All rights reserved by the author Homer Dewayne Shappley
Chapter Ten of the Commentary...
Revelation: The Creator God’s
World and Cosmic View of
Humanity, Nations, Planet
Earth, and the
The "thousand years" of Revelation
Commonly known as the MILLENNIUM
Subject 1 of Chapter 10
Part 4 of Subject 1
Is the Millennium taking place today, in the first half of the 21st Century?
The outline of the previous Scenes is continued in this document.
IX. Is the MILLENNIUM taking place today, in the first half of the 21st century?
Weighing all the multitudinous circumstances and events identified and analyzed to the present in this Commentary, this writer understands that it is, indeed, taking place today in the 21st Century. That some nations, particularly the ones in the geographical areas of Earth on which the powerful light of major Revelation prophecies and visions falls, are experiencing the unequaled Times of the
Millennium. Those “areas” in particular being the ones encompassing Eastern and Western Europe, much of Africa, and by racial, cultural, linguistic, and religious heritage, almost all of the Western Hemisphere.
“Religious Freedom” is the salient sign or characteristic of the Millennium. In reality, today, in the third decade of the 21st Century, “Religious Freedom” is a right enjoyed by a vast majority of earth’s almost eight billion population, including the legitimate People of God.
It should be no surprise or cause for criticism or stumbling that a “legitimate People of the Creator God” would be specified in this context, for, in the natural course of the development of GOOD and EVIL in the religious realm, there have always been people who identify themselves with God the Father and Christ the Son but do not closely or even remotely follow their teachings, though many in this category believe otherwise. Matthew 7:21-23; 25:41-46
God’s “legitimate People” are constituted as such because they meet the criteria of the New Testament of Jesus Christ. They are lovers of
peace, they are “peacemakers” (Mateo 5:9), and are obedient to civil laws not in biblically verified conflict with the “law of Christ.” Acts 4:13-23; 1 Corinthians 9:21
Now, today, in this third decade of the 21st Century, this truly “legitimate People of God” is not persecuted by a massive majority of the 193 entities of the world recognized by the United Nations as “countries.” Any serious, informed, and understanding student of the history of the Common Era (Christian Age, for Christians) would surely conclude that during these 2,023 years, never before have there been times of such a high degree of marvelous religious liberty as those in which we live today!
A. However, plenty of Earth’s citizens disagree with this conclusion, alleging that these days are like the times of Noah before the Great Flood (Genesis 6:1-8) and those times that lead to the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the rest of the cities of the Jordan Plain, in the time of Lot and Abraham. Genesis 18:16-33; 19:1-29. They site alarming statistics on widespread criminal activities, vices (alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, prostitution, adultery, pornography, etc.), domestic violence, the ever-increasing number of alphabet people under the rainbow flag, moral decadence of all shades and colors, rampant materialism, secularism, and atheism, corruption in public institutions of all categories, also in religions of all kinds, in all genres of entertainment, etcetera.
They assure us that these times of the 21st Century are the very worst of all human history and that Jesus Christ is about to appear at any moment in harsh judgment and fiery vengeance. From the masses who have this World View and Mentality there often arises some charismatic, aggressive religious leader who boldly fixes a specific date for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ or the End of the World.
My own conviction is that the “thousand years,” the Millennium, when the nations of the world would not persecute the “legitimate People of God,” have already been transpiring, to one degree or another, since the “ten horns,” that is, ten nations, emerging in Eastern and Western Europe and becoming powerful during the Renaissance (religiously, the Reformation), turned on that persecuting, torturing, death-inflicting “great whore,” leaving her destitute and naked (Revelation 17:15-17), and began to legislate and enforce religious liberty throughout their domains. Notwithstanding all the evidence on which that conviction is based, to voice it in the presence of current doomsday sayers is more or less like exposing oneself to a huge wasp nest of agitated, ridiculing opposers and fanatics.
