2 Thessalonians 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.
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Twentieth Century Prophet by Lee Vayle
This book was written by Lee Vayle as his testimony to the message and ministry of Brother Branham during the time he was working with the prophet.
We have preserved a copy of the prophets audio letter to Lee Vayle which shows how he and the prophet collaborated on the book together, although the inspiration for the book came from Lee Vayle as the content in the book came from his understanding of the message and ministry of WMB.
Brother Branham said concerning the book: “"Bro. Vayle, this is the greatest weapon placed in my hands, you see, because you can say it, where I wouldn't dare say it.”
Spoken Word: #15a ‘Sheep of the Other Fold; This Hour – Two Parts’ P:48
You know the only authenticated book in the world, now William Branham, prophet of God, is Twentieth Century Prophet? I wrote it and he went over it, word by word with me. Church Age Book, the same thing. And I haven’t changed the doctrine one little bit. I’m not about to change It. The only trouble is people can’t see what’s being taught. Why they didn’t understand the White Throne back in Bro. Branham’s day, when he was living, they said, “That can’t be. That can’t be.” But it was.
Godhead: #12 Godhead P:45
45 So many times people will not credit Bro. Branham, that is, what he's saying about himself. When I wrote the little book for him, Twentieth Century Prophet, he said, "Bro. Vayle, this is the greatest weapon placed in my hands, you see, because you can say it, where I wouldn't dare say it." And you bet I said it; and I'm still saying it.
I challenge you: find me one time I've changed anything from the Seven Church Ages book, that he gave me the material to write, and what I wrote myself. I challenge you: find a change. And the Seven Church Ages' book is still the backbone of the entire ministry that's out there in the world today. I haven't changed one thing, except I have a deeper and better understanding of it. For instance, Godhead would have eluded me, except I knew there was one God, and He had one Son, and the rest of us were Seed. But today I can put it all together, as I'm doing now.
Twentieth Century Prophet
"The Messenger To The Laodicean Church Age" is gratefully dedicated to those Christian friends and churches whose love for both the minister and the ministry has prompted them to generously publish and distribute this book, in the one hope that many may be enlightened concerning the very soon coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
L. Vayle, (author)
Mr. and Mrs. Ray Bingaman, West Palm Beach, Florida
Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Brewer, Thayer, Missouri
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Brown, Lima, Ohio
Mr. and Mrs. George Burcham, Albany, Kentucky
Mr. and Mrs.. L. D. Dale, Troy, Ohio
Mr. and Mrs. William Dauch, Lima, Ohio
Mr. and Mrs. Pearry Green, Beaumont, Texas
Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Harris, Houston, Texas
Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Jones, Beaumont, Texas
Mrs. S. H. Keenan, Beaumont, Texas
Mr. and Mrs. Morris Ungren, Memphis, Tennessee
Mr. and Mrs. R. Watson, Birmingham, Alabama
^ TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter I - Fixing the Church Ages Historically 7
Chapter II - A Scriptural Messenger 13
The Vindicated Messenger
Chapter III - The Manifested Vindication 35
Chapter IV - Conclusions 64
It is no doubt true that every generation of Christian believers from the time of the apostles has attempted to attribute to itself the words of Jesus in Matt. 24:34 "This generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled." The purifying hope of the return of Christ must of necessity have been in the heart of every generation; but the actual physical return of Jesus could come only to the final, or end generation. It is believed by the vast majority of Christians that this end time generation is now living. This is based upon the fact that certain historical events absolutely necessary to His return have but come to pass in very recent years. There is actually no major prophetic event that is not now in progress or that must yet come to herald His return. There is left to us only a breathless hush of waiting as it was in the days of Noah when he entered into the ark and the flood delayed yet seven days.
No major event in the plan of God has been without a witness to that impending event. In the days of the flood, the ark was a testimony to the eye while Noah, the prophet, preached the Word. In the time of the Exodus God sent Moses with signs and wonders and the Word. In the days of the first coming of Jesus, there appeared a mighty prophet with the Word. In these last days we are promised a forerunner to the event of the Second Coming of Christ. Hence this booklet now is written in order to acquaint you with those events and also to acquaint you with the Messenger-Prophet who fore-runs the literal return of the Lord when He comes to take His people unto Himself.
Since there has never been a time in Bible History that the people were ready and willing to listen to the witness of God relative to coming events of great magnitude, it is believed that only a few will be even a little aware of the witness God has already given to us and established as proof of His coming. But it is hoped that every reader of this article will think awhile on the contents and ask God for guidance in this critical time.
THE MESSENGER TO THE LAODICEAN CHURCH AGE
Chapter 1 - Fixing The Church Ages Historically
The Bible very clearly sets forth that God has appointed a limited time wherein He deals faithfully unto salvation with the Gentiles. In it He calls out a people for His Name. To do this He turns from Israel as a nation, and calls to repentance individually the foreknown of every kindred, tribe and nation. These statements are correct in every detail. Acts 11:18, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Acts 13:46, "It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken unto you: But seeing ye (Jews) put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." Acts 15:13-18, "Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name. And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written, after this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down: and I will build again the ruins thereof and will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my Name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the World."
This period wherein God is calling out a people from among the Gentiles is known as the "Fullness of the Gentiles." Rom. 11:25, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits: That blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." It will end when the last elected member is brought in. Rom. 11:7-12. "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded, (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear) unto this day. And David saith, let their table be made a snare, and a trap and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them; let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid, but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles for to provoke them (Jews) to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness?"\
"The Fullness of the Gentiles" is itself the larger part of another well known period of time which is ending right now and is called the "Times of the Gentiles." Luke 21:24, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." It should be noted immediately that these two periods run concurrently, but one is political and the other is spiritual in connotation. The times of the Gentiles is the political period of time referring to Gentile dominion over Israel. It began when Nebuchadnezzar carried away Israel captive, and it ends when God restores Israel to world dominion. Zechariah 12:4-10 "In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness. And I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left; and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." This restoration ushers in the millennium. The fullness of the Gentiles is the spiritual era of the Gentiles wherein we noted that Israel is blinded while light appears to the Gentiles. This period will end when Christ comes for His Gentile Bride.
The Fullness of the Gentiles set forth by Paul in Romans is identified in Revelations as the Church Ages. They are one and the same. The proof of this is found in Revelation, chapters two and three. Therein is the Spirit speaking to the messengers of the seven churches in Asia Minor. He begins with the messenger to the Ephesian church and ends with the messenger to the Laodicean church. These are all Gentile churches. At no time does the Spirit speak to the church which is at Jerusalem which is a Jewish church. If He were addressing both the Gentile and Israelic churches He must of necessity speak to the church at Jerusalem. But not so. The original church group is left out. This is exactly as it ought to be. God has left off dealing with the Jews. A few Jews, through election, will come in, but not many. These will belong to the Gentile era. See the perfection of this premise in the type of Joseph meeting with his brethren in Egypt. Joseph (perfect type of Christ) has been betrayed by his brethren. Now in Egypt they stand before him. They are very fearful; but in love he greets them. However, the Gentile Bride of Joseph is not there when the brethren meet with Joseph. She is hidden away in the palace. So it is when Christ comes before His brethren--they see His wounds and are full of fear. He treats them in love. But the Gentile Bride is not with Him. She is in the palace, for the day when God deals with the Gentiles is over.
Now it is not an easy or a commonplace task to fix with certainty the seven church ages as to their dates, duration, messengers and other pertinent characteristics. Who would arbitrarily announce himself the authority to do so? Certainly not this writer. Yet any Bible student knows that a certain combination would most effectively accomplish this work. That combination is a scriptural study of history plus Divine Revelation. No one can deny that certain of these ages have passed into history. But since Christ has not yet taken His Bride home, it is evident that we are in one of the ages still extant. The ages that are gone can and will be verified by the study of Scripture in the light of history. (This is how we have ascertained much concerning the prophecies of Daniel.) The immediate age and its characteristics will be revealed by Divine Revelation. This is a MUST in order for the church to know exactly where it is at.
One can hardly expect the church to be helped if all her information were historical. She would not know what was happening to her. Thus with the perfect combination of history, scripture and Divine Revelation we can assuredly know the truth of the seven ages. Our course, at this time, is to review the ages in the light of history and to ascertain where we are and then implore God to send His prophet to reveal the scripture relative to this age in order that the church know and perform the whole counsel of God.
But to begin with, we most certainly know from Scripture, itself, what the first Church Age was and who its messenger was. The Age was the Ephesian Age and the messenger was Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. It was through Paul that the complete revelation from God came to the Gentiles. This revelation was actually more abundant than that received by Peter and the other apostles relative to the Gentiles. Gal. 2:6b-8, "For they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me, but contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter, for He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles." Paul was both the Messenger to the Ephesian Age and also the pastor to the church at Ephesus for he both founded it and cared for it. We cannot set an exact date as to when this age ended. There is no need for an exact date as the Ages like all other of God's eras of time seem to overlap. But it did not last too long for the power of God had abated through unbelief even in the early years. Judging by the actual wane of power this age was not longer than about 170 A. D.
Continuing to fix the Church Ages by referring to Scripture and history, examine Rev. 3:1-6. This is spoken to the church at Sardis and is the fifth age. The key herein is found in Vs. 2. "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die." There was no strength in the Dark Ages. Except for a tiny flock, and that widely scattered, there was no strong evidence of true Christianity. But now Luther appears and successfully nurtures the doctrine of Justification and the light begins to glow. The first show of strength in hundreds of years appears, showing definitely that this is the Age of the Reformation of which Luther was the Messenger without a doubt. It was said of him in Sauer's history, "Dr. Martin Luther was a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues, interpreter, in one person, endowed with all the gifts of the Spirit." This age is well known to have existed from about 1550 to around 1750.
With the fifth age fixed, it is not difficult to go on and place the sixth or Philadelphian age. Rev. 3:7-13 the Messenger to that golden age of brotherly love was no doubt Wesley. This was the age of the open door, missions, great teachers, tremendous revivals. The Holy Spirit was even more manifested herein than in the fifth age. God was truly giving light, life and blessing. This age lasted from about 1750 to the turn of the twentieth century.
Turning backward and leaving the seventh age to consider at a later time, it is certainly easy to establish in time the fourth age. This is found in Rev. 2:18-29. Here is the age that knew the depth of Satan (vs. 24). The darkest of all ages to this date--little Word--little power. Man had usurped the position and authority of God. The greed of Rome had damned countless souls and in the name of God they blasphemed the very Name and Word of God.
This age lasted from about the turn of the sixth century to the middle of the sixteenth. It was the Thyatirean Age, and its messenger was pronounced to be Columba, for he showed forth in his life that which most closely resembled the power and glory of God in the first century believers. That is always the criterion.
The next age that we can easily affix is the third age. Rev. 2:12-17 speaks to the Messenger to the church at Pergamos. But Pergamos is where Satan's seat is. This is when Satan's own religion (ancient Babylonian religion) came out to the forefront. This religion that goes against the Word of God from the time of Cain, now, after the Nicean Council, invades the nominal church and introduces pagan rites, and holidays, etc. It is no problem to fix the dates here, for this is the aftermath of the Nicean Council of about 325 A.D., and before the Dark Ages which of necessity must follow such perfidy. It lasted from the turn of the fourth century to the beginning of the seventh. Its messenger on the same basis we try the various believers, was without doubt, Martin.
By the process of elimination, one readily sees that the second age, Rev. 2:8-11 which is called the Smyrnaean Age lasted from 200 to 300 A.D. No man defended the truth more ably or believed God more firmly and thus manifested the Spirit of God more abundantly than Iraneus. He was well qualified to be the Messenger to that age.
This finally brings us to the age that we have reserved for the last because it is, indeed, the last. This age also brings us a messenger, as set forth in scripture. That we are now in the Laodicean Age is indisputable. It is at the end of this age that Israel must become a nation and no longer be trodden down of the Gentiles. Today Israel is a nation. She has her own government and all that pertains to being a full fledged nation. The Times of the Gentiles is all but over. Thus the Fullness of the Gentiles is all but over. God's timepiece has struck the Gentile's midnight hour when the Bridegroom cometh. This is the Laodicean Age and according to the Word of God, this Age has both a Messenger and a Message before it expires.
The seven Church Ages have been dealt with only slightly. The coming book called the Seven Church Ages will deal abundantly with the entire subject. Here, however, we are but establishing minor proof for a foundation for our subject which deals with the Messenger rather than the ages themselves.
End of Chapter 1 of 4
Chapter 2 - A Scriptural Messenger
A careful student must admit that we know certainly who the first church messenger was. It was Paul. He was a Prophet who brought the Word direct FROM God to the people. He was an Apostle for he took the Word of God TO the people. That was his vindication. Gal. 1:12, "Neither was I taught it (the Word) but by revelation of Jesus Christ." He continually called himself an 'apostle' or 'sent one.' Now except for our study of history we found it scripturally impossible to designate who the messengers to the church ages actually were. But hold a minute. There is an obscure passage in Revelation wherein we have a direct allusion to the Messenger To Laodicea. God most certainly has let us know who the messenger to the first church age was, and just as certainly He can and will let us know who the last messenger to the last age is. Paul stood vindicated through an infallible ministry in the Spirit--I Cor. 2:1-5, "And, I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man but in the power of God." Thus, in the last age this Messenger of whom God speaks must and will have a vindicated ministry in the Word and Power as did Paul or we cannot know him.
