Women and Wine

Scripture: Proverbs 31:3-4, Job 29:15, Revelation 14:13
Date: 03/28/2015 
Lesson: 13
"How can we make sure that we don't neglect the practical aspects of faith as we seek to fulfill its theological and spiritual dimensions?"
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Good evening, friends, and welcome again to Sabbath School Study Hour. We're glad that you're able to join us as we've been going through our study in the book of Proverbs. A very special welcome to our church members - members of the Granite Bay church - thank you for coming out again and joining us here at the Amazing Facts studio for our Tuesday evening prayer meeting when we're actually - while we're actually studying through the lesson study. Today we find ourselves in lesson #13. But before we get to the lesson, let's just begin with a word of prayer.

Dear Father, once again we thank you that we have the opportunity to gather together to study the Bible. And Lord, we thank you for all of the wisdom that we have learned in the book of Proverbs and bless our time again, today, as we finish up this very important study, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. We have a free offer that goes along with the study today. It's entitled the Christian and alcohol. We'll be happy to send this to anybody who calls and asks.

The number to call for our free offer is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #142. That number, again, is -study-more or 788-3966 and, again, it's offer #142. You can ask for the book the Christian and alcohol and we'll be happy to send that to anybody who calls and asks. You can also read the book for free online at the Amazing Facts website. Talking about the Amazing Facts website, if you don't have a copy of today's lesson, you can go to the Amazing Facts website and you can click on Sabbath school study hour and you can download lesson #13, which we're going to be studying together here.

Well, as mentioned earlier, we have come to the end of our studies on the book of Proverbs. We have our final presentation tonight. It's got an intriguing title - it's called women and wine and the key passage of Scripture for this study is Proverbs chapter 31. Now we have a memory text and that's Proverbs chapter 31 and it's verse 3 and verse 4. You can follow along with me if you'd like, Proverbs 31, verses 3 and 4.

It says, "do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys Kings. It is not for Kings, o lemuel, it is not for Kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink." Now it's very interesting, when you take a look at the book of Proverbs, it begins with the instruction and the teachings of a father to his son and the book ends - over here in chapter 31 - with the admonitions and the teachings of a mother for her son. Now who is this lemuel that we read about over here in our Scripture reading? Apparently, according to the passage, it speaks of him as being a king. There are a number of scholars who think that 'lemuel' might just be another name for king Solomon. And the admonition that's being given here would come from Solomon's mother - we're going to talk about her in just a few moments - a woman that has great wisdom, as you'll read through the various comments made.

Now Proverbs chapter 31, you have the association of wine and woman, and this isn't by accident. The point is being made here - this is a mother speaking to her son, quite possibly you have bathsheba speaking to Solomon the King and she is warning the king to be aware of influences that might come upon him in his decision making. In order to be an effective ruler, the King had to be careful based upon those who are influencing him, or what influences he opens himself up to. Now, did king Solomon have a problem with a lot of wives? Yes he did. Were they typically a good influence on the King or did they draw him away from the worship of the true God? So you can understand - if lemuel is Solomon - you can understand how his mother has words of counsel in this subject.

Well, let's begin by going to Proverbs chapter 31 and we have somebody that's going to read for us from verse 1 through to verse 3. This is where we'll open our study. Proverbs chapter 31 and begin reading here in verse 1. "The words of king lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him: what, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys Kings." As I mentioned a little earlier, Proverbs begins with the instruction of a father. It ends with the instruction of a mother.

Proverbs begins by The Father telling his son 'you need to acquire wisdom.' And then it describes certain characteristics of wisdom. But here it ends with the mother applying this wisdom to real life situations and circumstances. So it is the counsel of a mother, quite possibly, as mentioned earlier, bathsheba might be giving counsel to her son Solomon, who is the King. Verse 2 it says, "what, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows?" In other words, the question is asked, 'what counsel can I give you, my son?' It's sort of the question that's being posed. And then the counsel she gives, we find first in verse 3, "do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys Kings.

" Once again, she is warning about the influence of evil women on the King. Of course, that counsel is relevant for any time which we are living in. The counsel of a Godly woman is to be greatly cherished, but the counsel of an evil woman, we need to be aware of. The influence can destroy. Now, did king Solomon know something about the influence of women? He had how many wives? Wives and 300 concubines.

Now did God foresee the danger in multiplying many wives for the King? Yes he did. Matter of fact, you can read in Deuteronomy 17, verse 17 - this is where Moses is talking to the children of Israel and he's referring to a time when they wanted to establish themselves or have a king and he said, 'neither shall the King multiply wives for himself, lest his heart is turned away.' Well, that's exactly what happened with Solomon. If you read the book of Ecclesiastes you can read the experience that Solomon had. Now, can you think of some other Bible characters, in particular, Kings who were influenced in a negative way by their wife? Well, I think of an old testament character. How many of you have heard of ahab and his wicked wife - jezebel.