B. I personally find not a little exaggerated, distorted, and misrepresentative the lugubrious, fear-inspiring picture of present times painted in dark shades of red, black, orange, and yellow by contemporary extreme alarmists and self-appointed prophets. For, though it is certain that evil abounds and runs rife in our times, multiplying and evolving like viral viruses, speeded along at a phenomenal pace by digital media and taking on fantastical, fearful, grotesques shapes and appearances, it is no less certain they have not yet reached the most elevated levels of violence, spiritual-religious intolerance, and deepest deprivation of all past eras of human history. Let us consider:
1. Despite the actual plagues of sensualism, hedonism, materialism, inane sentimentalism, superficiality, skepticism, and spiritual ignorance that sweep over major portions of populations today, there are still many scores, even hundreds of millions of intelligent, just souls in countries all around the globe of Earth who value very highly:
Absolute Truth, pure Love, universal Peace, real Religious Freedom and Tolerance, responsible Conduct by every human being, personal Liberties undiluted with libertinism, unalloyed Good, impartial Justice, Upright living, Common Sense, untampered-with Morals, natural Relationships, decent Entertainment, the Family as constituted at the beginning of Creation, etc. Loving the Author of these life-saving, soul-saving Virtues and repudiating his Archenemy. Living a major part of their lives in relative holiness and sanctity.
“I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Words of the apostle Peter before the Roman centurion Cornelius and those gathered in his house. Acts 10:34-35. Backed by Romans 2:14-16.
This is, is it not true, the present state of significant portions of the World population that contrast notably with various past eras of human history when dense, dark clouds of intense evil lay heavy on an immense majority of human hearts and institutions, leaving only a miniscule remnant of True Believers and Practitioners of the above Virtues who could reasonably be called “True Followers of the Creator God of Humanity, the Earth, and the surrounding Universe.”
2. Let us consider: Even in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, London, Manchester, and Vancouver, cities infamous, or somewhat so, for their libertine spirit, nightlife, widespread, openly executed vices, and, particularly for sexual looseness, lewdness, and strange, unnatural perversions, there may be found to this day
thousands upon thousands of believers in God the Father and Christ the Son who strive to honor them, conducting themselves honorably and courageously reproving the typical hedonism and heathenism, even Satanism, of the majority given over heedlessly, mind, soul, and body, to the burning, undisciplined passions of the physical body and carnal mindset.
On the other hand, not even TEN sane, righteous souls could be found in all of Sodom, Gomorrah, and other cities located on the long Jordan plain on the west bank of what is now known as the Dead Sea! Genesis 18:32. An extensive area that, 3,700 years ago had more rainfall than later in the history of our changing planet, and, therefore, could sustain a sizable population. A whole population which, like that before the Great Flood in Noah’s time (Genesis 6), allowed itself, with very few exceptions, to be poisoned by publicly held and openly practiced unnatural conceptions of sexual relationships. “Conceptions,” let it be noted, formed in the mind and heart, in seedbeds of unchecked lusts and distorted views of selfhood, not originating in irresistible urges and imperious, overpowering demands of the physical body itself.
3. Those knowledgeable in human history know that not without solid reasons, the Medieval Age, lasting for more than a thousand years, is also called the Dark Ages, or the Age of Obscurantism, having understood, though imperfectly, that those were long centuries of massive moral perversion, storms, floods, and hurricanes of
dangerous superstitions, endemic ignorance, prolific idolatry, fiery intolerance, and continual violence on every level.
On the other hand, in our modern times, the number of human beings free, or relatively so, of those conditions is very high.
Obscurantism: “…opposition to the spread of knowledge: a policy of withholding knowledge from the general public.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obscurantism
4. The crowning EVIL of the times of the Common Era before the Millennium of religious liberty would be that of the accursed persecutions, barbaric, diabolical tortures, and violent murders of innumerable human beings, condemned for the faith they professed in God the Father and Christ the Son and for desiring to follow the pure teachings of the Bible.
