The Woman of Light

Lesson: 5
How does Revelation picture God's true church?
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Jëan Ross: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome all of you to this very special Bible study experience called, "Prophecy Encounter." A special warm welcome to those of you in Sanford, Florida, right here, and also those joining us across the country and around the world, our extended audience for this very important Bible series. Over the past few nights we've been looking at some very important and fascinating prophesies in the Bible, in particular in the books of Daniel and Revelation. And tonight, we're going to be delving right in the very heart of Revelation. Revelation chapter 12, an important study. There are two very important prophetic books in the Bible, one in the Old Testament, and what's the name of the Old Testament book that's very much prophecy oriented? The book of Daniel.

And what's the New Testament? The book of Revelation. And the two go hand in hand. So, we've been spending time both in Daniel and Revelation but tonight we're going to be looking at a very important prophecy right in the very heart of the book of Revelation. Revelation has 22 chapters and tonight the focus is chapter 12. The one who will be leading us in our study this evening is of course, Pastor Doug Batchelor, president, speaker of Amazing Facts, and we're just delighted that he's been able to open the word with us these past few evenings.

And now as we reach this final weekend, some very important subjects. So, join me as we warmly welcome Pastor Doug Batchelor. [Applauding]

Doug Batchelor: Thank you, Pastor Ross. Good evening, friends, we're very thankful to see each of you here. And again, I want to welcome those who are joining us for our "Prophecy Encounter" meetings.

Well, we're going to be talking tonight about a very important subject, the title of the presentation is called, "The Woman of Light," and it's based upon a woman that appears in Revelation chapter 12. And you'll understand the nature of the title a little better as we proceed. But I thought I'd tell you a little story that may segue well with this study tonight. I've made a few trips to India, Pastor Ross has been to India. Amazing Facts has a school, an evangelism training school in India.

And I remember hearing the story about a woman, 37-years old that was bathing some clothes, washing some clothes, and some dishes there by the river. A lot of poor people, India's become very modern but there's still a lot of very poor people there, and they've never known of crocodiles on this particular river but out of nowhere this huge saltwater crocodile lunged out of the river at her as she was doing the washing there, and grabbed her by the leg, and started to drag her off into the river, and it was big enough to easily have devoured her. All kinds of things were going through her mind and it's amazing how quickly your mind works in a terrified moment like that, just family, and children, and she really didn't want to be some reptile's lunch. And then as he was pulling her off the bank into the river it occurred to her that she had never let go of the aluminum pot that she been washing. In her terror she just gripped it, and she took the thing and began to thump the crocodile on the head and about the eyes, and I guess she walloped him pretty good, he let go.

That's what you call a close call because I heard just last year there was a lady in Australia that was seized by a saltwater crocodile. Her friend was watching and they never found her again. So, that does still happen. Revelation chapter 12 talks about a large reptile that is a man-eater. And if you go with me in your Bibles, we're going to begin reading about this and you find it in chapter 12, verse 1.

And this is our first question in our study, how does Revelation picture God's true church? We talked about this counterfeit church called Babylon in chapter 17, I know we're doing things a little out of order. Now, we're looking at chapter 12 and we're going to see how is the true church pictured. You read there in verse 1, "a woman is seen clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." Now, before I go any farther, that's why she's called clothed with light. There are three natural forms of light that you find in Genesis. God made the sun, then he made the moon, then he made the stars, and they illuminate the earth.

God said to the church, "You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." That's Matthew chapter 5, of course. So, this is a woman who is clothed with light from the stars, to the sun, to the moon, and what do they represent? The moon has no light of its own. It reflects the light of the sun that is going to rise. The moon is like the old testament, full of light but it's the foundation on which the woman stands, but she's actually wearing the sun.

The Bible tells us in Malachi chapter 4, talking about Christ, “The Sun of righteousness who will arise with healing in His wings." It's one of the places where Christ is sort of compared to the sun, the brightness of the sun. When Jesus was transfigured on the mount of transfiguration in Mark chapter 9, it says, "He was shining like the sun," brighter than any laundry soap can make you. So, stars above the head, it represents the leadership, there's 12 stars. And Jesus, of course, there in the old testament you've got the 12 patriarchs including Samuel. Most people count 12 Judges.

Moses had 12 princes. And New Testament you get 12 what? Twelve apostles that Jesus picks. I told you that number must've been important because they replaced Judas and the Holy Spirit was poured out. And above the head, the symbol of leadership. That's where the head is, it's guidance.

So, it's talking about the foundation of the Old Testament shining with the reality of Christ, the New Testament, the leadership of the church, and through this God lets His line shine into the world. But something else that people often miss, "She being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." She is pregnant, and about to have a baby, and going through the labor pains, and this is when the dragon is trying to take advantage. Now, as we read on, and then I'm going to back up to this verse, what about her child do we learn? I just want you to know who this child is. "She brought forth a man child, who was to," and this is verse 5, "who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron." Who is the man child? Well, it tells us, "Her child is caught up unto God, and His throne." Christ ascended up to heaven to God and the throne. So, the man child is God.

Have you ever noticed that in the Bible there are seven miracle births? Seven miracle births. I'll submit to you that all of those miracle births were types of Christ. Let's see if we can name them together. Of course, Jesus is a miracle birth. Do you remember Abraham and Sarah? She was having problems having a baby? Finally, she what, 90 years old she had a baby? That doesn't happen very often.