Jezebel - you got it. Now, of course, ahab was the king of Israel but he ended up marrying jezebel. Jezebel was the daughter of ethbaal who was a king of one of the pagan nations surrounding Israel. And God had also told, through the prophet Moses, that the Kings were not to take unto themselves wives from the various nations surrounding them. Now under jezebel's influence, not only did she lead ahab to worship idols, but even more, through her influence, ahab eventually persecuted the prophets of God.

And you remember the story with Elijah - even at the point of a death decree that jezebel had pronounced against Elijah because he was a prophet of the true God. So there we have an example of a wicked woman leading astray her husband. Now in the new testament, do we have an example of a king who was also influenced, by his wife, to eventually persecute one of God's prophets? I'm thinking of herod. Correct. And what was the name of his wife? Herodias.

Now here - it's almost like a soap opera when you get to it. Herodias was actually married to somebody by the name of Philip. Philip was the brother of herod but, I guess, herod thought that herodias needed to be his wife and herodias thought the same thing and so John the baptist condemned herod and herodias for this. He said, 'this is not right. You have taken your brother's wife.

You shouldn't have done this. Now herod feared John the baptist. He believed him to be a prophet. Herod hated John the baptist and through her influence, herod had John arrested and placed in prison but herod was unwilling to take his life because he felt like 'this is, indeed, a prophet of God.' But then, as the story goes, one day herod had a birthday. You remember that? And herodias came up with a plan that involved her daughter, salome.

So the daughter of herodias came and danced before the King and the King said, 'I'll give you anything you want, up to half of my kingdom.' Then she went back to her mother and she said, 'what do we want?' And the mother said, 'I want the head of John the baptist on a silver platter.' And even though herod didn't really want to do it, he'd given an oath and so John the baptist was put to death. It's very interesting when you see these queens influencing their husbands, the King, to persecute the people of God. In Bible prophecy, what does a woman often represent? The church. A church. What about a king? What does a king often represent? A political power or a nation.

Throughout history, whenever a church has looked to the power of the state to enforce her decrees and doctrines, it almost always results in persecution for some group of people. So there's an interesting parallel that we see in Bible prophecy when we get to the book of Revelation and the various examples that are set forth, both in the old testament and some that we have here in the new testament. Matter of fact, let's go to Revelation and look at how this example plays out in the end of time. Revelation chapter 17 is where we're going - Revelation chapter - and we're just going to read here verse 1 and verse 2 - Revelation chapter 17 and verse and verse 2. John writes, "then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, 'come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters," - in Bible prophecy, waters represent multitudes and nations and kindreds and tongues.

A woman represents a church. So here is a church that has great influence over multitudes and nations and kindreds and tongues. Verse 2 says, "with whom the Kings of the earth committed fornication," - now, who would be the Kings of the earth? That would represent these various political powers - "and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Now remember, Proverbs chapter talks about women and wine and in Revelation chapter 17 we have a woman who is making all nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication. In Bible prophecy, a woman, symbolizing the church, is to be married to Christ. But when the church leaves her allegiance to Jesus and forms an alliance with a political power, she is guilty of committing spiritual fornication and that's the great sin, described here, of Babylon.

She's left her allegiance to Jesus. She's looking to the state and, as a result, she's persecuting the followers of God. We'll explore that theme a little bit more as we work our way through our study. Okay, now coming to Sunday's lesson. The title of the lesson there is a toast to life.

And the key passage that we're going to be looking at is Proverbs chapter 31, verses 4 and 5 - Proverbs 31, verses 4 and 5 and, katrina, I think you have those verses for us. "It is not for Kings, o lemuel, it is not for Kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted." Now here the focus shifts a little bit towards the dangers of alcohol and this is counsel that a mother is giving to her son and she says, 'watch out for wine. Don't drink wine. Don't drink alcohol.' Now, of course, in our society today, the drinking of alcohol is portrayed as living the good life. Millions of dollars are spent on commercials advocating and promoting alcohol and those presenting alcohol are always happy individuals.

You never see the drunkard or somebody who has lost all of their income as a result of alcohol. And so there is this false idea that's been presented to society that somehow, if you're living the good life, you need to indulge in alcohol. But the book of Proverbs warns us against this deadly deception. This isn't the first time that Proverbs talks against drinking alcohol. Matter of fact, if you go to Proverbs chapter 23 and verse 30 - actually, beginning in verse - let me just read a few verses here.

It says, "who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has babbling? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it gives its color in the cup, when it moves itself aright. At the last it bites like a serpent and it stings like an adder." So previously in the book of Proverbs - Proverbs 23 and other places - the Bible warns us about the dangers of alcohol. Now maybe you've heard some people say, 'well, a little bit of wine is good for my health.' Have you heard that before? I guess the question is: is it the alcohol that's good for your health or is it the grape juice that's good for your health? It's really the grape juice. There is no real virtue in alcohol.

