Tag Archives: Jesus

The Two Witnesses

5 Mar
By Doug Batchelor
An Amazing Fact
The brightest man-made light on earth emanates from the top of the Luxor hotel, a giant pyramid structure, in Las Vegas, Nevada. A total of 45 xenon lights, each one as big as a washing machine and with the brightest bulb available, shoots a powerful blast of radiant light straight up into the sky. The light beaming from the top of this artificial mountain is so bright, astronauts can see it as they fly overhead. Airline pilots are cautioned to avoid the area, as the beam of light can blind them temporarily if they fly through it. Sadly, this brightest man-made light on earth is totally wasted—it’s not illuminating anything as it blazes into empty space.

 

Did you know there is a story in the Bible that tells of a mountaintop blazing with heavenly light? Even though it is seldom addressed, this event, called the Mount of Transfiguration, or sometimes the Glorious Mount, is one of the most pivotal moments in the New Testament. This monumental experience found in the Gospels of Matthew 16, Mark 9, and Luke 9 is full of profound meaning for Christians, and it helps illuminate many other amazing Bible truths.
ASCENDING TO THE LIGHT
After a long day of teaching and ministering to the multitudes, Christ and His disciples separate from the clamoring crowds. Jesus then says something very unusual: “There are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1 NKJV). It probably seemed to His disciples that Jesus was predicting something really big. But what?
Then, six days after Jesus makes this cryptic announcement, they reach the foot of a “high mountain.” There He handpicks His own trusted “trinity” of apostles—Peter, James, and John—and with them in tow, He leaves the others in the valley and begins the long assent up the steep hill. As the sun is setting, they finally stumble wearily onto the summit. Jesus immediately kneels and begins to pray, and at first the disciples attempt to join him; yet exhausted, they soon drift into a deep sleep.
Then something extraordinary happens! Combining the testimony of Luke and Mark, we’re told, “As He prayed, He was transformed before them. The appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. Exceeding white, like snow such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” (See the full account in Luke 9:29-31 and Mark 9:2-9 NKJV.)

THE REASON FOR THE REVELATION
Suddenly awakened by the cosmic event, the disciples see Christ shining with a heavenly light radiating from within. He is not just the humble son of Joseph and Mary, but with unveiled glory, He now appears as the majestic Creator of the universe.

In the classic book, The Desire of Ages, the author helps us better understand Jesus’ primary reason for this heavenly visitation. In His prayer, “He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony, with the knowledge that He is … the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption.”

The loving Father grants them this brief glimpse of His Son’s glory, because He knows the disciples were soon to see their Master completely humiliated. Their teacher was about to be naked, beaten, and bleeding—appearing very helpless and very mortal. So in the same way a little tree stores sap during the warm, bright spring to sustain it during the cold, dark winter, Jesus knows His disciple’s faith needed a bright boost on the mountain to see them through the approaching dark day on Calvary.

The disciples also needed the reassurance of this event because they continued to confuse the purpose of the Messiah’s mission with the popular Jewish fables of earthly glory. Jesus knew it was going to be devastating for them to see their hopes for earthly glory punctured by Roman nails, so the Father granted this vision to remind them Christ’s kingdom was heavenly, not earthly.

WHY MOSES AND ELIJAH?
Along with the glorious light of heaven, the brightest ever seen on earth, two of the greatest celebrities of Scripture appeared at the side of Christ. “And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:4 NKJV).

Someone might ask, why these two individuals? God had also taken Enoch to heaven, why didn’t he come along for this special visit? Very simply, the two prominent individuals who did come were living symbols of the Word of God. Moses represents the law, and Elijah represents the prophets. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to [fulfill].” Moses is the great lawgiver, and Elijah is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.

Throughout the Bible, the Word of God is often portrayed with a dual image. The Ten Commandments were written on two tables of stone. The Word of God is also portrayed as a sword with two edges. Two lamps and two olive trees portray the two sacred divisions of the Bible. But the ultimate testimony of God’s Word is Jesus: “In the volume of the book it is written of me” (Hebrews 10:7). The volume of the Book, the Bible, all points to Jesus, who is the combination of two natures, the human and the divine. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14).

In Luke 16:31, Jesus concludes His parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Here Jesus places a very high priority on God’s Word, and we shouldn’t miss it. No matter what miracles you witness, even someone rising from the dead, you should still place the plain Word of God on higher ground.

THE ULTIMATE ENDORSEMENT
Around election time, politicians begin to campaign and jostle for the support of voters. One common way for them to achieve this is by getting endorsements from as many popular and credible leaders as possible. The Glorious Mount experience is the ultimate endorsement.
Ever since the time of Abraham, every Jew had been looking for the coming Messiah. Several counterfeit Christs had appeared on the landscape of Hebrew history. Now as a symbol of supreme support, Jesus stands glorified flanked on the right and left by the two greatest heroes of ancient Israel. Moses and Elijah surround Jesus to give us a very vivid picture that the Word of God points to and endorses Jesus as the Messiah.
This endorsement from Moses and Elijah represents the endorsement of the law and the prophets, God’s Word, that Jesus is the “coming one” (Matthew 11:3). No other individuals could have offered greater validation for Jesus’ ministry than these two giants of Scripture.
The transfiguration is also a direct fulfillment of prophecy. Malachi foretold, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” One reason the Word of God is so wonderful is because it is so precise. Both Moses and Elijah did appear in the New Testament prior to Jesus’ sacrifice to encourage and endorse Him.
TWO OR THREE WITNESSES
In Revelation 11:3-12, we find the great prophecy of God’s two witnesses. “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth” (Revelation 11:4). We know that a lamp is a symbol for the Word of God, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). When Zechariah sees two olive trees in vision, he asks the angel what they represent. “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). It also takes the olive oil of the Spirit to illuminate the lamp of God’s Word.

Revelation warns what will happen to those who would harm God’s two witnesses, the Holy Bible. “If anyone wants to hurt them fire proceeds out of their mouths and devours their enemies.” This happened in the experiences of both Elijah and Moses. Fire came down from heaven on the Egyptians as they pursued God’s children and it consumed the sons of Aaron. It also consumed the soldiers when they challenged Elijah. In addition, “These have the power to shut up heaven so no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over water to turn them to blood.” Did Elijah pray and the rain stop? Did Moses pray and the water turn to blood? So again we see why God likens the two witnesses, His Word, to the ministry of Moses and Elijah.

Then, as if the endorsement of Moses and Elijah was not enough, a cloud overshadows the mountaintop and the voice of the Almighty is heard saying, “This is My beloved Son, Hear Him.” The Bible says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (1 Corinthians 13:1). On the Mount, two humans redeemed by Christ testify He is the Messiah, and of course, the third is the voice of God Himself! And what better confirmation of truth could God have offered—the lawgiver and the greatest prophet and His own audible testimony? In effect Moses says, “This is the One.” Elijah says, “This is the One.” Then God Almighty says, “This is the One.”

A DIVINE DISCUSSION
When I first read this passage, I wondered, “How did they know it was Moses and Elijah?” They had no journalistic photographs or archived video footage with which to compare these beings. Then I realized they probably overheard some of the conversation and heard Jesus address them by name.

Fortunately, the Gospel of Luke even gives us a little insight regarding what these great men discussed. It says, “Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30, 31 NKJV). Of course, “decease” refers to His sacrifice on Mount Calvary.

I cannot imagine any other two individuals who would be better qualified to encourage Jesus to go forward with His sacrifice. Both Moses and Elijah understood the sting of persecution, and rejection by their own people. Keep in mind, both Moses and Elijah had been in heaven for hundreds of years, not because of their good works, but because they were enjoying an advance payment on the sacrifice that Jesus was about to make. In other words, if Jesus did not go through with the plan to die for mankind, Moses and Elijah had no right to remain in heaven. They were obviously very motivated to encourage and inspire Jesus to go forward. Ultimately, their purpose was to be witnesses to Christ and to support Jesus in His coming trial and sacrifice.

THREE TABERNACLES
As the eyes of the disciples adjusted to the light and they collected their wits, I image the first thing they did was remove their shoes when they realized they were on holy ground. After a few terrified minutes of eavesdropping on this divine dialogue, Peter feels compelled to say something. “And Peter answered and said toJesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mark 9:5).

It is interesting that Bible history records three earthly temples: one in the wilderness during the time of Moses; Solomon’s temple standing during the time of Elijah; and the third temple built after the Babylonian captivity. This third one is the one Jesus cleansed. There are also three aspects or stages of salvation: justification, symbolized by Moses; sanctification, the ministry of Elijah; and the God-filled man or glorification represented by Jesus.

MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE
Many of the high points in the Bible are also mountaintop experiences. The Lord often arranged profound events on mountaintops because they make natural monuments. Whenever God’s people looked upon these prominent peaks, they would remember the important events of their sacred history.

Consider, for example, that after 40 years in the wilderness, God delivered His covenant to Moses on a mountaintop. Mount Sinai had the fire of God with smoke and thunder shaking the summit. After 40 days in the wilderness, God also spoke to Elijah on Mount Sinai with fire, wind, and an earthquake (1 Kings 19:11, 12). After 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus rebuked the devil on a high mountain (Matthew 4:8-10). God also makes His promises on mountains. It was in the mountains of Ararat that God made His covenant with Noah. He made His covenant with Abraham on Mount Moriah. The whole nation of Jews confirmed its Promise Land covenant from Mount Gerizim (Joshua 8:33). Of course, Elijah was on Mount Carmel when fire and rain came down, a symbol of God’s reviving Spirit raining on the church. Moses first glimpsed the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, and it is from a high mountain John first sees the holy city (Revelation 21:10). Most important, God’s loving covenant of salvation was sealed on Mount Calvary.

Like Jesus, Moses stood on a mountain with stretched-out hands, supported on the right and the left by Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:12). Of course, when Jesus died on Calvary, two thieves surrounded Him on the right and the left representing two kinds of sinners, the same way you have Moses and Elijah flanking Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. I think before we climb the Glorious Mount, we need to climb Mount Calvary. God wants to confirm a covenant with you and fill you with His Spirit, and it will happen when you humble yourself upon the mountain where Jesus was slain.