It's a miracle. Not only was it Abraham's wife, all the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all of their wives, first three had problems. Rebecca couldn't get pregnant. Isaac prayed and they were married 20 years and she had twins, careful what you pray about. Then you have Rachel could not get pregnant and they had twins, Jacob and Esau, and then Jacob married Rachel.

She had problems getting pregnant. She finally had Joseph. And then you've got this Shunamite woman, doesn't tell us her name, Elisha prays for her, she has a miracle boy, and then you have Samson, his mother, doesn't say her name, Manoah's wife. She's barren, she has a child. Hannah cannot get pregnant, Samuel is born.

Then John the Baptist in the New Testament, then finally Jesus is the last one. They all point to Christ. Isaac is a type of Christ. He goes up on the mountain as a sacrifice. Jacob, he wrestles with God.

He has the 12 patriarchs like Jesus has the 12 apostles. Joseph, sold by his brothers. He forgives them, feeds the whole world. He is a type of Christ. Samson, he's a type of Christ.

Last thing he does, he filled with the Spirit, sacrifices his life, stretches out his arms, and dies to defeat the enemies of God's people. Jesus stretched out his arms and he died. Samuel was a prophet. He was a priest and a judge. Jesus is our prophet, our priest, and our judge.

It talks about the Shunamite boy. He dies in the field working with his father but he is resurrected as Christ was. So, and John the Baptist, of course, the greatest of the prophets. All of these miracle baby boys are types of Christ. So, here this woman is travailing to bring forth in Revelation.

She is like the embodiment of all the women through the Bible who are waiting to bring forth Christ. The church was waiting to bring forth Christ, present Christ to the world, and right at that moment, the devil is trying to destroy the child. And we'll talk a little bit more about that episode when the dragon tried to destroy the baby later in the study. So, what does a woman represent? The church. A woman who is wearing scarlet that has harlot on her forehead, she's called the scarlet harlot in Revelation 17 would not be a good church.

It's a church that has become unfaithful to God in some way. You know in the Old Testament whenever God's people began to get involved in idolatry, God said, "You went whoring after idols." That's the word that it uses. It's an unfaithfulness to Scripture, unfaithfulness to the commandments. And so, did God love Israel in the old testament? Did He? Yeah, they were His people. Did He give them the word? But were they often wandering and unfaithful? And were they often judged for their unfaithfulness? And did the prophets have to often identify their unfaithfulness? Some of the prophets got killed for doing it.

Have things changed? Is the church sometimes unfaithful? Does God want us to faithfully declare what the truth is? Are we going to wait till it's popular? Okay, it says, "I've likened the daughter of a Zion to a delicate and comely woman." Paul says, "Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church." A woman is often compared to a church. This woman in chapter 12, sun, moon, stars, the dragon hates her, she must be a good church. The very fact the dragon hates her is a good sign, right? Woman of Revelation 17, she is riding along with the dragon, and they're in cooperation. Again, Isaiah 51:16, "and say unto Zion, thou art my people." And, often in the Bible, God calls His church, His people, His bride.

Next question, so, we found out who the woman is, it's the bride of Christ. It's that woman of light. Who is the "great red dragon," that wants to destroy her and her man child, and what does he try to do? You look in verse 9, "and that great dragon was cast out, called that old serpent, the devil, and Satan." Now, can a 5-year old understand that verse? That is so simple. I mean, there's no question about who the dragon is. The devil, Satan, serpent, all in one verse. The bad guy, the archfiend, the villain, the devil, consummate evil, the dark side.

I mean, there's all kinds of terms that you can find for him. He is the embodiment of evil, the first rebel. "The dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born." I think I told you earlier three times in the Bible the devil has made an effort to annihilate all of these children that he was suspicious the Messiah was going to come through. He had all the baby boys in Israel thrown in the river, not the girls, the boys, because they knew the Messiah was going to be the promised seed. Then Athaliah tried to kill all the descendants of David because the devil heard the prophecy that the Messiah would come through David.

And then when Jesus was a baby, the devil tried to use the roman power and King Herod killed all the babies in Bethlehem right after Joseph and Mary fled. They just escaped into Egypt. Now, just so you'll know, in case you ever see this, some people say, "Well, the woman in Revelation 12 who brings forth the man child, well that must be Mary, right?" And you'll often see in a number of churches, you'll see pictures of Mary, I've got a sample of one right here, where she'd got 12 stars above her head and she's standing on the moon. Have you seen that before? They get that idea from Revelation 12 but the woman in Revelation 12 is not Mary. It is true that Mary is the mother of Jesus but you read on in the chapter and it talks about the dragon chasing the woman through the wilderness.

Well, as far as we know, the apostle John took Mary in, and she stayed with him, and she died in Antioch. That's what church history said. There's no effort of the devil chasing her through the wilderness, and the earth opening its ground, all these things that happened in the vision is obviously a symbol of a woman, the church, just like Revelation 17 is symbol. Alright, what happens, third question, after Satan falls, fails rather to destroy Jesus as a baby? Christ escapes. It says, "Her child was caught up to God and His throne."

The devil could no longer reach Christ after Jesus completed His mission. He lived 33 1/2 years a perfect life. He taught publicly for 3 1/2 years from His baptism at 30 years of age, performed miracles, taught the gospel, ultimately died for the sins of the world, rose the 3rd day, ascended to heaven, and He has been out of the devil's reach because Jesus is in heaven, right? Satan was cast out of heaven, he can't reach Him. Of course, He's got His divine body now. He's not vulnerable anymore as He was when He was a man.

