The Woman of Light

Scripture: Revelation 12:1-5, Isaiah 51:16
Date: 02/23/2017 
How does Revelation picture God's true church?

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Known as a brood parasite, the common cuckoo bird lays her eggs in the nest of smaller bird species like a reed warbler. Once a cuckoo's egg has been laid which tends to match the host egg in pattern and color, the unsuspecting little mothers incubate, feed, and raise the young imposter, typically at the expense of their own offspring. One of the tragedies of nature is to watch a little reed warbler and its mate nearly work themselves to death to satisfy the voracious hunger of a fat little cuckoo chick. While their own starving young are crowded out of the nest.

Many don't realize that the devil has laid a deceptive egg in the church, that's been hatched, adopted and fed until it's grown bigger than life. Jesus warned us about this. But what exactly is this counterfeit and how does it affect you? So join me now as we unravel this mystery.

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 has become very modern, but there's still a lot of very poor people there and they'd 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 she had never let go of the aluminum pot that she had 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.

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, and He made the moon, and 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. 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. Bible tells us in Malachi chapter 4, talking about Christ, "The Son 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, 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've got 12 what? Twelve apostles that Jesus picks. I told you, that number must have been important because they replaced Judas and the Holy Spirit was poured out.

And above the head is symbol of leadership, it'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 light 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 that we learn? I just want you to know who this child is. "She brought forth a man child, 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 on the throne. So the man child is God.

So what does a woman represent? Church. It says, I have likened the daughter of Zion to a delicate and a 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 that dragon hates her is a good sign, right? The woman in Revelation 17, she's riding along with the dragon, they're in cooperation. Again, Isaiah 51:16, "Say unto Zion, 'Thou art my people.'" Often, in the Bible, God calls His church His people, His bride.

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's 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 was just no effort of the devil chasing her through the wilderness and the earth opening its ground, and all these things that happen in the vision, it's obviously a symbol of a woman, the church, just like Revelation 17 is symbolic.

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 the great dragon was cast out," called "that old serpent, the devil and Satan." Now, can a five year old understand that verse? That is so simple. I mean, there is no question about who the dragon is, 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. "and 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.

All right, 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 thirty three and a half years of perfect life. He taught publicly for three and a half years from His baptism at 30 years of age, performed miracles, taught the gospel, ultimately died for the sins of the world, rose the third 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.

Doug: Don't go anywhere, friends. We'll be back in just a moment with the rest of today's presentation. No, the Bible never says that Eve ate an apple, nor does it say that three wise men came to see Jesus in the manger. Neither does the Bible say that God made a devil. So, how well do you know your Bible? And what does it really say about heaven and hell, the origin of the devil, and the Second Coming of Jesus?" There are so many common misunderstandings about the Word of God. That's why Amazing Facts wants to send you a special free resource called "The Hidden Truth Magazine." It'll expose some of the most common misconceptions about the Bible. It's packed with colorful graphics, fascinating facts, and compelling Bible truths that present seven of the most misunderstood Bible subjects in a direct and captivating way. I guarantee it'll become one of your favorite witnessing tools. To get your free copy, call the phone number on the screen and ask for offer number 832, or visit the web address. And after you read this incredible resource, be sure and share it with a friend. Let's return now to today's presentation and learn some more amazing facts from the Word of God.

Fourth question. After Jesus was caught up to Heaven, what did Satan do to the church? 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, the 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 then killing. So it started there, but then the Jews encouraged the Romans to do it. 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 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 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 and there's great wrath.

For their entertainment they would 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, he 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, just spreads the seed and they grew.

What are two other identifying characterizing marks of God's true church? 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. And one of the two most outstanding characteristics, "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus."

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, "Should we worship in Gerizim or should we 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, there is 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 it kind of just, you know, eeney, meeney, miney, moe? 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? One of the last things it says in Malachi, "Remember the law of Moses... Behold, I will 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've just given you this free. Go to Revelation 19:10, 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.

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 the 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 that 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 14:7, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come." Great judgment day is 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 the 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, and the earth, and the sea," that is an extract there from the Sabbath commandment that you find in Exodus 20:8 through 11. Remembering to worship the Creator, and this is almost word for word out of that commandment. They're people who have returned to this law that's been largely forgotten. They've restored the breach.

And then you read in Revelation 14:8, 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." 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 the 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 it 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.

"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.

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, to every tribe, nation, tongue, and people." This 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.

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've got that in every church, right? So 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, we eat cereal." 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 walmart 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... Oh, just. Why do they have 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 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, the 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's in it? What do they believe? What are their foundational doctrines?

Jesus wants us to go by the Word. The truth will set you free, amen? 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, "And in that day seven women will take hold of one man, saying, 'We will eat our own bread and will 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. They take hold in 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 to 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 became 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." They 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 prophecies of Haggai and Micah, they came out of Babylon, God blessed them. Those who stayed in Babylon suffered. It says in Revelation chapter 18, "Those that don't come out of Babylon" it 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, there will be one fold and one shepherd. Amen? Amen. And God wants us to be one based on His word.

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