Tag Archives: Old Testament

The Search for the True Church

7 Dec
The Search
Is there a true church in the world today? And if so, how can it be identified? Of all the religious questions facing the modern truth-seeker, this is certainly the most demanding and also the most frustrating. Conflicting voices from every quarter declare that they have the answer. Denominations, sects, and cults make strident claims based upon emotional interpretations of isolated Bible texts.
The average Christian today has been so totally turned off by these exaggerated boasts that many have even discounted the possibility that any “true church” could really exist. Others have questioned the criteria by which any church could be tested and rated as “truer” than another.
It is very important to recognize that no church can be proven superior because its members are without sin. People are people, and all are subject to the same frailties of human nature. Yet, it is also true that every Christian has access to the same mighty power of God for overcoming those frailties. Therefore, any church today will necessarily be made up of individuals who are at varying levels of personal sanctification. The wheat and tares will still be mingled together, and no church will be made up entirely of perfect people.
But the question remains: Is there some valid way to identify the church which is closest to the biblical standards of truth? Some feel that the distinctive name of the organization will set it apart as the right one. Obviously, this could be no accurate test, because the choice of a name would reveal nothing about the spiritual nature of that church. Such shallow claims only serve to discourage intelligent searchers after the truth.
It must be apparent to all that if God has a special church in the world today, He will reveal it clearly and explicitly in His holy Word. The information must be couched in language that will appeal to human logic and should consist of more than just vague generalities or insinuations.
I am reluctant to make any claims for what you are about to read, although I know very well that it could revolutionize your life. Do not scan or read lightly the material which follows. I ask only that you study it prayerfully and with an open mind. Then judge it on the basis of the Scriptures and your own spiritual convictions. If it is truth, the Holy Spirit will guide you into joyful recognition of it. My personal feeling is that you will find this experience to be the most exciting adventure you have ever had in God’s Word.
Our quest for truth will focus upon the twelfth chapter of Revelation. Limited time and space does not allow for an exhaustive study, but two principles will be given priority—accuracy and simplicity. Over twelve hundred years of history must be dealt with only briefly as we follow the absorbing story of the true church to its surprising climax. Further confirming evidence for the historical part of the prophecy has been provided in my book entitled “The Beast, the Dragon, and the Woman.”
The Woman Symbolizes the Church
      Revelation 12 is basically the narrative account of a beautiful, sun-clad woman and her descendants. “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).
Here we are introduced to one of the most familiar symbols in the Bible. In both the Old and the New Testaments, God represents His people by a woman. As the bridegroom, He is married to the church. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
All through the Bible we can follow the record of this symbolism. God said in the Old Testament, “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman” (Jeremiah 6:2). And again, “Say unto Zion, Thou art my people” (Isaiah 51:16). The church is called Zion and God compares it with a beautiful woman. In the Old Testament, Israel was the chosen people so often portrayed as being married to God.
In the New Testament, the true Israel of God is no longer a nation but a church composed of Jews and Gentiles who receive Christ as their Savior. Therefore, the woman of Revelation 12 flashes us the picture-story of the church at the time of Christ. The clothing of sunlight typifies the glorious New Covenant of grace, and the twelve stars represent the twelve apostles. The moon under her feet indicates the fading glory of the Old Covenant in the presence of the true Lamb of God.
Now begins the thrilling part! We are going to follow the unfolding future of that true church of our Lord Jesus. The next verses vividly delineate the course of truth through the ages. We want to know where that woman can be found TODAY! Don’t miss a step of the prophecy as we trace the vicissitudes of the true church right down to the present day!
The first thing we discover is that the woman is about to give birth to a baby. “And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads . . . and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:2-5).
Who is this man-child destined to rule all nations and who was caught up to heaven? Only one person can meet this description—Jesus Christ. And who does the dragon represent, who tried to kill Christ at His birth? It was Herod, the representative of Rome, who sent out the order for all babies of two years and under to be slaughtered. Ordinarily, the dragon is used as a symbol of Satan, but in this case, the devil was working so closely with the Roman power to kill Jesus that the dragon also symbolizes Rome.
How did Jesus escape the diabolical decree of Herod? Joseph and Mary were warned of the danger in a dream and fled to Egypt with the infant. Later, after the death of the tyrant, they returned and settled in the town of Nazareth.
Even though the devil was foiled in his initial plot to kill Jesus, he did not abandon his purpose. Repeatedly, he sought to take the life of Jesus, and finally, he managed to bring Him to that mockery of a trial where He was tortured, crucified, and buried. But the grave could not contain the Son of God, and on the third day He burst out of the tomb. Later, He ascended to His Father in heaven.
Persecution of the Church
     With no direct access to Jesus, the dragon (Rome) now turned his anger against the followers of Christ, the church: “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child” (Revelation 12:13).
These words provide only a tiny hint of the horror of the violence which broke forth against the apostolic church. Practically all the early disciples and church leaders were martyred for their faith. Cruel pagan emperors turned the sporting arenas and coliseums into theaters of death for those who followed the true gospel.
Soon pagan Rome yielded to papal Rome, and the persecutions continued with even greater force. Millions died under the terrible inquisitions which sought to eradicate all opposition to the papal system. Historians estimate that during the Dark Ages more that fifty million people laid down their lives rather than yield up their Protestant faith.
But let’s follow the tragic story in our prophetic outline. Revelation 12:14 tells us what the true church did as the pressures of persecution built up to a climax: “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”
In order to escape extinction, the faithful Protestant refugees fled back into the Alpine mountains and valleys holding onto the true doctrine delivered by Jesus. Another book of Acts could be written about the heroism of the Waldenses, Huguenots, and Albigenses who refused to surrender their faith during those centuries of fierce oppression. God fought for them, and sometimes the pursuing armies of Rome were cut off by mysterious avalanches and rock slides. At other times the mountain streams were reddened by the blood of those faithful ones who sealed their devotion to the truth with their lives. The Revelation prophecy gives a symbolic picture of the desperate attempts made to wipe out those minority Christians who were now in hiding for their very survival: “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood” (Revelation 12:15).
How long was the true church to remain out of sight in the wilderness? The prophecy declares it would be for “a time, times, and half a time.” How mysterious! What is meant by this strange description of the time period involved? When would it end? The answer is found in verse 6: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
Now the picture begins to clear up. One verse says the woman was in the wilderness for 1,260 days and the other verse says she was there for “a time, times, and half a time.” These two periods are equal. This means that a “time” has to be a year in prophetic symbolism, “times” is two years, and “half a time” is half a year. When we add up the one, the two, and the half, we get three and a half years. And that is equal to exactly 1,260 days, using the Bible reckoning of 30 days to the month.
There is one more principle of prophetic interpretation to take into account here. In symbolic Bible prophecy a day always stands for a year. You will find the key for that principle in Ezekiel 4:6: “I have appointed thee each day for a year.” It is laid down elsewhere in these words: “. . . forty days, each day for a year” (Numbers 14:34).
Please note that this applies only to symbolic prophecy, and cannot be read into other portions of the Scripture. A day is used for a year only in the setting of an obvious prophetic context. This places the woman in her wilderness hideaway for the full period of 1,260 literal years.
Our conclusion must be, then, that the true church could not appear in the world until the end of the 1,260 years. Did such a thing happen to the true people of God? How long did the papal power continue to suppress the true doctrines by the exercise of her religio-political authority?
Here is a fascinating point of history. In a.d. 538 a decree by Emperor Justinian went into effect which assigned absolute spiritual preeminence to the church of Rome. Gradually, this religious tyranny drifted into union with civil powers until eventually kings were forced to seek permission from the pope before they could begin to rule. This authority remained in force until the year 1798 when Europe was rocked by the French Revolution. In the subsequent rebellion of the oppressed peasants against the privileged clergy, the pope was captured in 1798. The papal property was confiscated, and the French Directory government decreed that there would be no more Bishop of Rome. The oppressive rule of the papacy ended exactly 1,260 years after it was inaugurated in A.D. 538.
Three Marks of the True Church
     This brings us to a most important observation: THE TRUE CHURCH COULD NOT APPEAR IN THE WORLD UNTIL AFTER THE YEAR 1798. It was to remain in hiding until the end of the 1,260 years, and that “wilderness” period ended in 1798. We have before us now one of the most amazing marks of identification for the true church. It is not based on some emotional feeling or upon some strained interpretation of a single Bible text. It is rooted in a prophetic revelation of a specific time period which can be verified by scores of historical records. The woman (church) simply could not make her appearance until the inhibiting powers of papal opposition had been taken out of the way. That prophesied event took place in 1798, and the truth which had been clothed in sackcloth now began to emerge from obscurity, soon to appear as the glorious remnant of the woman.
Now we are brought to an actual description of the woman as she would appear before the world sometime after the year 1798: “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” (Revelation 12:17).
This text is one of the most crucial to be found in the entire Bible. Nowhere is there a more concise description of the last-day remnant of the original apostolic faith as it was preserved through the ages. Here is an actual verbal definition of the true church for the present day. It is so important that we are going to analyze every word in order to extract the full meaning. If the true church can be discovered at all in the Bible, this will be the verse to reveal it.
“AND THE DRAGON . . .” Who is the dragon? There can be no question on this point. In Revelation 12:9 the dragon is called “the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.”
“WAS WROTH . . .” What does that mean? “Wroth” is the Old English word for “angry.” It simply means that Satan was angry. Whom was he angry with? “WROTH WITH THE WOMAN . . .” Who was the woman? We have already found that she is the true apostolic church, representing the great, original teachings of Jesus.      “AND WENT TO MAKE WAR WITH THE REMNANT OF HER SEED . . .” Here a new word is introduced into the picture. Satan is going to fight against the REMNANT of the true church. What is a remnant? It is the last end piece on a bolt of cloth. It is exactly like the first piece that came off the bolt, but it happens to be at the very end and is always a small piece.
What does this tell us about the remnant of the woman? It is the last part of the true church, at the very end of time, which will be holding the exact same doctrines as did the early, apostolic church. But let’s read on.
“WHICH KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. . .” What commandments would this be referring to? This designates the great moral law written by the finger of God on tables of stone. The Ten Commandments reflect the character of God, reveal His will for all His creatures, and form the basis for all morality and true worship.
Here we are confronted with the second intriguing mark of identification of the true church. Not only must it arise some time after the year 1798, but on the authority of the Word of God, it would have to be keeping ALL the Ten Commandments of God.
But now let’s finish reading this fantastic verse. “AND HAVE THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST.” Here is another characteristic of the true remnant. Not only will this last-day church arise after 1798 and keep all the Ten Commandments, but it will have the testimony of Jesus. But what is the testimony of Jesus? That is an unfamiliar phrase, and we need more than human wisdom to uncover its meaning
Notice how the Bible specifically defines this expression for us. If this text truly contains the heart of ultimate truth for us, the Word of God would have to clarify every part of it. The definition is provided by the word of an angel sent all the way from heaven to explain it to John. “I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
There it is! We know now without a shadow of doubt that the testimony of Jesus is the SPIRIT OF PROPHECY. And this is the third great mark of identity for the last-day true church!
Let me ask you something: Does a spirit of excitement rise up in you as these plain biblical statements zero in on the mostsought-after secret in the Word of God? We are getting closer and closer to identifying the special people of God in our day and their special message. And we are doing it by allowing the Bible to make the identification. We have not fabricated a single one of these three definitive characteristics. No one can honestly challenge their application to the end-time church of Jesus Christ. That remnant church will have to possess all three of these biblical tags of identity:
1. ARISE AFTER 1798      2. KEEP ALL THE TEN COMMANDMENTS      3. HAVE THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY
I know that some are already puzzling over that third mark. The “spirit of prophecy” is just about as incomprehensible as the “testimony of Jesus.” But stay with me, and we will get the explanation for that point very shortly.
A Fourth Identifying Characteristic
     Right now I would like to add a fourth crucial mark of identification to our list. We have found this church to be the last, end-piece of historic truth. It will be proclaiming the final message of God just before Jesus returns. In fact, if God has any kind of special counsel or warning for the world at the end of time, He would surely give that message through His last-day remnant church. I think we can all see the logic of this conclusion.
Does God indeed have such a message, and is it identified clearly in the Bible? Jesus indicated that the proclaiming of a certain definite truth would immediately precede the conclusion of human history. Listen to His words: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
The last sign of Christ’s coming will be a worldwide preaching of the “gospel of the kingdom.” After that, the end will come. Now follow me closely. John the Revelator actually saw in vision the fulfillment of Christ’s words. He wrote, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice . . .” (Revelation 14:6, 7).
The next few verses describe precisely what that special last proclamation of the gospel will consist of. Then immediately John said, “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle . . . and he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:14-16).
Did you catch that? The end comes just as soon as this particular “gospel” message has gone to every nation on earth. Jesus said the same thing, “this gospel . . . shall be preached in all the world . . . and then shall the end come.”
I submit to you that whatever this message is, it has to be the most urgent and compelling one that human ears have ever heard. Both John and Jesus testify that upon completion it will usher in the glorious kingdom of Christ.
Can we know what that final warning will contain? John spelled it out so simply that none need be in doubt. “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come” (Revelation 14:7). Notice that a part of this last call of God will be announcing that the judgment has already started. “IS COME,” not “will come.” We must look and listen for the preaching of such a pre-advent judgment message to all nations of the earth.
The next part of the first angel’s message is this: “And worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water” (Revelation 14:7). Does that sound familiar? It should, for it is quoted almost word for word right from the fourth commandment of the decalogue, which strongly indicates that the Sabbath will be a part of the “gospel” proclamation which must go to the whole world just before the end.
How do you worship God as the Creator? Right in the heart of the Ten Commandments God wrote the answer: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).
True worship stems from a recognition of God’s creative power and authority, and the Sabbath is God’s own established sign that He is the maker of everything. Over and over throughout the Bible God claims worship BECAUSE He created all things. “thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: FOR THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS.” (Revelation 4:11).
God challenged the false gods repeatedly because they could not create. “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth . . . He hath made the earth by his power” (Jeremiah 10: 11, 12). “God himself . . . formed the earth and made it . . . I am the Lord; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18).
The Sabbath was instituted by God as a great reminder-sign of His sovereign authority as the only God to be worshiped. The Creator set in motion the arbitrary cycle of the seven-day week to mark off the true Sabbath, so that the world would be without excuse in knowing whom to worship and when. Thus the first angel’s message called for men to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea”—a call to true Sabbath-keeping.
The second and third angels’ messages described by John can be summarized briefly: “Babylon is fallen . . . If any man worship the beast . . . and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:8-10). Contrary to the opinion of many, this plain, bold preaching of the beast message is included in the everlasting gospel of God’s kingdom. Even warnings against the mark of the beast will be heralded to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. THEN THE END WILL COME!
We are now prepared to add a fourth characteristic to the list of three others. The true remnant church of the last days will surely be used of God to carry His final warning message to all inhabitants of planet earth. That message will include (a) the judgment hour is come, (b) true Sabbath worship, (c) the fall of spiritual Babylon, and (d) the mark of the beast.
This completes the amazing array of specific characteristics of the present day’s true church:
1. ARISES AFTER 1798      2. KEEPS ALL TEN COMMANDMENTS      3. HAS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY      4. PREACHES THE MESSAGE OF THREE ANGELS (Revelation 14) ON A WORLD-WIDE SCALE
Could any thinking person be indifferent toward what we have discovered thus far? We have in our hands right now the key to unlock one of the most fantastic spiritual secrets in the world. God has concentrated all the clues in this one, tremendous, prophetic chapter of Revelation. Look at the marks of identification. This is God’s list, not mine. I simply lifted them from the inspired pages of God’s Book. What do they tell us about the true church today?
First of all, it could not have arisen before 1798. This eliminates most of the great popular Protestant churches of the world. Practically all of them were formed before 1798. Secondly, it would have to be a church which keeps all the Ten Commandments. At first glance, this would seem to be a very poor definitive test for discovering which church is right. Surely all of them would teach and practice obedience to the great moral law of God— or would they? The fact is that very few contemporary denominations even lay claim to keeping all the Ten Commandments. Most of them admit freely that they do not observe the seventh-day Sabbath required by the fourth commandment. They observe the first day of the week instead of the Sabbath.
The Spirit of Prophecy
     Under the inspiration of God, John declared that the remnant of the woman would have the “testimony of Jesus.” Since that expression is somewhat ambiguous, John later gave a clarification which still leaves much to be desired. He said simply, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
At least this is moving in the right direction, but we must now discover what John means by that expression, “spirit of prophecy.” Whatever it is, it ranks high with God, because He designates it as one of the ways by which to recognize His true church in these last days.
The picture begins to clear up when we examine the full context of the statement. An angel appears to John, and John falls upon the ground in awe and admiration. Said the Revelator, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).      In this verse, please notice who is described as having the testimony of Jesus, or the spirit of prophecy. Only John’s “brethren” are identified as having it. Now we must seek for some further information as to who John’s brethren were. The Word does not fail us. In Revelation 22:8, 9 John repeats the story of the angel and adds a little more detail. “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets . . . worship God.” John’s brethren were the prophets, and they alone are said to have the spirit of prophecy.
Suddenly, the whole puzzle falls into place. The only ones who had the spirit of prophecy were the prophets themselves. If just knowing prophecy and preaching it could be called the “spirit of prophecy,” then many modern teachers and evangelists might qualify. But the Bible makes it exceedingly clear that it is the actual ability to prophesy. In other words, it is the gift of prophecy. Only the prophets had it.
This fact is supported by the apostle Paul. “That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ (spirit of prophecy) was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:5-7).
Here the testimony of Jesus is called a “gift” instead of the “spirit” of prophecy. And the implication is very strong that the gift will be in operation at the return of our Savior.
With this inspired insight from Paul we are back on familiar ground again. We have no problem with the term “gift of prophecy.” The New Testament epistles are filled with references to all the gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of prophecy. Paul told the church at Ephesus just how and when the gifts were bestowed: “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men” (Ephesians 4:8).
Little comment is needed on this. It is a well-known fact that when Jesus returned to heaven He left certain special “gifts” or abilities with His people on earth. In fact, they are named: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11).
For what reason did Jesus endow certain ones in the church with these appropriate spiritual gifts? “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). He did it to build up the believers and strengthen the church. These gifts were to mature and perfect the leaders of the body of Christ as they sought to edify the members.
The next verse tells exactly how long those gifts would be needed in the church. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the nature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
If language has any meaning at all, these words convey one idea very clearly. All the gifts which Christ placed with His church were to continue operating until the very end of time. They would be needed to bring the church to perfection and to the fullness of Christ’s stature.
Dare we ask the next obvious question? Where are these gifts today? If they were intended by our Lord to do their sanctifying work right down to the end of time, then they should all be seen operating in the churches around us. Let’s inquire if they are. Do we find teachers in most churches today? The answer is yes. What about pastors and evangelists? Practically all denominations have them. What can we say about apostles? Since this word literally means “missionaries,” (coming from a Greek word meaning “one who is sent”), again we can say that most modern churches qualify on this particular gift.
So far, so good. But we have one more inquiry—what about prophets? From most religious quarters there is no ready reply to this question. Practically no church claims that such a thing has ever been a part of its ministry.
But why? If all the other gifts are necessary, why should prophets not be necessary as well? It was certainly counted so in the early church. In fact, all the spiritual gifts were very much in evidence, according to the book of Acts. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon . . .” (Acts 13:1). Here we have evidence that two of the gifts, teachers and prophets, were a part of the church at Antioch. Then in Acts 21:9 we read that a “man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.” Notice that these four women from one family were appointed by the Spirit to be prophetesses. They had the spirit of prophecy.
Why Did Prophets Disappear from the Church?
     It is obvious that all the gifts were operating equally in the apostolic age and immediately afterward. But why did the gift of prophecy seem to drop out of sight after two or three hundred years into the Christian era? We do not have the same record of it through the ages as we do the other gifts. Why don’t we find prophets in all the churches of today along with pastors, teachers, etc.?
We dare not avoid the question as so many millions of Christians are currently doing. The Word of God meets the issue head-on and pulls no punches in the process. It is easy to see why most churches try to ignore the absence of this gift in their midst, especially when we discover the reason for its absence.
That post-apostolic period is not the first time that the spirit of prophecy had been removed from among God’s people. The truth is that God was dealing with the church then in the same way He had always dealt with His people. All through the Old Testament God led and instructed them by two divine agencies—the law and the prophets. Through the prophet Jeremiah God spoke to Israel, “If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you . . . Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth” (Jeremiah 26:4-6).
THE LAW AND PROPHETS! The two go together. Not only do they refer to the writings of Scripture, but they also refer to the two means of divine guidance. “Keep my law and hear my prophets” was the requirement of God. And the sacred record indicates that if they rejected one of those divine agencies, God would remove the other also, because they were actually rejecting His leadership. On numerous occasions the children of Israel turned away from the law of God, only to find the prophetic voice silenced as well.
Jeremiah wrote, “The law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD” (Lamentations 2:9). Ezekiel put it this way: “Then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients” (Ezekiel 7:26). The wise man laid down the very same principle: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).
In times of open disobedience of His law, God used the prophets only to rebuke and to call back, not for counsel or guidance. When they turned from the law, they understood that they were also forfeiting the only other avenue by which they could receive divine direction. In his apostasy Saul cried out, “God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams” (1 Samuel 28:15).
We have a perfect example of this in Ezekiel 20:3 when the people came to inquire after God’s counsel. “Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; Are ye come to enquire of me? As I live, saith the LORD God, I will not be enquired of by you.” Why would He not answer them in this case? Verses 11-13 give the answer: “And I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.”
Surely we can see that the reason God gave no divine direction was because they _had forsaken His law and had broken His Sabbath. It was the violation of the fourth commandment which especially provoked the displeasure of God.
Now we are prepared to deal with the question of prophets in the New Testament, and why they disappeared after two or three centuries. What happened to God’s law at the very same time the gift of prophecy disappeared from the church? The history of that early period shows that the Sabbath was set aside in favor of the pagan day of the sun. A disgraceful compromise with heathen sun-worship led to an open rejection of the true seventh-day Sabbath. And when this happened, God did exactly what He had always done before when His people turned from His holy law; He withdrew the guidance of the spirit of prophecy. Prophets disappeared from the church.      This brings us face-to-face with an exciting and challenging question. Is there reason to believe that when the church restores the law and begins to observe the Sabbath again, that God will also restore the gift of prophecy to the church? This leads us right back to that dynamic prophecy of Revelation 12 and God’s description of the true remnant. Now, for the first time, we can see the full significance of that seventeenth verse: “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.”
Do you see it? The law, so long neglected, is right back where it belongs—in the church. And hand-in-hand with the law is the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy. Think of it! The law and the prophets get back together again in the last remnant piece of God’s true apostolic church! All the gifts are again operating as they did in the days before the apostasy.
Remember that a remnant has to be exactly like the original except that it is on the very end, and it is a small piece. This fantastic prophecy reveals that there will be an end- time restoration of the faith of the apostles. The same Sabbath will be restored. The same gifts of the spirit will be manifested, and all the great apostolic doctrines will be stripped of the effects of 1,260 years of papal distortion.
A church, called the remnant, must appear on the scene some time after 1798. It will restore the foundation of many generations by keeping the Sabbath, the same one that Jesus made for man during creation week, and the same Sabbath He observed when He was on the earth. In that church will be manifested the true gift of prophecy. Under the anointing of unusual spiritual blessing and power that remnant church will carry the special last warning message of Revelation 14 to all the countries in the world. As we have already discovered, this glorious gospel of the three angels includes the present-hour judgment, the Sabbath, the fall of Babylon, and the beast message.
This church is identified again by John in these words: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Do not overlook the fact that these commandment-keeping saints are empowered to do what they do only by trusting Jesus. When you find them, they will not be boasting of their righteousness, or depending on their good works to save them. Above all people they will have a loving, personal relationship with the Savior they worship. Their obedience will be based solely upon the merits of Christ’s imputed and imparted righteousness. They will keep the commandments because they have been saved by grace and not to gain any favor with God.
By this time you are probably in a state of excited curiosity as to whether any church in existence can meet the incredible conditions laid down in the Bible. Many claim to be the true church, but their claims are not based upon the requirements of the Word of God. Only those who fit the four specific marks outlined in the book of Revelation can be qualified for consideration. Just suppose we could find only one church in the world today which meets all these biblical tests. Could we expect it to be a perfect church with flawless members in it? On the contrary, it would surely be composed of average men and women, subject to the same failings as all other human beings. It would have to be a comparatively small church to meet the criteria of “remnant.” Jesus said the way of truth was narrow and “few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). Again He declared, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26). None should be deceived by trusting great numbers, the majority. The saved will be comparable to the eight souls taken into the ark at the time of the great flood. Truth has never been popular, and it will be less so in the final age of sensual pleasure and materialism. The remnant church will not be found among the great, popular churches with their indulgent life-styles. Said Jesus, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
Paul’s counsel was: “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17). To Titus he wrote, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly . . . a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
These and many other related verses seem to indicate that the true church of the last days will be looked upon by the world in the same manner that Jesus and His followers were esteemed in their day. Since the remnant is merely an extension of the great original, it will be despised by the majority, counted as peculiar, and finally, like the early church, as worthy of death. The book of Revelation exposes a diabolical plan of the end-time “beast” power to enforce a mark on every individual, and those who will not receive that mark will be condemned to death. As you might suspect at this point, those who resist that beast mark will be those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). In other words, the remnant church.
Again, it must be emphasized that all those who belong to the remnant church will not necessarily be saved. Like all other churches it consists of ordinary people who must maintain a constant saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It is undoubtedly true that there will be people saved and lost out of all denominations and sects. Every person will be judged on the basis of revealed truth, and how he obeyed what he knew. Members of the remnant church will have great light, and they will be judged accordingly. Many will fail the test, because they depend on their knowledge of the truth rather than the saving merits of Christ’s righteousness. This is why it is altogether possible for many even in the “remnant” church to be lost. Others who have not so great light will be accepted if they know Jesus and walk in all the light that has been revealed.
But after making those observations, we must also concede that God has a special church with a special message which is designated as the “remnant” of the woman. It will appear near the end, holding the same doctrines as did the apostolic church, keeping all the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath), having the gift of prophecy, and preaching Revelation 14 to the entire world.
Does Any Church Meet the Four Tests?
     Is there such a church in the world right now which meets all the requirements of these biblical texts? God does not leave us to wonder. He has made the marks so distinct and clear and simple in the Bible that all can know what to look for. Is it difficult to match the four great distinguishing signs with the hundreds of confusing church names and bodies? Not at all.
How many of those churches arose after 1798? A small minority. And how many of this minority are keeping all the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath? Very few. They can be counted on the fingers of one hand. How many of these few also have the spirit of prophecy? And finally, how many are proclaiming the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 in all the countries and languages of earth?
The sifting and eliminating has led us down to just one church, believe it or not. It would be less than honest to leave you hanging at this juncture, wondering if God had described some impossible, hybrid church that would never exist. Out of all the ecclesiastical systems in existence at this date, there is only one that fully meets the biblical criteria of the remnant.
This must be our conclusion based upon historical facts and not because we have any axe to grind for some particular church. The inspired record of Revelation 12 contains no emotional bias toward any existing church. The most disinterested person would have to come to the same conclusion after examining the full, prophetic picture. This leaves no room for boasting or pride. The secret was not revealed by any man but by the Word of God.