THE FINAL WORD
The Glorious Mount rings with divine authority. Mark 9:7 says, “And a cloud came and overshadowed them” (NKJV). This cloud is actually veiling the glory of the Father, who declares, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him.” God the Father comes to sanction His Son who receives His total approval.
This is so important for us to understand. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, God the Father speaks personally at Christ’s baptism in the low Jordan valley, and identifies Jesus as His Son. He says, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” announcing that the Jewish nation no longer needs to look for anyone else as the Messiah (Matthew 3:17 NKJV). Anyone who came before Him was a fraud, and anyone else coming after is a counterfeit. Jesus is the one!
Then at the end of Jesus’ ministry, God the Father again identifies His divine Son on the mountain, commanding something very simple. “Hear Him.” That’s a complete sentence, easy to understand. But “hear” means more than just hearing the audible sounds. It really means “listening with undivided attention and doing.” Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church” (Revelation 2:17). God the Father, in person, is commanding you and me to listen to Jesus’ word and to do it.
There have been be a lot of counterfeits, frauds, imposters, and cult leaders trying to impersonate Christ. But God the Father says about Jesus in the Bible, “Hear Him.” He is the true Word! That’s something very powerful to contemplate.
SUDDENLY
As the last echoes of God’s thundering voice resonate from the mountain, the trembling disciples cower in fear. Mark 9:8 says, “Suddenly” it all ended. Just as quickly as the light flashed on, it went off. “When they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesusonly with themselves.” As the glory evaporates and their eyes become adjusted to the darkness, Moses and Elijah and the Father and the cloud are all gone; all they can see is Jesus. He promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

It’s easy to have our vision obscured by the kaleidoscope of images that we see in the Bible. And it’s easy to have our minds clouded with the collage of images we see in modern life. But after it all fades, and we’re at the base of the mountain again, what really matters? I think God is telling us to only hear Jesus, to only see Jesus. He was the only one left with them; everyone else might forsake you, but Jesus says, “I will be with you till the end” (Matthew 28:20). Always remember that Jesus is still there for you even after the glory disappears.

DON’T MENTION IT
Christ again says something else very unusual to the dazed disciples. You and I can barely imagine how these three apostles are feeling “as they came down the mountain” (Mark 9:9). That incredible event must have been life-changing, and they were probably in spiritual shock, even more than when Christ calmed the storm or walked on water. They might even have been glowing with the lingering residue of light still dissipating from their faces, like Moses was glowing after speaking with God. What doubts about Jesus could they possibly have now? They were probably ready to die for Jesus that very moment.
But then Jesus commands them not to tell anyone of the things they had seen. I imagine that might have been one of the most difficult mandates they ever received from their Lord. They have just witnessed a glimpse of heaven. They’ve seen Moses, and they’ve seen Elijah. Like ancient Israel, they’ve heard the commanding voice of God reverberating from a mountain, and now, they are told not to make any comments regarding this remarkable event. Don’t mention it. Keep in mind. He is asking three fishermen not to comment on the most exciting experience of their lives. I don’t know if I could have kept it quiet.
TIMING TO TELL
Fortunately, they were not asked to “never mention it.” More precisely, Jesus asked, “That they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man were risen from the dead” (Mark 9:9).

Why would Jesus make this request knowing their hearts had been so profoundly touched through this event? I believe He wanted them to store this experience in reserve for when they would really need it. Peter, James, and John were chosen to be the leaders of the early church, and when all seemed lost, and when things got hard, they could say, “Don’t be discouraged. We want to tell you about something we saw that night with Jesus on the mountain.” But sadly, it appears just when they needed it the most, they didn’t remember this experience—when their Lord went to the cross, they forgot who He was.

Has God given you a mountaintop experience? Maybe He has answered prayers and worked miracles that right when they’re happening, you say, “Wow, praise the Lord!” But then when the glory fades, you end up in a valley with the devil crowding you. And the memory of what’s happened on the mountain has all but evaporated.

It’s just like when God had told the children of Israel not to make idols, and they heard the voice of God, and they felt the ground shake, and they saw fire consume a mountain. They glibly promised the Lord they would obey. Yet a few days later, they’re worshiping a golden calf.

The devil is a master at inducing mountaintop amnesia. If you give him just five minutes of your attention, he can make you forget a whole lifetime of miracles. If you entertain his suggestions, if you embrace his discouragement and his doubts, all those mountaintop memories can dissipate just when you need them the most.

LAST-DAY SIGNIFICANCE
The experience on the Glorious Mount is especially important for the end-times; that’s why after His resurrection, Jesus returned to teach on this. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets [here are Moses and Elijah again!], he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

Revelation 12:17 says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The woman represents the church, and the dragon, the devil, wants to destroy her. The church in the last days has two outstanding characteristics: They “keep the commandments of God, and they have the testimony of Jesus.” What is the testimony of Jesus? Revelation 19:10 explains, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” So the members of the last-day church are identified as a people who will keep the law (the commandments) and have the prophets (the spirit of prophecy).

Isaiah 8:16 says, “Bind up the testimony, seal the Law among My disciples.” Moses, before he died, exhorted the children of Israel to keep the law. He repeats the Ten Commandments to them in Deuteronomy 5 and says, “These words that I have spoken unto you this day shall be in your heart. You shall bind them upon your hand. They shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” So the law and the words of the prophets are sealed by the Holy Spirit in the mind and hearts of God’s people. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

We must saturate ourselves with the law and the prophets, with the Word of God, for a special purpose in these last days. Mark 9 says, “His clothing became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (NKJV). Mark is really struggling here for words to describe the bright aura of light the disciples saw around this heavenly assembly. The garments of Christ were radiant white, just like new snow, and glowing like the sun. Of course, the robe that Jesus wore is a symbol of His purity. It is what He is wearing in heaven. Wonderfully, you and I are offered this same clothing purified by His blood, if we stay true to His Word. “These … washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love” (1 Peter 1:22 NKJV).

WHAT ELIJAH AND MOSES WON’T DO
Since we are talking about the end-times, it’s important to look at one crucial issue that’s causing much confusion. In Revelation 11, we read about two witnesses. “And I’ll give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” Please note this doesn’t say these two witnesses will only prophesy for 1,260 days, for witnesses for God witness all the time. This of course, refers to the Dark Ages from AD 538 to 1798, when the law and the prophets, the Bible, was obscured.

There are many good Christians out there who believe that in the last days, Moses and Elijah will literally come down to the earth again to preach, only to be killed and lay in the streets for three-and-a-half days. It’s a half-truth, because the two witnesses, the Word, is symbolized by Moses and Elijah. But these two men of God are in heaven with their glorified bodies, and the Bible doesn’t tell us that He wants two others to step down from heaven to be killed. Moses and Elijah will not be coming back to earth in this way.

A TYPE OF THE SECOND ADVENT
To make a full circle, let’s go back a brief moment to where we began. One of the most important lessons from the Mount of Transfiguration is that it represents a miniature picture of the second coming of Jesus.

Referring back to this experience, Peter identifies the event as a sample of Jesus’ coming. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:16, 17).

Remember that Jesus said some of His disciples would not experience death before they saw the kingdom of God coming with power. Of course, we know that these disciples died long ago, but they were given an advance peek of what it will be like when Christ returns.

A number of exciting insights can be gleaned from this story. Consider the parallels:

There will be two categories of saints when Jesus returns: the resurrected and the living. Moses, who died and was resurrected (Jude 1:9), is a symbol of the large class of people who will awake from their dusty graves when the Lord calls them -“The dead in Christ shall rise.” Elijah represents the other class of people who will be alive when Jesus returns. Like Elijah, who was caught up into heaven by a fiery chariot, and Enoch who walked with God until he walked right into heaven, they will be translated with new, glorious bodies without ever tasting death.

During the transfiguration, Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are wearing white garments, the same kind that the redeemed will wear. Clouds of glory also accompany them; Jesus left in the clouds and said He would come back in the clouds. And even the voice of the Father in heaven was heard on the Glorious Mount, just as it will be when Christ returns on the right hand of the Father (Matthew 26:64).

SIX DAYS TO COME
There might even be some significance to the fact that this all happens six days after Jesus makes the promise. After Christ told the disciples they would see His kingdom come, He tarried six days before He took them up the mountain. I believe this yields some fascinating truths.

However, before we go on, both Matthew and Mark record this period as six days. But Luke mentions that the delay was eight days. Many antagonists like to point at this and say, “Contradiction!” But that’s just not so. Matthew and Mark, both Jews, recorded time differently than Luke, who was Greek. Luke includes the day Jesus spoke of the event to happen and the time it took for them to return home, and he also gives a rough estimation, “about eight days.” No, there is no fire or smoke here—these three accounts match up just fine.

But after six days, Jesus takes the disciples up. In 2 Peter 3, we’re told, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (NKJV). After the fall of Adam, God promises that Christ will come to defeat the devil—and when Christ came, He said He would come again. If we can approximate the date of creation to about 4004 BC, we know that for 2,000 years, God preached His message through the patriarchs, men like Adam, Methuselah, Enoch, and Noah. In 2004 BC, Abraham was born. For the next 2,000 years, God reached out with His gospel through the Jews, the Hebrews. And they faithfully waited for the Messiah to come through their descendants. Then roughly in 4 BC, Jesus Christ was born, and for the last 2,000 years, God has shared His good news through spiritual Israel, the church. If you add these three 2,000s together, you get 6,000. If we apply the theme Peter writes about, well, that should give you goose bumps! Psalm 90:4 reaffirms, “A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it has passed.”

I’d also like to add that the Lord says the righteous will live and reign with the Lord for 1,000 years—a Sabbath of rest. After this time in heaven, God creates a new heaven and a new earth, upon which New Jerusalem will come down. I could certainly be wrong, and date setting is prohibited in the Bible, but I believe that the plan of salvation is encompassed in seven thousand years. I believe it is going to happen this way.

If we’re in overtime right now, we should not be surprised. We should be thankful, because the Bible says the Lord is longsuffering and not willing that any person should perish. God is going to do as much as He can, but with all that is happening in the news today, we ought to be trembling that we are living during the sunset of the sixth day. The millennial Sabbath is soon to begin!

A BIBLE THEME
The story of the transfiguration is not the only story in the Bible in which a six-day period is invoked. For instance, in Job 5:19, “He will deliver you in six troubles, yes in seven no evil will touch you.” In addition, Athaliah reigned for six years before Josiah was coroneted. When Josiah came forth from the temple, Athaliah was slain and he was crowned—the trumpets even blew, and afterward the Sabbath began.

Hebrew servants were released after six years of servitude. They also sowed the fields for six years and left the land desolate on the seventh. Likewise, the earth will be desolate for a thousand years, a time when the gospel will not be sown. Jesus says, “I am the Sower. The Gospel is the seed.” When He comes in Revelation, it is with a sickle to harvest.

But most interesting is when Moses stayed at the base of Mount Sinai. We all know that he stayed on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, like the flood. But the time before that, Exodus 24 says, “For six days he stayed at the base of the mountain.” After that, God called him up to the top to receive the commandments. This is just like what happened on the Glorious Mount. After six days, Jesus went up the mountain, and Moses met Him there.

The Bible fits together perfectly! It’s like a puzzle. It’s significant that it says, “after six days.” That tells me that if this is a miniature picture of the second coming, we are very near the return of the Lord.

THE TRANQUILIZED CHURCH
It is prudent to keep in mind that the Glorious Mount happened very unexpectedly. The atmosphere surrounding the mountain was quiet and dark—the drowsy disciples were snoozing. Then, BANG! It happened. Christ will come as a thief in the night, when many of His followers are unprepared.

There is a sober warning for us in this experience. At the most pivotal moments of church history, Satan seems to sedate the saints. Just before this revelation of glory, the Scriptures declare the disciples “were heavy with sleep” (Luke 9:32). When Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane, the Bible tells us that He picked the same three disciples to pray with Him. And they again went to sleep. Likewise, in the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus warns us just prior to the second coming that “they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5). It seems at the most critical moments in Jesus’ ministry, the saints are snoring. This is why Jesus warns, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming; in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:35, 36 NKJV).

When they should have been kneeling with Him in the garden, remembering the glory they witnessed, they fell asleep. And because Peter, James, and John were asleep on the Mount of Transfiguration, they lost the full potential of their experience. They forgot the Glorious Mount, so they were not ready to follow Christ to Mount Calvary. I wonder if that haunted them for the rest of their lives: that missed opportunity because they slept when they should have prayed?

A MORE SURE WORD
So how do we stay awake? To the powerful weapon of prayer, we can add the witness of Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets. God’s Word can prepare you for anything. In 2 Peter 1:17, Peter refers back to the Glorious Mount. It is the only time that any of the three disciples write about it. But before Peter’s death, he writes passionately, “For [Jesus] received from God the Father honor and glory when there came such a voice to Him from the Excellent Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ And this voice which came from Heaven we heard when we were with Him on the holy mount” (vs. 17, 18 NKJV).

Yet even after Peter reflects on that defining moment in his life, he adds, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto to ye do well that ye take heed” (v. 19). Can you imagine saying that after seeing Christ in all His glory sandwiched between the two greatest Old Testament characters, with the voice of God the Father seared forever into your memory? Yet Peter confesses that however great that experience was, he had something more important, more dependable. God’s Word is a light that “grows brighter and brighter until the day dawn.”

Peter saw Christ glorified; he received a glimpse of heaven. But you and I have something worth more. We have the Bible. Christ tells us through Peter that your Bible is more trustworthy than a vision. If you want a mountaintop experience, you have it within your reach if you reach for your Bible. Nothing is more important than the testimony of Moses and Elijah, the double-edged sword, the Law and the Prophets, the commandments of God, the testimony of Jesus—it is the most precious thing God has committed to mortals. It is Jesus, the Word who became flesh.

GLOWING FOR GOD
As a child, I was always fascinated by those pale green illuminating plastic toys you could hold up to a light and watch glow even after the light was turned off. I remember one of those toys was a glow-in-the-dark plastic sword. After exposing it to the light, I could find my way through the dark house just by the glow from my sword.

The Lord has given us a special warning message in the Mount of Transfiguration. There are some very troubling days ahead, and now we must spend time on the mountain gathering light from God’s Word to see us through the dark valleys. The message from the mountain tells us that Jesus is the One, and that we too can wear the same robes He, Elijah, and Moses wore that day. He’s telling us to listen to the testimony of Jesus, and to the laws and the prophets—which point to the fulfillment through Christ. It’s a picture of Jesus’ imminent second coming, and a warning not to become spiritually sleepy. The mountaintop experience helps to remind us that even when the glory fades, Jesus is always still with us and Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Seven individuals appeared on the mountain that day: Three from heaven—Moses, Elijah and God the Father; Three from earth—Peter, James, and John. And then there was Jesus—the bridge, the ladder, between heaven and earth

Spiritual Israel

21 Feb

By Doug Batchelor & Steve WohlbergAn Amazing Fact

The European cuckoo is known as a “brood parasite.” The females lay their eggs in the nests of smaller bird species—like the reed warbler. In turn, these unsuspecting mothers unwittingly incubate, feed, and raise the young impostors, typically at the expense of their very own offspring.

One of the most sorrowful tragedies of nature is watching a reed warbler working herself to death to satisfy the voracious hunger of a greedy cuckoo chick while her own young, already weak with starvation, are pushed out of the nest.

Another Brood Parasite

The devil has successfully planted a dangerous lie in modern Christian theology, and it has been unwittingly hatched, adopted and nurtured by most evangelical churches—and now this parasite is pushing out Bible truth with a bigger-than-life-deception. Sadly, this adopted falsehood is growing fat with attention while true interpretations of prophecy are starving with neglect

Today around the globe, millions interested in Bible prophecy have their eyes fixed on Jerusalem. To be fair, it is really not all that difficult with the legitimate news value that comes from that never-ending quagmire of strife and bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelites. Christians are constantly speculating about the modern state of Israel, a rebuilt Jewish temple, and a Middle East Armageddon. These subjects are being discussed through magazines, books, radio, television, the Internet, the pulpit and at Bible prophecy conferences.

It is amazing how many Christians fully buy into this connection of end-time Bible prophecies concerning the nation of Israel. For example, best-selling author Dave Hunt echoes these views on the back cover of his popular book, A Cup of Trembling. He writes: “Fast-moving events in the Middle East point almost daily toward the grand finale—the time of greatest suffering for the Jewish people worldwide, which will climax in the terrifying battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Messiah to rescue Israel and reign over the world from David’s reestablished throne in Jerusalem.”

A Foundation of Sand

This “Middle East” approach to prophecy became popular among mainline churches in the 1980s with a series of books from Hal Lindsey. In his bestsellers, including The Late Great Planet Earth and Countdown to Armageddon, Lindsey employed this very literal dispensational approach to prophecy, making several very specific, and very errant, predictions. He wrote that a secret rapture of the church would occur in 1981, which would be followed by the building of a new Jewish temple, the advent of the Antichrist, the great tribulation, the invasion of Israel, the battle of Armageddon and the millennium—all by 1988.

Despite every single one of these predictions falling flat, his books continue to sell, making for most a standard that all end-time prophecy is viewable only when filtered through “nation of Israel glasses.” Worse, the seeds of error they contain have sprouted and become firmly rooted in many churches. Now millions of Christians are vigilantly guarding a styrofoam monument with no prophetic veracity, and building on the crumbling sand of popular evangelical trends. What are the primary pillars holding up this diversionary doctrine? While there remain some differences of opinion among these evangelicals regarding the role of modern Israel in the end-times, the majority agrees on the following five events as core prophecies:

1.The rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948.

2.A soon-coming seven years of “Great Tribulation.”

3.The rebuilding of the Jewish temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

4.The Antichrist’s rise during the tribulation; He’ll enter the temple to proclaim Godhood.

5.A final war against Israel, which will result in Armageddon.

It’s Happened Before!

Here is the big question: Are all of these end-time prophecies in Scripture regarding Israel and the temple speaking of the literal nation of Jews and a physical building, or is there a deeper spiritual application?

Do you remember when Jesus came the first time? His people misunderstood and misapplied the prophecies regarding His kingdom. They eagerly waited and watched for Him to establish a literal, earthly kingdom. Jesus constantly explained that His first coming was to establish a spiritual kingdom. He said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21).

But because the persistent and popular teachings of the day focused on a muscular messiah who would overthrow the Romans and seat himself on David’s throne, the disciples brushed aside or simply ignored Jesus’ comments regarding His spiritual kingdom. They tried to make these spiritual prophecies literal, and the crucifixion crushed their expectations of an Israel with dominion over all the Earth. Longing for freedom from political oppression, they lamented, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21 NKJV).

Even after His resurrection, the disciples still clung to these popular views that had ingrained themselves in their minds, hoping still for an imminent, literal kingdom. “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They wanted so much to believe their own view that the devil was able to blind them to the plain truth.

Is it possible that today’s church at large is making the same mistake by misapplying prophecies regarding spiritual Israel and the temple—interpreting them in a literal sense without basis? If so, they could be preparing to embrace a diabolical deception—not to mention experience a devastating disappointment!

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:7). We hope this study of end-time prophecy will clear the muddled understanding of prophecy so prevalent in today’s Christian faith.

The Name “Israel”

It is impossible to clearly understand the subject of Israel apart from a careful study of the Old Testament. The first time the name “Israel” appears in Scripture is when it was spoken to Jacob after his long night of wrestling with a powerful opponent. The heavenly stranger finally said, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28). Thus the name “Israel” was at first a name of heavenly origin applied to Jacob alone. It represented his spiritual victory over sin, through wrestling in prayer and claiming God’s grace.

Jacob had 12 sons who later moved into Egypt. The descendants of these sons eventually multiplied into the 12 tribes, which were later forced into slavery by the Egyptians until the time of Moses. Then God told Pharaoh through Moses, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn … Let my son go” (Exodus 4:22, 23). Note here that the name “Israel” is expanded to include Jacob’s descendants. Therefore, the name “Israel” first applied to a victorious man, then to his people. You’ll soon see why this is a very important point!

Israel, God’s Son

About 800 B.C., the Lord spoke through the prophet Hosea, saying, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Yet by this time, the nation of Israel had failed to live up to the spiritual meaning of its name. You see this verse in Hosea explodes with tremendous importance, when we look at the New Testament.

Approximately 800 years after Hosea’s prophecy, we learn, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Matthew 2:1). Because Herod felt threatened by this new child king, he sent soldiers who “slew all the children that were in Bethlehem” (v.16). Joseph was warned of the impending crisis in advance when “The angel of the Lord appeareth to [him] in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word” (v. 13). So the family arose and “departed into Egypt” (v. 14).

Matthew writes that the child Jesus remained in Egypt “until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son” (v. 15). Notice that Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1—which originally referred to the nation of Israel coming out of Egypt—and actually declares it more perfectly “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ! (Please don’t miss this important point that a prophecy in the Bible can have a duel application with both a literal and spiritual fulfillment.)

Here, Matthew has only touched the surface of a truly shocking principle developed throughout his gospel.

Matthew’s Amazing Revelation

A careful study of Matthew reveals even further that Christ’s story actually repeats the history of ancient Israel, point by point—but He overcame where they had failed. Notice the following amazing parallels between the history of ancient Israel and Jesus Christ:

■In the Old Testament, a man named Joseph has dreams and goes into Egypt to preserve his family (Genesis 45:5). In the New Testament, another Joseph likewise had dreams and goes into Egypt to preserve his family (Matthew 2:13).

■When the young nation of Israel comes out of Egypt, God calls it “my son” (Exodus 4:22). When Jesus comes out of Egypt, God says “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew 2:15).

■When Israel leaves Egypt, her people go through the Red Sea. The apostle Paul says they were “baptized unto Moses … in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2). Jesus is also baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,” and immediately afterward God proclaims Him, “my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:15-17)

■After the Red Sea crossing, the Israelites spend 40 years in the wilderness—led by the pillar of fire, God’s Spirit. Immediately after baptism, Jesus is “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness” for 40 days (Matthew 4:1, 2).

■At the end of the 40 years, Moses writes Deuteronomy. At the end of Jesus’ 40 days, He resists Satan’s temptations by quoting three Scriptures—all from Deuteronomy!

■In Psalm 80:8, God calls Israel a “vine” that He brought “out of Egypt.” Jesus later declares, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).

■In the Old Testament, the name “Israel” first applied to one man: Jacob—representing his spiritual victory over sin. Even so, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Israel who came “out of Egypt.” He is the one victorious man who overcame all sin!

More Striking Evidence!

The list of parallels between Jesus and Israel goes on but consider just a few more points.

For example, after healing a group of people, Jesus modestly “charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Greek for Isaiah] the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets” (Matthew 12:16-19). Here the writer quotes Isaiah 42:1-3, a passage that originally applied to “Israel, … my servant” (Isaiah 41:8). Yet Matthew again tells us it is “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ!

The apostle Paul also follows the principle in his letters of applying statements originally made about the nation of Israel to Jesus Christ. God called Israel “my firstborn” in Exodus 4:22. Yet Paul said it was Jesus Christ who is “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).

The clearest example is when God calls Israel “the seed of Abraham” (Isaiah 41:8). However, Paul later writes that Abraham’s seed does not refer to “many,” but to “one, … which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). Thus we discover that repeatedly in the New Testament, statements that once applied to the nation of Israel are now applied to Jesus Christ. The Messiah is now “the seed.” Therefore, Jesus is the very essence of Israel! This is an explosive truth, and it cannot be ignored if we are to truly understand the role and identity of modern Israel.

A New Nation

Yet there is more. Remember that the name “Israel” not only referred to Jacob, but also to his descendants—who became Israel. The same principle is seen in the New Testament.

For example, the Lord told the ancient Israelites, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). In the New Testament, Peter applies these exact words to the church: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

Likewise, immediately after Paul’s statement in Galatians 3 about Jesus being “the seed,” he then tells his Gentile (a non- Jew) converts, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Thus in the New Testament, the name Israel not only applies to Jesus Christ, but also to those who are born in Christ—His Church! In other words, all true Christians are now God’s spiritual Israel.

The church is called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), which is one reason why James, when writing to the church, addresses it as the 12 tribes that are scattered abroad (James 1:1). From the very beginning, the church has understood Israel to mean a spiritual body of Christ.

Double Vision

Have you ever been hit so hard on the head that you start seeing double? Well, from what we have studied together, the Christian world needs a loving “bonk” on the head with this New Testament truth, so that more people start “seeing double” about the subject of Israel! According to the New Testament, there are now two Israels. One group is composed of literal Israelites “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3, 4). The other is “spiritual Israel,” composed of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ.

Paul writes, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). How’s that for proof! That is, not all are part of God’s spiritual Israel who are of the literal nation of Israel. Paul continues: “That is, They which are the children of the flesh [physical descendants of Abraham], these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (v. 8). The children of the flesh are only natural descendants of Abraham, but the children of the promise are counted as the true seed. Today, any person—Jew or Gentile—can become part of this spiritual nation of Israel through faith in Jesus Christ.

God Looks on the Heart

Just as there are two Israels, there are also two kinds of Jews. First, there are the Jews who are only natural, physical descendants of Abraham. Second, there are the Jews in Spirit who believe in Jesus Christ. Paul writes, “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest on the law, and makest thy boast of God … For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision [Gentiles] keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? … For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:17, 25, 26, 28, 29).

Did you catch that? The implications are staggering! Someone who is “called a Jew” because he is a physical descendant of Abraham, and yet who lives as a lawbreaker, “is not a Jew”—at least, not in God’s eyes. His “circumcision is made uncircumcision.” It is revoked. Thus to God, he is a Gentile. And a believing Gentile, who through faith keeps “the righteousness of the law,” his uncircumcision is counted for circumcision. Thus to God, he is a Jew.

John the Baptist paved the way for this principle when he warned the Jews not to trust their literal ancestry for salvation. “Bring forth therefore fruits meet [worthy] for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:8, 9).

Later, Jesus echoed this same principle in a showdown with the religious leaders. “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham … Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:39, 44).

Paul also writes, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Thus, according to Paul, a real Jew in the sight of God is anybody—Jew or Gentile—who has personal faith in Jesus Christ!

Eventually, this truth hit Peter between the eyes, and he told a room full of Gentile converts, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34, 35).

Eating with the Patriarchs

Remember also when Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile soldier. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” (Matthew 8:10-12).

Jesus’ declaration stunned the listening crowd. The idea of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sitting and eating with Gentiles was taboo, unless they had been converted to the Jewish faith! (Acts 10:28).

This is also an underlying theme in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The Jews feast on the Word, but they do not share it with the Gentiles starving for truth. Therefore, they are cast out of the kingdom. But Lazarus [the Gentiles], the one who lay outside the gate hungering for the crumbs of truth, abides in Abraham’s bosom (See Luke 16:19-31).

The Road to Building a New Temple

Let’s now follow a brief but directly related tangent.

If we want the fog to clear from around the subject of prophetic Israel, we must also consider the Jewish temple. Many who have focused their attention on a literal nation fulfillment are also expecting the ancient Jewish temple to be rebuilt.

Some of the contemporary so-called Christian “Zionists” who have written on this rebuilding include Thomas Ice, Randall Price, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Dave Hunt, and John Hagee. Their combined published book sales exceed 70 million in more than 50 languages. This shows their views to be extremely influential, and therefore they cannot be simply dismissed. A significant proportion of evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and fundamentalist Christians worldwide endorse this view.

In the same way the devil has misdirected focus from spiritual Israel to the literal headlines concerning the Middle East today, he has also confused people on the subject of the temple. Oddly, most of the speculation and hopes for a rebuilt temple spring from one vague ethereal reference in the New Testament dealing with the antichrist power. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4, we read, “Let no man deceive you by anymeans: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (emphasis ours).

Since the Romans destroyed the last Jewish temple in AD 70, many naturally assume that in order for this antichrist being, a specific person in their view, to sit in the temple, it will have to be rebuilt. But let us follow the Biblical clues.

A Spiritual House

Just before King David died, he wanted to build a permanent temple in Jerusalem. Nathan the prophet told David that he would not be able to build this house for God, but that his son Solomon would do it.

First Chronicles 17:11, 12 recounts, “And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever.”

Later, David said the Lord told him “Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts” (1 Chronicles 28:6).

But this is one of the clearest examples in Scripture of prophecy having duel applications. Yes, history records do show that Solomon was the son of David and that he built a physical temple, but the New Testament says that Jesus was the true “Son of David,” who was to build a temple and kingdom that was to last forever. Jesus clearly taught that He had come to transfer the attention from a physical building of worship to something greater: His body, the church.

John 2:19-21, says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” Jesus’ prophecy concerning the pride of the Jewish nation and the destruction of the temple inspired the most intense rejection of His teaching. Here are some high points of this truth:

■“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

■“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1, 2).

■“We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

■“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38).

And even as Jesus hung on the cross, His mockers reminded Him of His teachings. “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). But of course, Jesus was not speaking of rebuilding the physical temple. He meant to build a spiritual one.

The New Testament Perspective

After the veil in the temple ripped from top to bottom and the early disciples were excommunicated, we find an unusual indifference among the early believers, nearly all Jews, regarding the Jewish temple. Because they knew Jesus to be the true Lamb of God, and that the Jewish temple was designed to accommodate animal sacrifices, the New Testament writers saw the temple as irrelevant. They recognized the establishment of a new spiritual temple and priesthood. See some amazing Biblical evidence for this below, with our emphasis in bold:

■“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (1 Corinthians 3:17, 16).

■“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

■“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

Sadly, even after God provides all this clear biblical evidence that His temple today is a spiritual one, the church, many Christians are waiting for the Jews to rebuild a physical temple on the site where the mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) now sits—also known as the Temple Mount. Yet there is no prophecy, promise, or commandment in the Bible that says the temple would be rebuilt again after the Romans destroyed it. Though it might very well be rebuilt, Jesus’ prophecy that not one stone would sit upon another seemed to be of an extremely final tone.

So what does the verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 mean? Simply this: This antichrist power would seat itself over the church of God claiming the worship that belongs only to Jesus Christ. Historically, Protestant scholars have consistently applied Paul’s words to the papal power, and to its influence within Christianity.*

But now, let’s return to the “nation” of Israel.
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*For more information about this prophecy, order Steve Wohlberg’s book, The Antichrist Chronicles: What Prophecy Teachers Aren’t Telling You!

All Israel Saved?

Since we’ve gone this far, we might as well go all the way! Only Jews will be saved. Furthermore, all Jews will be saved! Now after you pick yourself up from the floor, allow us to explain these bold statements.

We all know that people are saved under the new covenant, right? Now notice the wording of this new covenant: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).

And in the book of Hebrews, Paul expands on this concept: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. … For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:8, 10-12).

The new covenant is made “with the house of Israel”! God never makes a salvation covenant with Gentiles. In fact, nowhere in Scripture do you find any saving covenant made with anyone but Israelites! So if you want to be saved, you must be born again as a spiritual Jew. This is not to say that all Christians must now be circumcised and sacrifice lambs, but we must have the spiritual equivalent of these things—Jesus, the Lamb of God (the final sacrifice), and circumcision of the heart.

God does not have one method of salvation for Jews and a different one for non-Jews. Everyone is saved the same way under the same program—by grace through faith. Paul uses the analogy of an olive tree to explain that all Gentiles who are saved are grafted into the stock of Israel. “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root [supports] thee” (Romans 11:17, 18).

The Christian religion is based on a Jewish manual called the Bible. (In this light, it is difficult to understand how any professed Christian could be anti-Semitic.) Christianity is not a new religion, but rather the completion of the Jewish faith. So with this in mind, we can now better understand what Paul meant when he said, “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Some take this verse to mean that God will ultimately save all literal Jews. If this were true, it would contradict every principle of God’s dealings with humans throughout history and Scripture. God is not a racist. In Jesus’ eyes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28).

