?

Revelation 3:15 I know your works, that you are neither hot or cold. I wish that you were either cold or hot.

To be justified, these seven branches of “menorah” must do Yehovah’s works and also have faith as He admonished them. Faith or works alone by itself is insufficient.

James 2:22 You see that faith enabled his works, and as a result of works, his faith was perfected.

James 2:24 So you see that people are deemed to be righteous by works, and NOT by faith alone.

An Unembellished Explanation

A literal view is that these prophecies are for the end of the age. Specifically, there are to be seven different ecclesiastical groups, most of them having factions or splinters (1 Corinthians 11:19), each one represented by a branch of the menorah of Yehovah’s true congregation at the end of the age. The circumstances that these seven branches of the menorah (not really a “lampstand”) find themselves in are a true example of history repeating itself. These latter day separate branches have strengths and weaknesses that correlate to the conditions of the seven local contemporary Assemblies that John was familiar with in the first century. The first of these latter “seven churches” to emergence was met with extreme persecution. Before the 17th century seventh day Sabbath keeping Christians were virtually non-existant.

The first Sabbath-keeping Baptist congregations:

“Because of these prejudices and the recent history of anti-seventh day persecution, those holding seventh-day views tested the waters carefully. On at least one occasion, church records were kept in code, while seventh-day publications were released anonymously or with only the author’s initials. Therefore, one cannot speak with absolute certainty as to the exact year the earliest seventh-day congregations originated. Based on their own writings and other evidence, it appears that most of them arose during the decade of the 1650s.

“In every case, those individuals whose backgrounds historians have uncovered lived first as Baptists before becoming seventh-day Sabbatarians.” They started from scratch!

Let’s take a close look at what the Bible says on the subject. The purpose of the Book of Revelation is revealed in the very first verse of the book—it is to show us what to expect!

Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah, that Yehovah gave to Him to show to His servants—certain events that must of necessity take place quickly, in a fixed position in time [minute 49.50]. He revealed these events by sending His messenger to His servant John.

The phrase “take place soon” is translated as “shortly come to pass” in the KJV, implying that Yehovah is running late. What must “take place soon” are all of the events in the book that describes the Day of Yehovah (the “Lord”). The “quickly” aspect is that once these events begin to occur then the events will be as surreal as an action movie.

The book of Daniel was sealed—eluding a comprehensive understanding until the final generation of this age:

Daniel 12:4 But Daniel, keep this message a secret, and put a seal on the book until the time of the end. Many will travel around quickly, and knowledge will greatly increase”.

However the Book of Revelation was intended to be understood from the time that it was written. Notice:

Revelation 22:10 Then he told me, “Don’t seal the words of this book of prophecy, because the time is near.

I believe that John literally “traveled in time” to the very end of this age and saw Yeshua walking among His seven menorah.

The perspective that John was “viewing” this prophesy from was reflecting back on the Great Tribulation from within the time frame of the Day of Yehovah. This is an important distinction because the fireworks don’t really get going until after the Great Tribulation!

Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the time of Tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon won’t shed her light and stars will fall from the sky [See footnote on Isaiah 34:4], and the miraculous power of the skies will be shaken.

When a symbolic term is used infrequently it usually means the same thing consistently—especially within the same book. Notice that “menorah” (lampstands) represent the “Seven ‘Ecclesias’ by definition:

Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery about the seven stars that you saw in My right hand, and the seven gold menorahs: The seven stars are the spirit messengers of the seven assemblies, and the seven menorahs are the seven assemblies.

Are They Churches?

John Calvin

John Calvin insisted on using the word “church” (instead of using “Ecclesia” or “Assembly” or “Congregation”) in his version of the Geneva Bible. Others such as William Tyndale, refused to substitute a completely different word of Greek origin—“kirche/church” for “Ecclesia”: see “church” in Webster’s Dictionary}. Tyndale’s Bible correctly renders “Ecclesia” as “Congregation” rather than “church” where the Greek so-called “New Testament” passages use “Ecclesia”. This is perhaps the primary reasons why the Church (of England) had him killed! The term “church” implies both “an edifice” as well as “acknowledging ... ecclesiastical authority”—the trademarks of corporate or hierarchical church governments that seek to deprive you of your free moral agency (and your cash)!

For a very detailed study of the origin of the word “church” you really need to read about the pagan goddess Circe, Daughter of the Sun. Anatomy of a Church (by Earnest Martin)

Circe

Since the word “ecclesia” is rendered into English as both “congregation” and “assembly”, I would like to comment on the usages of these terms.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, an “Assembly” is a gathering in a single geographic location, “in the same place”, whereas “congregation”, while often used synonymously with “Assembly” would be more useful in describing, as Webster says, the “Christian church” on a planetary scale. In order to maintain a meaningful distinction, I prefer that distinction—to describe Yehovah’s entire “Ecclesia” as the “Congregation”. Going beyond Webster’s definition—when referring to any one of the seven end time lamps of the menorah, we might refer to it as an “Assembly” with local area members of that Assembly being referred to as “Local Assemblies”.

Seven Messages to Seven Ecclesias

There are seven examples of a Messenger delivering a message to “His servants” by a revelation to the envoy John (Revelation 1:1). Does the phrase “To the angel of the church of Ephesus” or the phrase “the angel of the church of_____” (any of the other six Assemblies) truly mean angels?

