The book of Revelation speaks of a time when preaching Christ will not suffice. Early in its pages it sees the possibility of the total change in esteem true believers would hold towards church groups (with which they may have been previously associated) that doggedly persist in a different path from the original Way (Acts 9:2). We can detect this thought on a closer reading of Revelation 2:4,5, which says to the Ephesian church or congregation, ‘Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy [lampstand] out of its place, except thou repent.’

In the same vein, Revelation 9 suggests that men and their counterfeit contrivances would seek to hold true believers firmly within their ranks (like in a bottomless pit or abyss of unceasing conflagration) to obviate their boldly displaying the seal of God on their foreheads (Revelation 9:1-4), an absolute necessity according to Revelation 7:4 and 14:1. Yet enlightenment, ‘the key of the bottomless pit’ (Revelation 9:1), will release these ones from such bondage, and with the avidity of a locust swarm will stoutly expose their erstwhile captors, who dourly refuse the seal of God on their foreheads (Revelation 9:4). Such exposé serves the dual purpose of seizing the sheep from the predator’s jaw (1 Samuel 17:34,35) while clear warning is given of the sure judgment of God.

The book of Revelation shows how rabid and expansive the deflection from the truth would be. When loyal John was given ‘a reed like unto a rod: and [told], Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles’ (Revelation 11:1,2)—that speaks for itself. Why not measure the clear up-front manifestation that purports to be what Christianity really is, the courtyard that is outside the temple sanctuary? Because these forward ones practice there a motley of every sort of standard except the original (Revelation 18:11-13; 2:4). Thus the angel speaking to John saw the futility of seeking true measurement in such a milieu. Those who profess to be the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) but are not, these are ‘the Gentiles’ of Revelation 11:2 that have taken over the holy city, as the latter part of Revelation 11:2 indicates. Their conquest is so thorough, that when the world speaks of Christians they are the ones that come easily to minds, and they are the ones being referred to, not those that loyally worship within the temple sanctuary.

Thus it’s a time for the prophetic voice of the ‘two witnesses’ (Revelation 11:3) to sound with cogence and clarity, debunking all specious arguments; yes, ‘fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies’ (Revelation 11:5). In the sackcloth of mourning and dismay they decry the state of the once-fair Jerusalem (Revelation 11:3). Yes, Jerusalem, I say, but not literal Jerusalem: it’s described at Revelation 11:8 as the place of ignominious exposure of the dead bodies of the loyal prophets. It says ‘And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also [their] Lord was crucified’. That’s recalcitrant Jerusalem, the pseudo-Israel of God, identified by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

There the prophetic voice of realignment is openly defied and practically lies dead. This latter-day manifestation is true to type. These words of the Messiah are therefore apropos: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets’ (Matthew 23:37). It is Sodom because of its open defiance. For the same reason the prophet Isaiah described degenerate Jerusalem of his day similarly (Isaiah 1:10, 3:9). It is Egypt because God’s people are yet in bondage to her (Revelation 18:4). Is she then Babylon the Great? There are sound reasons for identifying the Jerusalem of Revelation 11:8 with the harlot of Revelation 17 and 18. Both are referred to as ‘the great city’ (Revelation 11:8; 17:18). Babylon the Great atop a beast is drunk with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:3,6); the two prophets lie dead on the streets of Jerusalem, slain by a beast that comes out of an abyss (Revelation 11:7,8). This beast described as coming out of the bottomless pit or abyss in Revelation 11:7, is described in Revelation 17:8 as ‘The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit’.

Not only is the prophetic voice stilled behind the high soundproof walls of each of Jerusalem’s competing castles, but Revelation 18 sees God’s people as being among them. That’s the implication of Revelation 18:4 says, ‘And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’ God’s people here could not be the 144,000 ‘that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth’ (Revelation 14:4). No! It’s those who would be saints but for the deception of the harlot; those who, as the deception is unmasked, leave the doomed one to her fate; those whom Luke describes at Acts 13:48 as ‘ordained for [or disposed to, Living Bible footnote] eternal life’; those whose desire to worship the Father ‘in spirit and in truth’ supersedes every other consideration (John 4:20-24). These must be assisted to see clearly their way out of the toils of the harlot.

But even before John wrote, Jude, in his time felt the dilemma. ‘Beloved,’ he writes, ‘ when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me [instead] to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares … ungodly men’ (Jude 3,4). Back then they had slipped in or ‘crept in unawares’, today such self-serving men rule the roost, as Paul predicted in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. In such circumstances merely preaching salvation by Christ is not enough: we must vigorously contend for the original faith; there is really no other option.