Three Angels' Messages Part 11
Something happened a short time ago that many found amusing. Maybe you saw it. Caught by a security camera was a lady walking through a shopping mall, her head down as she was fully engaged in texting a message. Not watching where she was going, she failed to notice a large pool with a fountain gracing the courtyard of the mall, into which she walked directly. Apparently uninjured, she emerged in her wet clothes and with her soaked cell phone. You can look it up and see the video on YouTube.
It reminded me that many in the world are just like her. They are going about life with their head down, so absorbed in what they are doing that they have no clue as to what lies just ahead. Let us not be like them! Jesus is coming soon! Everything we’ve read or studied in the Bible is going to come to pass just as the Lord promised. Time is short; shorter than most people think.
God has a plan for this planet! Being unaware of that plan, or failing to comply with the qualifications of that plan will be costly. Going about life with our collective heads down, ignoring the issues that face this planet in the context of God’s great plan is a huge mistake. The Bible speaks of those who go about life this way, not cognizant of God’s eternal plan, as being “earth dwellers.”
The warning messages of the three angels is directed specifically to those who “dwell” on earth. It’s true that in a sense all of earth’s inhabitants “dwell” here, whether they are in tune with God’s program or not. But the Scripture uses the word “dwell” in a specific sense, referring to those who have the mental outlook that “this life is all there is”; there is no great and grand future that God has in mind. These short-sighted people have settled into an existence that pays no attention to the fabulous design that God has planned. They are like the lady walking through the mall with her head down, completely oblivious as to what lies just head. These are the ones that “dwell” on earth.
The word used here is katoikeo, which comes from the root oikos, meaning “house” or “home.” Our English word “economy” (meaning “house law”) comes from that root. We have other words in our language which incorporate that root, such as “ecology,” “ecosphere” and “ecosystem.” The word katoikeo has the added prefix kata which has the effect of giving emphasis. Most often the prefixes in Greek compound words have this effect. Thus the verb means to “settle down, to abide, to thoroughly make that place your home, to inhabit.” Used in a positive way, Paul gives us encouragement to allow Christ to “dwell” in our hearts by faith; to allow Him to make His permanent home in our hearts. Ephesians 3:17.
To “dwell” on the earth means to look at this life as being “all there is.” It is to look at this world as being our permanent home. It is a very short-sighted view; it is spiritual myopia. Jesus said that His coming would be a “snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” Luke 21:35.
In the book of Revelation itself, the word “dwell” is a familiar component. To the Church of Philadelphia the True Witness writes, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which shall test those who dwell on the earth.” Revelation 3:10. Just before the unleashing of the fifth trumpet, the first of the three awesome woes, John heard an angel cry out saying, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants (“dwellers,” from the same word) of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound.” Revelation 8:13. In Revelation 11 we are told about those who defied and attempted to destroy the “two witnesses.” Concerning these we read, “And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.” Revelation 11:10.
A cluster of usages of this word is found in chapter 13, which is intrinsically linked with the messages of three angels and provides its immediate context. These passages therefore deserve a very careful look. “And all who dwell on the earth shall worship him (the first beast of this chapter), whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. “And he (the second beast of this chapter) exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Revelation 13:12. “And he (the second beast) deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the (first) beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” Revelation 13:14.
In chapter 17, judgment falls on the impure woman who rides a beast, “with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants (“dwellers”) of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Revelation 17:2.
What do these passages tell us about those who “dwell” on the earth? We see that those who make this world their permanent home resist the influence of the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, which give witness to God and His ways. They attempt to destroy them and put His warnings out of their consciences, as the prophecy of Revelation 11 describes. Earth-dwellers are happy when the Scriptures are set aside, either literally or figuratively. That is because they have adopted a life-view that is contrary to the picture of life as given in the Bible. They ignore the fact that God has a plan for this planet! Don’t be an earth-dweller!
Those who “dwell” on this earth will especially be the prey of Satan’s delusions during the trial and test which shall come, as we’re told in Revelation 3:10. In a special way they are the recipients of the final three “woes,” as we’re told in Revelation 8. In Revelation 13 we’re told that those who “dwell” on the earth will be the subjects of Satan’s kingdom and will perform his commands. They will be deceived by the miraculous wonders performed by satanic agencies and will worship the beast and his image, receiving his mark. We’re told that their names are not in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Don’t be an earth-dweller!
From the very beginning, God has intended that His children look at this life as a short, temporary stay. He has always pointed the eyes of His children to a coming Kingdom, a city that has foundations, a home which will last forever. Thus Abraham, the father of the faithful, was called, as a spiritual proto-type, to leave his comfortable home in Ur of the Chaldees, with its conveniences such as indoor plumbing. He was called to have a different frame of mind, that of a pilgrim. Pay careful attention to the words used to describe his actions and his attitude. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, Whose Builder and Maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10.
Abraham’s pilgrimage, conducted in a literal way, living in tents and moving from place to place, was to be an allegory for all the faithful. In a lesser sense, he foreshadowed the Son of God Who would come and “have nowhere to lay His head.” Luke 9:58. We find Abraham continuously moving his tent from place to place, not settling down in a permanent structure. “Abram passed through the land.” Genesis 12:6. “He moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel.” Genesis 12:8. After returning from his sojourn in Egypt, “He went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel.” Genesis 13:3. God commanded him, “‘Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.’ Then Abram moved his tent.” Genesis 13:17, 18.
After the destruction of Sodom, “Abraham journeyed from there (Mamre) to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.“ Genesis 20:1. He explained to King Abimelech that God had “caused me to wander from my father’s house.” Genesis 20:13. Later, “Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.” Genesis 21:34.
Not owning a place to bury his dear wife Sarah, Abraham told the sons of Heth, “I am a foreigner and a sojourner among you. Give me property for a burial place among you.” Genesis 23:4. After leaving the advanced civilization of Ur, never do we find Abraham living in anything but a tent. Those who follow in his footsteps have a pilgrim’s mind-set. They realize that this earth is not their permanent home. They are not “earth-dwellers.” They “sojourn” here “as in a foreign country,” confessing that they are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13.
The word “sojourn” is different than “dwell.” One speaks of being short-lived, while the other speaks of something that is long lasting. As we’ve seen, the word “dwell” is katoikeo. The word “sojourn” is paroikeo, built from the same root oikos (“home”) but with para (cf. parallel, paralegal, parable, etc.) as its prefix, which has the meaning of “beside, along side of.” It gives the nuance of being “tangent to, not firmly embedded in, not completely a part of.” To be a “sojourner” reflects the concept of being transitory and impermanent. Peter, as he addressed the “pilgrims” scattered through the Diaspora, wrote, “conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear.” I Peter 1:1, 17.
We are not of those who “dwell” on the earth. Abraham’s true seed are those who look at life in a completely different way. The true Christian is one who has the same mental outlook on life as his Master did, Who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. Yes, we must deal with the mundane things of life as anyone else, but with a different frame of mind, through a different lens. Everything must be thought of from the perspective of God’s great plan for this planet, and with Him as the first Object of our affections. May the Lord make us pilgrims, and not dwellers!
I have noticed that the two different groups of people described in Revelation are specified as either “them that dwell on the earth,” or “them that dwell in heaven” (Rev 13:6) - including the special messengers that “fly in the midst of heaven.” (Rev 14:6).