6. Philadelphia

Desolate Earth during the Millennium

From here on out, we are looking into the future. God does not intend that we should become preoccupied with predicting the future. In fact, Christ said “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” (John 14:29 KJV) From this we can assess that understanding fulfilled prophecies is more valuable than guessing the future. He clearly conveys that unfulfilled prophecy does not contribute to belief as well as fulfilled prophecy. We may, however, study general ideas and issues that come up in future prophecies to understand not when, but what God wants to accomplish.

There are a few things that are clear concerning the sixth and seventh periods, but without the advantage of hindsight, it is much more difficult to understand how these events will all play out precisely.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (Rev 3:7 KJV)

Noah’s ark was a type of future events. It portrays how God will save His people. When the door of the ark closed it separated those within from those without. The Savior’s own words suggest this idea:

But as the days of Noe [were],so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that werebefore the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,until the day that Noe entered into the ark (Matt 24:37-38)

This same allegory is repeated in the parable of the ten virgins and a door is symbolically used in the same way. The master came and opened the door to the five wise virgins. To them, the door was opened, but to the others it was closed. This discussion of the door is not just a frivolous reference without a point. The idea conveyed is that of a separation of two types of people. The Savior comes to Sardis and brings out a chosen group. As expected, this new group, now, becomes a member of the sixth church and is discussed with all the attributes of the church of Philadelphia. They have an open door. They are saved from the world. They receive the reward!

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Rev 3:11 KJV)

There is no doubt that this church receives the crown of life. Nothing else can explain how this could be. Setting this church in the time preceding the Advent movement introduces insoluble difficulties. As expected, this is a veritable enigma to those who subscribe to Uriah’s explanations.

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. (Rev 3:8 KJV)

In contrast to all other churches of this impressive prophecy, God has no complaints against Philadelphia! The reason is that these are the chosen 144,000. Compared to the rest of those who will eventually be saved and to the rest of the world this, is but a small group.

One of the notable verses often overlooked in this context is the one that discusses the situation of the world’s affairs just prior to the Second Coming. Seeing the hardships of a devastated earth that are to follow, God comforts His people:

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (Rev 14:13 KJV)

This tiny church is also the only one promised to see the victory over the oppressors.

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Rev 3:9 KJV)

Sister White was given a vision in this regard. God gave her an insight into the meaning of this prophecy of the Philadelphia church.

The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus’ new name.
At our happy, holy state the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands on us to thrust us into prison, when we would stretch forth the hand in the name of the Lord, and the wicked would fall helpless to the ground. Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that God had loved us, and they worshiped at our feet. – Early Writings, p. 15

How could that be? This quotation is taken right out of the Philadelphia church’s prophecy. In Uriah’s interpretation, this time is well beyond the time of the seventh church. The truth is that even Sister White did not have a clear understanding on this. How could this be?

This is an enigmatic view until we realize that no prophet can understand the sequence or specifics of a prophecy even when he/she is the one who writes or conveys it. A prophecy is only understood when it is fulfilled. As most of us know, Daniel one of the greatest prophets was unable to figure out the prophecies given to him, but he easily understood Jeremiah’s prophecy once it was fulfilled. The same happened in 1844.

The same holds true for Sister White. She is no exception to the rule. She was well aware that there were many things yet to be uncovered. Today, upon reflection, we realize that God did give her a precise message, but none understood it before. Today, some 100 years down the road, however, we can see clearly that that clarification is needed. We can also see that the Philadelphia church is in the future and not in the past.

The 144,000 have kept His word and will live with Him a thousand years.

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6 KJV)

The words “I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” are a fulfillment of promises God has made to His people.

The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; (Isa 60:14 KJV)
And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. (Isa 49:23 KJV)

This promise was reiterated to God’s people in many forms. The Philadelphia church receives the promise. But the blessings do not stop here. The entire world is to encounter a trial time. Those who have oppressed the poor and the needy are now to endure the fruits of their labor. Yet, those who are chosen will be kept safe from this hour.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Rev 3:10 KJV)

Christ will protect His 144,000 during the millennium when the earth is laid waste.

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