The Greek translations of The Testimony of Yeshua with their “angelos” is obviously the source of the English word “angel”, and carries some Greek cultural pagan baggage, unlike the original Aramaic, in reference to messengers. The Greek translations also slip in “Hades” (god of the underworld) right out of Greek mythology in all of the places where “sheol” belongs—the Aramaic word Yeshua used whether speaking His native Aramaic (as well as in Hebrew in this instance) for the grave See: What are Angels?).

So the question is: Would Yeshua convey a message to seven Messengers via John? That makes no sense because Yehovah resides with the spirit Messengers. Yehovah would no more send messages to His Messengers, via John, than He would use the Post Office! The context indicates that Yeshua is delivering messages to people—human messengers—of the last generation of “the Way”!

Are these “messengers” Apostles? A commonly held opinion of the meaning of the term “Apostle” is a servant of Yeshua who had to have seen Him in person in the first century.

An Apostle is defined here in the Greek and here in the Hebrew.

The literal understanding of the word “envoy” or “delegate” or messenger”, rather than some winged creature as indicated by the following passage concerning the Ephesus Assembly:

The Warning to Ephesus (Founded 12th Century BC):

Ephesus

Revelation 2:2 I know your works, your toil and your endurance. I know that you can’t tolerate the wicked, and that you have tested those who claim to be 'apostles' and aren’t, and you’ve found them to be liars.

Here we find an Assembly with men claiming to be apostles. The prophecy indicates that this Assembly will test these imposters to see if they are really apostles, not based on their having seen Yeshua, but rather based on the things that they are saying. In Ephesus their “servants” are proven to be liars. However, the implication is that there could be men at the close of the age with the zeal and power of the original twelve, but that they must be tested by what they are saying. I doubt that true apostles would even apply the term to themselves, because of the baggage that has been added to the term by liars over the centuries. Nevertheless, there are seven end time “messengers”.

The Two Witnesses may come from two of the Seven Assemblies. John specifically referred to Zechariah’s prophecy concerning the otherwise unique symbols of “two olive trees” and two (of the seven) “menorah” , and compared it to the end time events that he was witnessing. Without going into detail here, the Revelation account correlates the circumstances of Zerubbabel and Joshua rebuilding Yehovah’s second Temple to the Two Witnesses building the third Temple! (While the one Ezekiel described in his Ezekiel 40 chapters 40-48 will be the fourth Temple.)

Revelation 11:1-4 Then I, John, was given a measuring reed like a staff, and a messenger standing by and said, “Get up and measure the Temple [1] of Yehovah and the altar and those who worship there [2]. 2 But don’t measure the courtyard outside of the Temple. Leave it out, because it has been given the other nations, and they’ll trample the 'cherished' city underfoot for forty-two months. 3 I will give power to My Two Witnesses. They’ll prophesy for 1,260 days [4], wearing sackcloth. 4 They are the two olive trees and the two menorahs [5] standing in the presence of the Aloha of the world.

[1] Here John is actually told to measure the end time third Temple just prior to the Two Witnesses commission (v.3). The terms “measure”, “measured” and “measuring” combined are found dozens of times in reference to the temple in Ezekiel 40-42. This would explain the previous verse (10:11): “John, you must prophesy AGAIN before many nations and peoples and princes and kings.” Is he one of the two witnesses or one of their companions? Same goes for Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6). Does God Travel in Time? [2] In the architectural planning, the outer court is excluded/ruled out! There is plenty of space on the Temple Mount’s nearly 36 acres for the other nation’s structures.. And while the Temple is to be literally measured, the people are spiritually measured! [3] After a long search, I found a link that comes close to my views, other than for Moses, Elijah and John time traveling and the final eight years. [4] Some teach that Yehovah, ‘the LORD” will take His Year out Satan’s seven year long fling (2X 1,260 days), not understanding that the Jubilee year (2031/2032 AD?) always follows a seven year period, (the Shemitah). The Tribulation period accounts for the remaining part of the 70 weeks prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2. [5] This is a reference to Zechariah 4, verse 11 in particular, equating the seven branched Hebrew “menorah” with the Greek “luchnia.” Both are usually translated as “candle sticks” or “lamp stands.”

Zechariah 4:1-14 The Messenger who was speaking with me returned and awakened me, as you’d awaken someone who is sleeping. 2 He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold menorah with a basin on top of it. There are seven lights on it, there are seven spouts for each light that is on top of it. 3 And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on the left.” 4 I said to the Messenger who was speaking with me, “Master, what are these?”

5 Then the Messenger who was speaking with me replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” I replied, “No, Master.” 6 Then Commander Yehovah said, “This is the 'message' of Yehovah to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might or power, but by My Spirit. 7 Who are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you’ll become a plain. He’ll bring out the Capstone [1] with shouts of ‘Blessings, blessings on it!’”

8 The Word of Yehovah came to me. He said, 9 “Zerubbabel’s hands have laid the foundation of this 'Temple', and his hands will finish it. Then you’ll know that Commander Yehovah has sent me to you. 10 Who despises the day of small things? These seven will celebrate when they see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. They are the eyes of Yehovah that quickly traverse the entire earth.” 11 Then I asked Him, “What are the two olive trees to the right and left of the menorah?”[2] 12 I asked him a second time, “What are the two olive branches beside the two gold pipes carrying gold oil from them?” 13 He replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” And I said, “No Master.” 14 Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Sovereign of the whole world.