So, when the devil can't reach Christ and he wants to hurt Christ, what does he do? Go after what Jesus loves. You know, Jesus loves you. Have any of you experienced the devil coming after you in your lives? Like every day when you're tempted. The devil tries to discourage us. He tries to hurt us.

If you want to hurt a parent, hurt the children, and that's what the devil wants. The devil hates Jesus and so he wants to hurt what Jesus loves. Now, you don't need to be afraid of the devil because I've told you, the Bible says that, "I will give you power over serpents." And the Bible tells us, "Greater is he that is in you than he in the world." The Lord hedges us in like He did Job. Now, I know Job went through his trials for a few weeks but he also lived over 200 years where he was blessed. So, you'll all have trials in your life but it is a lot more blessed to serve God.

But the devil's threatened by that and he'll try and cause problems. The child was caught up to God and his throne. Fourth question, after Jesus was caught up to heaven, what did Satan do to the church? Notice in Revelation 12:3, I know some of you may have your Bibles open, you're following along, I'm kind of taking it point by point. It says, "When the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman that brought forth the man child." Again, can that be misunderstood? The devil persecuted the woman. And have we seen that through history? Not only do we know that it happened in the Roman empire in a very strong sense.

First of all, it started with the Jewish church, not all the Jews, because, obviously, the early church was all Jewish. The apostles were Jewish, New Testament was written largely by Jews, but there were some religious leaders that hated Jesus. Some loved Him, like Nicodemus, like Joseph, there were some good religious leaders, and there were some bad religious leaders. Unfortunately, those in power began to really persecute. Read in Acts chapter 7, it says Stephen was stoned.

The supreme court of the Jewish nation basically plugged their ears when Stephen preached the gospel. Paul was an accessory to the murder of Stephen. Paul then went breathing threatenings and slaughter, and he went from church to church taking men and women, putting them in jail, and killing. So, it started there but then the Jews encouraged the Romans to do it. The same thing they did with Jesus.

The Jews went to Pilate, the roman governor to get the death decree, and do you realize that there were some Jewish enemies of Paul that went all the way to Rome to accuse Paul before Nero. I mean, they were really upset, because you know why? All around the roman empire where the Jews had churches and synagogues, Christians were learning what the Scriptures really taught, and many in the synagogues, sometimes whole synagogues were turning to Christ. You can read about that all through the book of acts. And so, some of the ones who did not want to accept Jesus, they became vicious. And so, when I talk about the Jews, there were good believing Jews, and there were some that were ambivalent, and there were some that were very unkind.

And so, then it went, it transferred over to the Romans. Now, you have to know a little history. At the same time the Jews were very threatened with the Christians, they also were very angry with the Romans for occupying their country. At about 68-69 ad they rebelled against the Romans. There was a big revolt and a war broke out between the Romans and the Jews.

Finally, when they couldn't take it anymore, the Romans attacked Jerusalem, they slaughtered the city. The Jewish religion was forbidden. And because there were so many similarities between the Jews and the Christians, they read the same Bible, they had a lot of the same practices, and teachings, they believed in one God, Christianity was outlawed at the same time. So, the Jews and Christians were all sort of lumped together. And then the Romans began to persecute Jews and Christians together throughout the kingdom.

And you've all heard the stories about Christians that were told you either pray to these idols or you'll be killed. You either say that Caesar's a God or you're going to be fed to the lions. And there were some emperors in particular that were extremely vicious. You've heard about Nero fiddling while Rome burned and then he blamed the Christians. He said, "The Christians eat blood and drink, they eat flesh and drink blood," talking about the communion service.

"They're cannibals. They go into the catacombs and they're cannibals." And all terrible rumors that were not true were spread around, there's great wrath. For their entertainment, they'd say, "What do you want to do this weekend?" "Let's go to the coliseum and watch the Christians get slaughtered by the gladiators, and the lions, and burnt alive." And there were years and years of terrible persecution. Diocletian was one emperor that was extremely vicious, and for 10 years, it talks about this in Revelation, great tribulation from 303 to 313 where they tried to annihilate Christians. But Tertullian, the early church father, said, "It seems as though the blood of the martyrs is seed.

The more they mowed down the Christians," it's like trying to get rid of weeds by mowing them, it just spreads the seed, and they grew. So, finally, along came an emperor by the name of Constantine. He's more specifically called Constantine the Great. And he said, "look, the Christians are not really hurting anybody, pretty peaceful, matter of fact, my mother is leaning towards Christianity." He legalized Christianity and things changed. See, the devil before was trying to destroy Christianity from the outside by just annihilate them but the more they did that the more it spread.

And so, the devil went to plan B which was if you can't destroy them from the outside, do it through infiltration and compromise. Join them, legalize it, make it easy. They have, pretty soon they won't have to stand for anything anymore. And all this compromise came into the church and everybody wanted to be a Christian, all of a sudden you ended up with a milkshake that was part Christian and part roman because, for example, Constantine told his army, "I've been told to conquer under the sign of the cross." He told his army, "March through the Tiber river in Rome." And, "What are we doing?" "March through the river." They Marched through. What happened? "You've been baptized, you're Christians now."

Well, how much did they know about Christianity? They went into the water dry pagans and they came up wet pagans but they're being told they're Christians. So, they brought all of their pagan traditions and Christianity became a label that sort of encompassed a lot of things, and the teachings got watered down. And they began to pray to idols. And they said, "You know, we'll reach more of these pagans if we let them just change the names of their idols. Take, you know, Venus, and Ephesus, and all the different idols, Peter, James, and John, just take these pagan gods, Apollo, Mercury, and just name them Peter, James, John, Mary," and they started praying to them.