As we name the church, it must be with some trepidation. There will always be a few ready to charge us with sectarianism in spite of the undeniable evidence before us. Others will allow personal prejudice to rob them of this glorious truth.

The only church fulfilling the prophetic description of the true remnant is the Seventh-day Adventist church. Arising around 1844 this movement of destiny began the predicted program of restoring the truth which had been lost or distorted during the Dark Ages. One after another of the original doctrines of Christ and the early church were returned to their former luster and beauty. As the authority of the law and the Sabbath was re-established, God did exactly what He had promised to do: He restored the beautiful spirit of prophecy to the remnant church. That gift was manifested through the life and teachings of Mrs. Ellen G. White. This young woman, with only a grammar school education, received special revelations that extended over a period of more than six decades. From her inspired pen poured more than seventy books, many of which were acclaimed by the highest secular critics to be matchless in form and content.

Although the gift of prophecy served in a powerful manner to give impetus to the new movement, it professed only to be a “lesser light” to the sovereign authority of the Holy Scriptures. In harmony with the Bible rule to “try the spirits,” every manifestation had to be tested by the Word of God. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Had her writings not conformed to the Bible in every respect, they would have been rejected as counterfeit, but they spoke in perfect agreement with the Scriptures. In no way have they been considered a part of the sacred canon of Scripture. Though inspired by the same Spirit, they do not add to nor take away from the Holy Writ, but like a magnifying glass they bring out the beauty and truth of the Word.

Perhaps the greatest wonder of all is how the emerging remnant church, in the providence of God, settled upon the very same doctrines of Revelation 14—the ones specified by Jesus and John as the final message—as the heart of its teaching. But there is yet another miracle! How could that infant church, with only a few hundred members in 1860, reach out with its unpopular message and evangelize every country in the world? Yet, that is exactly what has happened! The work of Seventh-day Adventists has been established in countries representing nearly 100 percent of the world population. And every one of these unique doctrines of Revelation 14, including the judgment, the Sabbath, and the beast message, is being witnessed to those nations.

There are several churches which qualify on the first point of identity, and there are a few who fit the second also; but, it is a singular fact that only one church conforms perfectly to all four points. With a simplicity and logic that appeals to human reason, God has fulfilled His promise to guide us into all truth. The next move must be up to us. What will we do about the persuasive conclusions to which we have been led?

No one can avoid making a decision over this kind of truth. We can decide to accept it, or reject it. We can choose to obey or disobey. But one thing is certain—you can never be the same again, no matter which decision you make. Conviction has a way of staying with us even when we try to ignore or banish it. You can never forget the things you have learned about the true church. You are now in possession of the most sought-after secret in the whole Bible.

