Hebrews 1:1 - What do "sundry times" mean?
We update studies as the Lord Jesus leads us. You can find the latest update of this study at ChurchAges.net
The Jews went through 7 ages. God's pattern repeated in the same manner when He dealt with the 7 Gentile church ages.
- God also took the Jews through seven ages
- Age 1. Abraham left his first love Sarah for Hagar the Egyptian
- Age 2. Joseph in prison. The persecuted church kept clean
- Age 3. Balaam introduces false gods. Trinity enters the church
- Age 4. Jezebel the dominating woman. The Roman Catholic church
- Age 5. Ezra brings treasure to the Temple. Salvation by faith alone
- Age 6. Nehemiah's strong wall. Holiness. The Missionary age
- Age 7. John the Baptist introduces Jesus as a Man
God also took the Jews through seven ages
What do sundry times mean in Hebrews 1:1?
HEBREWS 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Sundry times means there were certain times or ages in the past where God dealt with the Jews in such a way that it was a shadow or pattern of the seven church ages that lay in the future.
"Sundry" means that God dealt with the Jews in 7 different ages that did not seem important enough to form a pattern until the 7 church ages began to happen. The reality of the 7 church ages then gave an added importance to the 7 Jewish ages, which acted as a preview of the church ages.
EPHESIANS 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ )
:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;These were the seven ages that were the sundry (not important enough to be mentioned individually) or certain times when God dealt with the Jews. But these 7 Jewish ages became significant as they followed the same pattern as the 7 church ages.
EPHESIANS 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
As God had dealt with the Jews in the other ages in the past, so He was to deal with the Gentiles in the future. God would also guide them through seven church ages.
EPHESIANS 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Notice that it is verse 7. A clue that there are 7 church ages to come in the future Gentile church.
Only Jesus could change history and events so that the Old Testament past became a preview of the future New Testament seven church ages that were predicted in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3.
The name Jesus is never mentioned in the Old Testament. The name Jehovah is never mentioned in the New Testament.
This should prove that the Jehovah (more correctly JHVH or even more correctly YHWH because the letter J only entered the English language in the 1500s) of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New Testament. The same God in control of both Jews and church, using the same pattern.
Age 1. Abraham left his first love Sarah for Hagar the Egyptian
God praised the first church age of Ephesus because they had been set in order by the apostles and local elders ran each local group. This early church hated the idea of a man being elevated to be the head of a local church.
A holy man dominating the congregation or laity. In those days, he was called a Bishop. Today he is called a pastor.
REVELATION 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Nicolaitans were the holy men who conquered the church by making it unscriptural in different ways.
Then towards the end of the first church age (around AD 170), the churchgoers lost their first love of Scripture and began listening to human leaders and their opinions.
REVELATION 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
From there, it was downhill all the way into the Dark Ages. Unbelief keeps spreading like an infectious virus.
Let us look at the first Jewish age.
Abraham, the first prophet of the Jews or Hebrews, was a great man with great faith. But left his first love, Sarah, for an Egyptian woman Hagar. That produced Ishmael and the Arabs. Now we have the Arab hatred of the Jews. So, that was a bad mistake by Abraham.
Ephesus, the first church age from about AD 33 to around AD 170.
This first church age ended in the late second century (around AD 170) when the meaning of the Eucharist (communion of bread and wine) started to shift from a thanksgiving meal in remembrance of Christ's death to become a “meal of salvation”. Eating the bread (or host as it was called) was what actually saved you. There was no longer a stress on repentance to get saved and then getting baptized as an adult. Babies were sprinkled with water. This "baptism" of the baby and the eating of the communion "wafer" were what saved a person.
Instead of being a memorial of salvation, the bread and wine actually became a means by which salvation is acquired and imparted in the Christian.
Thus a whole new church age started with the emphasis on these "salvation works" and the importance of the Bishops and priests who claimed the power to turn the wafer or bread into the literal body of the Lord. Only they could perform the ceremony. The local elders no longer had authority.
Under the desire to defend the legitimacy of the Christian Church against the Gnostics, some Church Fathers like Irenaeus stressed the importance of the Church as the one through which salvation only can be distributed.
The church and the church leaders now became more important than the Bible.
Today we have the same problem. There are 45,000 different kinds of denominational and non-denominational churches.
Thus Christians elevate their different leaders and cling to their specific church opinions and traditions. They criticize the Bible as having mistakes but do not dare to criticize their church or their church leader. Following a man and belonging to a church is the basis of their spiritual security. Despite the thousands of different opinions circulating through the church world, each church-goer is convinced that his or her specific church is the right one.