This MESSENGER is set forth in Rev. 10:7. "But in the days of the Voice of the SEVENTH MESSENGER, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished as He hath declared to His servants the prophets." This verse clearly relates, NOT to an heavenly angel sounding on a trumpet, but it is the MESSENGER (a man) TO THE LAODICEAN AGE SPEAKING TO US THE WORD OF GOD. The proof of this is amply set forth in Rev. 9:13 and Rev. 11:15. HERE are the two heavenly trumpeters. "And the sixth angel sounded and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God saying to the sixth angel which hath the trumpet." "And the seventh angel sounded and there were great voices in heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, etc." Notice that with the sixth trumpet the terrible woes that come upon the earth in judgment. Notice in the seventh trumpet that Christ is set forth as taking His rightful Kingdom. But in Rev. 10:7 the Messenger there is still sounding, and his sounding is declaring the mysteries of God to the church. Notice, too, that in Rev. 10:1-6 we do not have the Lord Jesus taking a throne but He is portrayed here as standing on earth with His head in heaven. "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open; and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth; and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven." This is exactly what Stephen said in Acts 7:47-51, "But Solomon built him an house, Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne and earth is my foot stool: What house will ye build me? saith the Lord: Or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did so do ye." This is a picture of Jesus still building His Church on earth. That is what Stephen said referred to Jesus portrayed standing on earth (footstool) with His head in heaven (throne). The message is still going out. It is the last days, however. Time will be no longer delayed. But He is still calling His people unto Himself, but not for long. Yes, this shows us very clearly that this one we call the seventh angel, is no spirit-being. He is a man. He is a MESSENGER, and since he is the last messenger, being the seventh messenger, he is the MESSENGER TO THE LAODICEAN AGE. SURELY WE CAN AND WILL KNOW HIM AND LISTEN TO HIM AS ATTENTIVELY AS DID THE EPHESIANS TO THEIR MESSENGER, PAUL.
We must now begin our search for this Messenger. There is but one way to do it. We must study the Scripture and see what the Word demands of him. When such a man appears, thoroughly vindicated by the Word, we have our Messenger. It is that simple. Yet it is often in simplicity we fail as did the Jews when they failed to recognize both the Messenger (John) and Jesus the Christ.
Since the truth of the Seventh Age Messenger receiving special attention is found in Rev. 10, we will study that portion as one of the keys to his identity. According to vs. 1-3 a pan of the book of Revelation is unwritten, for John heard the voices but was forbidden to write what he heard. "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; And a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: and he had in his hand a little book open; and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth; and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices." Students of prophecy admit that there must and will come a time when the content of those voices will be revealed. At present they are sealed up. They are a mystery to us. But it is declared in Rev. 10:7 that all mysteries will be finished at the end of the Fullness of the Gentiles. That is our day. Therefore, it will be in this age that the voices of the thunders must be heard again and this time revealed. BUT SINCE THE WORD OF THE LORD COMES ONLY TO AND THROUGH THE PROPHET, we can now see an evident truth in Rev. 10:7 wherein it is said "As He (God) hath declared to His servants the PROPHETS." This makes the Messenger to Laodicea a Prophet, even as Paul was a prophet. This man will be a Prophet-Messenger in order to receive the un-revealed Word of God and give it to us. It is going to take a prophet to unseal the written words of Daniel's revelation. How much more will it take a prophet to receive the Unwritten words of John.
In order to further magnify this thought, let us attack these verses from another way. We go back over the verses Rev. 10:3-4. "And cried with a loud voice as when a lion roareth; and when he had cried seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write; And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not." Now here is a great mystery.
The revelation must be complete and yet we are cut off from knowing what was said. We know that sometime or other we will have to hear them. That time is in the end time. We now ask ourselves, "Who will receive from God the mystery? Will it be the Pope? Will it be the Patriarch? Will it be the president of the World Council of Churches? Will it be the chairman of some denomination?" The answer is, NO! There is ever only one way that God can give His Word for He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is in Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto his servants the prophets." That is exactly what Rev. 10:7 says, "His servants the prophets." Thus this Messenger of the last Church Age will be a prophet! A Prophet-Messenger he will be in order to reveal the mysteries that have been hidden from us.
But hold a moment! Does it not say in Rev. 22:18b "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." How then can any man add unto this book? Surely if he hears and writes the voices of the thunders, he will be adding to this book. NOT SO. For the voices of the thunders are SEVEN and since one CANNOT ADD, it is apparent that what the thunders said, are ALREADY contained in the Word but have remained as seven mysteries to us through the ages. And that is exactly what it all means. Is it not so that a PROPHET reveals and APPLIES the Word to the people? Thus, there will come a Prophet-Messenger to reveal and conclude the mysteries of the Word. And since it is the Word that gives Life and Power and understanding, this final revelation will bring the believing, receiving ones to a readiness to meet the Lord. What other reason could there be? God is always utilitarian in His works.
We must now satisfy ourselves as to what the earmarks of a prophet are. We must also determine from Scripture what specific manifestation a prophet to the Laodicean Age would be required to have. To clarify the last premise, simply recall that Moses had different vindicating manifestation than did Elijah. Both were prophets but in different periods of history, so of course they must needs have qualifying and differentiating phenomena.
To examine the earmarks of a prophet: These are set forth irrevocably in Deut. 13:1-5, and Deut. 18:20-22. "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave to Him. And that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: Thou shalt not be afraid of him."
It is evident from these verses that God has placed men in this world with the ability to foresee the future or to reveal hidden present things. Now, it is absolutely impossible for any man to know the future for a certainty unless he is dealing in a power that can bring the prediction to pass. Also, no man can of himself perform acts of power that lie outside the realm of human possibilities, unless he is in touch with some force that will do the miraculous for him at his command. But this ability may be common to two groups of men:--Those who are of God, and those who are of Satan. A good example of this is found wherein Moses demonstrated a supernatural power through faith in God; and the magicians of Egypt duplicated the miracles by Satanic ability. There is no doubt but what we could say that God has His prophets and Satan has his. But please note carefully the scriptures presented to you from Deut. Chapters 13, and 18. The prophet who is of God will lead and keep men true to God by God's Word, but the false prophet will lead men astray. Today we can still apply the same test. The true prophet will be a man of the WORD and will insist that all men make the Word the criterion. He will lead men to Christ. His life will be exemplary in obedience to the Word, and his motives pure. He will not deal in miracles and foretelling for the sake of material good, but will every time point men and women to Christ and a greater spiritual depth. He will always exalt the Lord Jesus, and that true sweet vision of Christ which he sets forth will not be obscured by any actions of the prophet. This is so, because the spirit of prophecy is truly the Spirit of Christ.