We are saved based on choices we make regarding God’s provision, not on national status or physical citizenship. But if, when Paul says that “all Israel will be saved,” he is speaking of spiritual Israel, and if we understand that we become a “true Jew” only by a choice, then it all makes sense.

Israel’s Purpose

The primary functions for the Jewish nation were to preserve Scriptures and introduce the Messiah to the world, which was accomplished at Pentecost. We read, “Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). And in Acts 2:5, “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” These converted Jews then took the truth back to their respective countries.

Jesus was also very concerned that the early ministry of His apostles was to focus specifically on the literal house of Israel. “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5, 6).

But after Jesus’ death, the Jewish Sanhedrin (supreme court) officially rejected the message of the gospel through the Spirit-filled preaching of Stephen. They even executed him. From that point on (AD 34), God opened the doors to the Gentiles.

■“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).

■“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47).

Prophetic Applications

How does all of this apply to prophecy? The greatest book about prophecy, the book of Revelation, talks about Mount Zion, Israel, Jerusalem, the temple, the Euphrates, Babylon and Armageddon. Thus it is clear that Revelation uses the terminology of the Middle East in its prophecies. But sincere Christians all over the earth are applying these prophecies to literal places in the Middle East and to the modern nation of Jews. Yet once we grasp the New Testament principles discussed in this study, we are able to finally see that there is something wrong with that picture. We should be seeing error messages all over the place!

Remember that when Jesus came the first time, the devil had bamboozled God’s people into making the spiritual prophecies about the Messiah carnal and physical. Satan is doing the same thing today with the subject of Israel. Yet the plain, biblical truth is that Revelation centers on Jesus Christ and God’s Israel in the Spirit, not the Israel of the flesh. And with this correct understanding of spiritual Israel, suddenly other prophecies in the New Testament take on a whole new meaning! It’s now easy to see that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14 are not literal Jews and the new temple will not be earthly, but rather the Body of Jesus and the church (John 2:19, 20).
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An Amazing Fact: “Fools Gold,” or iron pyrites, a mineral composed of iron sulfide, actually contains no gold at all. The mineral is brass yellow and has a metallic luster. The resemblance of pyrite to gold caused many prospectors to mistake it for gold, which is how it became known as fool’s gold. Even though it is often found in the vicinity of gold, it is easily distinguished from the real thing by its brittleness.
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Conclusion

This “counterfeit gold” dynamic is also found prevalent in the area of spiritual truth. The Bible teaches that even gold comes in varying degrees of purity: “And the gold of that land is good” (Genesis 2:12). Millions are toting around heavy bags bulging with spiritual “fool’s gold.” They are rejoicing, believing they have discovered something to make them rich. It sparkles on the outside, but when they get to the bank of heaven, they discover this currency is worthless.

Furthermore, the tragic fact is that the popular literal focus miserably fails to grasp the true power of God’s promise. And this failure to recognize this principle will result in false Middle East interpretations and ultimate deception.

Don’t forget that “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). And remember, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Share with others the truth that now “there is neither Jew nor Greek, … for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28, 29).

Let us not live in the flesh or accept popular, convoluted teachings that focus on an earthly state. Rather, let us live in the Spirit. Like Jacob of old, let us wrestle in prayer and cling to Jesus until by faith we hear Him say, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).

Shalom.

For more eye-opening information,
order Steve Wohlberg’s book,
Exploding the Israel Deception,
or Doug Batchelor’s new booklet,
Who Will Sing the Song? –
Understanding the 144,000.

Jesus, Our Pattern, Depended on Prayer

18 Feb

Chapter 1—Communing With God

Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications,
with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was
heard because of His godly fear. Hebrews 5:7, NKJV.

Evening is drawing on as Jesus calls to His side three of His disciples, Peter,
James, and John, and leads them across the fields, and far up a rugged path, to a
lonely mountainside. . . .

The light of the setting sun still lingers on the mountaintop, and gilds with its fading
glory the path they are traveling. But soon the light dies out from hill as well as valley,
the sun disappears behind the western horizon, and the solitary travelers are wrapped
in the darkness of night. . . .
Presently Christ tells them that they are now to go no farther. Stepping a little aside
from them, the Man of Sorrows pours out His supplications with strong crying and tears.
He prays for strength to endure the test in behalf of humanity. He must Himself gain a
fresh hold on Omnipotence, for only thus can He contemplate the future. And He pours
out His heart longings for His disciples, that in the hour of the power of darkness their
faith may not fail. . . .

At first the disciples unite their prayers with His in sincere devotion; but after a time
they are overcome with weariness, and, even while trying to retain their interest in the
scene, they fall asleep. Jesus has told them of His sufferings; He has taken them with
Him that they might unite with Him in prayer; even now He is praying for them. The
Savior has seen the gloom of His disciples, and has longed to lighten their grief by an
assurance that their faith has not been in vain. . . . Now the burden of His prayer is that
they may be given a manifestation of the glory He had with the Father before the world
was, that His kingdom may be revealed to human eyes, and that His disciples may be
strengthened to behold it. He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His
divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony with the knowledge that
He is of a surety the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of
redemption.
His prayer is heard. While He is bowed in lowliness upon the stony ground,
suddenly the heavens open, the golden gates of the City of God are thrown wide, and
holy radiance descends upon the mount, enshrouding the Savior’s form. Divinity from
within flashes through humanity, and meets the glory coming from above. Arising from
His prostrate position, Christ stands in godlike majesty. The soul agony is gone. His
countenance now shines “as the sun,” and His garments are “white as the light.”—The
Desire of Ages, pp. 419-421.

Why Hasn’t Jesus Returned Yet?

30 Jan

Please prayerfully read this page, as this is present truth and a vital message for the time we live in.

I am sure many of God’s professed people are wondering why Christ Jesus hasn’t returned yet. This world has been in turmoil for some time now, and it is just getting worse and worse. What is God waiting for? What is He waiting for His people to do?

There are many different types of Christians in the world today. But unfortunately, not enough who do the express will of God. There are those who focus on the ‘grace’ of Christ Jesus, thinking that they can continue to live a life of worldliness and sin, and forget about keeping the law of God. There are those who focus on the law of God, so much so that they forget about the grace of Christ and think that their works will save them. Then there are those who truly accept the grace of Christ, AND strive to keep the ten commandments, not to be saved, but because they love God. This is commendable, BUT this has become the only focus of many of God’s people today. They have become very insular and only focus on themselves, and there is something very important which God requires that they are NOT doing.

So what is God waiting for in His people? Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? I believe the answer lies in the 58th Chapter of Isaiah. Let’s take a look and see what we are missing.

Isaiah 58:1 …’Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.’

So God is telling us that we are to warn the church of it’s sins. “Oh but I already do this, I show people THEIR wrong doing.” you may say. But is God just talking about telling people of THEIR wrong doing here? Let’s read on.

Isaiah 58:2-3 …’Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.’

Now look at the above verses and tell me if you see a diligent people who seek God and keep his commands. A people who “seek God daily” and “delight to know His ways”. A people who “did righteousness” and “approaches God” in prayer and supplication. A people who “fast” regularly. I bet many would look at this description and say, wow! yes! These people know God’s will, they are truly God’s people. Then why is it that God doesn’t bless them? The verse confirms that God does not “see” their efforts. Why is this? We find the answer in the next few verses.

Isaiah 58:5-7 …’Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?’

The reason God doesn’t bless them is because even though they have remembered the first commandment to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. They have forgotten the second greatest commandment, which is to love thy neighbor as thyself. These professed people of God are so focused on themselves, they have forgotten to do good to others. They neglect one of the basic teachings of Christ Jesus, which is to love your neighbor as yourself, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. They have become insular and are only focusing on their own relationship with God.

IMPORTANT NOTE: What type of lifestyle do the verses above expose as being NOT the will of God? The Monastic lifestyle, where Monks close themselves off to the rest of the world and only focus on their own relationship with God. This is not the will of God and God does not bless this kind of life.

What is God Waiting For?

When we think of sin, we think about the ten commandments. So when God tells us to warn the people about their sin, we tend to think He is just talking about observing the ten commandments. But sin is much more wider and broader than what the ten commandments say. Think about it. If Jesus says we are to go and feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and we DON’T do those things. Is that not sin? (James 4:17) Yes it is. If Jesus tells us to go and teach all nations the gospel, and we DON’T do it. Is that not sin? Yes it is. Now look at what God says will happen if we do these things.

Isaiah 58:8,10 …’Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward … And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day.’

Isaiah 58:12 …’and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.’

THEN the Spirit of the Lord shall fall upon us, and we will be able to light up the world with the three angels message, and THEN the glory of God will shine in His people and THEN the true character of Christ will be shown in His people, and THEN the second coming can be hastened and the last days of earth’s history can reach their climax.

The problem with us sabbath keepers is that we look at chapters like Isaiah 58 and we ONLY see the verses to do with the sabbath. Yes, the sabbath is mentioned in Isaiah 58, and the sabbath day IS an important issue. Just like keeping the ten commandments is an important issue. Just like transforming our characters into Christ-like characters is very important. But we must not forget the other vital Christian principles, which is to take the “everlasting gospel” to the world (Rev. 14), and to SHOW the gospel to the world by doing good to others, whether friend or foe.

As a professed people of God, if we just stay insular, only focusing on ourselves, and keeping the truth to ourselves, then God CANNOT use us and WILL NOT use us. In order to bring on the last days and the second coming of Christ Jesus, we have to be LIVING the everlasting gospel ourselves. Yes, keep the ten commandments. Yes, keep the seventh day sabbath as per the 4th commandment. Yes, make every effort to have your character transformed to be like Christ. But we MUST also share and show the gospel truth with others who do not know the truth. We MUST warn the world of it’s sin. We MUST take the three angels messages to the world. And we MUST do good towards others, helping those in need, showing forgiveness and love.

Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? Jesus hasn’t returned yet because He is STILL waiting for His people to start LIVING the gospel. What did Jesus do during His life on earth? He obeyed God and did His express will. He warned people of their sin. He preached the gospel message. He healed the sick and helped those in need. This is the TRUE chracter of Christ that we are to replicate. THIS is what God is waiting for. THIS is what the world needs to see! Let us as God’s professed people start doing the will of God and then we will soon see the return of our Lord and Saviour!

Let the world SEE Jesus Christ in your everyday life!

A Warning Rejected.