I would urge you not to make a decision to accept it just because it has convinced you intellectually. No one should join the church, which is the body of Christ, unless they have been drawn spiritually into a relationship with Jesus.

Behind the fantastic prophecy of the true remnant I want you to see the Lamb of God dying on the cross in your place. He hangs there because of sin—because someone did not love Him enough to obey Him. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

We can’t obey Him until we have knelt, broken-hearted because of our sin, and accepted Him as Lord and Savior. Love for Him provides both the motive and the power to fulfill His Word. If you haven’t accepted Him already, make that your first decision. Then under the strength of that new love relationship follow Him into service as a member of the true remnant church.

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A Love That Transforms

1 Dec
Being in love changes everything.  For instance, a young lady was reading a large book for her university’s English literature course.  She found the whole thing very boring and could barely stay focused when reading it.  But then she met a striking young professor on campus, and they quickly fell in love.  Soon after, she realized her beloved was the author of the book she had struggled with.  That night she stayed up and devoured the entire book exclaiming, “This is the best book I have ever read!” What changed her perspective? Love did. Likewise, many today find Scripture boring, oppressive, and unappealing.  But that all changes when you fall in love with the author.  See how in this heart-warming Study Guide!
Jesus is the author of Scripture.

Jesus is the author of Scripture.

1. Who is the author of Scripture?

“The prophets have enquired and searched diligently, … Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:10, 11.

Answer:   The God of the Bible (even the Old Testament) is virtually always Jesus Christ.  Jesus created the world (John 1:1-3, 14 Colossians 1:13-17), wrote the Ten Commandments (Nehemiah 9:6, 13), was the God of the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), and guided the writings of the prophets (1 Peter 1:10, 11).
So, Jesus Christ is the author of Scripture.

Jesus loves the people of earth with an everlasting love.

Jesus loves the people of earth with an everlasting love.

2. What is Jesus’ attitude toward the people of earth?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Answer:   Jesus loves us all with an indescribable, unfailing love that passes understanding.

Jesus died for us all, even though none of us deserved it.

Jesus died for us all, even though none of us deserved it.

3. Why should we love Jesus?

“We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.  “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

Answer:   We should love Him because He loved us enough to die for us–while we were yet His enemies.

4. In what respects are a successful marriage and the Christian life similar?

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” 1 John 3:22.

Answer:   In a good marriage certain things are imperative, such as faithfulness to one’s spouse.  Other things may not seem major, but if they please a spouse they are necessary.  If they displease, they should be discontinued.  So it is with the Christian life.  The commands of Jesus are imperative.  But in Scripture Jesus has also outlined for us principles of conduct that please Him.  As in a good marriage, a Christian finds it sheer joy to do the things that make Jesus, the One he loves, happy.  He also avoids things that displease Him.

Doing the things that please Jesus brings a person great joy and abundant living.

Doing the things that please Jesus brings a person great joy and abundant living.

5. What does Jesus say are the results of doing the things that please Him?

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; … These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:10, 11.

Answer:   The devil claims that to follow Christian principles is drab, dull, demeaning, and legalistic.  But Jesus says it brings fullness of joy (John 15:10, 11) and a more abundant life (John 10:10).  Believing the devil’s lies brings heartache and deprives people of life that is “really living.”

Jesus' Bible principles for Christian living protect us from Satan's danger zones.

Jesus’ Bible principles for Christian living protect us from Satan’s danger zones.

6. Why does Jesus give us specific principles for Christian living?

Answer:   Because they:
A. Are for our own good always (Deuteronomy 6:24).  As good parents teach good principles to their children, so Jesus teaches good principles to His children.
B. Set for us a safeguard from sin (Psalms 119:11).  Jesus’ principles protect us from entering the danger zones of Satan and sin.
C. Show us how to follow in Christ’s footsteps (1 Peter 2:21).
D. Bring us true happiness (John 13:17).
E. Give us an opportunity to express our love for Him (John 15:10).
F. Help us be the right example to others (1 Corinthians 10:31-33; Matthew 5:16).

When I love the things of the world, I become God's enemy.

When I love the things of the world, I become God’s enemy.

7. According to Jesus, how should Christians relate to the evil of the world and to worldliness?

Answer:   His commands and counsel are clear and specific:
A. Don’t love the world or the things of the world.  The things of the world that are not of God are: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life (1 John 2:16).  All sin falls into one or more of these three categories.  Satan uses these three avenues to lure us into love of the world.  When I begin to love the world, I become an enemy of God (1 John 2:15, 16 James 4:4).
B. I must keep myself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

A Christian must firmly resist the things of the world, or he will be led astray by Satan.

A Christian must firmly resist the things of the world, or he will be led astray by Satan.

8. What urgent warning does God give us regarding the world?

Answer:   Jesus warns Christians, “Be not conformed to this world.” Romans 12:2.  Phillips translation puts it:  “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.”*  The devil is not neutral.  He presses every Christian constantly.  Through Jesus (Philippians 4:13), I must firmly resist the devil’s suggestions, and he will flee from me (James 4:7).  The minute I permit the “squeezing” of any other factor to influence my conduct, I imperceptibly begin slipping into apostasy.  Christian behavior is not to be decided by the feelings and conduct of the majority, but by Jesus’ words from Scripture.
*Reprinted with the permission of Macmillan Publishing Company from The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition by J. B. Phillips, (C) 1958, 1959, 1960, 1972 by J. B. Phillips.  The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips.  Reprinted by permission of Harper-Collins Publishers Limited.

We must carefully guard our thoughts, because thoughts become actions.

We must carefully guard our thoughts, because thoughts become actions.

9. Why do we need to guard our thoughts?

“As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7.

Answer:   We must guard our thoughts, because thoughts dictate behavior.  God wants to help us bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5.  But Satan desperately wants to bring “the world” into our thoughts.  He can do this only through our five senses–especially sight and hearing.  He presses his sights and sounds upon us all and, unless we consistently refuse to look at or listen to what he offers, he will direct us into the broad way that leads to destruction.  The Bible is clear.  We do become like the things we repeatedly see and hear (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Christians must avoid any music that erodes the desire for godly living.

Christians must avoid any music that erodes the desire for godly living.

10. What are some principles for Christian living?

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8.

Answer:   Christians must separate themselves from all things that are not true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.  They will avoid:
A. Dishonesty of every kind – cheating, lying, stealing, being unfair, intent to deceive, slander, and betrayal.
B. Impurity of every kind.  This includes fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality, perversion of all types, pornography, profanity, filthy conversation, off-color jokes, social dancing, degenerate songs or music, and most of what is shown on television and in movie theaters.
C. Places where we would never invite Jesus to accompany us, such as nightclubs, taverns, gambling casinos, racetracks, etc.
Let’s take a few minutes to enlarge upon the dangers of popular music, dancing, television, videos, and the theater.
Music and Song Many types of secular music (rap, country, pop, rock, heavy metal, adult contemporary, and dance music) have been largely captured by Satan. The lyrics often glorify vice and destroy a desire for spiritual matters.  Researchers have discovered some interesting things regarding the power of music:
(1) It enters the brain through the emotions, thus bypassing reasoning powers.
(2) It affects every function of the body.
(3) It can alter pulse, breath rates, and reflexes without the person realizing it.
(4) Syncopated dance rhythms alter moods and create a mild hypnosis in the listener.
Even without lyrics, the music itself has power to debase a person’s feelings, desires, and thoughts.  Secular rock musicians openly admit this.  Rolling Stones leader Mick Jagger said: “You can feel the adrenalin going through your body. It’s sort of sexual.”1 John Oates of Hall and Oates stated that “Rock ‘n’ Roll is 99% sex.”2 Would such music please Jesus?  Converted pagans from overseas tell us that our modern secular band music is the same kind they used in witchcraft and devil worship!
Ask yourself:  “If Jesus came to visit me, what music would I feel comfortable asking Him to listen to with me?”  Any music you are not sure of should be abandoned.  (For an in-depth analysis of decadent, secular music, we recommend Notes on Music by Carol and Louis Torres, which can be purchased from Amazing Facts.)  When we fall in love with Jesus, He changes our musical desires.  “He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” Psalms 40:3.  God has provided for His people plenty of good music that inspires, refreshes, elevates, and strengthens the Christian experience.  Those who accept the devil’s degrading music as a substitute are missing one of life’s choicest blessings.
Dancing Dancing inevitably leads away from Jesus and spirituality.  When the Israelites danced around the golden calf, they forgot God (Exodus 32:17-25).  When the daughter of wicked Herodias danced before King Herod, John the Baptist was beheaded (Matthew 14:2-12).  Notice these shocking statistics:  A Catholic priest in New York said that three-fourths of the girls who have confessed adultery to him put the blame on dancing.  Other priests have said that three-fourths is too low they estimate nine-tenths. Remember, if Christ can participate in an activity with you, you are safe.  If not, stay away from it.
TV, Videos, and the Theater Do the things you watch on television and videos or in the theater appeal to your lower or to your higher nature?  Do they lead you into a greater love for Jesus, or for the world?  Do they glorify Jesus, or satanic vices?  In our day even secularists and non-Christians are speaking out against many of the TV and film productions.  Satan has captured the eyes and ears of billions and, as a result, is rapidly turning the world into a cesspool of immorality, crime, terror, and hopelessness.  One study said that without TV “there would be 10,000 fewer murders per year in the United States, 70,000 fewer rapes, and 700,000 fewer assaults.”3  Jesus, who loves you, asks you to take your eyes off Satan’s thought-controllers and put them on Him.  He says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” Isaiah 45:22.
1 Newsweek, “Mick Jagger and the Future of Rock”, Jan. 4, 1971, p. 47.
2Circus magazine, Jan. 31, 1976, p. 39.
3Newsweek, “Violence, Reel to Reel”, Dec. 11, 1995, p. 47.

A safe guideline for TV viewing is to ask,

A safe guideline for TV viewing is to ask, “Would I feel comfortable inviting Jesus to watch the program with me?”

11. What clear-cut list does Jesus give us that we could use as a guide for watching television?

“Anyone can see the kind of behaviour that belongs to the lower nature: fornication, impurity, and indecency idolatry and sorcery quarrels, a contentious temper, envy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, party intrigues, and jealousies drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who behave in such ways will never inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21, NEB.*

Answer:   Scripture is too clear to misunderstand.  If a family should ban all TV programs that exhibit or condone any of the above sins, there would be very little to watch.  If Jesus came to visit you, what TV shows would you feel comfortable asking Him to view with you?  All other shows are probably unfit for Christian viewing.
*(C) The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1961, 1970.  Used by permission.

My choice of TV programs and, in fact, all of my conduct must be guided by the words of Scripture, and not by my own feelings.

My choice of TV programs and, in fact, all of my conduct must be guided by the words of Scripture, and not by my own feelings.

12. In this day of determined, independent thinking, many feel totally capable of making spiritual decisions without input from anyone, including Jesus.  What does Jesus say about such people?

Answer:   Listen to Jesus’ unequivocal statements:  “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.” Deuteronomy 12:8. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25.  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15. “He that trusteth in his own heart [mind] is a fool.” Proverbs 28:26.

13. What solemn warnings does Jesus give us about the example and influence of our lives?

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6.  Let “no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” Romans 14:13.  “None of us liveth to himself.” Romans 14:7.

Answer:   We all expect leaders, people of influence, famed athletes, and other widely known figures to set a good example and use their influence wisely–to pay a so-called “debt to society”.  But in today’s world, we are often disillusioned at the repugnant and irresponsible actions of prominent individuals.  Jesus clearly states in Romans 1:14 that Christians, who represent Him and His kingdom, do indeed owe something to others.  And He solemnly warns that Christians who disregard their influence and example, and thereby lead people astray, will not enter His kingdom.

God asks His people to put ornaments and jewelry aside.

God asks His people to put ornaments and jewelry aside.

14. What are Jesus’ principles of conduct regarding clothing and jewelry?

Answer:   A.  Dress modestly.  See 1 Timothy 2:9.  Remember that the world is brought into our lives through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).  Immodest dress involves all three and is off-limits for a Christian.
B.  Lay ornaments and jewelry aside.  “Pride of life” is the big problem here.  Jesus’ followers should look different.  Their appearance witnesses and sends light to others (Matthew 5:16). Jewelry draws attention to and exalts self.  In the Bible, it is a symbol of backsliding and apostasy.  When Jacob and his family rededicated their lives to the Lord, they buried their jewelry in the earth (Genesis 35:1, 2, 4).  When the Israelites were about to enter the promised land, the Lord commanded them to remove their ornaments (Exodus 33:5, 6).  In Isaiah chapter 3, God clearly says that in wearing jewelry (bracelets, rings, earrings, etc. as listed in verses 19-23), His people were sinning (verse 9).
In Hosea 2:13, the Lord says that when Israel forsook Him, they began to wear jewelry.  In 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3, Paul and Peter both inform us that God’s people will not adorn themselves with gold, pearls, and costly array.  Please notice that Peter and Paul did speak of the ornaments God wants His people to wear:  “A meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4) and “good works” (1 Timothy 2:10).  Jesus sums it up by symbolizing His true church in Revelation 12:1 as a pure woman clothed with the sun (Jesus’ brightness and righteousness) and the apostate church as a harlot bedecked with gold, precious stones, and pearls (Revelation 17:3, 4).  God asks His people to separate from Babylon (Revelation 18:2-4) and all it stands for – including the jewels that draw attention to self – and instead clothe themselves with the righteousness of Jesus.  When we fall in love with Jesus, it is a sheer joy and pleasure to live His lifestyle.

Anything that lessens my love for spiritual things becomes an idol.

Anything that lessens my love for spiritual things becomes an idol.

15. How do conduct and obedience relate to salvation?

Answer:   Obedience and Christian conduct are the proof, or evidence, that I have been saved by Jesus Christ (James 2:20-26).  The fact of the matter is that unless one’s lifestyle changes after conversion, the conversion most likely was not genuine.  A converted person will find his greatest joy in discovering Jesus’ will in everything and in joyously following where He leads.
Beware of Idolatry The first epistle of John talks of Christian conduct.  At its close (1 John 5:21), Jesus warns us through His servant John to keep ourselves from idols.  The Master is referring to anything that interferes with or lessens my love for Him, such as music, fashion, possessions, adornment, evil forms of entertainment, etc.  The natural fruit, or result, of a true conversion is to follow Jesus happily and adopt His lifestyle.

People who have not fully given themselves to Jesus will never understand a Christian's lifestyle, and we should not expect them to.

People who have not fully given themselves to Jesus will never understand a Christian’s lifestyle, and we should not expect them to.

16. Should we expect everyone to look with favor upon the Christian lifestyle?

Answer:   No.  Jesus said that the things of God are foolishness to the natural man because they are not spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).  When Jesus refers to conduct, He is laying down principles for those who are seeking to be led by His Spirit.  His people will be grateful and will joyously follow His counsel.  Others may not understand or approve.

A person who rejects Jesus' lifestyle would be miserable in heaven.

A person who rejects Jesus’ lifestyle would be miserable in heaven.