[1] The “cornerstone” of Ephesians 2:20 must be the same stone as the “capstone.” [2] This directly corresponds to Revelation 11:3-12, the Two Witnesses. Malachi 4:5 specifically tells us that Moses will be here at the end. I suspect that this involves actual time travel, not resurrection.

Notice that some members of all Seven Assemblies will “rejoice” when one like Zerubbabel takes the plumb line in hand! The Book of Revelation was written expressly to inform the Seven Assemblies that will witness the Apocalypse, about what would be happening to His spiritual body, the entire Congregation, in it’s final generation. Yeshua himself testified to this:

Revelation 1:9-11 I John, your friend and your partner in the tribulation and suffering [5] that are ours in Yeshua Messiah, was on the island called Patmos, because of the Word of Aloha and the Testimony of Yeshua Messiah. 10 I found myself transitioning into the spirit realm on the Day of Yehovah [6], and I heard a loud voice behind me like a shofar that said, 11 “Write what you are seeing in a document and send it to the seven assemblies: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

Why are there only Seven Assemblies mentioned in Revelation? Everyone knows that there are hundreds of sects claiming to represent Yehovah. I believe that the simple answer is revealed within Revelation itself! The phrase “the Testimony of Yeshua” is used five times in the Bible and every instance is in the Book of Revelation. We see below that Yehovah’s “offspring” are those who “obey the Commandments of Yehovah, AND have the Testimony of Yeshua”. Now for my biased statement: I believe that only people commemorating the Seventh Day Sabbath are truly obeying the Commandments. This drastically reduces the number of contenders for the seven. (This is not to imply that “Sunday Christians” won’t be “excused”—indeed many will be, as explained in Are the “Unsaved” Lost?.)

Revelation 12:17 The Dragon was furiously angry with the woman, and he went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who obey the Commandments of Yehovah [the so-called “OT”] AND have THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA [the so-called “NT”. So few of these would be Jews!]

Revelation 19:10I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said, “Don’t do that! I’m a fellow servant, I’m your brother who also holds to THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA [His ‘written statements’]. Worship Yehovah, because THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA is spirit inspired prophecy [1] [or ‘the spirit of prophecy’].

The “the Testimony of Yeshua” is every instruction that Yeshua gave us, not simply what He told John, as is explained in the INTRO to the Testimony of Yeshua! (Part 4 of The Gabriel Bible)

It is worth noting that the word “testimony”, in Greek Bible verses, is derived from the Greek word that is also translated as “martyr” (marturia) ... This is a message worth dying for!

Could it be that the essential “testimony” worth dying for also involves understanding the “prophecy” given by Yeshua to the Assemblies? Perhaps so.

Revelation 2:7 To anyone 'listening', listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies ...

Revelation 2:11 To anyone 'listening', listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies. Anyone who is victorious will never be harmed by the second death.

Revelation 2:17 To anyone 'listening', listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies ...

Revelation 2:29 To anyone 'listening', listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.

Revelation 3:6 To anyone 'listening', listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.

Revelation 3:13 To anyone 'listening', listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.

Revelation 3:22 To anyone 'listening', listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.

Biblical repetition is for emphasis!

It is evident that all of the self proclaimed “one true churches” will, by the end of the age, be aware of the other organizations that Yehovah is working with. Perhaps they will not, however, agree on which Assembly is Thyatira, etc. for a time.

Yehovah says to Thyatira that despite your works, love, faith, service and endurance:

Here is a dead giveaway addressed to Thiatira as to all seven assemblies being contemporaries:

Revelation 2:23 I’ll strike her children dead and ALL THE ASSEMBLIES WILL KNOW [5] that I’m the One who searches the innermost thoughts and motives. I’ll compensate each of you commensurate with your works.

[5] There goes the eras theory.

Yeshua concluded the Book of Revelation by again telling us who the book was addressed to:

Revelation 22:16 I, Yeshua, have sent My messenger to testify these things to you for the assemblies. I’m The 'Descendant' of the family of David, the brilliant Morning Star [3].

[3] You need to know what the “Morning Star” has to do with “Lucifer”!

The Bible unmistakably reveals that the Book of Revelation is addressed to the Seven Assemblies.

In Revelation Chapter 1, Yeshua was seen walking around the seven golden “menorahs” or “lampstands/candlesticks” (as most versions have it) that we are plainly told represent the Seven Assemblies (verse 20). These Seven Assemblies were on a mail route in Asia Minor, a province of the Roman Empire. These Assemblies existed in fairly close proximity to each other during the later ministry of the envoy John. Today this area is in Turkey. These seven small Assemblies died out centuries ago. That is indisputable, but have the prophecies already been fulfilled?

Has Yeshua Returned?

Did Yehovah carry out punishments on the seven ancient Assemblies that He said so much about? The only way that the prophecies concerning the Seven Assemblies could be fulfilled is if Yeshua has already returned and judged the world while we weren’t looking! All Seven Assemblies were given either a direct or indirect warning to be prepared for the return of Yeshua the Messiah! This alone rules out the possibility of “eras”.

The Warning to Ephesus:

Revelation 2:5 So remember the 'height' you have fallen from and make amends. Do what you did at first, because unless you make amends for your sins, I WILL COME TO YOU SUDDENLY [Aramaic] and I’ll remove your menorah from its place!

[5] There goes the eras theory.