Outstanding above all persecuting powers of the past is the infamous, blasphemously named “Holy Inquisition” of the Roman Catholic Church. For its bloody, obscene, merciless persecution of believers they accused as “heretics.” Unspeakable atrocities inflicted across eight centuries and four continents by the powerful papal hierarchy of that apostate church, with its minions of subservient priests, monks, and nuns, in open, criminal complicity with secular authorities and powers united with them in Satanic marriage.
In rather distant second place would be the enormous, widespread persecution by the “Christianized” Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and his three sons against Arian Christians, the Novatians, Nestorians, and other groups of Christians that did not agree to the decrees of the First Nicaean Council convoked and governed by Constantine the Great himself. Those obsessed “Christian” rulers tried to force the decrees, the creed, of that Council on the whole of Christianity, resorting to large-scale military campaigns against recalcitrant holdouts that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Such horrible evils do not occur today, with perhaps very rare exceptions, among true citizens of the true Kingdom of God, which “is not of this world… not from here,” but is SPIRITUAL, engaging in “warfare” strictly in spiritual realms and never in physical, carnal, political ones. John 18:36; Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Corinthians 10:2-6. In the context of religious persecution, let us be careful to distinguish between, on the one hand, “Christian activists” of present times who cloak themselves in “their religion” not to preach true biblical love, peace, and salvation of the soul but, basically, to promote their political-social-economic-cultural-racial agendas and fend off opponents, and on the other hand, simple, spiritually intelligent Christians (Colossians 1:9) whose priorities are those of the spiritual Kingdom of God officially unaligned with earthly, material, secular kingdoms, nations, and causes.
“…much study is a weariness of the flesh,” wrote the wise Solomon. Ecclesiastes 12:12. “Especially, the study of HISTORY,” assures a high percentage of today’s world populace. Agreeing with them not a few who take positions of teachers and preachers in churches and “Christian Movements” of all kinds, though they are highly unlikely to express their sentiments publicly. However, sufficient knowledge of undistorted history is of indispensable value for a correct understanding of subjects like this one on the Millennium. Important, indeed, for
anyone who wishes to have a realistic, up-to-date world-cosmic view and have a clear idea of where humanity is on the timeline of the Common Era, after which there is to be no other “Era,” if you believe and comprehend what the Creator God has stated unequivocally. Revelation 10:5-7; 20:7-15; 21:1-8, etc.
5. So then, definitively, our time is better than previous times! Whoever thinks that is not so would be lacking, it surely could be said, in the knowledge of history necessary to form intelligent judgments. Teachers, preachers, evangelists, pastors, writers, college professors, etc., who have not studied enough to gain correct historical perspectives are not sufficiently prepared to formulate evaluations and interpretations harmonious with the Creator God’s own “World and Cosmic Views” as expressed in the Scriptures nor with the “signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-7) as they continue to unfold. A deficiency to be rectified only by an assiduous, impartial study of true history, undiluted by FICTIONS such as “the total end of the Roman Empire in 476 CE,” and the “existence of a Byzantine Empire” that, in truth, never existed!
How can we pretend to accurately evaluate our own times if we have little or no knowledge of past times or deliberately ignore them?
For long years, I myself was the victim of my own lack of study in several areas of spiritual and historical knowledge, repeating what others taught without proper corroboration on my part. And, today, lay no claim to perfection in any matter but do feel greater confidence when writing or conversing about these subjects, deriving much satisfaction from the prolonged studies I have enjoyed pursuing, by the gentle and loving grace of God.
My understanding at this stage is that there have, indeed, been “former days better than these” (Ecclesiastes 7:10) today, at least in some places and periods of the earthly globe. For example, in England, other parts of Europe, and the United States of America, in times of strong religious revivals and faithful restorations of the original “doctrine of Christ” and the church as built by Jesus and his personally chosen apostles. Hebrews 6:1-3; 2 John 1:9-11; Matthew 16:18. Those times when great masses of people were open to hearing, studying, and putting into practice the Gospel of Christ, the impact of which is still palpable in our time. A time, ours, being characterized even by the secular irreligious as the “Age of Sentimentalism,” in contradistinction to “Absolute Truth and Common-Sense Realities.” However, the consensus of history’s witness is that most “former days” to our own have generally been much worse than present times for a great majority of earth’s inhabitants.
C. It is affirmed against the identification of our times as belonging to the Millennium of religious liberty that many Christians of the 20th century were persecuted severely, some becoming martyrs, and that this state of affairs continues today, in the third decade of the 21st century. Therefore, it is reasoned, we cannot be living in the Millennium.
For example, Nina Shea wrote “In the Lion’s Den” (Broadman and Holman, Nashville, TN), a work dedicated to recounting cases of “persecutions against Christians” in the present. For an objective appreciation of such cases, it is vital to clarify beforehand certain relevant circumstances and concepts.
Before identifying them, I want to make it very clear that, on this delicate and somewhat controversial matter of “who among the tens of millions of religious martyrs across the centuries of the Common Age is a genuine martyr to Christ and who is not,” I do not presume to pronounce judgment on the eternal destiny of a single one of them, for that is not my prerogative. And I surely do not wish to project on my part insensitiveness or coldness of heart toward any humble Christian of any creed or affiliation who may have been martyred.
For no human being should be tortured or murdered by another human being for his/her religious convictions, no matter how strange or absurd and contrary to the simple New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ his/her beliefs and practices might be considered. “You must not murder anyone.” “Do not kill.” “You shall not murder.” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” Exodus 20:13; Matthew 19:18; 22:36-40; Romans 12:18-21
The “wrath of God” will surely fall upon religious leaders of all places and times of this world who do not teach these divine dictums, crassly violating them even to the point of torturing and murdering in the name of the Supreme God who pronounced them, whatever name they may call him by in their different languages. His “wrath,” NOT OURS!
1. Now in regard to those “circumstances and concepts,” I, personally, think it proper to ask: Are the presumed “Christian martyrs” of present times, in reality, TRUE Christians?
Here, I have introduced another sensitive factor that demands clarification and justification before proceeding to “Present day cases of martyred Christians,” specifically, the concept of “TRUE CHRISTIANS.” The very phrase “a TRUE Christian” may be offensive to the reader, particularly to those born into and raised as members of the newer generations, beginning in about 1965. Classified as Generation X, Generation Y (or Millennials), Generation Z, and the up-and-growing Generation Alpha. https://offer.kasasa.com/exchange/articles/generations/gen-x-gen-y-gen-z Because of the philosophy or mindset increasingly accepted in these generations of “all-inclusiveness, absolute tolerance, don’t judge anyone; don’t categorize for that creates stress, ill will, negative vibes; religious convictions are divisive and offensive, feelings are more important than truth, truth is relative, etc.”
Nevertheless, a knowledge of human history (perhaps of interest and importance to only a very small percentage of the most recent generations) and the guidance of Common Sense, if it has not been silenced by mellifluous sentimentalism, both show
unmistakably that the “TRUE” and the “FALSE,” “RIGHT” and “WRONG,” “GOOD” and “EVIL” have manifested themselves in human beings, no matter their philosophies and mindsets, from the early beginnings of our somewhat intelligent race. And that is true of religions, as much or more so in “Christianity,” in its generic sense, than in other religions. Therefore, it is fully to be expected that there would always be “TRUE CHRISTIANS” and “FALSE CHRISTIANS.” As they say in Spanish, translating: “You cannot cover the heavens with your hand.”
No gainsaying it: False Christians are out there! Were prophesied to be and have abounded almost from the very beginning of Christianity.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 John 1:9-11, Galatians 1:6-9, etc. Who forbids “marriage,” that is, requires church leaders to be celibate, truly a foolish ordinance contrary to express requirements to be a bishop (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:3-10) and contrary to nature itself. And who demands “abstinence from foods?” You, precious soul, don’t need to be a theologian, historian, or genius to give the right answer. Look around you, intelligently and objectively, and you will quickly see right before your eyes the churches that boldly display and impose those two marks of pure apostasy.