Maybe if you put it on the outside of your skin as a disinfectant it could have some value, but not inside the body by no means. But we know that grapes and the juice of the grape is very beneficial. It has a number of good health properties. The fact that the book of Proverbs ends with this warning not to drink wine, I think, in itself, is rather significant. Usually when somebody writes something and they come to their final paragraph, it's sort of an emphasis of some of the key points that they want you to remember from whatever it is that they're writing.

At the end of the book of Proverbs - that's all of the wisdom that's given - is a very practical application: don't drink alcohol. Now a couple of specific things related to those verses - Proverbs 31, verse 4 says it's not for Kings. Now this is especially true for people who are in a position of authority and the reason being is alcohol, as we all know, perverts judgment. The last thing you want is to stand before a judge who comes stumbling out of a room on the side - you know he's kind of dazed as you look into his eyes and he's going to pronounce whether you're innocent or guilty. You want somebody of a clear understanding - clear reasoning capabilities.

You don't want someone indulging in alcohol. Do Christians today need to have clear discernment in our world? The Bible tells us in 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 8, "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil," is walking around like a roaring lion, seeing whom he may devour. Well, there it is. The Bible tells us that we need to be sober - recognize that the devil is trying to deceive. And verse 5 says don't drink lest you forget the law.

Now the law of God, of course, is the standard of good and evil. Those who are in a position of authority, they're to look out for the needs of those who are oppressed and those who are afflicted. Alcohol - somebody under the influence of alcohol, tends toward selfishness. After people drink, they start making decisions that are quite different than what they'd normally make if they weren't drunk. And we can see this demonstrated just in our society around us.

James chapter 1, verse 27 says, "pure and undefiled religion before God The Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." So as the Christian, we are to be looking out for the needs of others. We are to be ministering to those who are oppressed and afflicted. Again, as we mentioned earlier, alcohol affects a person's ability to reason and their discernment. Job described himself as looking out for the needs of those who were oppressed. He says, 'I have been eyes to the blind and I've been feet to the lame.

' So wine distorts a person's judgment. Now you remember the stories of Noah and lot? What happened as a result of the two of them getting drunk? Some bad things happened to the family. You know, my grandfather - just a wonderful person - we always enjoyed going to visit him, but he had a drinking problem and whenever he was sober, the grandkids would love to gather around and he'd tell stories and we'd just have a great time. But when grandfather would start drinking, there was a change that came over him. I remember as a child, becoming rather afraid of my grandfather - some of the decisions he would make under the influence of alcohol would be detrimental to his family and to himself, and so I've seen first hand - as I'm sure you have - the dangers of alcohol.

But somebody might say, 'well, you know what? I just drink on social occasions. I'm not an alcoholic. Just a little bit in moderation - is there anything wrong with that? Well, I guess the question we need to consider is should a Christian support that kind of industry? When a person buys alcohol, of course, a big portion of what they pay for goes towards advertising and promoting something that is bringing pain and sorrow to so many people. Thessalonians chapter 5, verse tells us "abstain from every form of evil." So there is plenty of scriptural evidence to encourage us to be true and faithful - to be sober and not to indulge in alcohol - not to drink alcohol. Something else interesting, there was a special prohibition in the old testament pronounced against drinking alcohol for the priests.

The priests were not to drink alcohol. You'll read this in Leviticus chapter 10 and verse 9. Let me just read it for you. It says, "do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when you go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;" so the priests - especially in their services of the sanctuary - were told that they weren't to drink any wine or strong drink. I find it interesting that in 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 9, Peter, when speaking of the church, he says, "you are a royal priesthood, an holy nation.

" The church today needs to be able to distinguish between that which is holy and that which is unholy and we want to be sharing the truths of God's Word to the world. We need to have clarity of thought. Okay, moving on - Monday's lesson talks about a toast to death and if someone would read for us Proverbs 31, verses 6 and 7. "Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

" Alright, well this is a verse that sometimes we hear, 'well, it's alright to drink a little bit of alcohol.' But notice the ones to whom the alcohol is given - those who are ready to die. Now back in Bible times, they didn't have the painkillers that, of course, we have today. There was a mixture that they had of intoxicating drinks that was used to deaden pain, especially for those who were facing death. You probably remember the story when Jesus was on the cross - in Matthew chapter 27, verse 34 - how they offered him sour wine mingled with gall. Gall was a strong, intoxicating drink where they would mix in certain types of herbs for the purpose of deadening pain.

It was the biblical form, if you like, of morphine. And so the admonition is alcohol or wine are for those who are ready to die. It's not for the Christian. And then verse 7 says drink and forget poverty and misery. Now somebody who is in financial difficulties or is feeling miserable, when they drink, does that make their situation better or worse? Worse.

Quite often it makes it worse. So drinking doesn't solve anything. If anything, it just adds insult to injury. It makes things worse. Also, something to note here, the expression in Proverbs 31 where it says give strong drink to those who are perishing - in the book of Proverbs, the word 'perishing' as it relates to people, is often used in reference to the wicked, meaning that the righteous - this is not something for the righteous, but this is something that the wicked would do.