17. How would a person who rejects Jesus’ standards for Christian conduct view heaven?

Answer:   Such a person would be miserable in heaven.  He would complain that there were no nightclubs, no liquor, no pornographic material, no prostitutes, no sensual music, no lewd books, no profanity, and no gambling.  Heaven would be “hell” for those who have not formed a true love relationship with Jesus.  This is why Christian standards make no sense to them (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).

18. How can I adopt and follow these Bible guidelines without appearing pharisaical, judgmental, or legalistic?

Answer:   Everything we do should be with one thought in mind:  to express love and esteem for Jesus (1 John 3:22).  When Jesus is lifted up and shown to people (John 12:32), they will be drawn to Him.  Our one question should always be, “Will this honor Jesus?  Would I listen to this, sing this, do this, watch this, drink this, buy this, read this, say this, or go there if Jesus were here, in person, with me?”
Jesus is with you and me (Matthew 28:20), and He sees everything we do.  I must sense Jesus’ presence in every facet and activity of life.  When I consciously spend time with Him, I become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).  Then when people are with me, they will respond as they did to the disciples of old: “They marvelled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13.  Christians who live like that will never become pharisaical, judgmental, or legalistic.
In Old Testament days, God’s people were in almost constant apostasy because they chose to live as their heathen neighbors rather than follow the distinctive lifestyle God outlined for them (Deuteronomy 31:16 Judges 2:17 1 Chronicles 5:25 Ezekiel 23:30).  It is true yet today.  No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  Those who cling to the world and its lifestyle will be slowly molded by Satan to adopt his feelings and desires and, thus, be programmed to be lost.  Those who follow Jesus’ principles for Christian conduct will be changed into His image and prepared for heaven.  There is no middle ground.

19. I want to love Christ so much that to follow His principles for Christian living will be a joy and delight.

In God we Trust?

30 Nov
Do you trust God… really?  The truth is, a lot of people might say yes, but they don’t act like it.  And worse, because they don’t trust Him, they might actually steal from Him! “Come on!” you say, “No one would steal or embezzle money from God.”  But God’s shocking message to His people is, “Ye have robbed me” (Malachi 3:8). Real records prove that billions of people steal from God, and as amazing as it may seem, they use that stolen money to subsidize their own reckless spending!  Yet many are unaware of their larceny, and in this Study Guide, we’ll show you how to avoid that same mistake and how to prosper financially through real faith in God.
One tenth of a person's income belongs to God.

One tenth of a person’s income belongs to God.

1. According to the Bible, what portion of our income belongs to the Lord?

“And all the tithe of the land … is the Lord’s.” Leviticus 27:30.

Answer:   The tithe belongs to God.

The word

The word “tithe” literally means “tenth.”

2. What is the “tithe”?

“I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance.” “The tithes of the children of Israel … I have given to the Levites to inherit.” Numbers 18:21, 24.

Answer:   The tithe is one-tenth of a person’s income.  The word “tithe” literally means “tenth.”  The tithe belongs to God.  It is His.  I have no right to keep it.  When I tithe, I am not making a gift; I am simply returning to God what is already His.  Unless I am returning one-tenth of my income to God, I am not tithing.

The tithe is to be brought into God's storehouse, or church.

The tithe is to be brought into God’s storehouse, or church.

3. Where does the Lord ask His people to bring the tithe?

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse.”  Malachi 3:10.

Answer:   He asks us to bring the tithe into His storehouse.

4. To what does the Lord refer when He speaks of His storehouse?

“Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.” Nehemiah 13:12. (The marginal reference calls treasuries “storehouses.”)

Answer:   In Malachi 3:10, God refers to the storehouse as “mine house,” which means His temple or church.  Nehemiah 13:12 further points out that the tithe is to be brought to the temple treasury, which is God’s storehouse.  Other texts that refer to the storehouse as the temple treasuries, or chambers, include 1 Chronicles 9:26 (see margin); 2 Chronicles 31:11, 12 (see margin); and Nehemiah 10:37, 38.  In Old Testament times, God’s people brought 10 percent of all their increase–including crops and animals–to the storehouse.

5. Some have thought that tithing was part of Moses’ system of rites and ceremonies that ended at the cross.  How does the Bible help us understand that this is not so?

“And he [Abram] gave him tithes of all.”  Genesis 14:20.  And in Genesis 28:22, Jacob said, “And of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”

Answer:   These passages reveal that both Abraham and Jacob, who lived long before Moses’ day, tithed their income.  We can therefore conclude that God’s plan of tithing preceded Moses’ law.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees that although they should tithe, they must not neglect the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees that although they should tithe, they must not neglect the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

6. But didn’t Jesus abolish the plan of tithing?

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  Matthew 23:23.

Answer:   No! On the contrary, He endorsed it.  Jesus was rebuking the Jews for omitting the more important matters of the law–“judgment, mercy, and faith”–even though they were meticulous tithers.  He then plainly told them they should continue tithing, but should also be just and merciful and faithful.

In Old Testament days, the tithe was used to pay the priests.

In Old Testament days, the tithe was used to pay the priests.

7. For what was tithe used in Old Testament days?

“I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” Numbers 18:21.

Answer:   The tithe in Old Testament days was used for the income of the priests.  The tribe of Levi (the priests) received no portion of land for crop-growing and business operatons, while the other 11 tribes did.  The Levites worked full-time taking care of the temple and ministering to God’s people.  So God’s plan was that the tithe support the priests and their families.

Today, tithe is to be used to pay the salaries of God's ministers.

Today, tithe is to be used to pay the salaries of God’s ministers.

8. Did God change His plan for tithe usage in New Testament days?

“Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14.

Answer:   No! He continued it. His plan today is that tithe be used to support those who work solely in gospel ministry.  If all people tithed and the tithe were used strictly for the support of gospel workers, there would be more than enough money to reach the entire earth very quickly with God’s end-time gospel message.

God promises that faithful tithe payers will receive blessings so great that they will not have room enough to receive them.

God promises that faithful tithe payers will receive blessings so great that they will not have room enough to receive them.

9. What startling proposal does God make to people who feel uncertain about tithing?

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10.

Answer:   He says, “Prove me now” and see if I will not “pour you out a blessing” too big to receive.  This is the only time in the Bible that God makes such a proposal.  He is saying, “Give it a try. It will work. I promise you.” Hundreds of thousands of tithers the world over will gladly testify to the truth of God’s tithing promise.  They have all learned the truth of the words: “You can’t out-give God.”

10. When we tithe, who really receives our money?

“And here men that die receive tithes; but there he [Jesus] receiveth them.” Hebrews 7:8.

Answer:   Jesus, our heavenly High Priest, receives our tithes.

When I take God's tithe and use it for myself, I repeat the sin of Adam and Eve.

When I take God’s tithe and use it for myself, I repeat the sin of Adam and Eve.

11. What test did Adam and Eve fail, which all of us must pass if we would inherit His heavenly kingdom?

Answer:   They took things that God said were not theirs.  God gave Adam and Eve the fruit of all the trees in the garden of Eden except one – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16, 17). The fruit of that tree was not theirs to eat.  They were to leave it alone. Eve said they were not even to touch it (Genesis 3:3).  But they did not trust God.  They ate the fruit and fell – and the long, horrendous, wrenching sojourn in sin began.  To people today, God gives His riches, wisdom, and all of the other assets and blessings of heaven.
Everything is ours – except one-tenth of our income, which is His (Leviticus 27:30).  But as with Adam and Eve, He does not take it by force.  He leaves it within our reach but warns, “Don’t take that. It is holy. It is mine.”  When we knowingly take God’s tithe and appropriate it for our own use, we repeat the sin of Adam and Eve and thus display a tragic lack of trust in our Redeemer.  God does not need our money, but He deserves our loyalty and trust.
Make God Your Partner When I return God’s tithe, I make Him a partner in everything I undertake.  What a fantastic, blessed privilege: God and I – partners!  With Him as my partner, I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  It is an awesomely dangerous venture to take God’s own money, which He has earmarked for the saving of souls, and use it for our own personal budgets.

God's people gladly give offerings as an expression of their love for Him.

God’s people gladly give offerings as an expression of their love for Him.

12. In addition to the tithe, which belongs to God, what else does God ask of His people?

“Bring an offering, and come into his courts.” Psalms 96:8.

Answer:   The Lord asks us to give offerings for His work as an expression of our love for Him and our thanksgiving for His blessings.

The Bible does not specify the amount to be given for offerings.

The Bible does not specify the amount to be given for offerings.

13. How much shall I give to God as offerings?

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Answer:   The Bible does not specify a set amount for offerings.  Each person decides (as God impresses) how much to give and then gives it cheerfully.

14. What additional Bible principles does God share with us regarding giving?

Answer:   A. My first priority should be to give myself to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5).
B. I should give God my very best (Proverbs 3:9).
C. God blesses the generous giver (Proverbs 11:24, 25).
D. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
E. When stingy, I am not rightly using my God-given blessings (Luke 12:16-21).
F. God returns more than I give (Luke 6:38).
G. I should give in proportion to how God has prospered and blessed me (1 Corinthians 16:2).
H. I should give as I am able (Deuteronomy 16:17).
We return tithe to God, to whom it already belongs. We give offerings.  Offerings are voluntary and should be given joyously.

The world and everything in it belong to God.

The world and everything in it belong to God.

15. What does the Lord own?

Answer:   A. All the silver and gold in the world (Haggai 2:8).
B. The earth and all its people (Psalms 24:1).
C. The Lord owns the world and everything in it (Psalms 50:10-12). But He permits people to use His great riches. He also gives them the wisdom and power to prosper and to accumulate wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).  In return for furnishing everything, all God asks is that we return to Him 10 percent as our acknowledgement of His great investment in our business affairs, plus offerings as an expression of our love and gratitude.

God considers people robbers who do not tithe and give offerings.

God considers people robbers who do not tithe and give offerings.

16. How does the Lord refer to people who do not return His 10 percent and give offerings?

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8.

Answer:   He refers to them as robbers.  Can you imagine people stealing from God?

Those who rob God by withholding tithes and offerings will not be permitted to enter heaven.

Those who rob God by withholding tithes and offerings will not be permitted to enter heaven.

17. What does God say will happen to those who knowingly continue to rob Him in tithes and offerings?

“Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”  Malachi 3:9.  “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:10.

Answer:   The curse of God will rest upon them.  They will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

A preoccupation with accumulating money makes one grasping and proud.

A preoccupation with accumulating money makes one grasping and proud.

18. God warns us against covetousness.  Why is it so extremely dangerous?

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34.

Answer:   Because our hearts follow our investments.  If my focus is on accumulating more and more money, my heart becomes covetous, grasping, and proud.  But if my focus is on sharing and helping others and blessing God’s work, then my heart becomes caring, loving, liberal, and humble.  Covetousness is one of the 20 terrible sins of the last days that will shut people out of heaven (2 Timothy 3:1-7).

To steal from Jesus grieves Him much.

To steal from Jesus grieves Him much.

19. How does Jesus feel when we rob Him of His sacred tithe and love offerings?

“Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart.” Hebrews 3:10.

Answer:   He probably feels much as a parent whose child steals money from him.  The money itself is not the big thing.  It is the child’s lack of integrity, love, and trust that is deeply disappointing.

Love caused God's people in Macedonia to give very liberally to the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem.

Love caused God’s people in Macedonia to give very liberally to the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem.

20. What thrilling points does Paul stress about the stewardship of the believers in Macedonia?

Answer:   Paul had written the churches in Macedonia asking them to please lay aside some funds for God’s people in Jerusalem, who were suffering terribly from an extended famine.  He told them he would pick up these gifts when he came to their cities on his next visit.  The thrilling response from the churches in Macedonia, described in 2 Corinthians chapter 8, is most heartening:
A. Verse 5A is a first step, they rededicated their lives to Jesus Christ.
B. Verses 2, 3 Though in “deep poverty” themselves, they gave “beyond their power” to give.
C. Verse 4 They urged Paul to come and pick up their gifts.
D. Verse 9 Their gifts followed the sacrificial example of Jesus.
Note: If we truly love Jesus, giving sacrificially for His work will never be a burden, but rather a glorious privilege that we will perform with great joy and satisfaction.

When a person tithes, God stretches the remaining nine-tenths so there is always enough.

When a person tithes, God stretches the remaining nine-tenths so there is always enough.

21. What does God promise to do for those who are faithful in returning tithes and giving offerings?

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.  And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:10-12.

Answer:   God promises to prosper His faithful financial stewards, and they will be a blessing to those around them.
Consider the Following Ways God Blesses:
A. God promises that your nine-tenths will go further with His blessing than your total income would go without it.  If you doubt this, ask any faithful tither.
B. Blessings are not always financial.  They may include health, peace of mind, answered prayers, protection, a close-knit and loving family, added physical strength, ability to make wise decisions, a spirit of thankfulness, a closer relationship with Jesus, success in soul-winning, an old car kept running longer, etc.
C. He becomes your partner in everything. No one except God could ever structure a plan so utterly fantastic.

22. Are you willing to begin tithing your income and giving offerings to demonstrate your love and thankfulness?

The Bride of Christ

28 Nov
The Bible says there is but one body, or church, into which Jesus calls His end-time people – the bride of Christ. To some, this is unnerving, as there are thousands of different churches today that call themselves Christian.  Virtually every one claims to be God’s church, yet they each differ widely in biblical interpretation, faith, and practice.  It’s quite impossible for the honest seeker of truth to investigate the claims of each one. However, we can be thankful that Jesus has solved this dilemma for us by describing His church in such detail that you can easily identify it!  That description, vivid and powerful, is found in Revelation 12 and 14, and it will thrill you with amazing truths that will help you in the end times.  Please read Revelation 12:1-17 before beginning your journey of discovery into these transforming truths.

1. By what prophetic symbol does Jesus represent His true church?

“I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.” Jeremiah 6:2.  “And say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” Isaiah 51:16.

Answer:   We learned in Study Guide 22 that Jesus symbolizes His true, pure church (Zion) as a pure woman and an apostate church as a harlot.  A few other texts which also utilize this symbolism are 2 Corinthians 11:2 Ephesians 5:22, 23 and Revelation 19:7, 8.

2. In Revelation 12:1, Jesus symbolizes His church as a woman “clothed with the sun,” with “the moon under her feet,” and wearing “a crown of twelve stars.”  What do these symbols mean?

Answer:   A.  The sun represents Jesus, His gospel, and His righteousness. “The Lord God is a sun.” Psalms 84:11.  (See also Malachi 4:2.)  Without Jesus there is no salvation (Acts 4:12).  More than anything else, Jesus wants His church to overflow with His presence and glory.
B. “The moon under her feet” represents the sacrificial system of the Old Testament.  As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so the sacrificial system was helpful spiritually only as it reflected light from the Messiah to come (Hebrews 10:1).
C.  The “crown of twelve stars” represents the work of the 12 disciples, which crowned the early years of the New Testament church.

The baby mentioned in Revelation chapter 12 is Jesus.

The baby mentioned in Revelation chapter 12 is Jesus.

3. Next, the prophecy states that the woman is in labor, about to deliver a baby who would one day rule all nations with a rod of iron.  She then delivered the “man child,” and later He was taken up to God’s throne in heaven (Revelation 12:1, 2, 5).  Who was this baby?