Each local church had a human head. Then the stage was set for one man to be head of all the churches. This man was a politician, the Roman emperor Constantine.
Age 2. Joseph in prison. The persecuted church kept clean
God kept the second church age from straying too far from the truth of the Bible by getting the Roman emperors to persecute, kill, and imprison the Christians. Hardship does wonders to keep Christians close to God and living godly lives.
This persecuted church drew no criticism from God.
Smyrna, the second church age (AD 170 -313) endured much of the pagan Roman Empire persecution. The worst was a ten-year persecution 303–313 started by emperor Diocletian.
REVELATION 2:10 Ye shall have tribulation ten days.
A day symbolizes a year in prophecy.
Referring to his younger daughter Rachel, Laban said to Jacob:
GENESIS 29:27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
REVELATION 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried;
[In our days, the Christian missionary Andrew Brunson was imprisoned in the city of Izmir, which used to be called Smyrna, for absolutely no reason. Until President Trump imposed sanctions on Turkish steel. Then, president Erdogan of Turkey quickly released the brave man Andrew].
But no criticisms are made in the Bible of these suffering Smyrna Christians.
Joseph, the prophet of this second Jewish age was sold into slavery and unjustly imprisoned.
PSALM 105:19 Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
Joseph endured suffering, but there is no criticism of him in the Bible. He has a perfect testimony.
From this, we learn that having a hard time does Christians a lot of good.
Age 3. Balaam introduces false gods. Trinity enters the church
When the third church age started with a politician, the Roman emperor Constantine, in charge of the church from about AD 313, then the church leaders added the unscriptural word "Trinity" in AD 325 at the Council of Nicaea. They introduced Trinity and all its unscriptural statements of the Godhead. They then denied that Jesus Christ was Lord God Almighty. He was called by the unscriptural title of "God the Son". The Trinity God became an unscriptural "God-in-three-Persons" Who had no name. You cannot find one name for three Persons.
They moved away from baptism of adults in the name of Jesus Christ and sprinkled babies in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But they had no idea what that name was.
Pergamos was the third church age (AD 313–606). Emperor Constantine stopped the church's persecution and gave the Lateran palace and much wealth to the Roman church to elevate the Roman church. The Roman church adopted pagan beliefs like 25 December as the sun god's birthday by changing that fictitious name to the Son of God's so-called birthday. The Roman Catholic church entered politics to please Constantine, who wanted the church and the pagans to unite. Thus, elevated with political power, the Roman church then began persecuting “heretics” who disagreed with them. In AD 606 the bishop of Rome is declared Universal Bishop. Domination of the church by an elevated priesthood with a supreme leader, the Pope or Pontiff of the Babylonian mysteries.
REVELATION 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Politics and pagan beliefs were hybridized into Christianity.
“Antipas”. (anti pappas or anti pope) was a martyr. The Roman church began killings its opponents.
REVELATION 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
“Doctrine of Balaam”.
NUMBERS 31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
Balaam opposed Moses who was the prophet for this third Jewish age. Moses had the truth of God’s Word. Balaam had man-made doctrines that sounded clever but led to immorality and death.
NUMBERS 25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
:3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
"The counsel of Balaam" was a preview of the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 where the Trinity doctrine was forced on the church and God suddenly became three People.
REVELATION 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Note the change. In the first church age the church hated the Nicolaitans, the dominating clergy. Now by the third church age the church people wanted to hold onto the Nicolaitans that God hated. So, the people wanted a one-man-human-leader for each church. This Bishop could think for them and keep describing the un-understandable Trinity to them. People found it much easier just to believe whatever the Bishop said and that way they did not have to think for themselves and could ignore the difficult Bible verses.
“Doctrine of the Nicolaitans”. Nico means to conquer. Conquer the laity by putting a man in charge of the church. From now on each church would be run by a human head, the priest. Priests would be controlled by bishops, then archbishops, then cardinals, then the Pope. (Very unscriptural titles).
God wanted many small churches run by local elders, not a big church that made one man important.
Clubbed into submission, the people or laity just accepted these unscriptural beliefs. The light of the Bible was ignored and banned. Bible faith died out.
Now one man, the Pope, was claiming to be the head of every church.
This took the world into the Dark Ages as the Light of Scripture was rejected.
Age 4. Jezebel the dominating woman. The Roman Catholic church
Thyatira, fourth church age (AD 606–1500).