A good illustration of what is set forth here is seen in the lives of two men. They are two prophets--Moses and Balaam. See the concern of Moses who is ready to give his life and his all for the sake of the glory of God and the eternal good of the people he leads. Here is a man crying out against sin, pleading with mankind, and glorifying God. Here is one who can say: "Have I ever taken anything from you? Have I ever told you a lie? When I prophesied, did it ever fail to come to pass? Have I ever led you astray or held anything back from you that you ought to have had? Have I not always led you to God and thought always of your good? Have I not been faithful to both God and you?" But Balaam could not say such as that. In his haste to get money for divining he almost broke his leg as the ass rubbed it severely against a stone wall. In blind greed he tries to make merchandise of whatever gift he possessed. And when he could not get enough power or authority to do Israel harm he conceived a plan to destroy them. This plan was to lead Israel into fornication with the Moabites at Baal-Peor. This was one hundred percent contrary to the Word of God. He led them FROM God This man, Balaam, actually had neither use for the Word of God, or God, or of God's people. He was a self-A good illustration of what is set forth here is seen in the lives of two men. They are two prophets--Moses and Balaam. See the concern of Moses who is ready to give his life and his all for the sake of the glory of God and the eternal good of the people he leads. Here is a man crying out against sin, pleading with mankind, and glorifying God. Here is one who can say: "Have I ever taken anything from you? Have I ever told you a lie? When I prophesied, did it ever fail to come to pass? Have I ever led you astray or held anything back from you that you ought to have had? Have I not always led you to God and thought always of your good? Have I not been faithful to both God and you?" But Balaam could not say such as that. In his haste to get money for divining he almost broke his leg as the ass rubbed it severely against a stone wall. In blind greed he tries to make merchandise of whatever gift he possessed. And when he could not get enough power or authority to do Israel harm he conceived a plan to destroy them. This plan was to lead Israel into fornication with the Moabites at Baal-Peor. This was one hundred percent contrary to the Word of God. He led them FROM God This man, Balaam, actually had neither use for the Word of God, or God, or of God's people. He was a self-seeker, a destroyer, But a true prophet all through the Word is set forth as a servant, a seeker of other men's welfare above his own. He does not curry favor with authority, nor does he look down on the lowly, He says and does the Word of God. His devotion to God is in and through the Word, which he personally demonstrates by his ministry and his conduct.
From what we now know it behooves us to shun power that comes from, or through lives of wrong-hearted and wrong-acting men. Shun the words of those (though they speak ever so highly) who would by-pass the Word of God or be in any way contrary to the Written Scripture God has breathed to us for our life's welfare. It would be well to remember that the two Simons are with us yet today: Simon Peter and Simon the Sorcerer.
There is the great one of God and the other great one who has neither part nor lot with God. There are always two men or two groups who demonstrate power, but one has a wrong source of power. The spirit of Antichrist is here as well as the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Antichrist in Satan's prophets is so close to the real and true Spirit of God that only the VERY ELECT will escape the deception. Matt. 24:22-24 "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." These true elect ones take the Word. When these true Elect Ones see the prophet and his acts of power, and see that he is right with the Word and never deviates, they know that he is of God and receive him. All that prophet says and does leads them closer to Him Who is coming soon. They look for no other vindication. This is the vindication.
Now to examine what the Scripture sets forth as to the ministry of this prophet and messenger to the Laodicean Age. He is BOTH Prophet and Messenger. Actually he is the MESSENGER to the AGE. He has a MESSAGE. But he could hardly come on the scene as a Messenger and be approved as such without being basically a prophet with whom is the Word and the Power. The office of a prophet qualifies him to be called the Messenger. This is as it was with John the Baptist. Jesus said, "What went ye out for to see? A Prophet? Yea, I say unto you--More than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold I send my MESSENGER before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." This messenger preceding the first coming of Christ was predicted in the Bible, but not called by name. Do you not think that the Messenger to the Laodicean Age who will forerun the second coming of Christ (which is more spoken of and of greater moment than the first coming of Christ) will not also be found in the Word if we but have eyes to seek and to see? Yes, and he, too, will have the office of a prophet which will vindicate his position as MESSENGER to this age, and that is exactly what Rev. 10:7 says, "In the days of the voice of the seventh messenger, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." No other age has this said about its messengers. There is not a hint at any other age except the first and last having a Prophet-Messenger. The other five ages had messengers. They were not prophets. They were reformers. All had messages. All had some revealed light. None of that five had a vindicated, "thus saith the Lord." But Paul did. Now in this last day
when the Mystery of God should be finished we will have a Messenger who is also a prophet, and "thus saith the Lord" will again be with us as it was with the Apostle, Paul. This Prophet-Messenger must be among us now, for Israel has returned to her native land. The Times of the Gentiles is soon over so the Fullness must be about completed. There is therefore even now, somewhere, this mighty Prophet-Messenger to this dying age.
But how will we recognize him? This may not be the easiest to discover because we are so complex in our thinking, and so set in our own ideas as to how he should come, and what he will be like, and what he will say and how he will act. But if we will just consider the Messenger of the first coming we ought to find help regarding the Messenger of the second coming.
John came apart from every school of religious thought. He was not a priest, though he was entitled by birth to be one. He was not a Pharisee, nor was he a Sadducee. There is no record that he belonged to the Essenes. He was not educated either formally or religiously by men. He was, however, fined with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb, and that same Spirit that Filled him taught him. His aims were so different from those round about him that he was NOT ONLY misunderstood but violently repudiated. He was not truly understood by his own disciples, and much less understood by the groups who came to question him. His coming, his actions, his preaching--all caused more confusion than apparent illumination. He seemed more against men than for men. In all realms, except that of the Spirit, he was absolutely a non-conformist. Except for the Very Elect of that day he was either repudiated or held in doubt. Now then, is it not more than possible that the Messenger who foreruns the second coming of Christ will be every bit such a man? Surely we must credit Bible history when it shows profusely that every major prophet and messenger of God was both misunderstood and finally rejected by all except a bare minority in whom was the same Spirit of God.
A factual study of the spiritual conditions of the last day or Laodicean Church will give us much insight as to what kind of a person this Messenger will be. In Rev. 3:14-22 "And unto the messenger of the church of Laodicea write, These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot, so then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." According to what is set forth here, the last church of the last age is the most deplorable of all ages, and climaxes its shame and confusion in utter apostasy for Rev. 3:20 says "Behold I stand at the door and knock and if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him." This is none other than Christ shoved out of His own church, and he is now outside trying to regain admittance. This is not a far-fetched interpretation, but the desolate truth, for verse 22 says "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying." This verse twenty has been used for so long on sinners by well meaning but wrong believing personal workers that we have failed to see the Spirit of God is foretelling the exact condition of the Laodicean Age Church. It finally becomes Christless.