We see here a direct reference to the return of Yeshua, and very soon. Altho this Assembly is not accused of false teachings, it is growing cold in spirit. Yeshua will threaten to “remove” the “menorah” of the messenger, or “angel”, of Ephesus unless he and those whom he represents “repent”.

To see some fantastic photos of ancient Ephesus click this link.

The Warning to Smyrna (Founded 388 BC):

Two sites of the ancient city are today within Izmir's boundaries. The first, probably founded by indigenous peoples, rose to prominence during the Archaic Period as one of the principal ancient Greek settlements in western Anatolia. The second, whose foundation is associated with Alexander the Great, reached metropolitan proportions during the period of the Roman Empire [the one John mentioned]. Most of the ancient city’s present-day remains date to the Roman era, the majority from after a 2nd-century AD earthquake. In practical terms, a distinction is often made between these. Old Smyrna was the initial settlement founded around the 11th century BC, first as an Aeolian settlement, and later taken over and developed during the Archaic Period by the Ionians. Smyrna proper was the new city to which residents moved as of the 4th century BC and whose foundation was inspired by Alexander the Great.

The Smyrna Assembly will be greatly persecuted. Some of the members will be martyrs. This is the time of the “fifth seal” during the Great Tribulation.

Revelation 2:9-10 I know your works, your suffering and your poverty, but you are rich, despite the blasphemy coming from those who say that they are Jews, but are really from the cabal [2] of Satan. 10 Don’t fear the things you are about to suffer! Look, the Accuser is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you’ll suffer tribulation for ten days. But be faithful until death, and I’ll give you the crown of life.

[2] The Greek word “synagogue” is generic, it doesn’t specify the function of a group. In this instance a sinister assembly is certainly implied.

If Smyrna were an era then their “tribulation” would have to have lasted for about 300 years (their 1/7th of the last 2000 years). There have been various tribulations as long as there have been cherished ones (saints). However, the focus here is on “those things that you are about to suffer”—a particular and noteworthy tribulation! What about the “ten days”? This could possibly refer to the ten day span between the Day of Trumpets and the Day of Atonements, perhaps during the final year of the Great Tribulation, the year when the “two witnesses” are martyred. The suffering will be over when the sins are fully atoned for.

To see some fantastic photos of ancient Smyrna click this link and scroll down to Izmir.

The Warning to Pergamos (Founded in the 323 BC):

The references to “sword of My mouth” in Revelation correlates to Isaiah 49:1-12 (especially v.2) that is a prophecy about Yeshua, “The Redeemer of Israel, their 'special' One”, returning to save Israel. The implication is that this Assembly must repent or else be treated like the enemies of Israel will be.

Revelation 2:16 So amend your ways, or I WILL COME TO YOU SUDDENLY and wage war against them with the sword of My mouth.

There are false teachers in the Pergamos Assembly who teach the “doctrine of Balaam” and “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans”. Yeshua will destroy these teachers at His second coming unless those involved repent of teaching these false concepts (Zechariah 13:4-5). Frequently links I endorse just disappear. This new replacement link about the Nicolaitans is astonishing!

Allegiance to any sect or denomination—to the point of allowing it to override your conscience—is literally “heresy”. In fact the Greek word for “heresy” and “sect” is one and the same! This is expounded on in Is Exclusivity “The Unpardonable Sin?

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 First of all, when you gather as a assembly, I hear that there are divisions among you, and this is sure to happen. 19 Of course there must be sects [heresies] among you, so that those of you who are genuine can be recognized..

In my opinion, the corporate churches with the most truth are splinter groups descended from Herbert Armstrong’s (pre-apostasy) Worldwide Church of God. Most call themselves Philadelphians, if not the only Philadelphians. But I see them as Nicolaitan Pergamos. I began reading their magazine, “The Plain Truth” in about 1967 at age 16. In 1993 I was booted from the corporation for not accepting their radical new doctrine: hypostasis (trinity, also “the accumulation of urine or blood in the lower parts of the body”, as they were beginning a 180 degree turn in doctrine! So I started a “franchise” splinter group in Columbus Ohio in 1993 virtually identical to the WCG. By 2000 it became known that I had a different opinion about something, it really could have been almost anything. After that, tho I had not even mentioned it outside of my own family, I became very unwelcome there and I quit just before they disfellowshipped me (after being denounced from the pulpit for seven consecutive Sabbaths). Since that time most of the information on this website has been written to challenge the truthfulness of doctrinal assumptions I had accepted as part of a “packaged deal”. I only write articles when I can’t find a satisfactory link online.

I agree with those people more than any others on earth, yet I have many disagreements, pretty much all specified on this website. The greatest fault by far is their Nicolaitan (hierarchical) government. Most of the children of their mother church all have their own little popes who are, as far as your right to attend or ask the wrong question goes, are infallible. You can’t openly disagree with anything. Many years ago I met someone who had spoken to WCG church members in many parts of the country. He remarked to me that he was stunned at the absolute uniformity of belief. Superficially he could have been mistaken as being complimentary, but in reality he was saying they were all like the Borg: robotic cyBORGs. “The Borg are an alien group that appear as recurring antagonists in the Star Trek franchise. The Borg are cybernetic organisms, linked in a hive mind called 'the Collective'.”

