Chapter 2: The Road to Damascus
“I, John, am writing this to the seven churches in Asia province: All the best to you from The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive, and from the Seven Spirits assembled before his throne, and from Jesus Christ—Loyal Witness, Firstborn from the dead, Ruler of all earthly kings. Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us, who blood-washed our sins from our lives, Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father, forever—and yes, he’s on his way!”
Zoe had walked for hours. The hot Middle Eastern sun had sapped her strength, and she was thirsty. Many other Christians had also hastily grabbed whatever belongings they could carry and fled Jerusalem. The wealthier ones, who owned horses and carts, quickly loaded them with whatever possessions they could grab and joined the exodus. Most carts were full of people, though, with no more room on board. Everyone was trying to get away as fast as possible. The time of religious freedom had come to an end. The religious leaders and city fathers were plainly furious and extremely jealous. Things were getting out of hand. Jesus had risen from the grave and the disciples had performed signs and wonders in his name. What if the religious leaders lost control over the people? This ‘Jesus sect’ had really taken off; they were the buzz of the town. Everybody in Jerusalem was talking about them. The religious leaders had decided that it was time to shut them down and demonstrate who was really in control.
Zoe was exhausted. She slumped down on the edge of the road beneath an old olive tree. At least it offers a bit of shade, she thought. Anyway, it will be dark soon. I wonder how cold it gets in these parts.
Zoe had heard that in desert regions it can be scorching during the day and freezing cold at night. She intended to only lie down and snatch a few moments’ rest. Then she could continue and try and find shelter before night fell. But she was so tired. Zoe closed her eyes, and within moments fell fast asleep.
Immediately Zoe was caught up and found herself in a vivid dream. A dashing man sat on a throne in Jerusalem, handing out titles, rewards of huge sums of money, and land. He promised world peace and an end to all war and poverty. It was an awesome offer. The kings, queens, presidents, and world leaders bowed before him, mesmerized by his eloquent words and brilliant strategies. A veil was removed from Zoe’s eyes. Behind the man, Zoe saw a red dragon. It was Satan, the archenemy of God. Satan had given his power and authority to the man on the throne. Zoe saw with the eyes of her spirit what the man really looked like—a hideous monster! His body was like a leopard, his feet like a bear, and his mouth like a lion with ferocious teeth. Zoe then saw a strange creature rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, and ten crowns upon its horns. And written on each head were blasphemous names, each one defying and insulting God. One of his heads seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! All the world marveled at this miracle and followed the Creature in awe. The beast—the leopard, bear, lion-man— had sealed a deal with Israel—a seven-year peace agreement. But the beast was treacherous. Three and a half years after the agreement, he broke his promise. Arrogant, foul, and proud words gushed out of the beast’s mouth—a torrent of filth and lies against God and his precious children.
Then Zoe saw another man dressed in elaborate religious robes standing next to the beast. He had two horns, like a lamb; but he wasn’t a lamb at all! He was a false prophet. When he spoke, he sounded like a dragon—all raspy and violent! But to people who weren’t Christians, his words sounded persuasive and innocent. The false prophet was sweet-talking the world into worshiping the beast, convincing them by performing false signs and wonders. He even set up an image of the beast—televised worldwide so that the beast could be continuously worshipped day and night. Some people, though, were not fooled and refused to worship the beast. The monstrous man with the religious robes and two horns called down fire from heaven, as part of his trickery. This false prophet made out that those who refused to worship the beast were enemies of the free world. The reign of terror got worse. The false prophet ordered everyone to receive the mark of the beast on their forehead, or on their right hand. Without this mark, they couldn’t buy or sell anything and would starve to death. The name and number of the beast was 666. All those that refused the mark of the beast were executed—no mercy was shown. The reign of terror was beyond anything the world had ever seen before. Those who had received the mark of the beast were lost forever. They could never remove it or choose God’s kingdom. It was now too late. Their fate was forever sealed. They would spend all eternity in torment in the fiery lake of burning sulfur in hell.
Still, despite the worldwide reign of terror of the beast, multitudes refused the mark and chose to follow Jesus. The violence escalated beyond anything imaginable or that the world had ever seen. Zoe wanted to look away, but she knew she had to keep watching. Suddenly, when all hope was nearly lost, there was a blinding flash. Jesus returned from heaven, exploding onto the scene. Following their King was his mighty army of men, women, and children, clothed in dazzling white linen robes and riding heavenly white horses. Jesus’ eyes blazed with glory fire and he wore many magnificent crowns on his head. As the two-edged sword exploded out of his mouth, he captured the beast and the false prophet. They were hurled into an everlasting prison of burning sulfur in a fiery lake. Jesus spoke again and at his words the rebellious armies of the world still resisting his lordship were destroyed.