28 Jan

In preaching the doctrine of the second advent, William Miller
and his associates had labored with the sole purpose of arousing
men to a preparation for the judgment. They had sought to awaken
professors of religion to the true hope of the church, and to
their need of a deeper Christian experience; and they labored also
to awaken the unconverted to the duty of immediate repentance
and conversion to God. “They made no attempt to convert men
to a sect or party in religion. Hence they labored among all
parties and sects, without interfering with their organization or
discipline.”618
“In all my labors,” said Miller, “I never had the desire or
thought to establish any separate interest from that of existing
denominations, or to benefit one at the expense of another. I
thought to benefit all. Supposing that all Christians would rejoice
in the prospect of Christ’s coming, and that those who could
not see as I did would not love any the less those who should
embrace this doctrine, I did not conceive there would ever be any
necessity for separate meetings. My whole object was a desire to
convert souls to God, to notify the world of a coming judgment,
and to induce my fellow-men to make that preparation of heart
which will enable them to meet their God in peace. The great
majority of those who were converted under my labors united
618 Bliss, “Memoirs of Wm. Miller,” p. 328.
390 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
[376] with the various existing churches.”619
As his work tended to build up the churches, it was for a
time regarded with favor. But as ministers and religious leaders
decided against the advent doctrine, and desired to suppress all
agitation of the subject, they not only opposed it from the pulpit,
but denied their members the privilege of attending preaching
upon the second advent, or even of speaking of their hope in the
social meetings of the church. Thus the believers found themselves
in a position of great trial and perplexity. They loved their
churches, and were loath to separate from them; but as they saw
the testimony of God’s word suppressed, and their right to investigate
the prophecies denied, they felt that loyalty to God forbade
them to submit. Those who sought to shut out the testimony
of God’s word, they could not regard as constituting the church
of Christ, “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Hence they felt
themselves justified in separating from their former connection.
In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the
churches.
About this time a marked change was apparent in most of the
churches throughout the United States. There had been for many
years a gradual but steadily increasing conformity to worldly
practices and customs, and a corresponding decline in real spiritual
life; but in that year there were evidences of a sudden and
marked declension in nearly all the churches of the land. While
none seemed able to suggest the cause, the fact itself was widely
noted and commented upon, by both the press and the pulpit.
At a meeting of the presbytery of Philadelphia, Mr. Barnes,
author of a commentary widely used, and pastor of one of the
leading churches in that city, “stated that he had been in the
ministry for twenty years, and never, till the last communion,
had he administered the ordinance without receiving more or
less into the church. But now there are no awakenings, no
619 Ibid.
21. A Warning Rejected. 391
conversions, not much apparent growth in grace in professors,
and none come to his study to converse about the salvation of
their souls. With the increase of business, and the brightening [377]
prospects of commerce and manufacture, there is an increase of
worldly-mindedness. Thus it is with all the denominations.”620
In the month of February of the same year, Professor Finney,
of Oberlin College, said: “We have had the fact before our minds,
that, in general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such,
were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of
the age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render the
fact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborated
fact: the almost universal absence of revival influence in the
churches. The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is
fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies….
Very extensively, church-members are becoming devotees of
fashion,—join hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in
dancing, in festivities, etc…. But we need not expand this painful
subject. Suffice it that the evidence thickens and rolls heavily
upon us, to show that the churches generally are becoming sadly
degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord, and He has
withdrawn Himself from them.”
And a writer in the Religious Telescope testified: “We have
never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the
present. Truly, the church should awake, and search into the
cause of this affliction; for as an affliction every one that loves
Zion must view it. When we call to mind how ‘few and far between’
cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled
impertinence and hardness of sinners, we almost involuntarily
exclaim, ‘Has God forgotten to be gracious? or, Is the door of
mercy closed?’ ”
Such a condition never exists without cause in the church
itself. The spiritual darkness which falls upon nations, upon
620 Congregational Journal, May 23, 1844.
392 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
churches and individuals, is due, not to an arbitrary withdrawal
of the succors of divine grace on the part of God, but to neglect or
[378] rejection of divine light on the part ofmen. A striking illustration
of this truth is presented in the history of the Jewish people in the
time of Christ. By their devotion to the world and forgetfulness
of God and His word, their understanding had become darkened,
their hearts earthly and sensual. Thus they were in ignorance
concerning Messiah’s advent, and in their pride and unbelief they
rejected the Redeemer. God did not even then cut off the Jewish
nation from a knowledge of, or a participation in, the blessings
of salvation. But those who rejected the truth lost all desire for
the gift of Heaven. They had “put darkness for light, and light for
darkness,” until the light which was in them became darkness;
and how great was that darkness!
It suits the policy of Satan, that men should retain the forms
of religion, if but the spirit of vital godliness is lacking. After
their rejection of the gospel, the Jews continued zealously to
maintain their ancient rites, they rigorously preserved their national
exclusiveness, while they themselves could not but admit
that the presence of God was no longer manifest among them.
The prophecy of Daniel pointed so unmistakably to the time of
Messiah’s coming, and so directly foretold His death, that they
discouraged its study, and finally the rabbis pronounced a curse
on all who should attempt a computation of the time. In blindness
and impenitence, the people of Israel for eighteen hundred
years have stood, indifferent to the gracious offers of salvation,
unmindful of the blessings of the gospel, a solemn and fearful
warning of the danger of rejecting light from heaven.
Wherever the cause exists, the same results will follow. He
who deliberately stifles his convictions of duty because it interferes
with his inclinations, will finally lose the power to
distinguish between truth and error. The understanding becomes
darkened, the conscience callous, the heart hardened, and the
soul is separated from God. Where the message of divine truth
21. A Warning Rejected. 393
is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in
darkness; faith and love grow cold, and estrangement and [379]
dissension enter. Church-members center their interests and energies
in worldly pursuits, and sinners become hardened in their
impenitence.
The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the
hour of God’s judgment, and calling upon men to fear and worship
Him, was designed to separate the professed people of God
from the corrupting influences of the world, and to arouse them
to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this
message, God had sent to the church a warning, which, had it
been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting
them away from Him. Had they received the message from
heaven, humbling their hearts before the Lord, and seeking in
sincerity a preparation to stand in His presence, the Spirit and
power of God would have been manifested among them. The
church would again have reached that blessed state of unity, faith,
and love, which existed in apostolic days, when the believers
“were of one heart and of one soul,” and “spake the word of God
with boldness,” when “the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved.”621
If God’s professed people would receive the light as it shines
upon them from His word, they would reach that unity for which
Christ prayed, that which the apostle describes, “the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace.” “There is,” he says, “one body, and
one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one
Lord, one faith, one baptism.”622
Such were the blessed results experienced by those who
accepted the advent message. They came from different denominations,
and their denominational barriers were hurled to the
ground; conflicting creeds were shivered to atoms; the unscriptural
hope of a temporal millennium was abandoned, false views
621 Acts 4:32, 31; 2:47.
622 Eph. 4:3-5.
394 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
of the second advent were corrected, pride and conformity to
the world were swept away; wrongs were made right; hearts
were united in the sweetest fellowship, and love and joy reigned
[380] supreme. If this doctrine did this for the few who did receive it,
it would have done the same for all, if all had received it.
But the churches generally did not accept the warning. Their
ministers, who, as “watchmen unto the house of Israel,” should
have been the first to discern the tokens of Jesus’ coming, had
failed to learn the truth, either from the testimony of the prophets
or from the signs of the times. As worldly hopes and ambitions
filled the heart, love for God and faith in His word had grown
cold; and when the advent doctrine was presented, it only aroused
their prejudice and unbelief. The fact that the message was, to
a great extent, preached by laymen, was urged as an argument
against it. As of old, the plain testimony of God’s word was
met with the inquiry, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees
believed?” And finding how difficult a task it was to refute the
arguments drawn from the prophetic periods, many discouraged
the study of the prophecies, teaching that the prophetic books
were sealed, and were not to be understood. Multitudes, trusting
implicitly to their pastors, refused to listen to the warning; and
others, though convinced of the truth, dared not confess it, lest
they should be “put out of the synagogue.” The message which
God had sent for the testing and purification of the church, revealed
all too surely how great was the number who had set their
affections on this world rather than upon Christ. The ties which
bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward.
They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom, and
turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.
In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the
means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They
spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the
evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness
they turned to seek the friendship of the world. Here was the
21. A Warning Rejected. 395
cause of that fearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and
spiritual death which existed in the churches in 1844. [381]
In Revelation 14, the first angel is followed by a second,
proclaiming, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because
she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her
fornication.”623 The term “Babylon” is derived from “Babel,”
and signifies confusion. It is employed in Scripture to designate
the various forms of false or apostate religion. In Revelation
17, Babylon is represented as a woman,—a figure which is
used in the Bible as the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman
representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.
In the Bible the sacred and enduring character of the relation
that exists between Christ and His church is represented by the
union of marriage. The Lord has joined His people to Himself
by a solemn covenant, He promising to be their God, and they
pledging themselves to be His, and His alone. He declares, “I
will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto
Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness,
and in mercies.”624 And again, “I am married unto you.”625 And
Paul employs the same figure in the New Testament when he
says, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present
you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”626
The unfaithfulness of the church to Christ in permitting her
confidence and affection to be turned from Him, and allowing
the love of worldly things to occupy the soul, is likened to the
violation of the marriage vow. The sin of Israel in departing
from the Lord is presented under this figure; and the wonderful
love of God which they thus despised is touchingly portrayed: “I
sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the
Lord God, and thou becamest Mine.” “And thou wast exceeding
623 Rev. 14:8.
624 Hosea 2:19.
625 Jer. 3:14.
626 2 Cor. 11:2.
396 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown
went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect
through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee…. But thou
didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because
[382] of thy renown.” “As a wife treacherously departeth from her
husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with Me, O house of
Israel, saith the Lord;” “as a wife that committeth adultery, which
taketh strangers instead of her husband.”627
In the New Testament, language very similar is addressed to
professed Christians who seek the friendship of the world above
the favor of God. Says the apostle James: “Ye adulterers and
adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is
enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the
world is the enemy of God.”
The woman (Babylon) of Revelation 17, is described as “arrayed
in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and
precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand
full of abominations and filthiness: … and upon her forehead
was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother
of harlots.” Says the prophet, “I saw the woman drunken with
the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of
Jesus.” Babylon is further declared to be “that great city, which
reigneth over the kings of the earth.”628 The power that for so
many centuries maintained despotic sway over the monarchs of
Christendom, is Rome. The purple and scarlet color, the gold
and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture the magnificence
and more than kingly pomp affected by the haughty see of Rome.
And no other power could be so truly declared “drunken with
the blood of the saints” as that church which has so cruelly
persecuted the followers of Christ. Babylon is also charged with
the sin of unlawful connection with “the kings of the earth.” It
was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen,
627 Eze. 16:8, 13-15, 32; Jer. 3:20.
628 Rev. 17:4-6, 18.
21. A Warning Rejected. 397
that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting
herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers,
receives a like condemnation.
Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters
must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and
traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and [383]
the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with
the world. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of
Babylon, must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and
have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning
of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it
cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has
been in a fallen condition for many centuries. Furthermore, in the
eighteenth chapter of the Revelation, the people of God are called