For example, in Proverbs chapter , verse 28 - it says, "the hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish." And there's many of them. Proverbs 11, verse 7 - it says, "when a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth." So the idea of give the wine to those who are perishing - in the book of Proverbs, 'those who perish' is often associated with the wicked. Christians shouldn't have any part in that. Now here's an interesting statement that we have in our lesson and it comes from the book temperance and it's on page 12. I'm going to read this to you.

It says, "satan gathered the fallen angels together to devise some way of doing the most possible evil to the human family. One proposition after another was made until finally satan, himself, thought of a plan. He would take the fruit of the vine, also wheat and other things given by God as food, and would convert them into poisons, which would ruin man's physical, mental, and moral powers and so overcome the senses that satan should have full control. Under the influence of liquor, men would be led to commit crimes of all kinds." And how true is that statement. We see the results of that all around us today.

I did a little research this afternoon, from the center for disease control, they have a whole list of the dangers of alcohol and here's a few things that are mentioned there. They say 1 in 10 deaths of people between the ages of and 64 is due to alcohol. The long-term health risks of drinking alcohol include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, cancer, learning and memory problems, depression, anxiety, social problems, addiction, and much more. So the question is: should a Christian be involved in this? And I think the answer is pretty clear. The answer would be 'no.

' On Tuesday's lesson we shift gears a little bit and the focus now moves to a virtuous woman. Some characteristics of a virtuous woman. So let's take a look at Proverbs chapter 31, reading from verse 10 through to verse 12. "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." Notice a few of the words spoken with reference to the influence of a Godly woman. Of course, first of all, it says there in verse 10 that she is priceless. You've probably heard the saying before, 'the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.' And how true that is. John wesley, the great evangelist and preacher, he accredited his mother for the direction of his life. It was her Godly example and instruction that laid the foundation for his ministry and that is true in many cases.

Verse 11 talks about a Godly woman that can be trusted and how wonderful it is to be able to trust - to know that your spouse has got your back covered. That brings a wonderful blessing. Genesis chapter 2, verse 18, God, in the creation of adam and eve: "it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." Now you remember the story: God caused a deep sleep to come upon adam and while adam slept, God opened up his side and took out a rib and with the rib, God made eve. And then God brought eve to adam and he performed the first wedding, right there in the Garden of Eden. Now it's kind of significant: here you have the wife of the man coming from the side of the man.

Somebody once said, 'all women come from man and all men come from woman.' If you think about that, after adam and eve, all men come from woman. Something else interesting about the story of the creation of adam and eve: Jesus, in the Bible, is sometimes referred to as 'the second adam.' The church is described as 'the bride of Christ.' In the same way that eve, the bride of adam, came from the side of adam, so when Jesus was on the cross and he died - sometimes in the Bible death is likened unto sleep. John tells us that they opened up the side of Christ and what came from the side of Christ? Water and blood. Water mixed with blood and the blood represents justification, the water represents sanctificational cleansing. From the sacrifice of Christ comes the bride of Christ - the church.

So this virtuous woman that we talk about here in Proverbs 31, is also a symbol of the bride of Christ, or the church. Now verse 12, speaking of this Godly woman, it says that she is committed to her husband "all the days of her life." So marriage is to be a lifelong commitment. And, of course, we know the two institutions that God created before sin ever entered the world were marriage and the Sabbath - both of which the devil has done his very best to try and destroy. And yet there's a wonderful blessing in marriage and, of course, the symbolism there as it connects with the church and the church's devotion and commitment to Christ needs to be lifelong. Now, a couple of other aspects of this virtuous woman, brought to light here in Proverbs 31, this woman also represents wisdom.

The word for 'wisdom' in the Hebrew is in the feminine noun, which is kind of interesting. So wisdom, here, is pictured as a woman or a wife that has become a lifelong companion. Now there are some similarities between wisdom and a virtuous woman and I'm just going to mention a few of them. You have these in your lesson. Point #1 - it says she is precious and worth finding - that is Proverbs 31, verse 10 - it says, "who can find a virtuous wife?" And then if you compare that to wisdom in chapter 8, verse 35, it says, "for whoever findeth me" - speaking of wisdom - "findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord.

" So point #1 - she's precious and she's worth finding. Point #2 - her worth is more than rubies. That, of course, is Proverbs 31, verse 10 again, where it speaks about her price is above that of rubies. And chapter 8, verse 10, talking of wisdom it says, "receive my instruction and not silver and knowledge rather than choice gold for wisdom is better than rubies." So we begin to see that this virtuous woman in Proverbs chapter 31 becomes a symbol of wisdom and they're used interchangeably. Point #3 - she provides food for her household - that's Proverbs 31, verse 14.