[As an aside, the powers that be are conditioning the public to believe in aliens from outer space: some with ‘white hats‘ who will ostensively side with ‘Earthlings’, while the ‘black hat’ aliens want to destroy us. In reality they are all demonic spirits pretending to come from deep space who will orchestrate massive destruction among humanity before convincing the military powers to gather for a showdown commonly called “the Battle of Armageddon”, for the purpose of fighting against a hostile space invasion—Daniel 7:9-14]

There are a vast number of WCG splinter groups, many of them tiny, and I would not be welcome in any of them. But for someone who needs comradery with people who share a good bit of truth, and are willing to “keep your mouth shut”, as one pastor told me when I recently asked to visit (not mentioned below). I’m going to mention a few whose literature is worth investigating:

Church of the Great God: I wanted to join this group in 2000, about the time one of their leading speakers (Darryl Henson) was forced to leave the group because he recently had a different view on the Biblical calendar, very much like I had. I believe them to be the most accurate group descended from the Worldwide Church of God. They have actually admitted to having believed some errors and corrected them. As in they no longer promote “church eras”, tho they now believe that the “seven churches” are all breakaways from WCG. Anciently, the city of Philadelphia was founded by a man from Pergamos.

Frank Nelte Always thinking outside of the box. He doesn’t even know there is a box! A critic of mine. I’m pretty sure I was the first to promote many of his articles online. He eventually got his own website. I have not kept up in many years.

The Continuing Church of God: This group has more compelling literature than the old WCG (fairly right link) had, as far as I can tell, tho I have not read even 1% of Bob Thiel’s voluminous writings. He claims to represent the most faithful branch of the only “true church”. (We both spent years in WCG and LCG.) They do have a lot of truth. HWA had me believing that his church, while flawed, was the “only true church” but there are seven totally separate branches in the end, and many are disappointing. Every CCOG article is meant to convince you that you need to support them, even leading one to believe that Bob is one of the “two witnesses”, without quite stating it. The “dues” of membership to one of these “Churches of God” (2 to 3 tithes) is a bit steep. I live on SS, so adjusted for inflation I live on less now each year than I paid in tithes while attending, and some of them believe in paying again on their SS!) Tithes were the equivalent of the taxation system of ancient Israel (fairly right link)) to run the “government”. (Bob is another critic of mine.)

To see some fantastic pictures of ancient Pergamos click this link and scroll down to Pergama.

The Warning to Thyatira (Founded Around 290 BC):

This is yet another “indisputable” reference to the return of “Yehovah AND His Messiah.

Revelation 2:25 But hold tightly onto what you have UNTIL I COME [6]..

[6] The Thyatirans will be here “UNTIL I COME.”

John told Thyatira to at least hang onto the meager truth that they have. Losing Biblical ground is inexcusable.

To see pictures from Thyatira try this link and scroll down to Akhisar.

The Warning to Sardis (Founded: 530 BC

Yeshua also gave the Sardis Assembly a clear reference to His return.

Revelation 3:3 Remember the way you received and heard, and obey those teachings and make amends. If you don’t wake up, I WILL COME TO YOU like a thieving false 'minister' and you won’t know which annual time [1] I’ll come to you.

[1] While this word can be translated as simply “day” or hour”, the first meaning of hora is a certain definite time or season fixed by natural law and returning with the revolving year.” This is also how the Scriptural calendar, anchored by the spring barley harvest and visible New Moons is determined. The most important historical events (such as Passover and Pentecost) have occurred on these “annual times”, just as the prophetic events will occur on Israel’s 7 Apocalyptic Days!

Yeshua told the Sardis Assembly that “if” they “don’t pay attention” that He will come upon them like a thief. The implication is that they should be watching and shouldn’t be overtaken by the “beginning of the end” by negligence. Wake up Sardis and “pay attention”!

1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 But you, friends, aren’t in darkness. That Day won’t catch you off guard like a thieving false “minister”, 5 because you are all sons of the light, and sons of the day. You aren’t sons of the night or sons of darkness. 6 So let’s not sleep like everyone else does, but let’s stay awake and be sober.

The region of Sardis had been occupied since ancient times.

Sardis was settled before 1500 BC. However, the size and nature of early settlement is not known since only small extramural portions of these layers have been excavated. Evidence of occupation consists largely of Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age pottery which shows affinities with Mycenaean Greece and the Hittites. No early monumental architecture had been found as of 2011.

The site may have been occupied as early as the Neolithic, as evidenced by scattered finds of early ceramic fragments. However these were found out of context so no clear conclusions can be drawn. Early Bronze Age cemeteries were found 7 miles away along Lake Marmara, near elite graves of the later Lydian and Persian periods.

In the Late Bronze Age, the site would have been in the territory of the Seha River Land, whose capital is thought to have been located at nearby Kaymakçi. Hittite texts record that Seha was originally part of Arzawa, a macrokingdom which the Hittite king Mursili II defeated and partitioned. After that time, Seha became a vassal state of the Hittites and served as an important intermediary with the Mycenaean Greeks. The relationship between the people of Seha and the later Lydians is unclear, since there is evidence of both cultural continuity and disruption in the region. Neither the term “Sardis” nor its alleged earlier name of “Hyde” appears in any extant Hittite text.

To see pictures of ancient Sardis click this link and scroll down to Sardis.

The Letter to Philadelphia—The last of the 7 Founded—189 BC:

Revelation 3:10–11 Since you’ve patiently obeyed My Word, I’ll protect you from the time of testing that is about to overtake the entire inhabited world, to test those who live on the earth [5].