Now do not be confused. The reason we have failed to see this truth is because of another failure in our reading the Word of God the way it is written. Read again carefully, Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Notice that in every single age the Spirit is speaking to those who are true Christians and those who are pretenders, or unbelievers. On one hand He lashes out at their gross sin and on the other He commends them for their piety, faith, suffering, understanding, etc. How is this? The answer is simple. All Israel is not Israel. As Israel means, 'Prince with God,' there were multitudes who bore the name as in the days of Elijah, but that did not make them truly Israel. Perhaps there were as many as five million in that day that were Israelites after the flesh, but there were only seven thousand true Israelites that had not bowed the knee to Baal. Today we have an identical situation. A fisherman goes forth to cast a net. All kinds come in. There are eels, serpents, turtles, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, water spiders, frogs, etc., that get in that net--but also there are FISH. A shepherd has a flock, both sheep and goats. A farmer has a field--it contains wheat and tares. Thus we see that all who bear the Name "Christian," (to walk spirit-filled) though entitled to it on the grounds that they believe in the virgin birth, the shed blood, the Holy Spirit Baptism, etc., are not truly WORD BORN, SPIRIT FILLED CHRISTIANS. Today we have second, third, fourth, fifth, tenth, twentieth, and thirtieth generation Christians. But God does not have grandchildren, only children. So the Church today is truly Christian in the flesh as was Israel of old, but the Church that is the REAL BODY OF CHRIST is only a part of that vast outer vehicle, and it is spiritual as were the seven thousand in the days of Elijah. But as Israel after the flesh purported to speak for God, and worshipped God, and regulated the religious life for their day, even so now does the present nominal church purport to speak for God, worship God and regulate worship as we know it today.
This church today is rich. She has vast holdings in real estate and stocks and bonds. Her pastors have retirement funds of multiplied millions. She is rich in worldly goods but poverty stricken in the spiritual. She is so far from God spiritually that God calls her wretched, blind, and naked and she doesn't even know it. Yet for all her apostasy she says she speaks for God. God says, 'You can't speak for me. You are lukewarm. You won't take a truly righteous stand though you claim to believe the major truths of the Word. Thus you are no longer my mouthpiece--I spue you out of my mouth."
Not only is this so, but the organized religious move we have today is so all-embracing that Christ is forced to step outside the church, for light and darkness cannot mix. The Protestants are going to get back with the Roman Catholics in the ecumenical move. Already the Patriarch and the Pope have come into fellowship. America has already had one Catholic president and no doubt will have more to follow. The leaders of each group have repudiated the Word and drawn up their own creeds and dogmas as a substitute so that people live no longer by the Word of God. Yet, in spite of all of them denying the holy and infallible Word of God, these same people dare to say that they speak for God. Some go so far as to say they are the vicars of Christ. This is truly antichrist. Christ must needs leave the church to its bankruptcy. As He leaves He has a word to His own: "Come out of her my people and be not partakers of her sins. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you." Rev. 18:4 and 2 Cor. 6:17.
To reject the Word is to reject Christ. When Eve allowed Satan to change but ONE word of the commandments of God, she opened the door to the floods of sin and misery that have dogged the ways of mankind for all these thousands of years. The very last words of Jesus to the church warns, "Don't take away one word--don't add one word--leave it exactly as it is, and go by that." But the church has not listened. She has changed the Word of God to suit herself. Why right now there is a conclave of students from the Jews, Catholics and Protestants who are rewriting the Bible to suit all three groups. No wonder Dr. Billy Graham said that if the Holy Spirit left the church, she would be so unaware of it that she would go on doing ninety percent of what she is now presently doing, and would not miss Him. And that is exactly right. For when the Word is rejected the Spirit is rejected, for the Word and the Spirit are ONE. You can't have God apart from His Word. It is impossible.
Now since these are the true conditions of the church, what kind of a man will the messenger be who comes to this age? He will not be from ANY ORGANIZED group. That would be impossible for organizations will eventually come together, bereft of God. He will not be from any so-called REPUTABLE religious source. He must stand alone, and that FOR GOD and WITH GOD. His manner of life, speech and attitudes both spiritual and material will be unlike others. He will appear to be the same misfit as was John and just as controversial. He will not be popular. In fact any popularity he gains in the early days of his ministry he will lose when he begins to speak the truth as it is given him from on high. But he will be God's man, and the elect will know him as they have always through the ages. This man's ministry will open wider the eyes of the elect but it will close and make even blinder the eyes of those who have become hardened. This is how it was in the days of Jesus.
Those who had a measure of light and righteousness in His days were the Pharisees. But when they began to question and doubt and reject, all their light turned to darkness and they were utterly darkened until they killed their very Lord. But contrariwise there was a Samaritan lady of ill fame who saw Him at a well. In her sin she believed in Him, and all her darkness became pure light and she lived through His grace while the Pharisees died. Hear, then, this Prophet-Messenger when he comes with the Word, and close not the ears, lest your light become darkness, and the Spirit of God speak no longer to you.
Having seen this much, let us go further in finding what scripture has to say about this messenger. Since this man must come to us in the last day just before Jesus returns, we will naturally examine that time in the light of scripture referring to His coming, and see if we can find illumination on this messenger. Jesus, Himself, gave us the key. Luke 17:26-30. The characteristics of two specific periods of time will reappear at the end time. Those characteristics are from the days prior to the flood and the overthrow of Sodom. "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the days that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." As we read these words we need spiritual insight, for all these words tell us is that the world system is waxing worse and worse until it is like the times of Noah and Lot. Now that is true. But what good is it to know what world conditions are if we do not have something from God to help us in those conditions? Or, put it this way: Here is a revelation of what is with the world--now then, what is with us? What is for us? What went on in those days that tells us what is on our side? There are always two sides.
In the days of Noah there were two groups. There were the wicked who perished; but there were also the righteous who escaped. In the days of Lot there were three groups: 1. The dwellers in Sodom, 2. Lot and his family, 3. Abraham and his family. Now if our days are to be an exact parallel to those days we must look for the Spiritual and beneficial side that was theirs and apply that to ourselves.
Look at the days of Noah. Here is not only a preacher of righteousness but a PROPHET for the Word of God came to him and through him for that day. He warned and preached. He built the ark. This was in obedience to the whole counsel of God and thereby he and seven others were saved. The Spirit of Christ was in this man. But even before Noah there was a prophet called Enoch. Jude speaking about Enoch said that in the desperate time before the flood this man spoke of the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST. Imagine that. The Second Coming when there had not even been a First Coming. Here, indeed, is something we ought to know about for we are waiting for the Second Coming right now. Way back there, where for many, many years they had gone against God and His holy Word there arose a PROPHET. There when the sons of God had defiled themselves with the daughters of men--when knowledge was so great, and men so renowned--a period when they were rich and lacked nothing, yet spiritually they were wretched and blind as in this day--yes in those days came a PROPHET. And since our day is to pattern after that period, we will not simply look and see the increase of sin, and the lack of spirituality amongst those that claim to be Christians, but we will begin to look for that Prophet who MUST come. As Enoch blasted out against sin and iniquity, he preached right along about the Second Coming of Christ. The earth was about to be destroyed. So will it be soon. That age of the flood, then, is a type of today when the Coming of the Lord draweth nigh. In Noah's day the righteous were saved. God did it. The wicked perished. That will all happen again. But don't ever forget, as they had a Messenger who was a prophet we are going to have one also.