It says, "she is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar." And then, that relating to wisdom, we read in verse 19 of Proverbs chapter 8, "my fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver." - Talking about wisdom - my food or my fruit - is better than gold. And then point #4 - is says she is strong - speaking of the virtuous woman - Proverbs 31, verse 17 - "she girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." With reference to wisdom, we read in chapter 8, verse 14, "counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength." So the virtuous woman is described as having strength and wisdom is described as having strength. And then point #5 - out of these six points listed here - she is wise - Proverbs chapter 31, verse 26 - it says, "she openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." With reference to Proverbs, Proverbs chapter 8, verse 1 says, "doth not wisdom cry and understanding puts forth her voice?" So likewise, wisdom speaks just like this virtuous woman speaks in wisdom. And then point #6 - she is praised. Proverbs chapter 31, verse 28 says, "her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

" And then with reference to wisdom - chapter 8, verse 34, "blessed is the man that heareth me," - speaking of wisdom - "watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors." So, it's quite clear - if you put all the various comparison's together over here - this virtuous woman represents the church. It also represents wisdom. Now in Revelation, we have a description of two women. We have one, representing God's true church, found in Revelation chapter 12, and we have the other that we just looked at a few moments ago in Revelation chapter 17. Now I want you to turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 12 and let's notice some of the similarities of the woman described in Revelation 12 to those characteristics that we read about for a virtuous woman.

Revelation chapter 12 - we're not going to read the entire chapter but let me start in verse 1 and I think we're going to read through to verse 6. Revelation chapter 12, beginning in verse 1 - John writes, "now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun," - it says that she has "the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars." - A woman in Bible prophecy represents a church. She is clothed with the sun - who do you think the sun represents? Christ. It represents Jesus. The Bible speaks of the sun of righteousness arising with healing in his wings.

That is a reference to Christ. So the church - God's true church is pure - she's clothed with Christ - clothed with the sun. It says she has the moon under her feet. What do you suppose that moon might represent? It would represent the Scriptures. Of course, the moon doesn't have any light in and of itself, but the moon is a reflection of the sun.

Where do we find the clearest reflection of Jesus today? Isn't it in His Word? Absolutely. So here is a church - a virtuous woman - symbolized by this virtuous woman in chapter 12. She's standing upon the moon - she's standing upon the Word of God. It says she has a garland of twelve stars. The number twelve in the Bible is significant - of course, twelve represents the church.

You've got the twelve tribes of the old testament; you've got the twelve apostles of the new testament, so these twelve stars represent the church. Now look at verse 2: it says, "then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth." Now we'll read a little bit later on in verse 5 that this child is actually Christ and the woman described here in verse 1 is the old testament church right at the time of Christ's birth. We're going to read about the new testament church a little later in the chapter. But then the scene changes and you have the adversary of the church and of Christ - verse 3 - it says, "and another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads." Verse 4 says "his tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon as it was born.

" Now, who does this dragon represent? Well, we don't have to guess, you just read on in the chapter - it clearly tells you the dragon represents satan. So here you have the birth of Jesus and satan is trying to destroy Jesus as soon as he is born. What power did satan work through to try and destroy Jesus at his birth. It was through herod. Remember the decree that herod passed to kill all the little baby boys two years and under? Was he successful? No, God delivered Christ.

And, of course, he gave a dream to Joseph and Joseph took mary and the baby down into Egypt where they were protected. Now verse 5 - chapter 12, verse - it says, "she bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and his throne." Now the phrase 'rule with a rod of iron' is a messianic phrase with reference to the Messiah - or reference to Christ. Now we might wonder, 'well, how does Jesus rule with a rod of iron?' It almost sounds a little vindictive of Christ coming and he's going to beat the wicked with a rod of iron. Well, if you think about it for just a few moments, psalm 23 - sometimes referred to as the psalm of the good shepherd - "the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" - in that psalm, David says "thy rod and thy staff" - what do they do? Comfort.

"They comfort me." Now the shepherd would have the staff - that's the part that has the crook on the top - and that would primarily be used to guide the sheep. If a sheep was wandering close to something of danger - a fast flowing river - the shepherd could reach out and he could pull the sheep back with his crook. The rod, on the other hand, was often used to protect the sheep or defend the sheep. So when a bear would come to steal one of the lambs, the shepherd would grab his rod and he would go to the defense of his sheep. Now at the end of time, according to the book of Revelation, there is a death decree that is passed against God's people - Revelation chapter 13 - but before that death decree can be enacted, Jesus, the good shepherd, will come to the deliverance of his sheep.

Jesus comes to defend and to protect his sheep - to deliver them - and in the process, the wicked are destroyed. In that sense, Jesus comes with a rod of iron. He brings deliverance for his people and, in the process, the wicked are destroyed. The Bible says they are destroyed with the brightness of Christ's coming. So it's not a vindictive picture of Jesus, but it's a protecting picture of Jesus.

