Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Preaching and Preachers writes about Robert Murray McCheyne of Scotland. “It is said that when he appeared in the pulpit, even before he had uttered a single word, people would begin to weep silently. Why? Because of this very element of seriousness. The very sight of the man gave the impression that he had come from the presence of God and that he was to deliver a message from God to them. That is what had such an effect upon people even before he had opened his mouth. We forget this element at our peril, and at great cost to our listeners.”
Do you find this type of seriousness about God and his word lacking today? I don’t need to answer that because we are all familiar with the cavalier attitudes displayed by some teachers and preachers today. In David Chilton’s book on Revelation, he posits that the False Bride of Revelation 17 is not the city of Rome, the Catholic Church, the Roman Papacy, or the World Council of Churches. Revelation, just like all books contains a particular historical context. And in this first century context, the false Bride is apostate Israel (or Jerusalem). Once he establishes this, he asks, “How did the faithful City become a Harlot?” Chilton’s answer is that it all began with the apostate priests. The responsibility of the priests was to present the Bridegroom to the Bride, and to guard her from danger. They did the opposite and led the people into apostasy away from the Lord Jesus. This failure of the priests caused the Bride to become a harlot. The false priests are represented by the Beast of the land (Rev. 13) and the false Bride becomes a spiritual Babylon.
To be clear, John is writing in Revelation to first century believers (7 churches), and we should interpret it that way, however, as always we can apply the principles. Do our teachers and preachers today look like they have been in the presence of God? Is there a seriousness about God and his word? Where is the passion for God that cannot be contained? Where are the tears and brokenness that come from a contrite heart? Apostate spiritual leaders produce a false church, a false bride. However, we are still accountable to God. In Revelation Babylon was destroyed. Even though our spiritual leaders are lacking, we still must obey the Living God. Did you know that Revelation was likely written just a few years before the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem? In 70 A.D. the Romans completely destroyed Jerusalem and over 1 million Jews died. The Apostate Bride was destroyed. However, there is not one single documented case of a Christian dying in Jerusalem during this period. They listened to the Lord’s warning and fled to the hills and survived. God is very serious about his true Bride, and the rejection of his son, Jesus. Deathly serious. I think it is about time we put on the righteousness of Christ and serve him. You may not be able to do anything about the apostate church, but you can serve God with all your heart in humility and righteousness.