Thyatira means a dominating woman. A woman is a symbol of a church. The true church is the bride of Christ. The Roman Catholic church dominated Europe.
REVELATION 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
The Roman Catholic church is called “Jezebel”, who was the Old Testament's evilest woman.
REVELATION 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan,
“The depths of Satan”. The Roman Catholic church sunk into the depths of depravity in the Dark Ages.
The bloodthirsty lusts and viciousness of the Crusades that focused on rape, looting, and murder. The terror and unspeakable cruelty of the sadistic Inquisition. The utter corruption of Popes like the Borgias. The church could not sink much lower.
Very few like the Waldenses or Vaudois who fled into the wilderness of the Alps still believed the truth. They had copies of a Bible that they had got from Antioch in AD 120, which they translated in AD 157 until they joined the Protestant reformation in 1520.
A 20-year crusade exterminated the Albigenses. It was easier to kill and loot a nearby peaceful Christian people rather than travel all the way to Israel to kill the Muslims.
The Jewish prophet in the fourth age of Jezebel was Elijah. Faith was dying out in Israel under king Ahab and his vicious wife, Jezebel. God said that only 7000 Jews still believed.
Age 5. Ezra brings treasure to the Temple. Salvation by faith alone
Sardis, the fifth church age, lasted from 1520 to about 1750 when the Industrial Revolution started. Sardis means "escaped ones".
This was the age of the Reformation when God began to restore Bible truth.
Martin Luther’s Reformation enabled Protestants to escape from Catholicism. Luther preached salvation by faith in Christ alone. No church works can save us. The Pilgrim Fathers escaped from Europe that was dominated by Rome, and went to America. America then amazingly arose as a bastion of Protestantism to give us great men like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and William Branham.
But putting a pastor in charge of a church just led to endless splits and much infighting as many Roman church beliefs stayed in the Protestant denominations that kept multiplying. Like the belief in Trinity, Christmas, Good Friday, no feet washing, one man is the head of each church. Today there are 45,000 different kinds of churches and denominations. Something went seriously wrong with the human leadership of the churches.
“Pastor” is only mentioned once in the New Testament and condemned 6 times in Jeremiah. Thus there is no Scriptural authority for a pastor to be in charge of a church.
REVELATION 3:1 Thou hast a name that thou livest but are dead.
Church-goers called themselves Lutherans, Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Calvanists etc. God detests these unscriptural labels. People huddle in a church and stick some label on their church and think that makes them safe while playing follow-my-leader with his man-made beliefs.
The early church were just called Christians and each local church was ruled by a group of local elders. Lots of small churches meant that it was very difficult for one man to get too important. This kept the Christians focused on God and the Bible, not reliant on some great preacher.
The elevation of a holy man above the people or laity is a Nicolaitan spirit, which God hates.
REVELATION 3:4 Thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments.
Salvation is by grace through faith. Not dependent on a church or a preacher. Not dependent on good works.
But the splintering Protestant movement was building man-made doctrinal walls of exclusion around themselves.
The start of Luther’s Reformation was symbolized in Israel's history by Ezra, who brought the treasure back into the Temple.
The treasure of the Bible that was Luther’s great discovery was that the Just shall live by faith in Jesus and His Word alone. Repentance, whereby we accept Jesus as a personal Saviour, is the only key to Heaven.
The other great Treasure that entered the church at this time was the translation of the King James Bible as the Absolute and infallible truth between 1604 and 1769. The translation was checked for about 158 years.
Age 6. Nehemiah's strong wall. Holiness. The Missionary age
Philadelphia, the sixth church age (1750–1906) means brotherly love. The golden age of Christianity was this missionary age of holiness and outreach. The industrial revolution that began about 1750 brought much wealth. Steamships took missionaries overseas, and steam trains took them inland. The Word of God spread.
REVELATION 3:8 I have set before thee an open door.
The mission fields.
Christ crucified is the Door to Heaven.
These brave missionaries, despite all their tremendous difficulties, took the Gospel to the heathen. There are no criticisms of this church age. Missionaries, trying to get people saved, are always in the will of God.
The sixth Jewish age was in the time of Nehemiah, who built up the walls of Jerusalem. That made the city strong.
Brotherly love, crossing the sea to get an unknown heathen saved, is the strength of Christianity. Holiness sets a great example of Christian strength.
Age 7. John the Baptist introduces Jesus as a Man
Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is the Word of God.
The only way that we will see Jesus at the end time is when we see Him in the revealed mysteries of Scripture.
The seventh church of the Laodiceans (1906- )
Laodicea means people’s rights. This is our modern age. We demand rights and evade responsibility.
It started with the Pentecostal revival of Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906 and the Welsh revival of 1904.
But God says nothing good about our last church age.
REVELATION 3:15 Lukewarm
:16 Lukewarm and vomit in God’s mouth.
:17 Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods.Our materialistic prosperity-gospel of greed.
REVELATION 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
"And knowest not”. Fast asleep, totally unaware of our true condition. Lulled to sleep by the pastors who tell us that we are safe as long as we listen to them.
We think we are wonderful, but God sees us as
“wretched and miserable spiritually and Biblically poor or ignorant, blind to Bible truth, naked”.
Just look at how modern-day church women dress. [South Africa win the rugby world cup and then celebrate by running around in underpants. The only naked man that Jesus met was a madman. Preachers are powerless before the demons that strip the clothes off our women]
REVELATION 3:20 I stand at the door and knock
Jesus has been rejected by His own church.
The church-goers have not welcomed the revealed Word of God. It is rejected by churches or distorted by message pastors who seek their own fame by being regarded as clever.
The seventh Jewish age was the prophet John the Baptist. He presented Jesus to the Jews as a Man and they rejected Him.
When John made a mistake, thinking that Jesus was not the Messiah. The disciples of John repeated his mistake. That was the problem because they followed the quotes of the man John, rather than the Man that John was pointing to, Who was Jesus. John the Baptist, being human, could make a mistake. Only Jesus, the Word, is perfect. We never read again of those two disciples who believed John's mistake. They had been fooled into believing that you could not correct the prophet. They then walked away as Jesus began speaking. Typical of message-followers who walk away from the written Word in order to follow their interpretation of the quotes.
The end-time prophet William Branham can make a mistake. We must check what he says in his quotes with Scripture.
Of the original 12 disciples of Jesus, only Andrew had been a disciple of John.
So being a disciple of William Branham is not proof that you are a disciple of Jesus, the revealed Word.
In our day, God tried to reveal the mysteries of Scripture to the church in the ministry of William Branham, and we have rejected the revelation of Jesus as the revealed Word of God.
Scholars have retranslated the Greek New Testament 28 times until Christians are now convinced that there is no perfect Bible. They criticize the Bible as flawed, poorly translated with mistakes, myths, and contradictions.
But the Bible is God’s way of thinking. You cannot separate a person from their thoughts. So what we say about the Bible, we are saying about Jesus.
Because the Bible is criticized, Jesus stands unwanted outside the church, just as rejected as what the Jews did to Jesus.
Church-goers willingly criticize the King James Version of the Bible, which is our Absolute but are scared to criticize their pastor or church. Yet, no end-time prophecy or parable speaks well about the end-time church.
“In sundry times”.
How God dealt with the Jews in their seven times or ages was the same pattern with which he would deal with the church in their 7 ages or times.
Let us not forget that the Jews are gathering in Israel.
When the Jews rejected Jesus the Man, then He turned to the Gentiles.
We Gentiles prefer church doctrines and traditions to the Bible, which is Jesus in Word form.
As soon as Jesus feels that the modern church does not want the Bible mysteries that He has revealed in our age, then He will turn back to the Jews to collect the 144000.
And the rejecting church will get straightened out in the 3.5 years of great Tribulation.
The group of 10 virgins describes the entire church in Matthew Chapter 25.
Virgins are clean women, representing saved people in the churches.
Five are wise, which is good. Five are foolish, which means they are saved but fooled by their pastors and thus in the dark as far as understanding Scripture is concerned. They have no oil to ignite to create enough light to see and understand the written Scriptures. As a result, they are unprepared for the Coming of the Lord and end up in the 3.5 years of great Tribulation.
But all of them, wise or foolish, were fast asleep.
MATTHEW 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
Sadly, we are all fast asleep concerning modern-day reality.
That is why the coronavirus COVID-19 caught out all the churches in 2020.
20-20 vision was used by opticians to represent good vision.
So the year 2020 should give us a good insight into what God thinks of the church.
This was the year that God closed down the churches.
That is what God thinks of our modern-day churches. Only fit to be closed down.
Are we listening?
At the end of their times or ages, the Jews rejected and condemned Christ as a Man.
At the end of our church ages, all the churches will reject and condemn the revealed Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God. So He stands rejected outside the church.