Answer:   The baby was Jesus.  He will one day rule all nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:13-16; Psalms 2:7-9).  Jesus, who was crucified for our sins, was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11).  His resurrection power in our lives is one of Jesus’ essential gifts to His people (Philippians 3:10).

The great red dragon is Satan, who at Jesus' birth was working through pagan Rome.

The great red dragon is Satan, who at Jesus’ birth was working through pagan Rome.

4. Revelation 12:3, 4 introduces “a great red dragon” who hated the “man child” and tried to kill him at birth.  You may remember this dragon from Study Guide 20.  Who was the dragon?

Answer:   The dragon represents Satan, who was cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-9) and who was working at the time of Jesus’ birth through the pagan Roman empire.  The ruler who tried to kill Jesus at birth was Herod, a king under pagan Rome.  He killed all the male babies of Bethlehem, hoping that one of them would be Jesus (Matthew 2:16).

The

The “third part of the stars” represent the rebellious angels who were cast out of heaven with Lucifer.

5. What is the meaning of the “seven heads” and “ten horns” of the dragon, and of “the third part of the stars of heaven” being cast to the earth?

Answer:   A.  The “seven heads” represent the seven hills or mountains upon which Rome was built (Revelation 17:9, 10).  We have now encountered a beast with seven heads and 10 horns three times in our Study Guides (Revelation 12:3 13:1 17:3).
B.  The “ten horns” represent the governments, or nations, that support the major powers in their oppression of God’s people and church.  During pagan Rome’s tenure (Revelation 12:3, 4), they represented the 10 barbarian tribes that supported the papacy in eventually bringing down the Roman empire (Daniel 7:23, 24).  These tribes later became modern Europe.  In the last days, they represent all the nations of the world united in the end-time coalition (Revelation 16:14 17:12, 13, 16) which will support “Babylon the great” in her warfare against God’s people.
C. “The third part of the stars of heaven” are the angels who supported Lucifer in his insurrection in heaven and who were cast out with him (Revelation 12:9 Luke 10:18 Isaiah 14:12).
A Review and Summary
Thus far, the prophecy has covered the following Bible facts:
1. God’s true church appears, symbolized as a pure woman.
2. Jesus is born into the church.
3. Satan, working through King Herod of pagan Rome, tries to kill baby Jesus.
4. Satan’s plan is unsuccessful.
5. Jesus’ ascension is pictured.

Many millions were burned at the stake because of Satan's persecution.

Many millions were burned at the stake because of Satan’s persecution.

6. What did Satan do after he failed in his plan to destroy baby Jesus?

“He persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.”  Revelation 12:13.

Answer:   Since he was no longer able to attack Jesus personally, he aimed his fury and persecution at God’s church and His people.
Six Identifying Points In Revelation chapters 12 and 14, Jesus gives us six descriptive points to use in identifying His end-time church.  Watch for them as you study the remainder of this Study Guide.

God's people fled to the solitary places of the earth to escape persecution.

God’s people fled to the solitary places of the earth to escape persecution.

7. What did the woman (church) do to protect herself, and what is the “wilderness” spoken of in Revelation 12:6, 14?

Answer:   A. Verses 6 and 14 say, “The woman fled into the wilderness,” where she was protected for “a time, and times, and half a time” (or 1,260 literal years) from the wrath of Satan who was then working through papal Rome. The “two wings” represent the protection and support God gave the church during her time in the “wilderness” (Exodus 19:4 Deuteronomy 32:11). The time spent in the wilderness is the same 1,260-year period of papal prominence and persecution (A.D. 538 to 1798) that Jesus repeatedly mentioned in prophecy. One prophetic day equals one literal year (Ezekiel 4:6).
B. The term “wilderness” refers to the solitary places of earth (mountains, caves, forests, etc.) where God’s people could hide in seclusion and thus escape total annihilation (Hebrews 11:37, 38). And hide they did, the Waldenses, Albigenses, Huguenots, and many others. God’s people (His church) would have been obliterated if they had not fled and hid in the wilderness during this devastating persecution by the papacy. (In one 40-year period, “from the beginning of the order of the Jesuits, in the year 1540, to 1580, nine hundred thousand were destroyed. One hundred fifty thousand perished in the Inquisition in 30 years.” 1) At least 50 million people died for their faith during this 1,260-year time period. God’s church did not exist as an official organization during this 1,260-year time period. From A.D. 538 to 1798 it was alive but not identifiable as an organization. When it came out of hiding after the 1,260 years, it still had the same doctrine and characteristics as the apostolic church, which entered  the “wilderness” in A.D. 538.
Note:  We have now discovered our first two identification points for Jesus’ end-time church:
1. It would not exist officially as an organization between A.D. 538 and 1798.
2. It would arise and do its end-time work after 1798.
There are many loving, genuine Christians in churches that were officially in existence before 1798.  But none of these churches can be God’s end-time church into which Jesus is calling all His people, because Jesus’ end-time church had to arise after 1798. This means that most of the popular Protestant churches cannot be God’s end-time church because they existed officially before 1798.
1Albert Barnes, Notes on Daniel, comment on Daniel 7:25, p. 328.

A remnant of cloth is the last remaining portion of a bolt. It is exactly like the first piece from the same bolt.

A remnant of cloth is the last remaining portion of a bolt. It is exactly like the first piece from the same bolt.

8. In Revelation 12:17, God calls His end-time church the remnant.  What does the word “remnant” mean?

Answer:   It means the last remaining portion.  In reference to Jesus’ church, it means His church of the very last days, which is identical in doctrine to the apostolic church.

God's remnant church will keep His commandments and will also have the gift of prophecy.

God’s remnant church will keep His commandments and will also have the gift of prophecy.

9. In Revelation 12:17, what additional two-point description did Jesus give of His end-time remnant church?

Answer:   It would keep all the Ten Commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment (John 14:15 Revelation 22:14).  It also would have the “testimony of Jesus”, which the Bible tells us is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).  (Study Guide 24 will give a full explanation of the gift of prophecy.)
So here are Jesus’ next two points of identification for His end-time remnant church:
3. It will keep God’s commandments, including His seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
4. It will have the gift of prophecy.
Remember that while hosts of sincere Christian people are found in churches that do not keep the Sabbath or have the gift of prophecy, none of these churches can be God’s remnant end-time church into which Jesus is calling all last-day Christians, because God’s end-time church will both keep God’s commandments and have the gift of prophecy.

God's remnant must be preaching the three angels' messages worldwide.

God’s remnant must be preaching the three angels’ messages worldwide.

10. What final two points of identification for God’s remnant does the book of Revelation provide?

Answer:   The final two points of the six are: (5) It will be a worldwide missionary church (Revelation 14:6), and (6) It will be preaching the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-14, which are briefly summarized below.
A. God’s judgment is in session. Worship Him! God’s end-time church must be preaching that the judgment began in 1844 (see Study Guides 18 and 19).  It also calls upon people to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:7. How do we worship God as Creator?  God wrote the answer in the fourth commandment. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8, 11. So the first angel’s message commands all to worship God as Creator by keeping holy His seventh-day Sabbath, which He gave to us as a memorial of Creation.
B.  Come out of the fallen churches of Babylon.
C. Don’t worship the beast or receive his mark, which is Sunday as a holy day.  Beware of all counterfeits.
Note: Here are the final two identification points:
5. God’s end-time church will be a worldwide missionary church.
6. It will be preaching and teaching the three-point message of Revelation 14:6-14.
Now let’s review the six points that Jesus gives us for identifying His end-time remnant church:
1. It would not exist as an official organization between A.D. 538 and 1798.
2. It would arise and do its work after 1798.
3. It would keep the Ten Commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
4. It would have the gift of prophecy.
5. It would be a worldwide missionary church.
6. It would be teaching and preaching Jesus’ three-point message of Revelation 14:6-14.

Jesus promises that all who sincerely apply His six specifications will find His remnant church.

Jesus promises that all who sincerely apply His six specifications will find His remnant church.

11. Now that we have established Jesus’ six identification points for His end-time remnant church, what does Jesus tell us to do, and with what results?

Answer:   “Seek, and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7. Jesus hands you these six specifications and says, “Go find my church.”  He promises that those who seek for heavenly things will find them.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the only one that fits all six specifications.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the only one that fits all six specifications.

12. How many churches fit these six specifications?

Answer:   Jesus gave such distinctive and specific specifications that they fit only one church.  Jesus did not give vague generalities such as “There will be many good people in my church” and “There will also be some hypocrites.” How many churches would those two points fit? All of them.
Those two points also fit the corner grocery store and downtown civic clubs. They would fit everything, and thus mean nothing.  Instead, Jesus gave such pointed, specific, highly descriptive points that they fit one church and only one church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Let’s double-check the specifications.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church:
1. Did not exist as an official organization between A.D. 538 and 1798.
2. Arose after 1798. It began to form in the early 1840s.
3. Keeps the Ten Commandments, including the fourth – God’s holy seventh-day Sabbath.
4. Has the gift of prophecy.
5. Is a worldwide missionary church, working in 208 of the 236 countries of the world.
6. Teaches and preaches Jesus’ great three-point message of Revelation 14:6-14.
Jesus asks you to take these six specifications and check for yourself. It is easy. You cannot miss.
Note: Please remember that there are many loving Christians in churches which these points do not fit, but no such church can be God’s end-time remnant into which He is calling all His people for today.

13. After one of Jesus’ children heeds His loving warning call and comes out of Babylon (Revelation 18:2, 4), what does Jesus ask him to do next?

“Ye are called in one body.” Colossians 3:15. “He [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church.” Colossians 1:18.

Answer:   The Bible says that God’s people are called into one body, or church.  Jesus asks those who leave Babylon to join the remnant church–of which He is the head.  Jesus said, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.” John 10:16. He also calls them “my people” in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 58:1) and the New Testament (Revelation 18:4). Of His sheep outside His fold (church), He says, “Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” “My sheep hear my voice, … and they follow me.” John 10:16, 27.

When God calls people out of Babylon, He asks them to join His remnant church. People join His remnant church by baptism.

When God calls people out of Babylon, He asks them to join His remnant church. People join His remnant church by baptism.

14. How does one enter that body, or church?

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles.” 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Answer:   We enter Jesus’ end-time remnant church by baptism.  (See Study Guide 9 for details on baptism.)

15. Does the Bible provide other evidence that Jesus has only one remnant church into which He is calling all of His people?

Answer:   Yes, it does. Let’s review it:
A. The Bible says there is only one true body, or church (Ephesians 4:4 Colossians 1:18).
B. The Bible says our day is like Noah’s day (Luke 17:26, 27).  How many ways of escape were there in Noah’s day?  Only one, the ark.  Once again, today, God has provided only one boat, or church, that will take His people safely through to His heavenly kingdom.  Be sure to get on the right boat!  The Bible says, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:47.  It was true in apostolic times it is still true today.

God promises that His remnant church will triumph gloriously.

God promises that His remnant church will triumph gloriously.

16. What is the good news regarding God’s remnant church?

Answer:
A. Its central theme is “the everlasting gospel” of righteousness by faith in Jesus only (Revelation 14:6).
B. It is built on Jesus, the Rock (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:4), and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18.
C. Jesus died for His church (Ephesians 5:25).
D. Jesus describes His remnant church so plainly that it’s easy to identify.  He also describes the fallen churches and calls His people out of them. Satan will trap only those who keep their eyes and hearts shut.
E. Its doctrines are all true (1 Timothy 3:15).

17. What is the good news regarding God’s remnant people?

Answer:   They will:
A. Be saved in His heavenly kingdom (Revelation 15:2).
B. Overcome the devil by the “power” and “blood” of Jesus (Revelation 12:10, 11).
C. Be patient (Revelation 14:12).
D. Have Jesus’ faith (Revelation 14:12).
E. Find glorious freedom (John 8:31, 32).

18. Earth’s hour is very late. Jesus’ second coming immediately follows the giving of the three angels’ messages (Revelation 14:12-14).  What is Jesus’ urgent plea now to His people?

“Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” Genesis 7:1.

Answer:   In Noah’s day, only eight people (including Noah himself) heeded God’s invitation.  Jesus is waiting at the door of His end-time ark, or remnant church, for you.
Note: This is our eighth Study Guide in the thrilling series on the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-14.  The final Study Guide of the series will discuss the gift of prophecy.

19. I am willing to heed Jesus’ call to come into the safety of His end-time remnant church.

Who Is Michael The Archangel?

