Philadelphia, Part 2
Dec 28, 2015
Revelation 3:9 says,
9 Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them to come and to bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
This is an expanded version of Revelation 2:9, which we saw in our study of the Smyrna church. The Smyrna church was the New Covenant equivalent of the Korah church. Korah rebelled against Moses and Aaron and proved to be a rebellious usurper. He was ambitious and wanted to be the high priest, though God had not called him for that purpose. Hence, he was of “the synagogue of Satan” (or, adversary) in his day, one who wanted to usurp the authority of someone else’s calling.
The same spiritual problem had surfaced in Smyrna, and now we see a similar problem had emerged in the church of Philadelphia as well. Prophetically speaking, however, this represents a different church era. In the Hezekiah church under the Old Covenant, the usurper was Shebna, the king’s chief steward over the royal household. He had usurped the position of Eliakim for a time, but Isaiah prophesied that this situation would be rectified, for Eliakim was truly called to have that position of authority.
In the Philadelphia church era (1776-1914), we see a broader fulfillment of this Old Testament story of Shebna and Eliakim. The theme shifts from Korah, who desired the priesthood, to Shebna, who desired to hold the key of David. Literally speaking, this was the key to the royal treasury, which funded that which the steward was responsible to oversee.
Modern Shebna in Prophecy
The “Shebna” of the Philadelphia era has been the Rothschild family of Jewish bankers who became “guardians of the papal treasure.” The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. X, tells us,
“Meanwhile the Nationalist and Reactionary parties in France desired to counterbalance the "Semitic" influence of the Rothschilds by establishing a banking concern which should be essentially Catholic. Accordingly in 1876 the Union Générale was founded with a capital of 4,000,000 francs, increased to 25,000, 000 fraces [francs] in 1878 under the direction of a certain Bontoux. After various vicissitudes, graphically described by Zola in his novel "L'Argent," the Union failed, and brought many of the Catholic nobility of France to ruin, leaving the Rothschilds still more absolutely the undisputed leaders of French finance, but leaving also a legacy of hatred which had much influence on the growth of the anti-Semitic movement in France. Something analogous occurred in England when the century-long competition of the Barings and the Rothschilds culminated in the failure of the former in 1893; but in this case the Rothschilds came to the rescue of their rivals and prevented a universal financial catastrophe. It is a somewhat curious sequel to the attempt to set up a Catholic competitor to the Roths-childs that at the present time the latter are the guardians of the papal treasure.”
In other words, they became the financial stewards of the Vatican’s wealth, having the key to the treasury of the Roman church. When this arrangement began is not stated, but the article above implies that a Catholic bank, Union Générale, had been set up in 1876 as to compete with the Jewish Rothschild banks that had wanted to manage the papal treasure prior to that time. Because the Rothschild family did not rise to any serious prominence or wealth until 1800-1812, it is likely that they began to manage the papal treasure between 1800 and 1876. The most likely date, given the history of the time, would be from 1812-1815 at the end of the Napoleonic wars and the restructuring of Europe at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815).
This dates the “Shebna” issue within the time frame of the Philadelphia church era, and, as we will see later, it also provides background to the second beast in Revelation 13. The “beast coming up out of the earth” is a banking beast which forms an alliance with the first (papal, religious) beast from the sea (“Holy See”). Of this banking beast, Revelation 13:12 says,
12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
The fatal wound of the Roman church occurred in 1798 when Napoleon took Pope Pius VI captive. The pope died in prison, and it appeared that the Roman church itself had received a fatal head wound.
However, the wound was healed in 1804 when Napoleon needed a pope to crown him as emperor. When Napoleon was defeated, Nathan Rothschild quadrupled his assets through trickery. His father set up the Rothschild trust in 1810, and when the Congress of Vienna took place in 1814-1815, it is likely that this was the occasion when the popes made an alliance with the Rothschilds, who became “the guardians of the papal treasure.”
We will study this in greater detail later when we comment on Revelation 13.
The point is that the Rothschilds have played the role of Shebna, both in the Philadelphia church and the Laodicean era—and beyond. They are the ones “who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie.” Nonetheless, the prophecy in Revelation 3:9 shows that they will be overthrown and replaced by prophetic Eliakim, who are the ones truly called as overcomers to hold the key of David. These are the ones who steward the Kingdom by Love.
The Hour of Testing
Revelation 3:10 continues,
10 Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.
The “hour of testing,” from a prophetic standpoint, began in 1914 with World War I and the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, which put the world into the bondage of Mystery Babylon. The Federal Reserve Bank is owned by 12 banking families in alliance with the Vatican. It was the crowning achievement of the unholy alliance between the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth.
God promised that the Philadelphia church would avoid this “hour of testing,” leaving it to the final church era to experience. Laodicea is the Church of the Captivity. So also we see with Hezekiah himself. He was spared from captivity, though the Assyrians had surrounded Jerusalem and had deported most of the Judeans from surrounding communities (2 Kings 18:13). But Hezekiah sought God, and Jerusalem was delivered (2 Kings 19:35, 36).
Nonetheless, God tested the “strength” of Hezekiah when the envoys of the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem after hearing how Hezekiah had been healed miraculously. At the time of his healing, God had given him a sign where the sun went back ten steps on the sun dial (2 Kings 20:11). No doubt the Babylonian astronomers had taken notice of this, and they sent envoys to investigate the rumors (2 Kings 20:12).
In 2 Chronicles 32:31 we read that God tested Hezekiah through this visit:
31 And even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.
Hezekiah foolishly showed the temple treasures to the Babylonian envoys. 2 Kings 20:13 says, “there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.” As a consequence, Isaiah the prophet told him in 2 Kings 20:17,
17 “Behold the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,” says the Lord.
So spoke the Spirit of Might (strength) to Hezekiah, whose name means “Strength of Yahweh.” The Spirit of Might had tested Hezekiah, and though he was a godly king, he failed this test, perhaps because of his pride or dependency upon his riches. Yet Hezekiah submitted to the word of the Lord and was glad that this would not be fulfilled in his days. 2 Kings 20:19 says,
19 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Is it not so, if there shall be peace and truth in my days?”
And so Hezekiah was spared the “hour of testing” that was to come upon Judah and Jerusalem, when Babylon would bring them into captivity. All of this became a pattern of prophecy for a future time in the churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea. Philadelphia was spared, but it foolishly laid the foundations for the captivity of the Laodicean church, which began in 1914.
The lesson is given in Revelation 3:11,
11 I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown.
The Babylonians were not able to take the crown of Hezekiah, but they did take the crown of Judah within twenty years. In like manner, this warning was given to the Philadelphia church. The implication is that the Laodicean church would be dethroned and go into captivity on account of the root of spiritual pride that had arisen during the Philadelphia era. They were proud of their wealth and prosperity accumulated through the unholy alliance with the Rothschild banks.
This is part 31 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones