The First Love

Greatest Commandment.jpg

Consider 19:14, which reads,

And the armies the ones in the heaven follow him [the Word of the God] upon white horses [,] wearing white, clean linen.

The armies mentioned here are “wearing white, clean linen”; this unmistakably alludes to the “bright, clean linen” of the saints in 19:8.  Obviously, not every individual member of the whole Church will be in those armies.  Hence, to indicate the whole of the Church, the term “the heaven” is used; and to indicate a part of the Church, the phrase, “in the heaven,” is used.

Verse 14 is also an apt example of spiritual condition or state.  In the Old Testament, there was only one army of heaven, the nation of Israel; but, in the New Testament, there will be “the armies” of heaven, going into battle at Armageddon.

It is most doubtful that every soldier will be formally a member of the Roman Catholic Church.  Though some will not be already baptized with water, all will have the baptism of desire, and many will receive the baptism of blood.  Therefore will those armies be only one army in spirit, and that is the reason John used the singular in verse 19,

And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to make war against the one riding upon the horse and against his army.

Apocalypse 7:14-17 describes those who wear the white robes of fine linen,

14 And he said to me, “These are the ones come out of the tribulation the great one and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Little Lamb.  15 Because of this are they in the presence of the throne of the God and are worshipping him day and night in the sanctuary of him, and the One seated upon the throne will pitch his tent over them.  16 They will not be hungering still nor will they be thirsting still nor will the sun strike upon them nor every scorching heat, 17 for the Little Lamb the one at the center of the throne [ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ θρόνου = ana meson ton thronou] will shepherd them and he will guide them to springs of waters of life, and the God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

The ones who wear white, clean robes of fine linen are those who live in the middle court, the “μέσauloς” [mesaulos] or “ναός” [naos], THE SANCTUARY.  Their deeds are holy or righteous, because they are done in the blood of the Little Lamb, i.e., in the spirit and body of Christ who obeyed the will of the Father, even to death on the cross.  One word denotes the Father's will and the Son's obedience: love.  The saints, then, are those who keep the two great commandments,

“ 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind': this is the great and first commandment.  And the second is like to it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”  [Mt. 22:37-40]

In the letter to the angel of the church at Ephesus, Apocalypse 2:4-5, Jesus said,

“But I hold against you that your love the first one you have abandoned.  Remember whence you fell and repent and do the first works...”

The bishop has fallen from keeping the first great commandment; in symbolic terms, he has fallen from the “ναός” [naos] down, at least, into the “αὐλή” [aulë], the outer court, the “place” where the tepid and timid are.

Recall the symbolical description at the beginning of Chapter 4.  John saw an opened door in the heaven, and a voice commanded him, “Come up here...” [literally, “Ascend hither...”].  The wordage implies that there is a wall separating the “ναός” [naos] from the “αὐλή” [aulë], and that the “ναός” [naos] is higher up, i.e., spiritually superior.

The reason for these symbolical expressions is that the “temple” stands atop the “mountain,” God's “holy mountain.”  The intimation is that the “ναός” [naos], with its surrounding wall, will become the city called the New Jerusalem described in Chapter 21, verses 9-27.

Those who wear white robes have “conquered” or “overcome,” for the color “white” symbolizes victory.  They shall inherit the “kingdom of the heaven” in the Millennium, and they shall inherit also the earth.

Consider what Christ said, in 3:15-17, to the bishop at Laodicea,

“I know your works [,] that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth.  For you say that 'I am rich and I have prospered and I have need of nothing', and you do not know that you are the one wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked...”

In ancient times, the “αὐλή” [aulë] was where the beasts were kept at night.  Beasts do not wear clothes.  From Christ's point of view, the bishop at Laodicea is spiritually naked because he, like the bishop at Ephesus, no longer keeps the first great commandment: to love God with all one's heart and all one's soul and all one's mind.  Half-heartedness will not do.  Moreover, a human being, by means of self alone, cannot keep the first great commandment, and, consequently, not the second, a point pellucidly made in the citation from Chapter 7,

“...they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Little Lamb.”

The individual must become clothed in the new creation, clothed most of all with love [as St. Paul wrote], in order to be properly attired for the sanctuary, in the presence of the God on his throne, where one may come to God's table, the altar, to partake of the Eucharistic Christ. Strictly speaking, the lukewarm are still within the Church, but their position is perilous; for Christ warned in strong, blunt language,

“I am about to vomit you out of my mouth.”

This means He will expel them from his body, that is, He will cast them out of his Church.  In other symbolic terms, they will be cast out of “the heaven” and fall onto the earth.  This symbolism should be familiar to more than a few, for, historically, it is long from new; indeed, the very first violation by man against the first great commandment has always been called--the Fall.