11 I AM COMING SUDDENLY! [6] Hold tightly onto what you have, so that no one takes your crown.

[5] It would appear that only Philadelphia, “My people”, will hear the warning from heaven (or from the sky above) to escape from Babylon (Revelation 18:4) OR, they will be the only assembly (possibly as isolated from others as Elijah was in 1 Kings 19:9-10) to heed the warning. The punishment in this chapter seems imminent. Why wait until the last moment to flee? [6] John’s statement is from the perspective that all seven end time assemblies are a present reality. After all seven branches of the minorah are present, the end will follow suddenly! Of the prototypical seven ancient cities, Philadelphia was established last.

This is a clear reference to Yehovah’s intervention in the affairs of the world. From the vantage point of John, in the 21st century (Revelation 10:11 & 11:1—ignoring the chapter break), Yeshua is saying: !

Philadelphia will only exist for a short time. As for the prototypical city, it was the last of the seven cities to come on the scene (clue): “Philadelphia (meaning: “brotherly love”) is the sixth city mentioned in the Book of Revelation to receive a message from Jesus Christ. Philadelphia was established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamon. Eumenes II named the city for the love he had for his brother, Attalus II, who was loyal to Eumenes II and would follow as his successor.” Philadelphia may only exist as separate assembly during the very end time!

We are so close to the final eight years now that I wonder if Philadelphia will even be organized as a fellowship. Aside from the obvious love and faithfulness, what could be the identifiable factor/s? Could the Philadelphians just be isolated individuals or families for the most part? After all, “You’ll be banished from their synagogues” (churches), John 16:2). You would think the other six assemblies would score pretty well on the few conditions mentioned: (so words alone will not work); “you’ve obeyed My Word”; “Since you’ve patiently obeyed My Word” (mentioned twice—must be very important); “Hold tightly onto what you have, so that no one takes your crown”. I would like to think that Philadelphians would be organized enough and knowledgable enough, if they are a separate entity, to tolerate my presence, if not welcome me.

[Last month (April, 2023) was the last time (I figure the very last time) that I inquired about fellowship with a group. As always I ask them to check out this website before extending an invitation. I got a very warm welcome from the pastor after he glanced at my site, even an offer to help me move to their community—before the phone and email went dead. I recommend this article to aspiring Philadelphians. But note that the Book of Revelation covers an expanse of time (Revelation 1:19) that includes both the Day of Yehovah and the Great Tribulation (aka the Time of Jacob’s Trouble). Long story short, The Day of Yehovah is the year long punishment of the world’s nations for having inflicted the three and a half year long Great Tribulation on the Israelite descended nations, (Jacob’s descendants). No one from the seven “assemblies” or any Second Exodus participants will have to endure that. (Note that unfortunately the writer of this link believes that the seven “churches” were all recently one group in the Worldwide Church of God!)]

I do cover the happily ever after part about New Jerusalem—A Place of Safety! (during the Great Tribulation) and The Time After Jacob’s Trouble for encouragement.

As I muse on what could prevent a Commandment keeper from being a Philadelphian, this is the first thing that came to mind: in 2000, the last time I was being “banished” from a church ‘franchise’ that I actually started, a regional minister said publicly that he knew that I was Biblically right on the Biblical calendar, but that I was a “traitor” to the church for not waiting for “headquarters” to correct their doctrinal error. A friend agreed. (They still haven’t admitted any sort of errors.) I would presume that the ministers and elders involved in my banishment are dead by now. At least they missed out on the Tribulation, but I don’t think it will do their reward any good. If you allow someone to come between you and obeying Yehovah it will hurt!

To see pictures of the remains of ancient Philadelphia click this link. Here’s a map marking the Roman mail route. Additional historical information is here, complete with interesting biases.

The Warning to Laodicea (Founded about 261 BC):

Revelation 3:20 I have been standing at the door knocking. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I’ll come in to them and eat with them, and they with Me.

The statement that to those in Laodicea undoubtedly concerns Yeshua’s imminent return of.

This reminds me of a similar promise that John recorded in an earlier work:

John 14:23 Yeshua replied, “Anyone who loves Me obeys My teachings. My Father will love them, and WE WILL COME TO THEM [3] and make Our dwelling place with them!

[3] Both the Father and the Son will come to the person who shows Them love by obeying Their Commandments.

We see from the verses quoted above that all Seven Assemblies will be warned about Yeshua’s return.

To see pictures of ancient Laodicea click this link.

Great Tribulation
David J. Smith

There is more evidence to demonstrate that the Seven Assemblies will all exist prior to, as well as during, the very end time. The history of today’s Sabbatarian (i.e. Commandment keeping) Assemblies show that at least five of them are already in existence. However, Assemblies, beyond criticism, such as the Philadelphian Assembly or the Smyrna Assembly barely show up on the radar screen. They are undoubtedly assembling in living room groups in order to avoid “liars”, “Nicolaitans”, “Jezebel”, the “dead” and the “lukewarm”. Others will repent of the problems associated with the various sects and perhaps work with the better Assemblies. I expect that those in the Pergamos Assembly who do not “hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” will follow the lead of a modern day “Antipas” “My faithful martyr”. (I was looking for a picture typifying the Great Tribulation and this one gets right to the point. Someone tell me if you have read this book. The picture is a link.)