Jesus is coming to the defense of his people. So after the birth of Christ, we have verse 5 talking about her child is caught up to God and to his throne. That's referring to the ascension of Jesus. Now verse 6 says, "then the woman fled into the wilderness," - so notice that the church - the true church - faces persecution and, as a result, she goes into the wilderness "where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days." Very interesting prophetic time period there that represents, roughly, the time period from about 538 till 1798 - twelve hundred and sixty years of persecution that came upon those that were holding to the truths of God's Word. And then it goes on to talk about, during this time period, how this conflict and persecution and it gives you a little more on the war in heaven that you read about from verse 7 onwards, but if you look in verse 17 of Revelation chapter , you have a description of God's people right at the end of time.

Notice the description that's given - Revelation 12, verse 17 - it says, "and the dragon (satan) was enraged with the woman (the church), and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring," - notice the characteristics - those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." So at the very end of time, God will have a pure church - a virtuous church. She's pure - she's clothed with the sun. She's following the teachings that we find in the Scriptures. She is loyal to God even in the face of persecution. She is trusting in Jesus to provide for her - to defend her - and here at the end of time she's obedient to God's commandments.

She keeps the commandments of God. She has the testimony - the testimony is described later in Revelation chapter 19, verse 10 as the Spirit of prophecy. She is remaining faithful to God at a time of widespread apostasy. Well, now we're going to take a look at a few more verses that describe this virtuous woman, and I'm going to be reading from verse 13. Beginning in verse 13, we're going to work our way down to verse 19 - we're in Proverbs chapter 31 - beginning now in verse 13 it says, "she seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.

She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.

She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle." Now, in verse 19, where it talks about the distaff, that is an instrument that was used for weaving thread. So she is productive with her hands - she's busy weaving - she's busy making cloth - she's busy making raiment. Now, the first point that's noted in these verses is that this virtuous woman, which symbolizes wisdom - it also symbolizes the church - is not lazy. It is an active church. To be spiritual does not mean that we need to be idle.

To the contrary, Luke chapter , verse 10 says, "he who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much." So the church, while we wait for the coming of Jesus, we are not to be idle. We're, rather, to be busy. There's a work to be done and that's highlighted here in these passages. Now why is this woman, described in Proverbs 31, always working? There are three reasons why she's always working that I want to just emphasize. Number one: she wants to please her husband.

She loves her husband. She's committed to her husband. Her husband trusts in her and she wants to please her husband, so she's busy. The question is, do Christians today want to please Jesus? Should we want to please Jesus? Should we do those things that Jesus wants us to do? Absolutely. Revelation chapter 14:12, speaking of God's people at the end of time, it says they keep the commandments of God and they have the faith of Jesus.

The faith of Jesus is best described in what Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane where he said, 'father, not my will but thy will be done.' So God's people, at the end of time, his bride is eager to please Christ - willing to do whatever it is that Jesus asks his church to do. Point number two: she feeds her household - she feeds her family. The church is to be feeding not only the household or the members of the church, but the world with the truths of God's Word. In the Bible, bread is sometimes likened unto the Word of God. The church is to provide the word - it is to share the truth of Jesus to the world.

Matthew chapter 24, verse 45 onward talks about the master of the household who is to provide meat in due season - that is, feeding the Word of God to the people. And then, thirdly, why is she always working? Because she wants her light to shine. Remember the verse that talks about a lamp that doesn't go out at night? Now, in the Bible, what does a lamp often represent? The Word of God. The church is always to be holding up the Word of God, which is the lamp or the light. Jesus said, 'in Matthew chapter , verse 16, "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.

" So why is the church to be busy? Because she wants to please Jesus. Because there is a work of feeding the world with the word of God, and she's letting her light shine because that's what Jesus asked her to do. In Revelation chapter - chapter , verse 13, you have a picture of Jesus in heaven, standing in the first compartment of the heavenly sanctuary. He's dressed in the high priest's robe - Revelation chapter 1 - and in verse 13, Jesus is described as standing amongst the seven branched candlesticks. At the end of the chapter - Revelation chapter 1 - the seven branched - or the seven candlesticks - seven branched candlesticks - are described as being the church - the candlestick representing the church.

Now, it's kind of interesting that the church here in Revelation chapter 1 is described as a lampstand. Now, what is the purpose of a lampstand? It is to hold up the light. Who is the light of the world? Jesus. It is Jesus. The work of the church is to hold Jesus up before the world.

But, in order for the church to hold Jesus up before the world, in order to have fire on the lampstand, what do you need in the lamp? Oil. You need to have oil. What does the oil represent in the Bible? Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit. In order for the church to do the work of holding Jesus up to the world, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We need that oil within us. And Jesus gave this same idea when he spoke to nicodemus in John chapter 3. He said, 'as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must The Son of man be lifted up.' Our work as a church is to lift Jesus up to the world. I'm going to be reading now the next portion in Proverbs 31 - this is from verse 20 through to verse 25 - still giving us characteristics of a virtuous woman. It says, she extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.