2 Nov
AN AMAZING FACT
When King Humbert of Italy inherited the throne, Naples teetered on the verge of insurrection against the monarchy. Politicians urged violent measures to force the people into submission, but the king did not allow this. Then cholera suddenly broke out in the city, and the dreaded disease raged with fury. The young king, ignoring the warnings of his advisers, left the palace and went alone through Naples’ crowded hospitals. Moved with devotion and love for even his disloyal subjects, he ministered to them with his own hand. Many suffering people breathed prayers of gratitude to this young medical servant, not knowing he was the very king they spurned. When the plague was finally checked, many learned the true identity of the noble nurse who had cared for them. Naples then became a conquered city—not by force, but by the love and pity of the monarch it once refused. From then on, the people of Naples became Humbert’s most loyal subjects.
The Michael Enigma
Questions frequently arise in Christian circles about the true identity of the mysterious biblical character known as Michael, sometimes called “Michael the archangel” and “Michael the Great Prince.” Some claim that Michael is the highest of the heavenly angels, one of the covering cherubs, or a special messenger like Gabriel. And therefore, he is a created being. Others, such as Bible commentator Matthew Henry, assert that Michael is simply another of the many names for Jesus Himself. Can we know the real identity of this mysterious being? Obviously, the key to deciphering this puzzling question is found in the Scriptures. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little” Isaiah 28:10.
A quick look in a Bible concordance reveals that there are 15 references to the name Michael in Scripture. Ten of these are simply people named Michael. In fact, the entry for “Michael” in the lexicon a Greek and/or Hebrew dictionary states, “The name of an archangel and nine Israelites.” It is the identity of Michael, the archangel and prince, mentioned in the last five references that we seek in this important study.
The first three of these references to Michael are in the Old Testament book of the prophet Daniel. The last two are mentioned in the New Testament books of Jude and Revelation. With an honest study and comparison of these and other verses, clues quickly emerge that lead us to an inescapable conclusion of Michael’s true identity He is none other than Jesus—He is not a created angel or cherub, but this name is another of the many grand titles for God’s eternal Son!
At first glance, the Old Testament appears to portray Michael as a prince, and the New Testament describes Him as an archangel. But by looking at other related Scriptures where similar language and wording are used, we will see an interesting pattern emerge. Warning
Before you proceed any further, please carefully read and digest this next thought. Because the word “angel” means messenger, it is used very freely and broadly in Scripture. Sometimes, men are called angels in the Bible 1 Samuel 29:9 Galatians 4:14. And sometimes angels are called men Genesis 32:24. And in other places, as will be soon shown, God Himself is identified as an angel! Of course, even angels are called angels.
Typically, when a person thinks of an angel, they picture one of the many levels of winged, ministering spirits known as angels, seraphim, or cherubim. Unlike Jesus, these celestial beings are created. There are some cults that teach that Jesus, before His earthly incarnation, was really just a powerful angel that had a feud with His wayward fellow angel Lucifer. In turn, this means that Jesus is a created being who has been promoted by the Father and therefore not the eternal God as Christians accept. This study categorically rejects that view. Jesus is, and always has been, God’s eternal Son and indeed God Himself. Any comparison made to Jesus as an angel in this study is simply in the classical sense as a greatest messenger of salvation and is in no way intended to diminish from His eternal divinity.
The Key Is in the Name
     First, let’s consider the meaning of some words and names. In the Greek New Testament, the word “angel” means “messenger,” and “arch” means “chief, principle, greatest, or highest.” So “archangel” simply means “highest or greatest messenger.” The Hebrew name “Michael,” found in the Old Testament, means “who is like God” or sometimes it forms a question: “Who is like God?” So the title Michael the archangel can be translated as “The greatest messenger who is God.” Whether this name is a question, statement, or a challenge will be clear by further study. One angel did profess to be like God. That covering cherub fallen from the heavenly courts is Lucifer, who became the devil or Satan, by claiming to “be like the most High” Isaiah 14:14. In Revelation 12:7, Satan is opposed by “Michael and his angels” and is cast out of heaven.
The Angel of the Lord
     The phrase “angel of the Lord” is found 68 times in Scripture. Sometimes it applies to Gabriel who appeared to Daniel, Zacharias, and Mary. But Gabriel is called “an” angel of the Lord (Luke 1:11). He is not referred to as “the” angel of the Lord. Neither is he ever called the archangel. (And while we’re on the subject, the popular angel Raphael does not appear anywhere in Scripture.) Gabriel is probably one of the two covering cherubs who flank the throne of God. Remember that he said to Zacharias, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God,” (Luke 1:19). Lucifer once held the other position before his fall (Ezekiel 28:14). If the highest rank held by an angel is that of the covering cherubs by the throne of God then who and what is an archangel? And who is this mighty individual identified as “the angel of the Lord” who performs such prominent roles in the redemption of man?
God the Father created all things through Jesus (Hebrews 1:2; Ephesians 3:9). It is not implausible to assume that if Christ came to earth and became a man in His battle against Satan to save human beings, He might also have in some way identified with the angels to protect them from Satan’s evil influence in heaven. In fact, there are several references in Scripture to a mysterious being identified as “the angel of the Lord” before Christ’s earthly incarnation. Yet each time He is mentioned, there are clues to His identity. Let’s review them briefly in the order in which they appear.
Hagar
     After Hagar the handmaid of Abraham bore Ishmael, she and the barren Sarah could no longer coexist peacefully. Sarah dealt severely with her now haughty hand- maid until Hagar fled into the desert. “And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness” (Genesis 16:7). The angel told Hagar to go back and submit to Sarah and promised that her son, Ishmael, would be the father of a great nation. When the “angel” disappeared, Hagar “called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me” (verse 13). It appears Hagar recognized that the “angel of the Lord” who had spoken to her was really God. But keep reading; it gets clearer!
Abraham
     God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on mount Moriah. Just as he was about to plunge the dagger into his son of promise, the angel of the Lord stopped him. “And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham:’ and he said, ‘Here am I.’ And he said, ‘Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me'” (Genesis 22:11, 12).
It is clear that Abraham was offering his son to God and not to a mere angel. “And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, ‘By myself have I sworn,’ saith the Lord, ‘for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, … because thou hast obeyed my voice'” (Genesis 22:15-18). In recounting this experience of Abraham in Acts 3:25, Peter also identifies this “angel of the Lord” who made a covenant with the Patriarch as God.
Jacob
     While fleeing from his angry brother Esau, Jacob had a dream in which God confirmed the covenant of Abraham to him. After receiving assurance that God would be with him and bring him back safely to his home in Canaan, Jacob vowed to return to God a tithe of all his increase. He set up the stone he had been using for a pil- low and anointed it with oil to solemnize his vow. Then he named the place Beth-el, or house of God, since God had appeared to him there.
Twenty years later, Jacob was on his way back home, not a penniless fugitive, but a wealthy man. God decided to remind Jacob who had really brought him success. Here’s how Jacob recounted the story: “And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I” (Genesis 31:11). In verse 13, this “angel of God” identifies Himself: “I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me.”
Then, when Jacob wrestled with a heavenly being (Genesis 32:22-32), he was given a new name and blessed him. Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (verse 30). In the New Testament, Jesus is the one who blesses His people and gives them a new name (Matthew 5:3-12; Revelation 2:17). As you can see, it is becoming increas- ingly clear that the angel of the Lord is Jesus Himself.
When Jacob was on his deathbed blessing Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, he used the terms “angel” and “God” interchangeably. “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads” (Genesis 48:15, 16).
The Scriptures are very clear there is neither a redeemer nor savior but God. “I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior; Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer” (Isaiah 43:11, 14). Once again we see that the angel who redeemed Jacob is another name for our Redeemer, Jesus!
Moses
     Moses saw a burning bush that was not consumed. “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2). Verse 4 identifies this angel: “God called unto him out of the midst of the bush.” And in verse 6 He identifies Himself again. “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The angel of the Lord identifies Himself as God!
In his last sermon before he was stoned to death, Stephen agrees with the Exodus account. “And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Acts 7:30-32).
Israel
     In another instance, the children of Israel were led through the wilderness by God. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21). Moses later describes this being that led them this way: “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them” (Exodus 14:19). Again, “the angel of God” is identified as God.
Balaam
     The angel of the Lord again figures prominently in the story of Balaam and his talking donkey. It is this angel who saves the donkey from her merciless master and nearly kills the covetous prophet, who is on his way to curse God’s people (Numbers 22:21-35). After Balaam’s close brush with death, “the angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shall speak” (verse 35). The next chapter reveals who put the words in the prophet’s mouth: “And God met Balaam: … And the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus shalt thou speak” (Numbers 23:4, 5). Here again, “the angel of the Lord” turns out to be God Himself.
Judges
     Now let’s move on to the book of Judges, where we read, “And an ‘angel of the LORD’ came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you” (2:1). By now we should recognize a pattern. Just who brought the Israelites out of Egypt and made the covenant with Israel that He would never break—the angel of the Lord or pre-incarnate son of GOD Himself? Yes! The answer is both, one and the same.
Gideon
     Gideon has an encounter with the angel of the Lord in the book of Judges. The angel tells Gideon that the Lord is with him. Gideon points to the oppression of Israel by the Midianites as evidence to the contrary. “And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” (Judges 6:14). Throughout the rest of the narrative, the person speaking to Gideon is identified interchangeably as the Lord, the angel of the Lord, and the angel of God.
Manoah
     Samson’s mother, the wife of Manoah, was barren. “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman” (Judges 13:3). This angel told her she would bear a son who would deliver the apostate Israelites from their heathen oppressors. She quickly called Manoah, who prayed for another visit from the “man of God.” When the angel came the second time, Manoah asked him his name. The King James says that the angel told Manoah that his name was “Secret,” with a margin notation that translates it as “Wonderful.” This immediately makes us think of Isaiah’s familiar prophecy that Jesus would be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The name “Wonderful” for the angel of the Lord who appeared to Manoah connects this “angel” with the coming Messiah who was to be called “Wonderful.”
Once again, after seeing this “Wonderful messenger,” Manoah declared they had seen God. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” (Judges 13:22).
No One has Seen the Father
     Suddenly we have more leads than we can follow! We can clearly see that “angel of the Lord” is frequently identified to be God Himself. But the Bible states, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). John 6:46 also tells us, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” Obviously, since no man has seen God the Father, all of these Old Testament sightings of God as the “angel of the Lord” must have been Jesus, God the Son, veiling His glory so they could endure His presence without being consumed.
The Angel of the Covenant
     One of the most famous messianic prophecies is found in Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
The messenger of the covenant spoken of here in Malachi is clearly a reference to the advent of Jesus Christ. The word translated as messenger (mal’ak) is the same exact word used in the previous Old Testament passages translated as angel of the Lord. So this would also be a proper translation: “Behold, I will send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. What could be clearer?
Rebuking the Accuser
     There is one more important reference in which the angel of the Lord appears in the Old Testament. The prophet Zechariah was given a vision of Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. Satan is standing at his right hand to resist him. Here we see two adversaries contending over a sinful human being. Joshua’s filthy garment symbolizes his sin. (Zechariah 3:3).
In this narrative, the name changes quickly from “the angel of the Lord” (verse 1) to “the Lord” (verse 2), indicating again that they are the same. Then the Lord makes an interesting statement. “And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan” (Zechariah 3:2). There is only one other place in Scripture, Jude 9, where this sen- tence is found—and Michael the archangel speaks it!
In the short epistle of Jude, we witness a vignette similar to Joshua and the angel in Zechariah. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 1:9). The situations are amazingly parallel: Christ and Satan are contending over the fate of two of God’s great human leaders (a living one in the case of Joshua, and a dead one in the case of Moses). The debate is ended abruptly when Jesus says, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
This passage raises another valid question. Some people are confused by part of this verse in Jude 1:9 where Michael rebukes the devil. They wonder: If Michael is really another name for Jesus, then why does he invoke the name of the Lord when rebuking Satan? Why not do it Himself as He did when tempted in the wilderness. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan” (Matthew 4:10).
In studying the Scriptures and language of Jesus, we quickly see it was a very common practice for Jesus to speak of Himself in the second person, as in Luke 18:8: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” And if there is still any lingering question, we have this other clear Scripture in Zechariah 3:2, where the Lord does the same thing Michael does in Jude. He invokes His own name when rebuking the devil. “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan!'” Perhaps these Scriptures are examples of God the Son, appealing to the name of His Father in rebuking Satan.
Michael the Prince
     Michael is mentioned more in Daniel than in any other book in Scripture. (See Daniel 10:13; 10:21; 12:1.) In all three references, He is called a prince—your prince and the great prince. Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6) reveals oneof the key names he says that would apply to the Messiah is “Prince of Peace.”
There is another verse in Daniel 8:25 where the “Prince of princes” is mentioned. Again, the cosmic conflict is being played out with Christ on one side and the devil on the other, with humanity serving as the battlefield. “Prince of princes” is actually the same term that is translated “prince of the host” in verse 11. This is similar to “Lord of lords” (Psalm 136:3), “God of gods” (Deuteronomy 10:17), and “King of kings” (Revelation 19:16). All these are titles of deity. He is even referred to as “Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:25).
Who is this being that the angels call the Great Prince? Let’s let the Bible tell us.
Isaiah 9:6: “And his name shall be called …The Prince of Peace.”
Acts 3:14, 15: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and … killed the Prince of life.”
Acts 5:30, 31: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and  hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour.”
Revelations 1:5: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.”
These verses clearly echo with three verses in Daniel in which Michael is called a “prince.”
Is Michael Only One of Many?
Daniel 10:13 is probably the most difficult verse regarding Michael: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.” It appears at first glance that Michael is only “one of” the chief princes. This is an unfortunate translation in the King James. The word “one” comes from the Hebrew word “echad,” which is also frequently translated as “first,” as in the president’s wife being called “first lady.” (See Genesis 1:5; 8:13.) This changes the whole meaning of the verse to Michael being first of, greatest or highest of, to the chief of princes—again a reference to Jesus. The prince of the kingdom of Persia who withstood the angel was no doubt the devil who frequently appears working in the shadow of earthly monarchs such as the king of Babylon, the king of Tyre, and the Roman power (Isaiah 14:4, Ezekiel 28:2, Revelation 12:4). And remember that Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world” (John 12:31).
Daniel 10:21 says, “But I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” Notice here that the angel refers to Michael as your Prince. Who was Daniel’s prince? In the previous chapter, we see the answer. In Daniel 9:25, Daniel’s Messiah is called the prince, which is another clear indication of Michael’s identity! So Gabriel is saying that Michael the archangel is Jesus, who knows all the truth of Scripture. Michael Stands Up
The final reference to Michael in Daniel is in chapter 12: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.” Notice here that Michael is not called a great prince but “the great prince.” Is there any prince greater then Jesus? He is also identified as the one who “standeth for the children of thy people.” This means that He intercedes, defends and even stands as a substitute. Who could this be other then Jesus?
Commenting on this verse, Matthew Henry states: “Michael signifies, ‘Who is like God,’ and his name, with the title of ‘the great Prince,’ points out the Divine Savior. Christ stood for the children of our people in their stead as a sacrifice, bore the curse for them, to bear it from them. He stands for them in pleading for them at the throne of grace.” Jesus is clearly the one who always stands in our place and for our defense.
Michael standing up is also a reference to the Lord preparing to come. Notice that Michael is so exalted and powerful, his standing launches the great time of trouble. This in turn is followed by the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection (Daniel 12:2).
The Voice of Michael
     If we isolate and examine the word “archangel,” we see another interesting match. The only other passage in the Bible that uses the word “archangel” is 1 Thessalonians 4:16. And note its context: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” It is the voice of the archangel that raises the dead in Christ, and the Lord Himself who shouts it. This indicates that they are one and the same. Jesus is the one who shouts with the voice of the archangel, or “greatest messenger,” to raise the dead!
Obviously, angels don’t have the power to resurrect the dead. Only God who gives life has the power to restore it. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. … Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth” (John 5:26, 28, 29).
In Jude, we see the archangel contending with the devil for the body of Moses, who, incidentally, was resurrected and taken to heaven from whence he appeared on the mount of transfiguration to encourage Christ (Mark 9). In 1 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul describes the resurrection as happening in response to the voice of the archangel. Again we see the parallel between these two verses; both describe the archangel in the act of resurrecting.
Worshiping the Commander
     In Revelation, Michael is portrayed as leading the heavenly hosts, or armies, in the war against the rebellious Lucifer that took place. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Revelation 12:7). Here the term “dragon” is a symbolic name for Satan, the leader of evil (verse 9), so it is very safe to assume that Michael is another emblematic name for Jesus, the embodiment and leader of good. But there is more evidence.
Just as Israel was preparing for its first battle after crossing into the Promised Land, Joshua had an encounter with an unusual warrior. “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15). Not only did Joshua worship this being, but the heavenly captain received his worship. If he had been a mere angel, he would have rebuked Joshua just like the angel rebuked John for trying to worship him (see Revelation 19:10; 22:8, 9).
In each case in which the angel of the Lord accepts worship, it is clearly the Son of God. But where regular, created angels are worshiped, they refuse it! Even Jesus reminded Satan in the wilderness, “For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8).
In fact, all the created angels are commanded to worship Jesus as they did during His first advent. “And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1:6). The devil is infuriated because he knows that someday even he will be compelled to acknowledge Jesus as king and worship Him. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10, 11).
Notice the striking connection that even Paul makes between an angel of God and Jesus. “You received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” (Galatians 4:14). The phrase “Lord of hosts” appears 245 times in the Bible, and it refers to the “commander of God’s angelic army.” So the “captain of the Lord’s host” that Joshua saw was not an angel, but Jesus Himself. That explains why He demanded that Joshua remove his shoes. The place was holy because Jesus was there, just as Jesus’ presence at the burning bush made that ground holy for Moses. So Michael, the captain of the Lord’s host, or army, is another title for Jesus.
Who is as God!
     When Philip asks Jesus to show the disciples the Father, Christ responded: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Some think that God’s Son waited 4,000 years to personally intervene in the affairs of man. Not so! Though it is true that the incarnation occurred 4,000 years after man’s fall, God the Son has been personally involved in the history and affairs of His people. This is why Jesus said; “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Jesus appeared personally to Abraham when the Patriarch interceded for Lot (Genesis 18:26).
What a wonderful truth that Jesus, God’s eternal Son, has ever been actively occupied in watching over, providing for, and protecting His children! He spoke face to face with Abraham and Moses and wrestled with Jacob. He led the Israelites through the wilderness, providing food and water and victory against their enemies.
Remember that the title “Michael the archangel” means “The greatest messenger who is as God.” It was Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), who brought the greatest message of hope, the gospel, to our perishing world!
Conclusion
     In conclusion, we see this majestic and mysterious being, sometimes called Michael, sometimes the angel of the Lord, sometimes the commander of the Lord’s army, veiling His divinity and appearing in the form of a humble angel. Yet this same enigmatic being has the power, authority and attributes that belong only to God. He evicts the devil from heaven; He resurrects the dead; He intercedes for the saints; He judges and then stands, launching the great time of trouble. He redeems the saints and receives their worship. He offers us a new name.
Now you may know who Michael is, but the devil knows too, and it won’t save him. The big question is: Do you know Him as Jesus your personal Lord and savior?