Take now the days of Lot when Sodom was destroyed. The whole story is in Gen. Chapters 18 and 19. Again we must not have eyes only for the wicked. We must see what is our due and our portion. When the enemy comes in like a flood, God raises up a standard. Isaiah 59:19 "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Well, the enemy has come in,--let us then look for that standard. In the days of Lot when the cup of iniquity was filled, God did not forget His own elect. They had His special care. What was that care? God Himself appeared to Abraham. There in the heat of the day as Abraham sat at the door of his tent he saw three men approaching. He ran and fell at the feet of ONE of them and cried "MY LORD." At eventide as the two angels (who also appeared as men) went down to Sodom, God started to talk to Abraham. God gave Abraham (a PROPHET) the revelation of the destruction of Sodom. In Gen. 18:17, God said, "Shall I hide from Abraham the thing I am about to do?" No, He could not do that for God reveals to His servants, the prophets, what He is about to do. And as He is revealing to Abraham about the coming destruction He reveals the COMING SON for whom FAITHFUL Abraham longed. And notice this. Here is God appearing in human flesh, revealing to Abraham the time of that Coming Son. As He does so, Sarah laughs in her heart. And God with His back to the tent, wherein is Sarah, knows that laugh is in her heart and He speaks out revealing her very thoughts, even the thoughts of her heart. God the GREAT PROPHET HIMSELF read the heart of Sarah. And this is exactly as it should be. In Hebrews 4:12 we read, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." That is what the Word does. It discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. But the Word is God. Thus the Manifested Word (God) in the presence of Abraham discerned the thoughts and intents of the hearts of those present.
This very act that God did was the very act the SON (God) did on earth. It was this sign that made the elect accept Him as the Messiah. John 1:40-51 "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiahs, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jonas: thou shalt be Called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow, Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
See from these verses that this sign (reading hearts of men) caused Nathanael to immediately claim this man of Nazareth to be the very Son of God, the King of Israel. Likewise the woman at the well received Christ as the Messiah on the same basis. John 4:14-29 "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, l perceive that thou are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiahs cometh, which is Called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? Or, why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" She knew that He had to be a prophet. She knew that when Messiah would come He would do that. That would be the SIGN of the Messiah. That would be His Vindication. Now what God did as the Son was exactly what He did as the Father. This is true. Read in John 8:56, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." Jesus was talking about himself at that time. He said that Abraham actually saw His day--the day in which He was, right at that time.
This is what He meant by that statement. Twice in the Old Testament God appeared to Abraham in human form. The first time was when He appeared after the battle of the kings, and was called the King of Salem. Then, later, He appeared at the tent of Abraham immediately prior to the destruction of Sodom. In the first instance His appearance typed Him as the High Priest, the office of which He assumed after His resurrection. But at the tent He typed out His ministry as the PROPHET, which office He would assume during the days of His flesh. Duet 18:15-19 "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desirest of the Lord Thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken, I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." And what He was at the tent, He was on earth and so He is right now. The sign does not change. Only now it will be the Spirit in the Prophet bringing that same sign back to earth. It has to be by way of the prophet, for as Israel cried unto God, "Let us not hear your voice audibly or see the fire visibly, but speak to us through a man, even Moses." God hearkened and has since then spoken only by and thru the prophet. That last day Prophet-Messenger is duty bound to produce that sign if we are in the day that EXACTLY parallels the days of Lot and the destruction of Sodom.
Now while we are dwelling on that, Christian friend, elect of God, remember that Abraham was not mixed up down there in Sodom. God's elect are a separated people. (Come out of her my people) They are not of the world. Lot was down there, but then, he was not elected. God had not called and separated him. He came along only on the invitation of Abraham. He was a good man, to be sure, but God did not appear to him. Only angels came with a message for him to get out. Lot was not truly separated and neither were his children. They are the nominal Christians who go through the tribulation. The Sodomites, of course, are the wicked, and they are destroyed as it says in Malachi--they are burned to ashes. But how wonderful it is to know that right now God is dealing with His elect as He did with Abraham who is our father in the faith. Truly Abraham's seed will be blessed with Abraham, and visited by God through the Spirit.
Since it is absolutely impossible to deal with a prophet relative to the Second Coming of Christ without considering Elijah, we will do so now. Matt. 17:10-13, "And His disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias shall truly first come and restore all things. But I say unto you that Elias is come already, and they knew him not but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise also shall the Son of Man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist." It will be noted here immediately that the prophet Elijah must certainly return to this earth. But it is also immediately noted that Jesus termed John the Baptist, Elijah. John was not the reincarnation of Elijah. He was John with the same Spirit upon him that was upon Elijah. This is the same case as is seen when Elisha prayed for a double portion of the Spirit that was upon Elijah and he received that double portion of the same Spirit. This did not make Elisha to be Elijah. It simply gave him the ministry by the Same Spirit. Now follow this up to our time. Will we not also have a prophet upon whom this same ministry by the Holy Ghost descends? Will such a one come at the end of this church age? Look at Malachi 4:5-6, "Behold, I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Here is one of those most peculiar scriptures that in one sweep encompasses two widely separated events dealing with one person. The person involved is Elijah. The two events are his manifestation before both the comings of Jesus Christ. Now of course this is not Elijah indeed, but only the "Elijah ministry" for there is no reincarnation in the Bible. In fact the Word explains these two events. Malachi 4:6a "And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children," is a reference to John the Baptist as set forth in Luke 1:17. "And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." This one upon whom the Holy Spirit comes in such a way as to designate an Elijah ministry is the very same in Malachi 3:1a, "Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me." of Matthew 11:7-10. "And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written. Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." Now as it has been pointed out in Malachi 4:6 only the first part of that verse referred to John the Baptist upon whom the Elijah ministry had fallen. The last part obviously belongs to another messenger with the same ministry, who will at some time turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. They will not be the same person. They will be different men, ages apart. Indeed, if this prophet appears today, he will be the Elijah for our day, living 2000 years after John.
Now to understand the meaning involved in Malachi 4:6 let us study carefully the thought, "He shall turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children."
Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children as explained by the Angel is to the end that a 'prepared people are made ready for the Lord.' In Romans 9:23 we learn, "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory." These vessels of mercy are the ELECT CHILDREN OF GOD. THEY ARE THE PREPARED ONES. And this ministry of John had to do with the FATHERS of these elect ones. Something had to be done to turn the hearts of the fathers to them. It would come through the ministry of John. And it did come through that ministry. For when John appeared the fathers were not taking God's Word but their own. They were sinning and calling it righteousness. They voided the Word of God. John came thundering on the scene. Out of the desert he came dressed in skins, and rough and coarse was his exterior. Bold and cutting were his ways. He slashed with the Word and Spirit of God. And they being stronger than the gates of hell cut at men's hearts and brought many to the baptism of repentance and faith that the MESSIAH was about to appear. This ministry in the Spirit that John began was taken up by Jesus, for John had to decrease while Jesus increased. The hearts of the fathers being turned to the Word (written)--it was not so great a step now to turn to the WORD(Manifested). These disciples later became the apostles and they in turn became the fathers of the church, for the Gentile church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Eph. 2:19,20A, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: Eph. 2:20A "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." But the Jewish heart is basically against the Gentile. On their own they never would have received the Gentiles. But this great change wrought by the ministry of John in turning the hearts to the Word consequently led the apostles to turn to the children of God, Gentiles though they were. Acts. 15:14-18 "Simeon declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the World." John had so presented the Word that the fathers received the full revelation on the Gentile children and their hearts turned to them. But since the "fathers fell asleep," the church has drifted. Once more the Word has been left and men have accepted tradition in its place. Now there must and will come a man, a prophet upon whom that same spirit (which was upon Elijah, upon Elisha, upon John) must and will fall.
He will bring the Word. He Will turn the hearts of the children back to the fathers, back to the true Word, back to the Word originally preached, back to the signs that follow the Word. He will forerun the Second Coming of Christ wherein Jesus comes to catch away His Bride.
Yes, a Prophet-Messenger will come to bring the Bride back to the Word and the mighty works that follow the believers. According to that 7th verse in Rev. 10 he will have a message. He will speak much. In that message that foreruns the Second Coming he will be given by God the power to reveal the mysteries that have been hidden. This may sound like a large order. It is, but yet it must come to pass. The reason it must be so, is so basic as to need no explanation. Yet it will be explained. The first messenger, Paul had "Thus saith the Lord," on the scriptures. Since then we have had nothing but division over their interpretation.
In fact the present era reminds one of the day in which Jesus said that the traditions of men made the Word of God of none effect. The denominations have invariably slanted the Word to fulfill their own causes and desires, and thereby much true meaning of the Word had been lost.
In Paul's day he gave the fullness of the meaning. But it has been lost as carnal minds attempted to explain it. Each group that has separated over the interpretation claims to be right and guided by the Holy Ghost. Some or all have to be wrong, for the Holy Ghost cannot lie and cause division, neither is He of two minds. Thus it is imperative that we have a prophet today with "Thus saith the Lord," who will bring the hearts of the children to the exact truth of the fathers. It was abiding in that original WORD that brought the power. We have to get back to the TRUE meaning and then ABIDE in it, and when the Bride becomes a WORD BRIDE she will manifest the works exactly as did Christ. How we look for that Prophet Messenger to come and bring the message of the Word that Jesus might be truly manifested amongst us once more, by the Spirit.
This messenger to the Laodicean age will have a tremendous burden placed upon him. It will be with him as it was with other prophets, especially Moses. The people were oppressed under Pharaoh. For Moses to come and declare himself a prophet of God and worthy of attention and obedience to the Word of God in his mouth, he would of necessity have to gain their attention through some vindication by God that would defy all dispute. This can be easily understood. The Hebrews had not had a prophet for about 400 years. Such a length of time would see several generations without the dynamic truth of God in their midst, and a consequent ignorance of God's way. Moses would need supernatural vindication of his ministry to catch their attention and capture their hearts. This is the very same situation when both John and Jesus came. Israel was without a prophet for another 400 years with the consequent deterioration of truth into human tradition. How very difficult it would be to turn Israel to truth by a prophet. Thus when God sent Moses He sent him with two signs. If the people refused the first sign (the rod made into a serpent) they would hearken to the voice of the second sign (the hand placed in the bosom, turning leprous and then clean.) Ex. 4:8, "And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the second sign." God said that the signs were voices. Each time the sign appeared in the ministry of Moses it was the voice of God speaking. It would naturally do two things. It would impel the one to come, and harden the other more and more. That is what the sign did. That is what the voice of God does. It draws some and they come closer to the sign as did Moses himself when the bush glowed, but on the other hand that voice in calling will harden the heart more and more as it rejects God. It happened thus to Pharaoh. It happened thus to the Pharisees. But Moses was not discouraged. He kept on. He knew that God was with him in his calling, for the voice that he was obeying was a Scriptural Voice. A true prophet like Moses will always be one with the Word. The voice that cried out of the bush spoke the Word of God as it had been given to that great prophet, Abraham. It said, "I remember my promise to my people." So Moses listened and obeyed, and in so doing he brought the promise of God for the people of that generation.
Now when God spoke by that sign there was only one avenue left. Israel had to move out of Egypt--the Exodus had to come. There will be a final vindicating sign and our day will be over, too--the Rapture must come. As John the Baptist cried, "Behold the lamb of God," without doubt this messenger to the last age will cry, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh." As the apostle Paul declared the mysteries of God that produced such dynamic faith in the early church, even so now, when that last prophet reveals what Paul did truly teach, that SAME WORD that brought that early church FAITH which is based solidly on the Word, will now bring back that faith, and that will be Rapturing Faith, to meet the Lord in the air and be forever with Him.
We have then, a most interesting premise. Such a prophet as we have set forth from the Word must appear on the scene. That this is the last day we have no doubt, but we might have a doubt as to who that prophet is. Who is he? Where is he? Who is that man so vindicated by God with visions and signs and wonders? Who is that man who never yet had a revelation fail? Who is he who leads men to God through the Word and never leaves the Holy Writ? Such a man we look for. Such a man even now must be in our midst--a prophet of prevailing truth!
END OF PART 2 OF 4
THE VINDICATED MESSENGER
Chapter 3 - The Manifested Vindication
There can be no doubt whatsoever that there is a Prophet-Messenger to this last age. The search for that prophet, then, must be of paramount and immediate interest. If such a man is today living, then that man ought already to be working out his ministry to a degree. There must be a ministry that would mark him out as that Messenger. Thus would he be known.
According to our understanding of Scripture this man will not be recognized by the religious systems and orders of the day, so we cannot look for him there. He will not be numbered amongst the ecclesiastical mighty. In fact he could well be as obscure as was John or Jesus. His birth would no doubt be as humble as that of all the other prophets. Without a doubt much of his ministry would be disputed while a part of it would be welcomed. All this is true if he will run true to scripture. And if he is the Messenger he will, of course, run true to Bible pattern.
