This final period of the Christian church is absolute night, in which the previous churches ended.
Since the creation of this earth there have been, to speak in general terms, four churches, each succeeding the one before. This can be established from the historical as well as the prophetical books of the Word, especially the book of Daniel. Here the four churches are described by the statue Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream (chapter 2), and later by the four beasts coming up out of the sea (chapter 7). The first church, which may be called the Most Ancient Church, came into existence before the flood, and its ending or departure is described by the flood. The second church, which may be called the Ancient Church, was in Asia and in parts of Africa; this came to an end and perished as the result of idolatrous practices. The third was the Israelite Church, begun by the proclamation of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and continued through the Word written by Moses and the Prophets. This came to an end and terminated as the result of profaning the Word, a process which reached its full development at the time the Lord came into the world. That was why they crucified Him who was the Word. The fourth is the Christian Church founded by the Lord by means of the Evangelists and the Apostles. This has had two phases: one from the Lord's time down to the Council of Nicaea, the other from that Council down to the present day. But in its development it split into three, the Greek, Roman Catholic and Reformed Churches. Yet all of these have been called Christian churches. Moreover, within each wide division of the church there have been a number of special churches; despite leaving the main stream they have still kept the general name, as heresies in the Christian church.