" So some additional characteristic that's - characteristics that's mentioned here - you'll notice in verse 20 it says she helps the poor - she has compassion on the needy. The church - the bride of Christ - is to have compassion on the needy. Jesus said, 'if you've done this unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.' I like the parable that Jesus told of a good samaritan who went to help a man who had fallen amongst thieves. It says the motivation of the samaritan to help the man was that he had compassion on him. In the parable, the good samaritan represents Jesus.

Jesus came to our world to save us because he had compassion upon us. The church is to have compassion upon the world and we are to be reaching out, sharing with them the good news of salvation. Verses 21 and 22 - Proverbs 31 - it talks about this virtuous woman being clothed in scarlet and purple. Now, in the Bible, scarlet and purple were colors that were used by royalty. So a virtuous woman, symbolizing wisdom or the bride of Christ, is royalty because Jesus is the king.

And if you're the bride or the wife of Jesus, then you're the queen - then you have royalty. But in Revelation there is another woman described in Revelation chapter 17. She thinks she is the bride of Christ for she is clothed in purple and scarlet, but she's not truly the bride of Christ. Let's go to that, if you would, Revelation chapter 17, verse 4. Here you have this other woman that's spoken of - Revelation chapter 17 - and we're just going to read here verse 4 - this is the woman whose name is Babylon.

It says, "the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication." So here is a counterfeit church thinking that she is a queen - thinking that she is the bride of Christ, but in reality she is guilty of spiritual fornication. Remember, I said earlier, the great sin of Babylon is her looking to political powers - looking to the state to enforce her doctrines and decrees? That's spiritual fornication. She thinks she's the bride of Christ but she is not. In other words, I think the warning we can take from that - not every church that might have a cross on their steeple is necessarily being faithful to the truths of God's Word. We need to compare all things by what does the Scripture say? 'To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to tHis Word, there is no light in them.

' Now verses 23 and 24 talk about her husband, who is known at the gate. If the woman represents the church, her husband, of course, would be Christ. He is known. Something else interesting in verse 24, it says she makes linen and she sells it. She prepares these white garments.

In the Bible, what does raiment often represent? Righteousness. So the church is to give the righteousness of Christ to others. Verse 25 says, "strength and honor are her clothing;" - that's interesting - the strength and the comfort of the church is in the righteousness of Christ. It is not our righteousness that saves us, but it is the righteousness of Jesus. We want to be clothed in his righteousness.

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah chapter 23, verse 6. It says, "in his days judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness." Now, of course, when a young woman marries a young man, depending on what culture the person might be in, but she usually assumes the name of her husband. So here you have this virtuous woman symbolizing the church, married to Christ. She receives his name. He becomes the Lord our righteousness.

We are saved by the righteousness of Christ. And then on Thursday, Proverbs chapter 31 from verse 26 to 31 gives us a few more characteristics of this virtuous woman. Would you read that for us? "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.

' Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates." Notice the characteristics - a few of the characteristics mentioned here - first one, verse 26 - two characteristics that are highlighted: she has wisdom and she is kind. The church is to have wisdom - wisdom found in the Word of God - and the church is to be kind to others and that's through witnessing or sharing. Verse 27 talks about her being watchful and having bread. So the church is to watch.

Jesus, in Matthew 25, several times said, 'watch, be ready, for you know not the day nor the hour when The Son of man comes.' So the church is always to be watching for the bridegroom to come - watching for her husband - and she is to be feeding people on the bread. That, of course, being the Word of God. Verse 28 and verse 29 - it says she's blessed by her children and her husband. Christ wants to bless the church. The Christian is not to seek worldly praise, but we rather want the praise of God.

We want to please God. We don't want to please man. What did the disciples say when they were told by the leadership of Israel not to preach in Christ's name? They said, 'what are we to do? It is better for us to please God than to please man.' That is the attitude of the church - to please God, not man. It says here that her charm - or charm in general - and beauty is passing, but a virtuous woman has the fear of the Lord. Her fear endures forever.

Revelation chapter 14, the first angel's message, begins with 'fear God and give glory to him.' That is, reverence God, respect God. Those are the things that endure forever. And then, finally, verse 31, finishes up. It says her own works will praise her. In Revelation chapter 22, verse , Jesus, now coming as king of Kings and Lord of Lords - he's coming to receive his bride.

Jesus says, "behold, I am coming quickly;" - Revelation 22:12 - "and my reward is with me, to give every one according to his work." So the works of the hand rewards when Jesus comes. A couple of thoughts as we finish up with our study here on Proverbs chapter 31, and also with the whole book of Proverbs that we've been looking at, here it's described that a woman's true beauty - and so it is in the church - the church's true beauty is found in her character, which is manifest in the things that she says and the things that she does. The church is to value - Christians, individually, are to value those heavenly treasures - that beauty of character that reveals Christ in us, the hope of glory. There is an interesting statement that comes from the book amazing grace - it's page 81 - I'm going to finish with this. It says, "a great name among men is as letters traced in sand; but a spotless character will endure to all eternity.