Armageddon

22 Oct

By Joe Crews

ISRAEL’S FINAL WAR
The signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty on March 26, 1979, marked an emotional moment in the history of the Middle East. After years of bitter animosity punctuated by military conflict, an Arab nation and a Jewish nation embraced each other with promises of peace.
What did it signify for the little pocket of Zionism whose struggles for survival have drawn United States approval and support? Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, before his death, was unable to provide the security and permanent peace which has eluded Israel since the days of Abraham. The answer to Israel’s dilemma is clearly revealed in the fantastic prophecies of the Bible.
According to the Word of God, Israel will not find true deliverance from her enemies until it is secured for her by the kings of the east. Her last war has not yet been fought. The book of Revelation describes an alliance with some powerful defenders who finally destroy the oppressors of Israel and establish her in eternal security. Those allies are given the enigmatic title “kings of the east” in Revelation 16:12. They actually intervene to deliver Israel during the war of Armageddon, described in the Bible as the final conflict to take place on this planet. All nations will be involved in this battle, but Israel will be the only victor.
Our purpose in this study is to answer a number of questions. What is the nature of that final war of Armageddon? How can all the countries of the world be involved in it? How is it possible for only one group, the people of Israel, to survive this holocaust? Who are the mysterious kings of the east that effect her victory? And finally, how is Israel delivered from her enemies by the drying up of the Euphrates River, as described in Revelation 16:12?
First of all, we need to find out if the present nation of Israel is the same Israel which is designated in the book of Revelation as the people of God. Some tremendous prophecies are found in that book, most of them concerned with saving the embattled remnant group of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Those followers are sometimes referred to as the “tribes of Israel” and spoken of in the context of Jewish customs. Does this mean that the literal nation of Israel—the one which is fighting with tanks and bombs—will completely reverse itself and become Christians? Will they lay aside their Zionist ambitions to kill their attackers and espouse the peaceful principles of the Sermon on the Mount—the one about loving the enemy and turning the other cheek?
Millions of Bible students believe that this kind of spectacular conversion must take place in order for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled. They base their belief upon the prophecies found in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc., regarding Israel’s restoration and final triumph. Are they correct? It is true that the prophets painted glowing word pictures of Israel’s future and recorded scores of promises about her authority over other nations. But is the Israel of the Old Testament the same Israel of the book of Revelation? Were the promises unconditional and irrevocable? Will the literal, fleshly descendants of Abraham turn en masse to the Messiah, be restored as a nation, and saved as a people?
PROMISES TO ISRAEL CONDITIONAL
A careful study of the Bible reveals that those promises of the Old Testament were not unconditional promises at all. Repeatedly, the nation of Israel was warned of the dire consequences of disobedience. Both blessing and curse were set before them, depending on obedience or disobedience. Because of continued patterns of rebellion, God allowed them to be decimated and scattered into Babylonian captivity for seventy years. Many prophets were raised up by God to foretell their return from that captivity. Some modem commentators have made the mistake of applying those prophecies of restoration to some future gathering of Israel. They refuse to see that the restoration spoken of by Isaiah and Jeremiah has already taken place.
There is neither time nor space to record here a fraction of the graphic threats of rejection made to Israel. Over and over God gave warnings like this: “And if thou wilt … do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever … But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments … Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people” (1 Kings 9:4-7).
Finally, as related through the prophet Daniel, God allotted a probationary period of 490 years for the Jewish people to see what they would do about the Messiah (Daniel 9:24). That prophetic time period of 70 weeks (a day for a year, Ezekiel 4:6) began with the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem (Artaxerxes’ decree in 457 B.C., Ezra 7:11) and ended in A.D. 34. In that same year the gospel began to go to the Gentiles, Stephen was stoned, and Paul went forth to begin his unique ministry to the non-Jews. The occasion marked the formal and final separation of Israel from its covenant relationship.
Jesus had explained to the Jewish leaders in the clearest possible language that their rejection of Him would seal their own rejection as the children of the kingdom. “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).
There is no mystery as to why the hundreds of specific Old Testament promises were never fulfilled to Israel. They utterly failed to meet the conditions of obedience. Otherwise, they would have inherited the earth, been delivered from all their enemies, and made Jerusalem the worship center for all nations.
WHO IS TRUE ISRAEL?
The big question is this: Will God’s promises fail just because the literal descendants of Abraham did not meet the terms of the covenant? Were the promises transferred to that other “nation” to whom Jesus said the kingdom would be given? Or must we still put our faith in some future turnaround that will restore national Israel to the divine favor? All those points will be completely clarified the moment we establish one basic rule of biblical interpretation. Without this principle in mind no one can properly understand the books of Daniel and Revelation, nor can we identify the true Israel of today.
Here is the rule: There is a primary, local, literal application of prophecy which points to a future, worldwide, spiritual application. By applying this principle to the Old Testament Scriptures there is absolutely no confusion as to the place of Israel in prophecy and history.
All the glorious promises were primarily aimed toward immediate blessings that God wanted to bestow on the nation. But in a secondary sense they pointed forward to a larger spiritual fulfillment on a worldwide level. Even though the local fulfillment failed when Israel failed to be faithful, the promises were never nullified or withdrawn. They will be honored, but only to that “nation” which Jesus said must replace the Jews as receivers of the kingdom. Who is that nation and people? The New Testament is saturated with the most explicit statements as to who the new Israel is.
Peter describes those “which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God” in these words: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, 10). Here is the new nation which replaces the nation of Israel. The Gentiles who will receive the true Messiah now enter into the New Covenant, ratified by the blood of the cross, and become the true spiritual Israel of God. They who were not God’s people become His “holy nation.”
Will they receive the very same promises that were given to Abraham’s descendants? Indeed, the Bible says that they are counted as the actual seed of Abraham. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Paul makes it even clearer in Romans 9:8. “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Again, Paul wrote, “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” (Romans 2:28, 29).
Notice that true Israel will be characterized by circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh. What is heart circumcision? “Ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). Don’t miss the significance of that text. Just as the Old Covenant was represented by the cutting off of the physical flesh, so the New Covenant would be exemplified by the cutting off of the fleshly nature of sin. In other words, all who accept Christ and are born again are the truly circumcised and the only true Jews. And according to Paul they also will inherit the promises made to Abraham.
After the crucifixion of Christ, there is not one indication that the literal Jews were accorded any recognition as the children of God. It is true that the door was left open through the preaching of the apostles until A.D. 34 , the end of Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy. But from that time on no recognition is given to Israel as a nation. Israel henceforth is God’s people, made up of all those who accept the Saviour, whether Jew or Gentile. The Old Testament imagery and terminology is still used, especially in the book of Revelation, but Israel is now the church.
So we can see that there was no failure of the promises at all. They simply were transferred to the true spiritual Israel, which is the church, made up of all true believers in Christ. And the things that will happen to the church spiritually were foreshadowed by what happened to ancient Israel in a literal sense. Let’s look at a simple example of this principle in operation.
In the midst of Ezekiel’s portrayal of Israel’s victory over her enemies and influence over the nations, he began to describe a magnificent temple that would be built. Several chapters (40-48) are devoted to the precise measurements and physical appointments of that temple. Yet the temple has never been built. Other prophets referred to the program of building or restoring such a temple. Amos prophesied, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11).
Many modern interpreters apply this promise to some future construction of a physical temple. But the Bible principle is that there is a secondary, worldwide fulfillment which is not physical, but spiritual. The New Testament confirms this by explaining how the prophecy of Amos has been fulfilled. “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:14-16).
Please notice how the Old Testament temple prophecies apply to the living church! The physical temple has now become the spiritual temple of the church, made up of Gentiles and all true believers. No one should now be looking for any restored, literal temple to be built. The body of Christ’s church is now the temple (1 Corinthians 3:16), and we are the “lively stones” of that “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).
Some have felt confused because much of the Old Testament terminology is carried over into the New Testament description of the church—words like kingdom, nation, Israel, temple, Jerusalem, Zion, tribes of Israel, etc. Even Christ said to the Pharisees, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, (literal Israel) and given to a nation (spiritual Israel) bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). This is one reason the futurists and dispensationalists believe the book of Revelation pertains to the literal Jew in modem Israel. But there is no cause for such confusion. The explanation had been so clearly made in so many places that the New Testament writer assumed all were aware that the church now replaced national Israel.
THE TWO BABYLONS
As we enter into a study of Armageddon, it is tremendously important to keep this great rule of interpretation before us. The vast confusion on prophecy today stems from ignorance of this principle. Let us repeat once more that the kingdom prophecies given by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., have a double application—one to be fulfilled locally; the other to be fulfilled on a worldwide scale in the last days. And the church takes the place of the nation as God’s true chosen people. With this background we are prepared to study the subject of Armageddon. That world-ending conflict is tied closely to the things we have just stated about spiritual Israel and a secondary application of prophecy. A most amazing parallel exists between what happened to ancient Israel and the events concerning spiritual Israel in the book of Revelation.
Ancient Israel Spiritual Israel
Jer. 50:33,34 Persecuted by Babylon Rev. 17:6
Dan. 3:13 Forced to worship image Rev. 13:15
Dan. 4:30 Called “Babylon the Great” Rev. 17:5
Jer. 51:13,14 Babylon sits on many waters Rev. 17:1
Isa. 44:27,28 Rescued—dried Euphrates Rev. 16:12
Jer. 51:6-8 Called out of Babylon Rev. 18:4
Isa. 45:1 Rescuer called the anointed Dan. 9:25
Isa. 41:2, 25 Both rescuers from east Mat. 24:27, Rev. 7:2

You will notice that God’s people had almost the same experience in the Old Testament and the New Testament. They were forced to worship an image and were rescued by someone from the east who dried up the river Euphrates to set them free. Within this broad outline there are scores of other astonishing similarities between the two Israels—one literal and the other spiritual.
It is obvious that the church—God’s people of the last days—will be persecuted and threatened with death just like ancient Israel. In the book of Revelation they are delivered from spiritual Babylon in connection with the battle of Armageddon. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. … And he gathered them together in a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:12-16).
These verses are filled with great meaning. They reveal that three powerful forces will be utilized by Satan in preparing the way for Armageddon. Those three—the beast, dragon and false prophet—stir up the political powers of earth to take part in that war. It is apparent that those three are religious powers, at least in their claims, because they work miracles to impress the governments of the earth. Miracles are only operative within the realm of religion.
Time and space does not allow us to give all the biblical evidence to show how these three symbols incorporate all the modern forms of counterfeit religion. Rejecting the authority of God’s law and choosing the easy traditions of pagan worship pattems, these combined ecclesiastical systems will wield a mighty influence in drawing all the world into the battle of Armageddon.