upon to come out of Babylon. According to this scripture, many
of God’s people must still be in Babylon. And in what religious
bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be
found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the
Protestant faith. At the time of their rise, these churches took
a noble stand for God and the truth, and His blessing was with
them. Even the unbelieving world was constrained to acknowledge
the beneficent results that followed an acceptance of the
principles of the gospel. In the words of the prophet to Israel,
“Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for
it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon
thee, saith the Lord God.”629 But they fell by the same desire
which was the curse and ruin of Israel,—the desire of imitating
the practices and courting the friendship of the ungodly. “Thou
didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because
of thy renown.”630
Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome’s example
of iniquitous connection with “the kings of the earth”—the
629 Eze. 16:14, 15.
630 Ibid.
398 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
state churches, by their relation to secular governments; and
other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And
the term “Babylon”—confusion—may be appropriately applied
to these bodies, all professing to derive their doctrines from the
Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects, with widely
conflicting creeds and theories.
Besides a sinful union with the world, the churches that sep-
[384] arated from Rome present other of her characteristics. A
Roman Catholic work argues that “if the Church of Rome were
ever guilty of idolatry in relation to the saints, her daughter, the
Church of England, stands guilty of the same, which has ten
churches dedicated to Mary for one dedicated to Christ.”631
And Dr. Hopkins, in “A Treatise on the Millennium,” declares:
“There is no reason to consider the antichristian spirit and
practices to be confined to that which is now called the Church of
Rome. The Protestant churches have much of antichrist in them,
and are far from being wholly reformed from … corruptions and
wickedness.”632
Concerning the separation of the Presbyterian Church from
Rome, Dr. Guthrie writes: “Three hundred years ago, our church,
with an open Bible on her banner, and this motto, ‘Search the
Scriptures,’ on her scroll, marched out from the gates of Rome.”
Then he asks the significant question, “Did they come clean out
of Babylon?”633
“The Church of England,” says Spurgeon, “seems to be eaten
through and through with sacramentarianism; but non-conformity
appears to be almost as badly riddled with philosophical
infidelity. Those of whom we thought better things are turning
aside one by one from the fundamentals of the faith. Through
and through, I believe, the very heart of England is honeycombed
631 Dr. Challoner, “The Catholic Christian Instructed,” Preface, pp. 21, 22 (ed.
1897).
632 Hopkins, Samuel, “Works,” Vol. II, p. 328 (ed. 1854).
633 Guthrie, John, “The Gospel in Ezekiel,” p. 237 (Edinburgh ed. 1857).
21. A Warning Rejected. 399
with a damnable infidelity which dares still go into the pulpit and
call itself Christian.”
What was the origin of the great apostasy? How did the church
first depart from the simplicity of the gospel? By conforming to
the practices of paganism, to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity
by the heathen. The apostle Paul declared, even in his day,
“The mystery of iniquity doth already work.”634 During the lives
of the apostles the church remained comparatively pure. But
“toward the latter end of the second century most of the churches
assumed a new form; the first simplicity disappeared, and insensibly,
as the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, [385]
along with new converts, … came forward and new-modeled
the cause.”635 To secure converts, the exalted standard of the
Christian faith was lowered, and as the result “a pagan flood,
flowing into the church, carried with it its customs, practices, and
idols.”636 As the Christian religion secured the favor and support
of secular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes; but
while in appearance Christians, many “remained in substance
pagans, especially worshiping in secret their idols.”637
Has not the same process been repeated in nearly every church
calling itself Protestant? As its founders, those who possessed the
true spirit of reform, pass away, their descendants come forward
and “new-model the cause.” While blindly clinging to the creed
of their fathers and refusing to accept any truth in advance of
what they saw, the children of the reformers depart widely from
their example of humility, self-denial, and renunciation of the
world. Thus “the first simplicity disappears.” A worldly flood,
flowing into the church, “carries with it its customs, practices,
and idols.”
634 2 Thess. 2:7.
635 Robinson, Robert, “Ecclesiastical Researches,” ch. 6, par. 17 (ed. 1792, p.
51).
636 Gavezzi’s Lectures, p. 278 (ed. 1854).
637 Ibid.
400 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Alas, to what a fearful extent is that friendship of the world
which is “enmity with God,” now cherished among the professed
followers of Christ! How widely have the popular churches
throughout Christendom departed from the Bible standard of humility,
self-denial, simplicity, and godliness! Said John Wesley,
in speaking of the right use of money: “Do not waste any part
of so precious a talent, merely in gratifying the desire of the
eye, by superfluous or expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments.
Waste no part of it in curiously adorning your houses; in
superfluous or expensive furniture; in costly pictures, painting,
gilding…. Lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the
admiration or praise of men…. ‘So long as thou doest well unto
thyself, men will speak good of thee.’ So long as thou art ‘clothed
in purple and fine linen, and farest sumptuously every day,’ no
[386] doubt many will applaud thy elegance of taste, thy generosity
and hospitality. But do not buy their applause so dear. Rather be
content with the honor that cometh from God.”638 But in many
churches of our time, such teaching is disregarded.
A profession of religion has become popular with the world.
Rulers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, merchants, join the church
as a means of securing the respect and confidence of society, and
advancing their own worldly interests. Thus they seek to cover
all their unrighteous transactions under a profession of Christianity.
The various religious bodies, re-enforced by the wealth and
influence of these baptized worldlings, make a still higher bid for
popularity and patronage. Splendid churches, embellished in the
most extravagant manner, are erected on popular avenues. The
worshipers array themselves in costly and fashionable attire. A
high salary is paid for a talented minister to entertain and attract
the people. His sermons must not touch popular sins, but be
made smooth and pleasing for fashionable ears. Thus fashionable
sinners are enrolled on the church-records, and fashionable sins
638 Wesley’s Works, Sermon 50, “The Use of Money.”
21. A Warning Rejected. 401
are concealed under a pretense of godliness.
Commenting on the present attitude of professed Christians
toward the world, a leading secular journal says: “Insensibly
the church has yielded to the spirit of the age, and adapted its
forms of worship to modern wants.” “All things, indeed, that
help to make religion attractive, the church now employs as its
instruments.” And a writer in the New York Independent speaks
thus concerning Methodism as it is: “The line of separation
between the godly and the irreligious fades out into a kind of
penumbra, and zealous men on both sides are toiling to obliterate
all difference between their modes of action and enjoyment.”
“The popularity of religion tends vastly to increase the number
of those who would secure its benefits without squarely meeting
its duties.” [387]
Says Howard Crosby: “It is a matter of deep concern that we
find Christ’s church so little fulfilling the designs of its Lord. Just
as the ancient Jews let a familiar intercourse with the idolatrous
nations steal away their hearts from God, … so the church of
Jesus now is, by its false partnerships with an unbelieving world,
giving up the divine methods of its true life, and yielding itself
to the pernicious, though often plausible, habits of a Christless
society, using the arguments and reaching the conclusions which
are foreign to the revelation of God, and directly antagonistic to
all growth in grace.”639
In this tide of worldliness and pleasure-seeking, self-denial
and self-sacrifice for Christ’s sake are almost wholly lost. “Some
of the men and women now in active life in our churches were
educated, when children, to make sacrifices in order to be able
to give or do something for Christ.” But “if funds are wanted
now, … nobody must be called on to give. Oh, no! have a
fair, tableaux, mock trial, antiquarian supper, or something to
eat—anything to amuse the people.”
639 “The Healthy Christian: An Appeal to the Church,” pp. 141, 142 (ed. 1871).
402 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Governor Washburn, of Wisconsin, in his annual message,
Jan. 9, 1873, declared: “Some law seems to be required to break
up the schools where gamblers are made. These are everywhere.
Even the church (unwittingly, no doubt) is sometimes found
doing the work of the devil. Gift concerts, gift enterprises and
raffles, sometimes in aid of religious or charitable objects, but
often for less worthy purposes, lotteries, prize packages, etc.,
are all devices to obtain money without value received. Nothing
is so demoralizing or intoxicating, particularly to the young, as
the acquisition of money or property without labor. Respectable
people engaging in these chance enterprises, and easing their
consciences with the reflection that the money is to go to a good
object, it is not strange that the youth of the State should so often
fall into the habits which the excitement of games of hazard is
[388] almost certain to engender.”
The spirit of worldly conformity is invading the churches
throughout Christendom. Robert Atkins, in a sermon preached
in London, draws a dark picture of the spiritual declension that
prevails in England: “The truly righteous are diminished from
the earth, and no man layeth it to heart. The professors of religion
of the present day, in every church, are lovers of the world,
conformers to the world, lovers of creature comfort, and aspirers
after respectability. They are called to suffer with Christ, but
they shrink from even reproach…. apostasy, apostasy, apostasy,
is engraven on the very front of every church; and did they know
it, and did they feel it, there might be hope; but, alas! they
cry, ‘We are rich, and increased in goods, and stand in need of
nothing.’ ”640
The great sin charged against Babylon is, that she “made all
nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” This
cup of intoxication which she presents to the world, represents
the false doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her
640 Second Advent Library, Tract No. 39.
21. A Warning Rejected. 403
unlawful connection with the great ones of the earth. Friendship
with the world corrupts her faith, and in her turn she exerts a
corrupting influence upon the world by teaching doctrines which
are opposed to the plainest statements of Holy Writ.
Rome withheld the Bible from the people, and required all
men to accept her teachings in its place. It was the work of the
Reformation to restore to men the word of God; but is it not too
true that in the churches of our time men are taught to rest their
faith upon their creed and the teachings of their church rather
than on the Scriptures? Said Charles Beecher, speaking of the
Protestant churches: “They shrink from any rude word against
creeds with the same sensitiveness with which those holy fathers
would have shrunk from a rude word against the rising veneration
of saints and martyrs which they were fostering…. The Protestant
evangelical denominations have so tied up one another’s hands,
and their own, that, between them all, a man cannot become a
preacher at all, anywhere, without accepting some book besides [389]
the Bible…. There is nothing imaginary in the statement that the
creed power is now beginning to prohibit the Bible as really as
Rome did, though in a subtler way.”641
When faithful teachers expound the word of God, there arise
men of learning, ministers professing to understand the Scriptures,
who denounce sound doctrine as heresy, and thus turn
away inquirers after truth. Were it not that the world is hopelessly
intoxicated with the wine of Babylon, multitudes would be
convicted and converted by the plain, cutting truths of the word
of God. But religious faith appears so confused and discordant,
that the people know not what to believe as truth. The sin of the
world’s impenitence lies at the door of the church.
The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first
preached in the summer of 1844, and it then had a more direct
application to the churches of the United States, where the
641 Sermon on “The Bible a Sufficient Creed,” delivered at Fort Wayne, Ind.,
Feb. 22, 1846.
404 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
warning of the judgment had been most widely proclaimed and
most generally rejected, and where the declension in the churches
had been most rapid. But the message of the second angel did
not reach its complete fulfilment in 1844. The churches then
experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the
light of the advent message; but that fall was not complete. As
they have continued to reject the special truths for this time, they
have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however, can it be said that
“Babylon is fallen, … because she made all nations drink of the
wine of the wrath of her fornication.” She has not yet made all
nations do this. The spirit of world-conforming and indifference
to the testing truths for our time, exists and has been gaining
ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries
of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn
and terrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of
apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.
The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan
[390] will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with
all deceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “received
not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left
to receive “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”642
Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the
church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughout
Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change
is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfilment of Rev. 14:8 is
yet future.
Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from
God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the
great body of Christ’s true followers are still to be found in their
communion. There are many of these who have never seen the
special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their
present condition, and are longing for clearer light. They look
642 2 Thess. 2:9-11.
22. Prophecies Fulfilled. 405
in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they
are connected. As these bodies depart farther and farther from
the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the
difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally
result in separation. The time will come when those who love
God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as
are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form
of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting
the threefold warning of Rev. 14:6-12, the church will have fully
reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people
of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from
her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given
to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that
“believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,”643
shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then
the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to
receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon
will heed the call, “Come out of her, My people.”644