They said, "Well, we know it's not really them, it just helps us think of them." And where in the Bible are we told to pray to saints? Are we? I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I think Mary was a godly woman. She is what you would call a holy person. That's where you get the word "saint." But where are we told in the Bible to pray to Mary? But are there about a billion Christians that do that? Did a lot of things come into the church that don't have a foundation in Scripture during that time? And, you know, I want to be gracious, everyone's free to believe what they want but I just, you know, if the Bible is your foundation for your faith, you have to ask some serious questions. So, this became a time of great compromise.

And the devil went after the church. Now, those who wanted to be faithful to the Bible and said, "Look, we can't make these compromises." They now got persecuted by the official government church. All of a sudden Roman leaders and priests became government officials, and they said, "This is how you have to believe." And especially by 538 AD when the bishop of Rome, better known as the pope, was given an army and called the corrector of heretics. He basically had police that were, they were your Christian Taliban, and if you did not do what the church told you, you could be persecuted, they would take your property, they would put you in prison. Did Jesus ever approve of using those kinds of methods of force? You know, I've always been suspect of any country that arrests people that try to leave their country.

If your country is so good, why do you have to keep people in? I never understood the Iron Curtain. If you've got a country so bad, everybody's trying to escape, maybe you should change your country. And if you've got a religion where you've got to force people to believe it, something's wrong with your religion. And we all know there's another major religion in the world that uses force to get people to believe and I would think that would make your religion suspect. Jesus drew people with love.

They were drawn with light. They were drawn with truth not threats. Because if you're being forced to worship, it's not coming from your heart, it's only driven by fear, right? So, now, the real Christians had to go underground and you read in, the next question actually, number five it says, where did the woman go during this terrifying period of persecution and how long did it last? You remember in Matthew 24, Jesus told them, He said, "I'm warning you. You will be hated by all nations for My namesake but he that endures to the end will be saved." He told them there's going to be a time of great persecution. Said, "They'll deliver you up. They'll put you in prison. Some of you will be put to death. Some will be betrayed by your own family members." And those who said, "I'm going by the Scriptures," well then the church said, "You are not qualified to teach the Scriptures." They took the Scriptures away from the people. They chained them up in the church. They said, "The priest will tell you what it says."

They kept it in a language very few people spoke. And so no one really knew what the Bible said and that's why you call it the Dark Ages. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." You take away the light, what have you got? And so, we entered and age of great darkness but the Christians that still had the Bible, they would copy them out by hands, they were very precious, they could be arrested by the church. Can you imagine this, there was a time when the church would put you in jail, or even kill you for owning the Scripture? They said, "You're not allowed to because you're not qualified to explain it. Only the church can explain it."

And the reason was they knew that the people might read in the Bible where salvation is free. It comes by faith and praying but they were selling indulgences. They were selling forgiveness. It says, "Don't make images and pray to them," but they were. And so, they said, "Why are we?" They didn't like the people asking too many questions.

They said, "We'll keep the Scriptures, we'll tell you what it says," and it was a time of great darkness, superstition. And that lasted for over 1,000 years during that time. So, where'd the woman go after this time of persecution? You can read in Revelation 12:6, "The woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there for a thousand two hundred and threescore days." That's 1,260 days. Now, that time period of 1,260 days is something that I want you to make a mental note of. You have Elijah during a time of apostasy in Israel in the Old Oestament.

God's people, 10 tribes, got involved in idolatry. Elijah had to hide in the wilderness. God fed him in the wilderness. There was a wicked pagan queen by the name of Jezebel. You ever heard that name before? Does anyone name their daughter Jezebel? And nobody ever names their son Nero, right? That's what you name your dog.

They became infamous characters in history. Jezebel was a pagan queen. She married Ahab, a Jewish king, and began to persecute the prophets of God. There were 3 1/2 years of famine, that's 1,260 days. Do you know in the book of Esther you find another time period? There's a pagan queen named Vashti that is dethroned.

And it happens after a feast, it says, "In the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus, there was a feast for 180 days." Half of a Jewish year, 360 days to a Jewish year, that's like a lunar calendar, 360 degrees in a circle. They used that as a calculation. Half of 360 is what? One-eighty. And the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus, a feast for 180 days, and at the end of the feast, Vashti loses her crown, and a search is begun, and Esther is chosen.

A lot of really interesting stories connected with 3 1/2 in the Bible. And so, that time period also has a prophetic meaning. From 538 when this power became officially entrenched, for the next 1,260 years until Napoleon interrupted the power, and they received sort of a deadly wound by the sword in 1798 when the pope was arrested, they kind of stopped becoming an independent country. There was almost, any of you ever played chess? What pieces were next to the king and the queen? The bishops. You know why? Because all throughout the ancient Roman empire during the time of those 10 crowns, those 10 heads that we learned about, every major country had the representative of the church telling the Kings and queens what they could and couldn't do.

They needed the official approval of the church. There was even a king that went to the Vatican and he was on his knees for almost 3 days in the snow trying to get forgiveness from the pope. They had tremendous power. It wasn't until Henry the VIII that anyone finally stood up to the pope because the pope would not approve his 30th marriage. I forget which one it was.

He wouldn't approve it. Because if a pope should declare that a nation was in rebellion they were excommunicated. You couldn't be saved without the priests and the pope. And so, everyone was going to be lost and the kings were terrified that that might happen because the people, you know, they basically, their souls were controlled by the church. So, that happened for 1,260 years almost exactly, well exactly.