ARMAGEDDON—SATAN VS. GOD
Before we try to determine the identity of the “kings of the east” and what it means to “dry up the river Euphrates,” we must understand more clearly what Armageddon really involves. The Scriptures picture it as the final decisive struggle which climaxes the age-long war between Christ and Satan. The entire world is involved because the good and evil people are scattered among all nations of the earth. Armageddon represents the all-out effort of Satan to destroy the people who dare to obey God in the face of threatened torture and death.
Armageddon is but the climax of a 6,000 year program by Satan to keep God’s people from being saved. As the adversary, whose self-seeking caused him to be cast out of heaven, Satan declared his purpose to overthrow God and take over His universal government. Listen to his boast in Isaiah 14:13, 14. “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
This incredible claim of Satan exposes the heart of his plan to set himself up in place of God. To subvert the worship of God’s subjects to himself it would seem both natural and necessary for Satan to build his appeal around religion. Working in the guise of counterfeit religious systems and false worship, he has woven a clever composite of truth and error down through the ages. His masterpiece of deception will occur at the end-time when he works through the beast power to enforce a mark of loyalty on every person. Those who refuse the mark will be sentenced to death, and thus, the final obstacle will be removed for Satan to claim all creation as his followers. So reads the blueprint of Satan’s strategy.
GOD DWELLS IN ZION
Now notice, again, where Satan wanted to sit. He said, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Why did he say that? This point is very important. The expression “mount of the congregation” is undoubtedly referring to the holy mount of God’s dwelling place. Throughout the Bible it is spoken of as mount Zion. “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2).
The striking thing is that God’s place, mount Zion, is located in the sides of the north. Now we understand why Satan wanted to sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. That is where God will gather His people, His congregation. Mount Zion is a place of safety. Satan wants to destroy the congregation or people of God. He would penetrate the very elect by his deceptions and take them, along with the throne of God. The psalmist said, “Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion” (Psalm 9:11).
Originally, Zion was the designated spot where the temple was located, in the north part of Jerusalem. Later, it came to be known as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem. It also is applied throughout Scripture to the whole of God’s people. But after the Jews rejected Jesus the term Zion became the designation for the church. Thus in the New Testament it no longer identifies an earthly location, but a people—the people of the church who are scattered throughout the world, or else the spiritual place of God’s presence and protection.
All through the Bible God is described as drawing or gathering His people to Zion where they can be safe with Him. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, … call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation” (Joel 2:15, 16). “For in mount Zion … shall be deliverance” (Joel 2:32). In Revelation 14:1 the redeemed are pictured as having been delivered from the beast power of the previous chapter and are safe in mount Zion. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”
But while God programs a gathering of His people to Himself in Zion, Satan also has a gathering program. It is a gathering of his forces for Armageddon. “For they are the spirits of devils … to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty…. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:14, 16). This gathering is to counteract God’s gathering His saints to mount Zion. Joel also speaks about that same gathering; “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about … Let the heathen … come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat … The Lord also shall roar out of Zion … but the Lord will be the hope of his people” (Joel 3:11, 12, 16).
This is another description of that final conflict called Armageddon. The valley of Jehoshaphat is just another title for the place of battle. It will involve every nation on earth. The “heathen” is a term to describe those who are not God’s people. Satan will marshall the kings of the earth and all the wicked people to oppose the faithful saints of God. The Lord will be involved in the battle (“The Lord shall roar out of Zion”), because He fights for His people. In essence, it is a tremendous contest between Christ and Satan with followers of both sides being involved.  Here is where we get to the heart of the subject. The verse calls attention to the Hebrew word for Armageddon. Apparently, the word is rooted in the Hebrew term “har moed,” which means “mount of the congregation” or “mount of the assembly.” Do you see where this leads us? That same term (har moed) was used by Satan when he said, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation.” This ties the battle of Armageddon to the original threat of Satan to capture and destroy the congregation of God—in mount Zion.
And the final attempt of the evil one to carry out his threat reaches down to the very last events of this earth. John the Revelator described it under the sixth plague. He saw unclean spirits going out to the kings of the earth, working miracles, and gathering them to Armageddon. These are religious forces working on the political rulers and influencing them to destroy God’s faithful ones.
If you want to read the thrilling account of God’s part in Armageddon, study Revelation 19. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war … And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses clothed in fine linen, white and clean … and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:11-15).
Several things stand out in this symbolic picture of Christ and His second coming. The armies of heaven make war and “smite the nations” (Verse 15). These are the nations which were stirred by evil spirits in Revelation 16:14. Christ prevails in this Armageddon clash. Notice that this war is described as treading the winepress of the wrath of God. In Revelation 15:1 the seven last plagues are designated as “the wrath of God.” Since the battle of Armageddon is set up under the sixth plague, and the plagues are called the wrath of God; and since Christ’s army makes war by treading the winepress of God’s wrath, we must conclude that Revelation 19 is a clear picture of Armageddon.
Incidentally, the vials of the wrath of God were poured on the whole earth. “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” (Revelation 16:1). This is why all the nations are involved in Armageddon. The good and evil of all the world will be drawn into it. Since God’s people are scattered in every country, the entire earth is spoken of as being affected by the plagues, one of which is Armageddon.
EUPHRATES DRIED UP
We are now prepared to examine Revelation 16:12 and let the Bible interpret the “drying up of the great river Euphrates” to prepare the way for the “kings of the east.” Whatever these events are, they occur as Armageddon approaches a violent climax.
In order to understand this prophecy, we must refer to the parallel experience of ancient Babylon. Six hundred years before Christ was born, the pagan kingdom of Babylon was the great enemy of God’s people. For 70 years they held the Hebrew people in subjection and bondage. Finally Babylon was overthrown by Cyrus the Mede, and the Israelites were delivered. Cyrus came from the east and captured Babylon by diverting the Euphrates River, thus getting access under the water gates of the channel. God said to Babylon, “I will dry up thy rivers. … Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus … to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut” (Isaiah 44:27; 45:1). God “raised up the righteous man (Cyrus) from the east” (Isaiah 41:2). Cyrus is referred to by God as the “anointed” and “the righteous man.”
According to the principle of interpretation, the literal account in the Old Testament must be applied in a spiritual sense at the end-time. Thus, we read in the book of Revelation about spiritual Israel (the church) being oppressed by ‘‘Babylon the Great’’ (Revelation 17:5, 6). This Babylon is not a physical kingdom but a counterfeit religious system manipulated by Satan. God’s people are finally delivered from the power of spiritual Babylon by the drying up of the waters of the river Euphrates. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).
The startling similarity to the Old Testament story is obvious, but we must remember that the secondary application cannot be literal. The immediate fulfillment is always literal and local, but the last-day fulfillment reaches worldwide and has a spiritual application only.
So we do not expect a literal Cyrus to dry up a literal river to deliver a literal Israel. We have already discovered that all God’s true people are spiritual Israelites. Now what does the water represent? “The waters which thou sawest … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, andtongues” (Revelation 17:15). In this chapter Babylon the Great is pictured as sitting “upon many waters” (Revelation 17:1). The waters are identified as people and nations who give support to the great Babylon harlot (false religion) who persecutes the true saints (Revelation 17:6).
So the drying up of the waters would represent the withdrawing of support by those people who had been followers of the Babylon system. This is one of the final events that happens just before the coming of Christ. The people recognize that they have been duped, and in a rage they turn on each other. Zechariah describes what takes place under this seventh plague as Armageddon reaches its climax. “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem (God’s people); … And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour” (Zechariah 14:12, 13).
John described the scene thus, “These shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:16).  Just as literal Euphrates in ancient Babylon was turned from an asset to a means of destroying her, so the supporting waters (people) of the spiritual Babylon turn into the means of her destruction. This drying up of support prepares the way for the “kings of the east” to come and deliver the people of God from the hand of Babylon.
WHO ARE THE KINGS OF THE EAST?
Who are these “kings of the east”? Here is one of the most exciting aspects of the battle of Armageddon. Just as God’s place in Zion was located in the “sides of the north,” so His approach is always referred to as from the east. Why? Because anciently Zion was the actual hill north of the city of Jerusalem. Anyone coming from the east had to angle north because of the impassable deserts, and come into Zion from that direction. This is why both north and east are used in the Bible for God’s quarters. “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God” (Revelation 7:2).
Christ will return to this earth from the east. “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27). The “kings of the east” are exactly the same as the armies of heaven in Revelation 19 who triumph over “the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies” (Verse 19). God’s glory was described by Ezekiel as coming from the east. “He brought me to the gate … that booketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east … and the earth shined with his glory” (Ezekiel 43:1, 2).
John revealed the breathtaking majesty of Christ leading the armies of heaven to make war. “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses … And he hath on his vesture and his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:14, 16). What a picture! The kings of the east riding forth against “the kings of the earth” and of the whole world. Spiritual Babylon and all the forces who followed her are destroyed by the King of kings who shall reign forever and ever.
Cyrus, the man from the east, who saved literal Israel from the hands of ancient Babylon, was a type of the “kings of the east” who wouldsave spiritual Israel from Babylon. Just as Cyrus was called the “anointed one” and “the righteous man,” so Jesus was designated by the same titles.
By now we can easily conclude that the second coming of Christ is really the only hope of Israel. God and Christ, the true Kings of the east, will burst upon this world at the midnight of man’s extremity. When the mark of the beast is being enforced and every human plan of escape has dissolved, God’s faithful ones will be snatched from certain death.
ALL EYES ON THE EAST
What a tragedy that millions of Christians are looking in the wrong direction and expecting events to transpire that can never take place. Their eyes are fixed on the east all right, but on the Middle East where hate-filled sons of Abraham try to destroy each other with American and Soviet weaponry. What kind of travesty it would be to expect those political planners and militarists to fulfill the beautiful predictions of Isaiah’s “lion and lamb” world of peace.
True it is that, for a moment, Isaac and Ishmael may stop fighting. It is also true that one of the signers of the agreement is called Israel. But let no one still cling to the empty hope that this Israel has anything to do with God’s true people. They have been replaced by another nation, obedient and faithful—who have come from every kindred, tongue and people. They are the true Israel. They will never take up arms to fight anyone. They will live as Jesus lived and choose death before dishonor.
The frail confederacy of peace signed March 26, 1979, would be less than futile, even if national Israel were still the chosen people of God. Years ago a similar alliance was formed and God appraised it in these words: “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. … For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose. … This is a rebellious people, children that will not hear the law of the Lord” (Isaiah 30:3, 7, 9).
God is looking for those who will trust in right instead of might. To such He will provide deliverance from every enemy through the conquering kings of the east. Let us take our eyes away from the oil fields and politicalintrigues of the east and fix them on the eastern skies, because it is from there that our true allies will save us.
CLOTHED FOR ARMAGEDDON
Now we have been able to harmonize all the verses of Revelation 16:12-16 except that strange verse 15, which appears to be completely out of context with all the others. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the placing of such a verse in the setting of Armageddon? “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Then follow the words, “And he gathered them together into a place called … Armageddon.”
What do proper clothes have to do with preparation for the approaching contest between Christ and Satan? And why is the wardrobe important for the ones waiting for Jesus to come? Revelation 19:7, 8 gives the surprising answer: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Like a searchlight these words illuminate the meaning of Revelation 16:15. Those garments symbolize the righteousness of Christ with which every soul must be arrayed who would be ready to meet the Lord. The battle of Armageddon will be fought over the issue of Christ’s righteousness. Only those who have trusted completely in the merits of Christ’s sinless life and atoning death can triumph with Him over the forces of evil. “And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).
Here is the winning combination which finally will cast down the accuser of the brethren. The saints gained the victory by their simple faith in the sufficiency of the cross. No confidence in the flesh. No faith in the works of the law to justify. His merits alone to cleanse and to empower. So the combination is threefold: 1) faith in the righteousness of Jesus, 2) fearless sharing of the “word of their testimony,” and 3) “they loved not their lives unto the death.” In other words, they would rather die than sin.
When the cross has done this to a person, he can survive all the concentrated attacks of a thousand Armageddons. Demons, fallen angels and Satan himself must flee in terror before the authority of a Christ-filled life. True faith produces full obedience, and therefore, true righteousness by faith includes sanctification as well as justification. Those who would lay down their lives in death rather than disobey God will be the only ones who will refuse the mark of the beast.
Multitudes, with something less than true righteousness by faith, will not feel that obedience to all the commandments is worth dying for. Many will reason that Christ’s obedience has been imputed to them, and therefore they need not be concerned about the works of the law. Such do not understand the full gospel. It is the “power of God unto salvation”—not just forgiving power, but keeping power. We are not just saved from the guilt of sin, but from the sin itself.
So Armageddon and preparation to meet Christ focus on a personal relationship with the Saviour. Clothed in the armor of His righteousness, the saints will prevail even in the face of a death decree. If you do not have the sweet assurance of that spiritual protection now, puton His robe this very moment. Woven in the loom of heaven, it contains no thread of human devising. Shattering the authority of sin in the life, it claims the merits and the power of Christ’s life and atoning death. May this be your experience today.

The Woman and the Beast

17 Oct

Revelation 12 KJV

12:1-2 The Bible portrays the great controversy between Christ and Satan in terms of three characters: the Dragon, the Woman, and the Man Child. They are first introduced in Eden where the dragon won an initial engagement with the woman. Bitter conflict ensues between the serpent and the woman, between his seed, and her seed. Ultimate victory comes through a single Seed of the woman, who crushes the serpent’s head, at the same time suffering a deadly bite to the heel. Genesis 3:15. Chapter 12 of Revelation portrays the whole sweet of the drama from its origin in heaven, to Satan’s attack on Jesus, through the persecutions of the Dark Ages, until the final conflict at the time of the end.

Throughout the Bible a pure “woman” is a symbol of God’s true church while a harlot represents a corrupt church. Hosea 1:2; Ezekiel 16; 2 Corinthians 11:2.

 

She is said to be “clothed with the sun,” the glory of the gospel of Christ, and have “the moon under her feet,” the reflected glory of Christ as foreshadowed in the Old Testament sanctuary services and rituals. John 8:12; Colossians 2:11-17. The “crown of twelve stars” represents the twelve apostles. The woman who gives birth to Messiah represents the true church through its entire history—from Adam and the Jewish nation to the Christian Church.

 

12:3-6 The “great red dragon” is identified in verse 9 as Satan. However, he routinely uses others to persecute, deceive and destroy. Genesis 3:1-13. The “seven heads of ten horns and seven crowns” represents the nations or governments which Satan has used to persecute God’s people. See also Daniel 7:7; Revelation 13:1-5; 17:3, 7-12. In verse 4 we see an attempt to destroy Jesus at His birth, and can identify Pagan Rome in the person of King Herod as the agency Satan is working through. Matthew 2:13-18. In verse 6 the dragon forces the woman to flee into the wilderness for 1,260 years, the time when Papal Rome is in power persecuting God’s faithful church. Even though he uses others as his agents, the dragon is Satan.

The dragon casts a “third part of the stars to heaven…to the earth.” This represents the angels who joined Lucifer in his rebellion, and were cast out of Heaven with him. Revelation 12:7-9.

To “rule all nations with a rod of iron” references Psalm 2:9. This means that Christ will be victorious over His enemies. After His resurrection He was “caught up unto God.”

12:7-9 Here we are brought back in time to the very beginning of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan when Lucifer, the foremost angel in Heaven, fostered rebellion and was expelled. Now he fights against Christ by attacking His people, His truth and His character. 1 Peter 5:8.

It is said that Satan “deceiveth the whole world.” Satan has effectively substituted truth with lies on many points including: the character of God, creation, His law, the Sabbath, the state of the dead and the way of salvation, to name just a few. Huge numbers of people, including many Christians, have been deceived into believing and supporting these lies. The only way to keep from being deceived is to have a firm grounding in Bible truth and a solid relationship with Jesus. The popularity and widespread acceptance of a doctrine does not mean that it is true.

 

12:10-12 The event of the death, resurrection, and enthronement of Jesus constitutes the decisive battle of the great controversy. It was at the cross that Satan was defeated (John 12:31-32; Luke 10:17-19). The proclamation goes forth: “Now the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down.”

Satan is the “accuser of the brethren.” Zechariah 3:1. He presents to us and to God every sin, mistake and character flaw as a reason that we should belong to him as his rightful prey, but “the blood of the lamb” “cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. His “blood,” His strength and righteousness and sacrifice, joined to the “word of their testimony,” is powerful to overcome Satan. Our personal knowledge and love of Jesus binds us to Christ and His saving power. Our advocate says to Satan, “The Lord rebuke thee. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” Zechariah 3:2.

Christ’s faithful people “loved not their lives unto the death.” They would rather die than dishonor Him. They love Jesus more than the trivial pleasures to be gleaned from a few decades of mortal existence. With Jesus as their Shepherd they do not fear the devil’s “great wrath.”

 

12:13-17 All heaven rejoices over the great victory. But the dragon now vents his wrath on his remaining earthly target, the woman. Whenever Christians remain true to Christ and will not be turned or compromise their beliefs, Satan’s anger is aroused and he excited persecution against them. The church was forced to flee to the uninhabited “wilderness: for “a time, and times, and a half a time,” the 1,260 year period of Papal domination. Millions of Christians were martyred during this time because they chose to obey the Bible instead of the decrees of Popes and church councils. The mountains of Europe and the wilds of Africa and Asia became their refuge, and the new land of America seemed divinely ordained as a stronghold of religious freedom.

At the end of time, shortly before Christ returns, the dragon will inspire his agents to make “war” on the “remnant,” those who have remained true and not apostasized. This remnant is said to “keep the commandments of God.”  They are not trying to earn their way to heaven, but they keep them because they love their Creator and Savior. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. The Holy Spirit living in them brings them into harmony with God’s law and with His character. As Jesus says through His prophet, “’I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.’” Psalm 40:8.

Jesus gives His “testimony” through His prophets. In the end of times the gift of prophecy will still be active in the remnant church. Acts 2:17; Revelation 19:10; 22:9.

 

Taken from http://www.amazingdiscoveries.org

visit the website for more information.

 

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