“First the Blade, Then the Ear”

26 Jan

The parable of the sower excited much questioning. Some of the hearers gathered from it that Christ
was not to establish an earthly kingdom, and many were curious and perplexed. Seeing their perplexity,
Christ used other illustrations, still seeking to turn their thoughts from the hope of a worldly kingdom to
the work of God’s grace in the soul. {COL 62.1}
“And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should
sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the
earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But
when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” {COL
62.2}
The husbandman who “putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come,” can be no other than
Christ. It is
63
He who at the last great day will reap the harvest of the earth. But the sower of the seed represents
those who labor in Christ’s stead. The seed is said to “spring and grow up, he knoweth not how,” and
this is not true of the Son of God. Christ does not sleep over His charge, but watches it day and night.
He is not ignorant of how the seed grows. {COL 62.3}
The parable of the seed reveals that God is at work in nature. The seed has in itself a germinating
principle, a principle that God Himself has implanted; yet if left to itself the seed would have no power to
spring up. Man has his part to act in promoting the growth of the grain. He must prepare and enrich the
soil and cast in the seed. He must till the fields. But there is a point beyond which he can accomplish
nothing. No strength or wisdom of man can bring forth from the seed the living plant. Let man put forth
his efforts to the utmost limit, he must still depend upon One who has connected the sowing and the
reaping by wonderful links of His own omnipotent power. {COL 63.1}
There is life in the seed, there is power in the soil; but unless an infinite power is exercised day and
night, the seed will yield no returns. The showers of rain must be sent to give moisture to the thirsty
fields, the sun must impart heat, electricity must be conveyed to the buried seed. The life which the
Creator has implanted, He alone can call forth. Every seed grows, every plant develops, by the power
of God. {COL 63.2}
“As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring
forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth.” Isa. 61:11. As in the natural,
so in the spiritual sowing; the teacher of truth must seek to prepare the soil of the heart; he must sow the
seed; but the power that alone can produce life is from God. There is a point beyond
64
which human effort is in vain. While we are to preach the word, we can not impart the power that will
quicken the soul, and cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. In the preaching of the word there
must be the working of an agency beyond any human power. Only through the divine Spirit will the
word be living and powerful to renew the soul unto eternal life. This is what Christ tried to impress upon
His disciples. He taught that it was nothing they possessed in themselves which would give success to
their labors, but that it is the miracle-working power of God which gives efficiency to His own word.
{COL 63.3}
The work of the sower is a work of faith. The mystery of the germination and growth of the seed he
cannot understand. But he has confidence in the agencies by which God causes vegetation to flourish. In
casting his seed into the ground, he is apparently throwing away the precious grain that might furnish
bread for his family. But
65
he is only giving up a present good for a larger return. He casts the seed away, expecting to gather it
manyfold in an abundant harvest. So Christ’s servants are to labor, expecting a harvest from the seed
they sow. {COL 64.1}
The good seed may for a time lie unnoticed in a cold, selfish, worldly heart, giving no evidence that it
has taken root; but afterward, as the Spirit of God breathes on the soul, the hidden seed springs up, and
at last bears fruit to the glory of God. In our lifework we know not which shall prosper, this or that. This
is not a question for us to settle. We are to do our work, and leave the results with God. “In the morning
sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand.” Eccl. 11:6. God’s great covenant declares
that “while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest . . . shall not cease.” Gen. 8:22. In the confidence
of this promise the husbandman tills and sows. Not less confidently are we in the spiritual sowing to
labor, trusting His assurance, “So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return
unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent
it.” Isa. 55:11. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with
rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Ps. 126:6. {COL 65.1}
The germination of the seed represents the beginning of spiritual life, and the development of the
plant is a beautiful figure of Christian growth. As in nature, so in grace; there can be no life without
growth. The plant must either grow or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but continuous, so
is the development of the Christian life. At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if
God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a
lifetime. As our opportunities multiply, our experience will enlarge, and
66
our knowledge increase. We shall become strong to bear responsibility, and our maturity will be in
proportion to our privileges. {COL 65.2}
The plant grows by receiving that which God has provided to sustain its life. It sends down its roots
into the earth. It drinks in the sunshine, the dew, and the rain. It receives the life-giving properties from
the air. So the
67
Christian is to grow by co-operating with the divine agencies. Feeling our helplessness, we are to
improve all the opportunities granted us to gain a fuller experience. As the plant takes root in the soil, so
we are to take deep root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, we are to
open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. The work is to be done “not by might, nor by power, but by My
Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zech. 4:6. If we keep our minds stayed upon Christ, He will come unto
us “as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:3. As the Sun of Righteousness, He
will arise upon us “with healing in His wings.” Mal. 4:2. We shall “grow as the lily.” We shall “revive as
the corn, and grow as the vine.” Hosea 14:5, 7. By constantly relying upon Christ as our personal
Saviour, we shall grow up into Him in all things who is our head. {COL 66.1}
The wheat develops “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” The object of the
husbandman in the sowing of the seed and the culture of the growing plant is the production of grain. He
desires bread for the hungry, and seed for future harvests. So the divine Husbandman looks for a
harvest as the reward of His labor and sacrifice. Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of
men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit
bearing–the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others.
{COL 67.1}
The plant does not germinate, grow, or bring forth fruit for itself, but to “give seed to the sower, and
bread to the eater.” Isa. 55:10. So no man is to live unto himself. The Christian is in the world as a
representative of Christ, for the salvation of other souls. {COL 67.2}
There can be no growth or fruitfulness in the life that is centered in self. If you have accepted Christ
as a personal
68
Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others. Talk of the love of Christ, tell of His
goodness. Do every duty that presents itself. Carry the burden of souls upon your heart, and by every
means in your power seek to save the lost. As you receive the Spirit of Christ–the Spirit of unselfish
love and labor for others–you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your
character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more
you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely. {COL 67.3}
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
69
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Gal. 5:22, 23. This fruit can never perish, but will
produce after its kind a harvest unto eternal life. {COL 68.1}
“When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”
Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of
Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. {COL
69.1}
It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ, (2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly
the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be
ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain. {COL 69.2}

Getting to know Jesus-The Birth of Jesus

21 Jan

Taken from the book by E.G White: Christ our Saviour.

Chap. 1

– The Birth of Jesus
In the little town of Nazareth, nestled among the hills of Galilee, was the home of Joseph and Mary,
who were afterward known as the earthly parents of Jesus.
Now Joseph was of the lineage, or family, of David; and so, when a decree was sent out for the
people to be taxed, he had to go to Bethlehem, the city of David, to have his name enrolled. This was a
toilsome journey, as people traveled in those times. Mary, who went with her husband, was very weary
as she climbed the hill on which Bethlehem stands.
How she longed for a comfortable place in which to rest! But the inns were already full. The rich and
proud were well cared for, while these humble travelers had to find rest in a rude building where cattle
were sheltered.
Joseph and Mary possessed little of earth’s riches, but they had the love of God, and this made them
rich in contentment and peace. They were children of the heavenly King, who was about to give them a
wonderful honor.
Angels had been watching them while they were on their journey, and when night came on, and they
went to rest, they were not left alone. Angels were still with them

There, in that lowly shed, Jesus the Saviour was born and laid in a manger. In that rude cradle lay the
Son of the Highest–He whose presence had filled the courts of Heaven with glory.
Before He came to the earth, Jesus was the Commander of the angel hosts. The brightest and most
exalted of the sons of the morning heralded His glory at the creation. They veiled their faces before Him
as He sat upon His throne. They cast their crowns at His feet, and sang His triumphs as they beheld His
greatness.
Yet this glorious Being loved the poor sinner, and took upon Him the form of a servant, that He
might suffer and die for us.
Jesus might have remained at the Father’s side, wearing the kingly crown and the royal robe; but for
our sake He chose to exchange the riches of Heaven for the poverty of earth.
He chose to leave His station of high command, to leave the angels who loved Him. The adoration of
the heavenly throng He chose to exchange for mockery and abuse by wicked men. From love to us, He
accepted a life of hardship and a death of shame.
All this Christ did to show how much God loves us. He lived on earth to show how we may honor
God by obedience to His will. He did this so that by following His example we may at last dwell with
Him in His heavenly home.
The priests and rulers among the Jews were not ready to welcome Jesus. They knew that the
Saviour was soon to come, but they expected Him to be a mighty king who would make them rich and
great. They were too proud to think of the Messiah as being a helpless child.

So when Christ was born, God did not reveal it to them. He sent the glad news to some shepherds
who kept their flocks on the hills around Bethlehem. {SJ 16.1}
These were good men, and as they watched their sheep by night, they talked together about the
promised Saviour, and prayed so earnestly for His coming that God sent bright messengers from His
own throne of light to teach them.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:
and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which
shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the
Lord.
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a
manger.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one
to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the
Lord hath made known unto us.
“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when
they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But
Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Luke

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