There is such a man in the world today who is absolutely scripturally vindicated as being the Prophet-Messenger to the Laodicean Age. He has every requisite as set forth in the Word. His ministry is accepted in part, and in part rejected. His birth, upbringing, education, preaching, teaching, ministering in the Spirit, has every scriptural qualification and he is thus vindicated.
That man is Rev. William Branham, now residing in Tucson, Arizona, and formerly of Jeffersonville, Indiana, where most of his life was spent.
William Marrion Branham was born to a very young couple April 6, 1909, in a most humble log cabin in Burksville, Kentucky. For two days after his birth his fifteen year old mother, eighteen year old father, and visitors saw hanging over his crib, a white hazy light that had come in through the window, and stood over his head at birth. No one understood the significance of it, and no one, therefore, put any stock in it relative to his future life.
As long as he can remember, he received visions that he could not understand, and yet whenever a vision was of a future event, it never failed to come to pass exactly as he saw it.
One day when he was but seven years of age, as he was carrying water for his father, he was startled to hear the sound of wind in the leaves of the tree under which he was resting for a moment. He looked up, but there was no visible movement. As he started to leave, the sound came again, but this time it was louder. Looking up he saw a whirlwind in the tree, and out of the whirlwind there came an audible voice saying, "Don't ever smoke, or drink, or defile your body in any way, for there will be a work for you to do when you are older." He was naturally frightened and ran screaming into the house. Somehow he was unable to tell his mother the experience, so she concluded that William was a very nervous boy and needed rest.
A few weeks later while outside playing, a vision broke across his eyes and he saw a bridge being built over the Ohio river (he was now living in Jeffersonville, Indiana) and as men worked he saw a span fall, taking to death a number of workmen. Twenty-two years later when the bridge was being built at that exact spot as seen in the vision, a span did break away, hurling those men to their death.
Since he did not come from a spiritual home (his father often bootlegged whiskey) he did not realize that God was dealing with him. Thus, when social pressure was placed on him by his father and companions, he would try to drink, smoke and go to dances, etc. But his trials were failures, for each time he launched out to smoke or drink he heard the peculiar sound of the wind blowing and felt the presence of an unseen being. Being frustrated and nervous he tried to keep away from the peculiar life that was his, but he could not.
On two occasions he was accosted by astrologers who attempted to explain to him that he was born under a sign. They both told him that he was the possessor of a gift, though neither told what it was. One of them went into scripture to give him details. Though interested lightly in what was said he shrugged it off as best he could. Later he understood about astrologers and mediums and rebuked them, taking authority over them in the Name of Jesus. But as yet, he was not born again.
He moved out West to become a range hand when about eighteen. But the tragic news of his brother's death soon brought him home. The sorrow of death and the pressure of his strange life caused a nervous debility to set in. His body became weakened. Appendicitis set in. An operation became imperative. While under the anesthetic he felt his life slip away, and for some time his lifeless body lay upon the operating table while the doctor worked frantically to restore his heart beat. During that time he saw visions of heaven and hades. He cried to God and promised that if God spared his life, he would seek Him and serve Him. Much to the amazement of the doctors, his life was restored.
True to his word he went about seeking God. One day he prayed alone in the wood shed. There a cross of light appeared to him and a voice spoke to him out of the cross in an unknown language. The cross of light then disappeared. He was spellbound with wonder and fear. He had already learned by reading his New Testament that there were different kinds of spirits, so he wondered whether this was of God or not. Once more he earnestly prayed to God and the cross of light appeared again and the Spirit of God spoke peace to his heart. As the joy of salvation flooded his soul, he jumped up and ran through the sheer exuberancy of sins forgiven and peace made with God.
Since it was truly God who was now in his life, he was led to know and understand that the Baptism with the Holy Ghost was for him. One day while looking to God, it seemed as though rain fell upon his body--literally pelting it, and sinking deep within him. He was completely, overflowingly filled with the Holy Ghost.
He sought and found excellent fellowship and teaching with the Missionary Baptists and was soon ordained to preach the gospel. God gave him good success for his tent often had crowds of 3000 and there were many people truly born again.
It was during June of 1933 that as he was baptizing the converts in the Ohio River that a most amazing and well documented phenomenon occurred. As he was baptizing the seventeenth person before a crowd estimated at about 4000 there appeared a blazing whirling star out of heaven with the sound of rushing wind audible to all, and it came and hovered over him. As many ran in fear, and others knelt in prayer, a voice spoke out of the pillar of fire to him and said, "As John the Baptist was the forerunner of the first coming of Christ, so your message is the forerunner of the second coming of Christ." Of course he alone heard the words though others heard the sound. This is exactly as it was when Paul was blinded by God and heard His voice. Others heard a sound but not the actual voice or the words of the voice. Being a firm believer in the whole Word of God, and standing firm on the fact that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever, he did not hesitate to pray for the sick. Thus all through his ministry he sought to help the infirm. The results were most gratifying until even the hospital personnel admitted to the power of God and knew that when the "little Baptist preacher" came, someone was going to get well.
Now that he was firmly in the Word, it might be expected that the visions would cease. On the contrary they became multiplied and with tremendous results for good, for the visions usually indicated a great need that was going to be met by God, and surely it would take place with never a failure--no not one. Whatever he saw in the vision he would tell, and the results were invariably what the end of the vision indicated. It was a literal "Thus saith the Lord." It was then clearly established that he must be one of whom it is said, "Your young men shall see visions."
Not only did he see visions that always came to pass relative to his personal ministry but he had many recorded visions (which he also related) which dealt with world wide affairs that must come to pass before the return of Christ. Perhaps the most remarkable of these were the following seven:
In June of 1933 when Brother Branham was conducting his services in the old Masonic hall on Meigs avenue, seven major events which are to come to pass before the return of the Lord came to him by way of a vision. It was on a June morning just before he was to teach a Sunday school class that this series appeared while he was in a trance. He saw in a vision that the dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini, would invade Ethiopia and according to the voice speaking to him, Ethiopia "would fall at his (Mussolini's) steps." However, the voice continued and prophesied a dread end of the dictator, for he would have a horrible death and his own people would literally spit on him.
The next vision indicated America would be drawn into a world war against Germany which would be headed up by the Austrian, Adolph Hitler. The voice predicted that this terrible war would overthrow Hitler and he would come to a mysterious end. In this vision he was shown the Siegfried line whereat a great toll of American lives would be exacted.
It might be well to mention here that a subsequent vision relative to this war predicted that President Roosevelt would declare war against Germany and in so doing would eventually be elected for a fourth term. The third part of the vision showed that though there were three ISMS, Fascism, Nazism, Communism in the world: that the first two would come to nothing but that Communism would flourish. The voice admonished him to keep his eyes on Russia concerning future involvements, for Fascism and Nazism would end up in Communism.