What are two other identifying characteristics--characterizing marks of God's true church? Now, you're hearing me say, "True church," let me just explain something here. Are there good Christians in many different churches? How many different denominations are there that call themselves Christian? Over 1,000 I think are listed, it's hard to keep track because, you know, every pastor can break away and start his own. America's a free country, anyone can register a religious group, there's over 1,000. They believe widely different things. There may be good people in many of these different churches.

Don't forget Babylon had daughters and it doesn't specify how many, it uses plural. Does that mean that God's truth is that confused? By the way Babylon means confusion. I believe in the Old Testament God had a people. Did He have a specific people? Who were they? Israelites, Jews. Were they always faithful? What made them God's people? Paul tells us, "God has committed the oracles of truth to the Jews," the Bible, the Scriptures, they had the Scriptures.

Jesus is talking to the woman at the well, she's saying, "Shouldn't we worship in Mount Gerizim or should be in Jerusalem? Is it the Samaritans, is it the Jews?" Jesus said, "Let Me settle this for you right now. Salvation is of the Jews." It is the Jewish book, God gave them the truth. It is the Bible, it's only one way, it's through the word, it's through Christ. There are, now, God's people were the Jews but were only Jews saved in the Old Testament? Did God have Naaman, the leper? Did God have, was Elijah sent to a Canaanite woman? God has people all over the world but He had a special group that He chose to be the guardians of truth. It doesn't mean everyone in the group because a lot of Israelites were unfaithful, a lot were faithful, but they had the Scriptures.

How about New Testament times? Does God have a group or is kind of just, you know, eeny-meeny-miny-mo? Does He have a movement that He's working through? Has He committed truth to anybody or do we all just kind of flip through the yellow pages? I got on my knees up in the mountains. I haven't told you my story and I don't think I have time right now but I was pretty much an atheist growing up. My mother was Jewish, father was a severely backslidden Baptist. Pretty much became an atheist or agnostic after World War II. I was raised very much a pagan.

Mother and father divorced and married like six times not to each other. And so, just, you know, hippie, drug scene, you know the story. I ended up in a cave looking for religion like, you know, during the Beatles era. I was going to all the eastern religions and meditating. Last thing in the world I wanted to be a Christian, especially with my Jewish background.

I said, "They're, the problem with the world is Christians. Love your enemies, they're killing each other in Ireland, Christians, and Protestants, and Catholics killing each other. They say they're Christians. They're all hypocrites." So, I moved up in the mountains in a cave and I lived like a hermit in a cave for about a year and a half. And while I was up there someone had left a Bible in the cave.

And I kept running into Christians when I'd go into Palm Springs. It was up in the mountains above Palm Springs. And they'd argue with me, "Are you born again? Are you washed in the blood?" And I'd say, "What in the world are they talking about?" I thought, "Well, I've got a lot of time. I'm in a cave. I'm going to read the Bible.

"So, I read the Bible, totally changed me. I became a Christian, started going to church. A bunch of really neat Christian fellowships in Palm Springs, I would worship with. I'd never ever heard of my church. I'm a Seventh-day Adventist now if you haven't figured that out.

I'd never even heard of them but good Christian people. But I noticed I'd go from one to the other, and they all put down the other church, and say, "They're all wrong. You've got to be part of our church if you want to go to heaven." I'd study with one group and they'd say, "If you don't speak in tongues, you don't have the Holy Spirit." I'd then go to another church and say, "If you're not part of our church you're not one of the 144,000." And I would study with all these different groups. I was just hungry and then I'd go back to the cave and I'd read the Bible, I'd say, "That's not what it says." I finally got on my knees up in the mountains. I said, "Lord, I don't really care. I have no preference, you know, I just want to know are there people out there that have the truth?" I said, "I want You to show me." I got on my knees. There's one Bible, one Jesus, one Holy Spirit. Is it just like kaleidoscope, you just kind of play spin the bottle with denominations? How do you pick a church? And it was after I prayed that prayer God sent somebody to my cave, 3,000 feet up in the mountains, I was a hermit, and gave me a book that helped me understand the Bible like never before. And if, just in case you're wondering, it's a book called, "The Great Controversy," it goes through Christian history. It covers a lot of the things I'm sharing in this seminar.

And a light came on and it was all backed up with Scripture. I said, "Wow, now that makes sense." And, you're going to say, "Pastor Doug, you're telling us that we should join your church." What do you expect me to say? I mean, obviously, I would like that. Am I saying that only people from my church are saved? No. That's one of the things that actually appealed to me about the Seventh-day Adventist church is because in the official teachings of the church, we believe the greatest part of Christ, I'm quoting now, the greatest part of Christ's true followers are in the fellowship of other churches. But think about this for a moment, when Jesus ascended to Heaven and He told the disciples, "All men will know you are My disciples by your love for another."

Was it God's will that the church should become as fragmented as it is with theology and denominations? Does that make Jesus happy? When the world looks at Christians and sees all these different disagreeing denominations, does that make the Lord happy? The world laughs at our division. Before He comes back, do you think there'll be more unity? How many churches are there going to be when Jesus comes back? Two, true and false, one true. Isn't that right? Things are going to happen in the world that are going to create a great shaking. There's a polarizing that's happening right now. God's going to pour out His spirit and Christians around the world are going to get back to the book.