So, then, as the careful, conscientious, objective, assiduous student of these matters I consider myself to be (pardon the self-evaluation), I will confidently proceed to identify “TRUE CHRISTIANS” according to the only original documents where they were first mentioned and described, those being the books of the New Testament of the Bible, as opposed to the Old Testament and all subsequent, uninspired-by-God definitions by individual human beings, Ecumenical Councils, Synods, Protestant governing bodies, and their Catechisms, Manuals of Faith, other official church creeds, etc. “…it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26. Not “Catholic Christians” or “Protestant, Evangelical, or Pentecostal Christians” but just simply “CHRISTIANS.”
Now, one becomes a true Christian by first hearing the pure Gospel conceived by God the Father and transmitted to his Son, Jesus Christ, as opposed to false gospels originated by fallible humans. Galatians 1:6-9. For the faith that saves is the one that “comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17; Galatians 5:6. This true, working faith, not a “dead faith” (James 2:17-26), motivates the sincere soul to confess publicly: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:26-40, verse 37. And this true faith quickly brings about sincere repentance, a drastic, sea change of personal conduct, of turning against sin in all its manifestations and beginning to walk “in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-7; Acts 3:19; 17:30-31. Essential validation of the genuineness of faith and repentance is obtained by being immersed (baptized) in water without delay “for the remission of sins,” full pardon being granted God in consequence of this act and not before it, a simple doctrine of several New Testament texts. Acts 2:37-47; 16:25-40; 22:16; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 6:3-7; 1 Peter 3:21.
Now, when a “TRUE CHRISTIAN” is killed because of his spiritual convictions, he qualifies to be called a “martyr to Christ.” Regarding “Christians of all other categories,” the Supreme and Just Father God of all souls (Hebrews 12:9) will judge each one according to his wisdom, will, and mercy, for “…he has mercy on whomsoever he chooses.” Romans 9:18.
That some “Christians of these other categories” may be persecuted or killed does not prove, in and of itself that “the true People of God are being persecuted and killed” in any given timeframe, including these first decades of the 21st century.
Does the true Christian, whose motivations are purely spiritual, and not material, cultural, or social, challenge and provoke political, security, or military authorities? Does he use his “Christianity” to promote materialistic, cultural, and social agendas? Does he stir up, clandestinely or publicly, social-cultural-political revolutions?
Personally, I understand that he certainly does not, cannot, because the true Kingdom of God to which he belongs “is not of this world… is… not from hence.” John 18:28. Despite this very clear, divine truth, so sublime and marvelous in every aspect of its conception and application, not a few who profess to follow Christ in present times, mostly of those in underdeveloped countries, militate physically and materially in “Christian” churches, movements, organizations, and causes whose priority mission is, decidedly, of a primordially social, economic, and/or political nature.
When such “Christians” suffer persecutions or martyrdom for their essentially secular, worldly activism cloaked in a false “Christianity,” what justification could there be for identifying them as “persecuted Christians” or “martyred Christians?
A classic example of such Religious Activists is that of those who preach the so-called “Liberation Gospel.” While displaying symbols and frocks of one or another kind of “Christianity,” they stoop to actually fighting with carnal weapons to obtain the earthly liberties, powers, and material resources to which they lay claim.
On the “Sunday of Social Justice,” a pastor and his cohorts preach the “Gospel of Liberation.”
Patient reader, in light of the foregoing clarifications, let us now study three sets of “circumstances” leading some analysts to identify victims as “true martyrs of Christ.”
1. In some areas of the world, notably Africa and Asia, complete segments of indigenous populations have been known to collectively adopt, adopt in response to offers of material reward, or be forced to adopt some creed, church, or Christian movement in particular. According to investigations on this type of “conversion,” the motives of the “converted” may actually fall far short of being purely biblical and spiritual, responding rather to financial, political, racial, and social circumstances. In occasions, violent conflicts break out between groups, tribes, and races allied with different entities of “Christianity,” or these entities in conflict with Muslims, or with native religions, resulting in persecutions, torture, and murder. Do the victims qualify as authentic “martyrs to Jesus?” Revelation 17:6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_traditional_African_religions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_conversion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-conversion_law
My own opinion es that they do not, because the “persecution and martyrdom” that takes place in such circumstances is not attributable by any means to a pure faith in Jesus Christ or pure, spiritual motives leading to authentic conversion. Rather to complex conflicts of a social-cultural-financial-political-false religion nature.