" The goal of the Christian is to have a spotless character - to reflect the character of Christ - and that's described beautifully here in Proverbs 31 when it talks about a virtuous woman. So not only do we see some practical guidelines for everyday living, but we also see the bigger picture: Jesus is the bridegroom, the church is the bride, the church needs to be committed and fully devoted to Christ because Christ is wanting to perfect his character in us. Now, I don't know about you, but I want Jesus to perfect his character in me, amen? I want his glory to shine out to the world. That's what being a Christian is really all about. I'd like to remind our friends who are watching us about the free offer.

The book is entitled the Christian and alcohol, written by Pastor Doug Batchelor. To receive a free copy of the book, just call our resource line at 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #142. Again, that number is 866-788-3966 or 866-study-more - ask for offer #142 - a book entitled the Christian and alcohol. Once again, friends, thank you so much for joining us. We're out of time for tonight, but hopefully you'll join us again next week while we continue our study in a brand-new lesson quarterly.

Let's close with prayer. Dear Father, we thank you for Your Word. We thank you for the beautiful picture that is portrayed of your church in the last days - faithful and true to you. Father, we long for the day when Jesus comes and there'll be no more pain or sorrow or sickness, but you'll make all things new. Father, we want to be clothed in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness and so, Lord, we ask for the Holy Spirit to come and fill our hearts and our lives and may we be true in lifting up the light of the world, Jesus, to the world because when Jesus is lifted up, others will be drawn to him.

Thank you for being with us in our study today. We ask for your blessing as we go our separate ways. In Jesus' Name, amen. Amen. Thank you again, friends, for joining us.

Hope to see you next week. Amazing Facts changed lives. I felt like I was receiving some angel messages in around my son's death. My son jesse was just 31 years old so I didn't expect him to die before I did. But in November of 2009 we decided to have thanksgiving with him when we normally go to a family to have thanksgiving.

I didn't know it was going to be the very last time that I would see my son alive. In April of 2010 I was urged to call him on the day that he died. I didn't make that call. I was too busy. I thought I had till the next morning to call him and it turns out that I didn't.

And then my husband's father was passing away in a nursing home, slowly - not eating, taking his medicine - just wasting away. We were putting out amazing facts Bible study guides and we had sent out cards and we had this card, but when I knocked on sue and kirk's door by mistake - and we were convinced that this was the right house and it obviously turned out, to our surprise, to be the wrong house. When they came by, we weren't expecting them. They told me about these pamphlets - these Amazing Facts that explained their doctrine. Well, to our surprise, when they answered the door, the gentleman, when he saw what we were doing he said, 'well, we would like to take these studies.

Anything about the Lord that increases my faith is always open. These lessons came at a time we didn't know we were searching. We didn't know what we needed. We were just hurting from the grief that we'd been through. When I saw the studies by Amazing Facts about the Sabbath, it struck a chord with me because I remembered when I had talked to my mother as a child about the Sabbath - about seeing that truth when I was only eight years old and asking her why we didn't honor the Sabbath day and she told me that it was just not the way that they did things.

Well that wasn't a good enough expression - a good enough explanation. There was no scriptural basis for what she told me. She just said to forget it. And I went through all of the studies that we had gotten and I wanted more. So I decided that, well, if they put out these Amazing Facts Bible studies, there must be something online about them, so I decided to check it out.

I went on the computer to Amazing Facts and it said it right down at the bottom of the Bible studies, amazingfacts.org. I checked it out and there was free Bible studies there. It was the very same ones that we had been studying. After finding the Amazing Facts Bible studies online - and I did them all - I think there were 27 - 28 Bible studies, I felt like I was finally seeing the truth after all these years. We ordered the Amazing Facts dvds like the cosmic conflict and the final events - prophecy foundations and different materials like that.

We went through them and enjoyed all of them and they impacted our lives even more. Well, I worked at the post office. I knew kirk and sue for a very long time and I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone about the Bible and Bible studies and things like that because they told us not to. But anyway, when sue came in and talked about it, she talked about the Sabbath and I told her - I said, 'well sue, I go to church on Saturday.' So I invited myself. She was excited, of course, to have me go.

My husband and I both started going that very next Sabbath and it wasn't but just four months after that that we were baptized in the church and it felt like the most glorious experience I could have ever had. The thing that touches my heart the most is merwyn and I had been doing this for, oh, the last year and a half or two years, and sue is not the only one that has responded to Amazing Facts. We've had several others that have responded and have been baptized so this is what really makes it exciting. There's times it's discouraging, but the bottom line is every time you see somebody in the water being baptized, it's a thrill. I know that Jesus loves me.

After all of the tragedy that I've been through, he made sure that the two men came and brought the Amazing Facts Bible studies to me and my husband. My life will never be the same. It is forever changed and I am forever part of the family of God.

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