And when they read the Bible for themselves, they're going to start finding out, "What it the world happened to us?" And so, let's look at some of the Bible characteristics of how do you pick a church? Okay, now that was a long preface for our next question. I didn't want to tell you opening night that I lived in a cave. I knew you wouldn't come back at that point. Revelation 12:17, "The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant," that means the remainder, "of her seed," her descendants; one of the two most outstanding characteristics, "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus." That means God's church in the last days will believe the law and the prophets. One of the last things it says in Malachi, "Remember the law of Moses... Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet." The law and the prophets. And when you read in Revelation chapter 12, it says, "The commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus," what is the testimony of Jesus? I'm just giving you this free. Go to Revelation chapter 19, verse 10, the angel tells John, "The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy." The law and the prophets. "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Jesus rose from the dead and He declared unto them from the law and the prophets that He was the Messiah." That's the Word of God. So, one of the characteristics is God's people in the last days are going to be a Bible-based people. They're going to be rooted in the Word and that's how we're going to find where to go. How's God going to bring His people together in the last days? So, how did Jesus say that we demonstrate our love for Him? He said, "If you love Me," do what? Honk your horn? If you love Me, wear a cross. "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

Does that mean 50%? Or does He want us to be consistent? "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments," the Bible says. And His commandments are not grievous, they're not burdensome. So, now, to also better understand who this group is, if you jump to Revelation 14, there are three messages that go to the world just before Jesus comes, better known as a three angels’ messages, and that's our next question. It says, what three angelic messages will God's end-time church be preaching? Now, when you read in Revelation 14, it says, "There's angel one, angel two, angel three, then I looked on a white cloud, one coming like the Son of Man." That's the coming of Jesus. Angels, the word "angel" means messenger.

Three powerful messages go to the world, immediately prior to the Lord's coming, presented by the remnant of the woman, at the end of time, look at the messages, it'll help you kind of narrow down what is the truth in the last days? First message, Revelation 14, verse 7, "Fear God, and give glory to Him: for the hour of His judgment is come." Great judgment day has come. Do you know that there's a judgment that takes place before Jesus comes? You probably already knew that because does the Lord know who is saved and who is lost when He comes? Are some going to be caught up and some are not? Does that mean some investigation takes place before He comes? And so, there is a time of investigation prior to the second coming that takes place. It's a warning, get ready, Christ is coming. The hour of His judgment is come. This is an imminent return of the Lord.

And then it goes on to say, "Fear God, give glory to Him: the hour of His judgment is come, and worship Him," there are people who worship, "who made," He is the Creator, "the heaven, the earth, and the sea." That is an extract there from the Sabbath commandment that you find in Exodus chapter 20, verse 8 through 11. Remembering to worship the Creator and this is almost word for word out of that commandment. They are people who have returned to this law that's been largely forgotten. They've restored the breach. Worship Him that made these things: the heaven, the earth, the seas, and the fountains of waters.

And then you read in Revelation chapter 14, verse 8, now you get to another angel, second angel that says, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen. That great city because she," that's that other woman, "has made all nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Remember in Revelation 17, she's got a cup in her hands full of this filthiness of her abomination, the nations have been made drunk with it. You remember what happened in ancient Babylon? Genesis chapter 11. They were trying to build a monument to save themselves, man-made religion. God told them, "Look, I'll never flood the world again."

"We don't believe you. We're going to build a tower. We're going to get to heaven ourselves. We're going to climb to heaven." The whole thing about the Tower of Babel was a rebellion. It says, "God went down and He wasn't happy, and God confounded their languages, and they all became confused, and they had to abandon the building project, and find people that they could understand, the world was scattered then at that point, and populated."

Babylon was not a good thing. By the way, I hope, don't misunderstand, Pastor Doug and our church believes in all the gifts of the Spirit including the gift of tongues but there is a wrong interpretation of the gift of tongues that is being taught by a lot of people, it is babbling. And you can often find babbling in Babylon. The Bible says, "I'd rather speak 5 words with my understanding that I might instruct others than 10,000 in an unknown tongue." And if you're going to speak in an unknown tongue, Paul says, "Have an interpreter present that he might translate." So, I won't go into that. I already did, I guess.

Alright, Isaiah chapter 13. Is Babylon talking about ancient Babylon being rebuilt? You know, Nebuchadnezzar, not Nebuchadnezzar, what's his name? Saddam Hussein wanted to rebuild ancient Babylon, and he fancied himself as reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar, but the prophecy in Isaiah 13 says Babylon would never be rebuilt, ancient Babylon. You can read it there. "Babylon, the glory of the Kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will be settled from generation to generation," and it never has been.

Saddam tried to rebuild the ancient ruins of Babylon and then the two Iraq wars broke out and that was abandoned. So, when it talks about Babylon, it's not talking about the Middle East, it's talking about spiritual Babylon. And even Peter talked about that when he said that, "Your brethren in Babylon greet you." He wasn't talking about Mesopotamia, he meant the Christians in Rome. They called Rome, Babylon, even in the New Testament. So, we shouldn't miss that.

Then the third angel follows, Revelation 14:9. Oh, by the way, before I leave this angel, when it says, "Babylon has fallen, has fallen." If you go to Revelation chapter 18, it repeats that again. The whole earth is illuminated with another angel that says, "Babylon is fallen, come out of her, my people." I'll read that for you again in just a moment. Go to the third angel. It says, the most fearful curse in the Bible, it's in the New Testament.

"Third angel followed saying with a loud voice, 'If any man worships the beast and his image, and receives of his mark in his forehead, or his hand. The same will drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation.'" And so, this is a pretty fearful warning. The third angel is a warning not to be receiving the Mark of the Beast. Now, you're wondering, what is that? Keep coming, I'm not telling you tonight. We have a lesson called, "The Mark of the Beast," that will be Saturday morning, we have a meeting.