(1) Let us suppose that a tribe, clan, or culture in particular collectively embraces Roman Catholicism as their “official religion.” Then, these new Roman Catholic “Christians” get tangled up in violent disputes, skirmishes, and battles with other tribes or clans that have adopted the Muslim religion, or with ones that have maintained their ancient religion of idol worship mixed with elements of voodoo. As a consequence, some of the Roman Catholics are killed or captured and tortured even to death. Should we count the victims as genuine “martyrs to Jesus?”
No doubt, many people, the secular as well as religious, would classify them as “Christians,” citing their case as certain evidence of “actual persecutions against Christians, with some victims becoming martyrs.” Nevertheless, it is reasonable to ask: Are such victims true Christians according to the original criteria established by Jesus Christ and his only authentic apostles? The answer depends on one’s knowledge and understanding of those criteria as defined above.
And my own understanding based on many years of studying the Bible and the history of religions, both Christian and otherwise, is that Roman Catholic dogmas, including hierarchical positions and titles, are nowhere mentioned in the Bible. As the well-known Swiss Roman Catholic theologian and professor of history Hans Küng wrote, paraphrasing: “If Jesus Christ were to enter a Roman Catholic cathedral today, he would be a complete stranger to the Catholics meeting there, and they would be complete strangers to him.” The Catholic Church: A Short History,” by Hans Küng. 2003 Modern Library Paperback Edition. The Random House Publishing Group. New York. Translation in English by Dr. John Bowden.
Given this state of affairs, the Roman Catholic tribesman killed in battle with Muslims would be in the same boat with the Muslim victims. All would be martyrs of religions not established or approved by the Creator God. Of what true spiritual value is such “martyrdom” before the Creator God who determines that value.
2. Thirty years of armed confrontations between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. 1968 -1998. Many “martyrs.” In the country of Ireland, Roman Catholics and Protestants persecuted and killed each other during decades, finally reaching a tenuous truce in 2006. Should we count the dead of both sides as genuine “martyrs to Jesus?” On the contrary, they were the victims of
violent conflicts between political parties, each allied with different “Christian sects” founded on dogmas, religious traditions, and human ordinances, none of them, neither Catholic nor Protestant, faithfully representing the pure, 1st century Christianity of the Common Era. Thus, it is that the case of these Irish “martyrs” is not valid as evidence of a “persecution against the true People of God in modern times.”
3. Twenty-one African Christian Copts assassinated by Isis Muslim extremists in Libya. “On 12 February 2015, the Islamic State (IS) released a report in their online magazine Dabiq showing photos of 21 Egyptian Christian construction workers that they had kidnapped in the city of Sirte, Libya, and whom they threatened to kill. The men, who came from different villages in Egypt, 13 of them from Al-Our, Minya Governorate, were kidnapped in Sirte in two separate attacks on 27 December 2014, and in January 2015. A video was subsequently released showing their murder.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_kidnapping_and_beheading_of_Copts_in_Libya
While, together with the whole sane world, I lament and unreservedly denounce such a truly barbaric, horrendous deed, and though both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church added the 21 victims to their pantheons of Christian Martyrs, still I consider it not out of order to humbly and respectfully ask to what extent politics and doctrinal positions of
churches and religions obviously not aligned with the New Testament statutes of Christ’s “kingdom not of this world… not from hence” lead to those totally unchristian, inhuman assassinations.