An interesting assessment of the “made in the USA” Sabbatarian Congregations in Yeshua is found on the following link. It explains the origin of each of these groups and mentions some of the major differences between the groups: The first four are easily traced to a common origin. These groups now salt the entire earth as explained in Similarities and Differences Between Sabbatarian Churches). Some of these probably collectively represent one of the Seven Lamps.

Among the Seven Assemblies we see a great deal of false teaching within the ranks of those calling themselves Yeshua’s Disciples. Yehovah demands a commensurate great deal of repentance. So being associated with a Sabbatarian group is not a safety net at all, in and of itself. We must all “work out our own salvation”. I would not say that all “Messianic Sabbatarian groups” are in some way associated with the Seven Assemblies. For example, there are “Sabbatarians” of every stripe who know the Ten Commandments, living on 40% of the earth’s surface who have never considered that Yehovah didn’t wait until man invented the International Dateline to determine when the Sabbath begins and ends. They are in reality keeping the sixth day! They may be as sincere, or even more so, than someone else in their same organization, living on the other side of the imaginary line who just happens to be keeping the Sabbath on the right day. I’m not certain how Yehovah will judge that. It is also apparent, from comparing “doctrine” to the Scriptures that Yehovah is being extremely tolerant of the misguided tenets that are taught within His “nothing to brag about” Assemblies. But there must be a limit to how far the “testimony of Yeshua” (everything that Yeshua taught) can be stretched before it simply does not meet the minimum requirement. So does a Seventh Day Baptist, who happens to understand and keep the Sabbath (in the “right” time zone), meet the “testimony” requirement? On the plus side, that group does not cast people from their group for not agreeing with any particular sectarian “Statement of Beliefs”. Any “ministry”—and there are many—that would banish a brother for having personal convictions that differ from a “corporate dogma” is fulfilling the early stage of the following prophecy:

John 16:2-3You’ll be banished from their synagogues [1] and far worse, the time will come when whoever kills you will believe that they are giving a zebak [sacrifice] to Yehovah. 3 They’ll do these things because they haven’t come to know either My Father or Me.

[1] or ‘congregations’ or ‘assemblies’

Other Links:

Seventh Day Baptists (First of the “seven churches”): This group spread to Newport, Rhode Island from Europe in 1671. Membership is small but significant. I don’t make use of wikipedia, but [this updated link] is the first site that shows up online under that name, and since it was written by one of them it should be quite accurate. There are several other links to them online. Here are the opening paragraphs from the wiki reference:

“Seventh Day Baptists consist of churches all over the world, with over 520 churches and at least 45,000 members.[2] Many have constant interaction among themselves through conferences in each country and through the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation. Other groups are independent. In general, federations maintain good relations with other Baptist churches and Protestant denominations as well as establishing links with other Christian institutions and unions worldwide.

“Seventh Day Baptists are Baptists who observe the Sabbath as the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as a holy day to God. They believe in conscious baptism of believers by immersion, congregational government and the scriptural basis of opinion and practice. They profess a statement of faith instituted on fundamental precepts of belief. Seventh Day Baptists rest on Saturday as a sign of obedience in a covenant relationship with God and not as a condition of salvation. Many, have adopted a Baptist covenant theology, based on the concept of regenerated society.

Seventh Day Adventists: This branch of Yehovah’s Assembly began in the 1840’s and was organized in the early 1860s. The membership [2004] is about 14 million, drastically up from only 1+ million in 1961. The vast majority of Sabbatarian disciples [Commandment keepers] are Adventists, followed by Chinese Sabbatarians!

Church of God, Seventh Day: In 1863 The Hope of Israel magazine began to organize this Assembly. They were formerly called Church of God, Adventist. They are relatively large in membership compared to most of the other Sabbatarian congregations listed below. The Armstrong groups: Herbert Armstrong, once well known, split from COG 7th Day in 1933. There are well over a hundred splinter groups that have descended from his His original corporate group since the Worldwide Church of God went into total apostasy [likely dwindling]. It has disavowed virtually every teaching that HWA had taught. A guess would be that the Armstrong descended sects all put together total well under 20,000 [no clue now in 2024]. Most differ only in terms of their choice of leaders! The above link is to one of the more traditional groups that I am all too familiar with.

The True Jesus Church: Sabbatarian revivals in China that can be traced back to pre-Christian times. Sabbatarian Christianity also dates back to very early times. There is an extensive history stained with the blood of martyrs. Most of the perhaps millions of Chinese Sabbatarians now go under the ‘True Jesus Church’ name. Perhaps these later day Sabbatarians can be excused for thinking that they represent the one and only “True Church” of Yeshua. After all, the nations that the earliest missionaries came from only had a few Sabbatarians—Seventh Day Baptists! In later years the SDA’s also influenced the Chinese Sabbatarian assemblies. The most informative and concise article I readily found about them was written by a critic.

Sacred Names Groups: Some of these are part of one of the seven Assemblies, or possibly they constitute one of the seven by themselves. They are generally descended directly or indirectly from COG 7th Day or the WCG—with a twist. They may number 6,000 members in total. This site has the original internet article on the name Yehovah, it reveals what the vowels in YHVH really are without relying on supposition or deductions. Many “name” groups are “unitarian”, that seems to me to “deny Messiah” even beyond that of trinitarians. At least trinitarians (as in most Adventists) believe that Yeshua is Aloha (God).