Come and we'll give you the mark. That didn't sound very good, did it?

Number nine, to whom will God's church preach these messages in the last days? How far does it go? It's an international movement. "Having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth. And to every tribe, nation, tongue, and people." This is message is not to just go to Israel. It's to go globally. Christ said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," right?

So, this is going to be an international movement and we'll find out what meets that criteria. What specifications has God given us in His Word to help us positively identify where you might find this end-time church, that's He's committed the oracles of truth to in a special way. Well, for one thing, "It's going to appear after this time of trouble that happens between 530 and 1798." So, it's going to be coming forth somewhere in North America because North America, you read in Revelation chapter 13 it says, "Another beast comes up with two horns like a lamb but he speaks like a dragon." And right about the same time that that beast in Revelation 13 receives a deadly wound, another beast rises up. What power, what world power was being born around 1798? Now, our Constitution is 1776. That's when we decided we're free, but do you know that we were not recognized by other countries as a sovereign nation independent of Britain until 1798.

That's why we were in good standing with the French. We realized they fought with us against the British. You know how we got the western half of the US? Bought it from Napoleon, the Louisiana Purchase. Napoleon recognized us an independent country and he was going to rule in Europe during that time. Seventeen ninety-eight at the same time a new power comes.

Keep coming, we've got more about America in prophecy that I think you'll find. So, this new movement is born during that time. How was America founded? It wasn't conquistadors looking for gold. It was largely settled by pilgrims that were fleeing the religious persecution in Europe, coming, looking for a place--read the Mayflower documents. Look at that writings of the pilgrims.

Fifty percent of them died in their first year and they were ready to endure the wilderness for freedom to worship. "It will teach the same truths that the apostles taught, and all of its teachings will agree with the Bible." See, Jesus, when He ascended to Heaven, He had spent 40 days before His ascension teaching the word, teaching the word, teaching the word, between His resurrection and His ascension, making sure the disciples were clear theologically, so that when they went out preaching, they finally got it. Because even up until the crucifixion they thought Jesus was going to, you know, destroy the Romans, and ride a white horse, and they were going to sit on thrones, and finally they got clarity of Scripture, and He ascended to Heaven. When He comes back, there's going to be a church again that's come back to the Bible. Popular or not it's going to be based on the teachings of Jesus.

"It will keep the commandments," how many of them? Now, most churches keep nine. Some churches keep eight. They have a problem with idolatry. That's not just talking about Catholics. There are some Orthodox churches, I've been around the world, I've seen it.

It's interesting that you go and you meet with the Russian Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, they make fun of the Roman Catholic, because the Catholics often have statutes. The Greek and Russian Orthodox pray to icons and paintings. And it's funny how they make fun of each other but it's kind of idolatry. "It will have the Spirit of Prophecy." Keep the commandments of God, believe in all the gifts of the Spirit, including the Spirit of Prophecy. "It will proclaim God's three end-time messages with a loud voice."

It will be going to the world with a loud voice proclaiming those messages. "It will be a worldwide movement." And I can tell you, friends, this message is going to the world. Now, I am one itty-bitty cog in the wheel of proclaiming the gospel. But I'll tell you, Karen and I, in the last 20 years since we've partnered up with Amazing Facts, we have been all over the globe. We haven't been everywhere yet but it has been wonderful to see people coming to Christ, and believing, and embracing the truth.

There's a picture, I was in the largest church in Indonesia which is, by the way, the largest Muslim country in the world, 10,000 people came into that church that day. And we've been to China. Yeah, it was fantastic. First public evangelistic meeting in China since 1959, praise God, Amazing Facts was invited to do it in Wuxi, it's a suburb of Shang-Hai, millions of people, and it was broadcast on television. And it was recorded and it's being distributed all over the country, and we've been to Japan, we've been to Korea, we've been to Australia, we've been to Russia, we've been to Italy, and I can't--gosh, it's just, and that's, I'm one person! There are millions that are taking the gospel around the world right now.

This message and the Seventh-day Adventist church is all over the world. Do you know there are about 202 countries in the world? We're in about 195 of them. There are still a few Islamic countries where no Christians are allowed to officially exist. It is a worldwide movement. And you know what I love about the Seventh-day Adventist church is we're a melting pot of people, I think it was USA today did a report that said, "the Seventh-day Adventist church is the most diverse Christian church in North America."

We're a melting pot of people from all different backgrounds, religious, racial, international, that say, "This is the Bible," and they are coming together. It is a movement that is growing everywhere. "It'll teaching the everlasting gospel, which is salvation through Christ alone." We don't believe, in contrary to what you hear, "Oh, you think you're saved by keeping the Sabbath?" No, we don't. Why don't you accuse other churches of saying, "You think you're saved because you don't steal?" They believe in keeping that commandment. You don't say you're a legalist because you don't shoplift and because we include the fourth commandment with the other nine, don't call us legalists, that's not fair.

If you believe in honoring your marriage and I say you're a legalist because you don't commit adultery, you can't do that. Yes, we teach the Sabbath, but that's just one of the ten. We just think you need to be consistent, amen? It'll teach salvation through Jesus. We're not saved by keeping the law. We're saved by Christ.