The godless executors of the twenty-one men not only accused them of being cross-bearing pagan followers of Jesus and haters of Mohammed but stated that they were avenging the death of Osama ben Ladin.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is not subject to the Roman Catholics Popes but has its own Pope and episcopal hierarchy. Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church “increased the Church’s involvement in politics, seeing it as a way to advocate for the interest of Copts…” His “political involvement drew criticism from some church members, including the prominent monk Father Matta El Mesheen.” When that Coptic Pope died, his successor Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, Egypt “maintains relations with the Egyptian government…” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_Orthodox_Church
Intelligent reader, you may put it down as a solid, irrefutable fact: Neither Jesus Christ, his apostles, including Peter, nor the original church of Christ as conceived and set up by God the Father, ever had official “relations” with any earthly secular, religious, or semi-religious institution. For that church, that Kingdom, “is not of this world… is not from hence.”
When any church, be it the Roman Catholic, the Coptic Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, the Anglican Church, or any other Protestant church, establishes “official relations,” or even unofficial, with any secular power, its whole membership is viewed as being aligned with, in sympathy with, and supportive of that secular power. Is it any wonder, then, that opposing political parties and governments would view them as such and treat them as such? That, when those secular entities, including secularized, politicized religious entities, contend materially and physically with each other, make war on each other, there will be “victims.” Is it reasonable to classify these “victims of unholy alliances of apostate churches with secular, political powers” as “true martyrs of Jesus Christ?”
Repeating for emphasis what has already been observed: That some “Christians of these categories” may be persecuted or killed does not prove, in and of itself that “the true People of God are being persecuted and killed” in any given timeframe, including these first decades of the 21st century.
D. Is the Millennium taking place today, in the third decade of the 21st century? My own answer: I do not affirm that every country of the world today is fully experiencing the Millennium of religious liberty. While the great majority does enjoy it, legislating and defending religious freedom, some may assure that freedom in their legal statutes but circumscribe it in actual practice. Others, most notably countries where Mohammedanism is inextricably intertwined with culture and politics, essentially deny their citizens true freedom of religion.
E. A lesson and warning for the authentic People of God of present times. During this continuing Millennium of religious freedom, which even now appears to be transitioning to the “little time” when Satan is released and again goes forth to deceive all the nations of the Earth, the apostate Mother Church, some “Christian sects” (for example, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and a plethora of independent “evangelists, prophets, apostles, pastors, and movements”), and other religions (Muslims, Hari Krishna, New Age, etc.,) are taking great advantage of religious liberty to aggressively promote their distinctive dogmas, doctrines, agendas, world and cosmic visions. The question arises starkly: Are the People truly loyal to God and Christ in strict conformity to the New Testament doing the same?
If we do not take advantage of this religious freedom more than all others, woe to us! Are we being really diligent? What is our World and cosmic vision? Is it that of the Creator God we follow? Or are we so obfuscated with worldly pleasures and riches, so occupied and preoccupied with physical facilities and the maintenance of professional staff that true, effective world evangelism is way down on the list of our priorities, although we may give much lip service to it? Are we taking every opportunity to entertain ourselves, so much so that we make hardly any effort to determine where we are on the timeline for humanity, the nations, the Spiritual Kingdom, the Earth, and the Universe laid out for us by the God of all space and time? Not really concerned about the Millennium, the “little time,” the loosing of Satan, any “signs of the times,” and certainly not that enigmatic, dark, violent book called “Revelation.”
Could we be spending great amounts of monetary, mental, and emotional resources on virtually sterile debates, “doting about questions and strifes over words, from which come envy, strife, railings, evil suspicions, perverse disputings by men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth?” 1 Timothy 6:3-5. Interminable, energy-sucking, intestine controversies over human opinions and conflicts between “church leaders?”
Time does not call a halt in is inexorable march. Soon or later, the Millennium of religious liberty and tolerance will come to an end. It is clearly written in the prophecies of Revelation 20:1-10. And what will we have accomplished during the precious Millennium? Though probably already in a diminishing phase, the opportune time for the true church of Christ is now! May we be wise to take maximum advantage of priceless days.
Text and Document Composition by H. Dewayne Shappley.
Category: Revelation: 21st Century Commentary by Homer Dewayne Shappley