The last Commandment keeping assembly, (not so often using the word “church”) to come on the world scene is like the first one. They generally consider Sunday worshipers, to varying degrees, as their brothers

Messianic Jews and Israelites: Virtually non existent until the 1980’s. Inspired in Palestine, but largely American: The Rise of “Messianic Judaism”

“Most Christians and churches in history made Sunday their principal day of rest instead of Saturday. Nevertheless, there are countless accounts in the history of Christians who resisted that innovation and preserved the seventh day of the week as a day of rest and worship to God as instituted by God in the creation of the world, affirmed as a fourth commandment and reaffirmed in the teaching and example of Jesus and the Apostles. There are reports of Sabbath keeping in different parts of the world, including an entire nation that rested on the Saturday. In England, the first Christians known to have adopted Baptist doctrine and kept the seventh day only dates back to the middle of the 17th century.[1]

Then there are the groups that thrived in Palestine, Russia & Europe:

Russian and European Sabbatarians: These can be traced to before the Protestant Reformation. Now being Persecuted

The messages to the Seven Assemblies are for Commandment keeping Assemblies with the “testimony of Yeshua”. (Revelation 14:12) How ironic it is that even Atheists the world over know that the Book of Revelation purports to be about the end of our present “world” and yet the very Assemblies that the Revelation was written to reveal these truths to, think that the messages to the Seven Assemblies are primarily historic rather than prophetic!

The message to Thyatira specifically mentions “great tribulation”. Anyone in the Thyatiran Assembly who does not repent of Jezebel’s “doctrine” will get a wake up call by Yeshua in the “Great Tribulation” as an example to the other Assemblies.

The statement combined with “and all the churches shall know” shows us that their plight will be witnessed by the other Assemblies? Those of us in the other Assemblies will “all” have to see the suffering of this group. Of course all of the “churches” must be contemporaries for this to happen!

Revelation 2:22–24 I’ll throw 'Jezebel' on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer GREAT TRIBULATION [NASB] unless they turn from her evil ways! 23 I’ll strike her children dead and ALL THE ASSEMBLIES WILL KNOW [5] that I’m the One who searches the innermost thoughts and motives. I’ll compensate each of you commensurate with your works. 24 But as for the rest of you in Thyatira, everyone who hasn’t accepted this doctrine, everyone who hasn’t learned the so-called profound things of Satan, I won’t burden you with anything else.

The message to Smyrna mentions “tribulation”. And “some of you ... in Smyrna” will “be tested” by “tribulation ... until death”.

Yet the Philadelphian Assembly, as mentioned previously, will be kept from “The Hour of Trial that will come on the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10) All of these passages are referring to “THE Great Tribulation”. Of course, several historical parallels must be examined to reveal the “things that must shortly take place” (from John’s end of the age perspective) [like maybe the order in which the assemblies began].

Smyrna and Philadelphia, are both spoken of in the context of the “cabal of Satan”. Here we have a “cabal of Satan” mentioned four “eras” apart, supposed by most to be centuries apart. The wording is virtually identical in each reference, so both Assemblies encounter the same group of people. (Revelation 2:9; 3:9). Both of these Assemblies encounter the “cabal of Satan” in the end. Consider this prophetic mention of “intrigue” as one of the necessary dots to be connected. Both references are undoubtedly end time prophecies concerning those who would destroy Yehovah’s people by first deceptively claiming to be brethren.

Daniel 11:32-35 With slick talk he [the Antichrist] will corrupt [win over] the wicked who violate the covenant [“with many”]. But the people who know their Elohim will be strong and take action. 33 Their wise people will share their understanding with many, yet they’ll be defeated by swords and flames. They’ll be captured and plundered for many days. 34 When they fall, they’ll be given a little help, but many who become allies with them will not be sincere. 35 Some of the wise will fall away to refine them and to purify them and make them white all the way to the time of the end, but it will still happen at the appointed time.

A similar thought comes to mind when we consider that two separate Assemblies, the first and third, are exposed to Nicolaitan “doctrine”. Ephesus hates the “works of the Nicolaitans” and many within the Pergamos Ecclesia “hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans”. Again, it would be unlikely to find this one particular doctrinal error mentioned several “eras” apart.

Prophesy shows that there will exist seven separate Assemblies of Yehovah’s people at the end of the age. Despite the differences tho, they are all part of the one spiritual Congregation, sprinkled like salt over the world. Time, circumstances, geography and a severe lack of Biblical knowledge kept these groups from uniting into a closely knit family. The important thing about this prophecy to the Assemblies is that even tho John saw the most likely outcome while “in the spirit”, there is still an opportunity for individuals in each Assembly to repent of their sins and alter their exact outcome!

The Golden menorahs are symbolic of the Seven Assemblies of Revelation. Many Scriptures describe the golden menorah that was in Yehovah’s temple. It would be unreasonable not to make the association between John’s vision, and for example Exodus 25.

The End

So the Book of Revelation was written to inform His Commandment keeping people (Revelation 12:17 and 14:12 and 22:14) of what would happen at the end of the age and how it would affect His “seven churches”. Four of them, the Adventists, the Church of God, the True Jesus Church and the Sacred Name groups, (the ones that claim that only those who use their version of the right name will be saved) claim that they are the ONE and only “true church”.

Did Herbert W. Armstrong htmPlagiarize?

209 prophecies Herbert Armstrong got wrong

Comparisons of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to Herbert Armstrong’s “inspired” new truths.

Email zech14@proton.me
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