We obey the law because we love Christ, amen? Not to be saved but because we are saved. Now, Jesus then, He gives us this seven prophetic symbols in Revelation. He says, "Go find My church." What is the promise if we go seeking? You read in Luke, he tells us, "Seek, and you will," Luke 11:9, and of course, Matthew, "Seek, and you'll find." Where are we to do our searching? First of all, you search in the Word, and you look at the evidence that's out there. How many world organizations will meet all these different criteria? Not too many. As soon as you say they keep all commandments, that narrows the list.

By the way, Adventists are not the only church that keeps the seventh day Sabbath, there are several good people out there that keep it, and I've got friends in other denominations, but you start adding up the criteria and I believe God raised up a movement. Seventh-day Adventist church was formed in North America and about 1863 it was officially organized. It grew out of a movement of people who were studying the prophecies and they came from all different denominations. There were Methodists, and Baptists, and Congregationalists, and Catholics. They said, "Look, we've got to get back to the Bible."

And as a result of that this movement arose and it's become one of the fastest if not the fastest growing Protestant denomination in the world. Got one of the largest medical works, one of the largest educational works. I think it's second only to the Roman Catholics. And so, believe, and educated. God has obviously blessed.

Now, many denominations call themselves Christian. Does that make them God's true church? There are a lot of good Christians in different organizations but I believe that God has committed the oracles of truth to a group that is organized, that God is calling people into as we near the end of time. And you might say, "Oh, but Pastor Doug, I knew somebody that was part of your church and they were kind of kooky." You got that in every church, right? See, you don't look at the people. You look at the ingredients.

I heard about a Russian immigrant that came to North America, and he asked his friend, "What do you Americans eat for breakfast?" He said, "Oh, well, we eat cereal." He said, "Ah, I want to be like American." So, he goes to the local mega supermarket and there he goes to the cereal aisle. You ever been to the Wal-mart cereal aisle? It's like an airport terminal, and on both sides, you've got just every stripe and type of cereal. They've got cereal with cartoons on it and they've got cereal with athletes on it, just all kinds of, just oh, why do they got so many different kinds? Marketing for everybody.

Churches do that. They say, "What kind of people shall we reach? What are people looking for? People want entertainment, we'll make a church for them. People want a social life? We'll make a church for them." You know how people pick churches? Let me tell you the main ways, most people pick a church, "Is it close to my house? Where did my parents go? I want to be like them. Is it a nice building? Do they have a good children's program? How is the music? Is the pastor charismatic, and interesting, and good looking?" I know that's why you come. Some people that's how they pick their church. "Do influential people go there?" They want to go where the uppity-up people go, you know, prestigious church. "Do they have a good singles program?" And I can't even name all the different reasons people pick a church.

Those are all nice things to have in a church. Wouldn't you like to have a church that's close to the house, that's where your family went, it's got a good children's program, pastor keeps you awake, they've got great music, nice building, good facility. We all want those things and they're all good things but none of those are the reason to pick a church. You know how I buy cereal? I ignore the pictures. I turn the box on its side and I say, "What's in it?" What do they believe? What are their foundational doctrines? You ask the average Christian, "What does your church teach?" "Our church teaches same as our pastor." "Well, what does your pastor teach?" "Well, he preaches what the church believes." "Well, what do you, and your pastor, and your church teach?" "Same thing." They don't know. Isn't that right? You ask the average person what do they preach? "I don't know I'll have to ask." No, not everyone, but I mean, I've seen a lot of biblical ignorance. People think that the epistles are the wives of the apostles. They just really don't study their Bibles. What are the ingredients? What do you believe? Do you understand the foundational teachings? Jesus wants us to go by the Word.

The truth will set you free, amen? And so, that's how we make a decision of where we belong because you are accountable to God every time you give your offerings to a church, you're supporting a message. What message are you supporting? Are you supporting a message of obedience? Of the salvation by Jesus? Are you supporting a message of legalism? Are you supporting a message of disobedience? What are you supporting? You're endorsing it by your attendance. Isaiah chapter 4, there's a prophecy, it says, "In that day seven women will take hold of one man saying, 'We'll eat our own bread, and we'll wear our own apparel; but let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.'" All these different churches like seven women out there, that take hold of the name of Jesus, but they eat their own bread, their own Bible. They've got their own idea of righteousness but they want His name. They call themselves Christians, take away their reproach.

It's describing the last days and the daughters of Babylon, but the Bible says, "Babylon is fallen. Come out of her, My people." You know, God's people for years were captured in Babylon and finally, when Babylon fell, they were told you can go home but they'd become so comfortable in Babylon, they said, "I've been here for 70 years, I can't leave now, all my friends are here. I'm used to it. I speak Babylonian." And it was quite a struggle for them to come out of Babylon but those that came out of Babylon were blessed. You read the books of Ezra, and Nehemiah, the prophesies of Haggai, Micah, they came out of Babylon, God blessed them.

Those who stayed in Babylon suffered. Says in Revelation chapter 18, "Those that don't come out of Babylon, he says, 'come out of her, My people, or the plagues will fall on you.'" And so, in the last days there's a message that's to call all the people that God has mixed up in these counterfeit concepts back to the Bible, back to the movement. There's only going to be two groups in the last days, Jesus said, "Many sheep I have that are not of this fold. They will hear My voice. They will be one fold and one shepherd," amen? And God wants us to be one based on His Word.

Do you want to be part of that group, friends? Can I pray for you right now? Father in Heaven, please bless those who are listening, and help us to be faithful to the Bible. We hear Jesus calling us. Help us to have the courage to be in that ark of safety in the last days, to be part of that fold. I pray you'll bless each person, help them know how to apply this message to their lives, and give them the courage to do it. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

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