Zoe awoke out of her dream, shaking. Jesus was standing before her, surrounded in radiant glory. A golden menorah, as big as a house, and with seven branches, burned brightly all around him. He had come as the light of revelation to show Zoe something profoundly important. His robe went all the way to his feet, and a golden sash was tied around his chest. His head and hair were pure white, white as wool and white as snow; his eyes blazed like a fiery flame; his feet gleamed like brightly polished bronze, purified to perfection in a furnace; his voice filled the air and sounded like a roaring waterfall. He held seven stars in his right hand, from his mouth darted a sharp double-edged sword, and his face shone a brilliant light, like the blinding sun. Jesus was fearfully and wonderfully awesome!
Unsurprisingly, Zoe could not move. The weight of Jesus’ glory and presence crashed into her like a star, exploding into life. Thankfully, she had already given her life to Jesus. His presence already lived inside of her. If that were not the case, she was sure she would have been instantly vaporized! Even so, Zoe dropped like a stone at Jesus’ feet. No problem, she thought, lucky to be alive!
Jesus placed his right hand on Zoe’s shoulder and tenderly, yet with great authority, said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
“Just as I came to Apostle John, on the island of Patmos, I now come to you. Now is the time that my Bride, the church, will arise and shine like stars in the night sky.”
As Jesus spoke, Holy Spirit pulled Zoe up to her feet. Zoe couldn’t see Holy Spirit, but she knew he was there.
“The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
“Each of these seven churches is part of my Bride. My Bride is also a city. For her to be complete and reign with me in eternity, all seven cities must overcome. Every city worldwide has at least one part of my bridal calling in her. This is what I am going to show you. My Bride is also the New Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven when Father creates a new earth. But before this can happen she must walk out her destiny on earth and overcome the evil one.
“Very soon my Father will send me back to earth. Only he knows the time when this will happen. I will come quick as lightning, and my glory and power will fill the skies. Those who have given their lives to me will be snatched up to meet me in the clouds. I will take them back with me to heaven where we will be together, forever. Those who haven’t given their lives to me will be left behind. When I leave with my Bride, Holy Spirit will also depart from the earth. He lives inside my Bride, and when she goes, he goes with her. “The evil ones you saw in the dream, the beast and false prophet, will no longer be held back by my Spirit on earth living inside of my people. Satan will begin his reign of terror through the beast and false prophet. I am telling you this now so that through your testimony you can warn others. This beast will set himself up as my counterfeit: an antichrist pretending to be me. He will say that all religions are the same and lead to God, but he is a liar. Only through asking me to remove his or her sin, can someone have everlasting life. Everything else is just religious activity and can never lead to heaven.
“And the beast? He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
“This will happen very soon, once my Jewish people have rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem and start sacrificing and worshiping there every day. The beast, the lawless one, will come and make the temple unclean, setting up his throne there. With the false prophet’s help, he will also set up a one-world religion. Through his propaganda he will promote the idea that all religions lead to God and then declare that he is God. His promises of world peace will be used to manipulate the masses. Those who stand in his way will be put to death.”
Zoe had never heard Jesus speak with such earnestness. He was passionate about his Bride, but he was also resolute about putting an end to the evil one. His beloved earth and people had suffered long enough. Soon the predetermined time set in the heart of the Father would be revealed. Jesus was about to return for his Bride.
Jesus bent down and plucked a weed that was growing up between two flowers. “Satan has sown his evil into the hearts of men since Father created Adam and Eve in the garden. It is nearly time for the weeds and the flowers to be gathered up as the time of harvesting draws near. This coming time of great persecution is actually a time of grace. Those who have never heard of my message or whose hearts have been too hard or preoccupied with the world will have to decide whether to worship the antichrist or me. As awful as it will be, they will be forced to choose. The choice they make will last for all eternity. I always give every single person many opportunities to choose me. The heart that truly seeks to find me will. No one will perish without making their choice. Those who choose me, in the time after all the Christians have left the earth, will go through a three and a half year period of tribulation, but I will return for them and deliver them. They will be rescued and go to heaven!
“On your adventures you have learnt to recognize the gifts and callings in people. It is the same with a city—just on a larger scale. When the demonic rules, evil flows in. When my Bride has taken the city through prayer and holy living, then my Kingdom breaks in and my blessings flow. Now your journey is to help prepare my bridal cities to become what they are meant to be. Seven cities existed in Apostle John’s time. You have read what he wrote about them, in the Bible book called Revelation. These cities are now in modern day Turkey. The same seven giftings, callings, and strongholds are still found in these cities today.”
Zoe looked up at Jesus. He had said so much and yet he trusted her. More importantly, she knew he was to be trusted. If this was how things would be then that must be his best. Yes, she would willingly do whatever he asked of her. There was no greater honor than to serve him wholeheartedly, and others depended on her. She would be his messenger.
“There will be much joy, and many will be set free in the coming battles. You will not be alone.”
Jesus handed Zoe a flower. It was a daisy, so simple and beautiful, with its yellow center and shiny white petals. She smiled and looked up to thank him, but he had vanished…
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