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Reviving a Remnant

Scripture: Revelation 12:13-17, Genesis 3:15
Date: 02/09/2002 
The Bible has a lot to say about God saving a remnant. This represents a small, surviving group of people who are genuinely children of God. It begins with the curse in Genesis. There are examples of "remnant" types in the Bible. Being in the right church doesn't mean you are a part of the remnant.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

We’re hearing a lot these days about DNA and cloning and some of the amazing things. Don't ask me how they do it, but I understand the technologies available to take just a fragment of the DNA acid that's in the essence of all cells of life and from that all the different, the blueprint of who you are and who I am and all the creatures and all the different elements of life, it's all contained in there. That's just a testimony to the infinite wisdom of our Creator. I was intrigued when I heard that someone was suggesting it was possible to take the DNA that they had found in a frozen mastodon, a woolly mammoth, up in Siberia and they could take this and somehow clone it or combine it with a healthy egg of a modern elephant, who they believe are from the same family. And then the offspring would have some woolly mammoth characteristics. Now you can't do that. Maybe you've heard fairy tales about them taking dinosaur fossils and bones. You can't do it with a fossil.

A fossil does not have DNA in it. It’s stone. The cells are replaced with minerals. But with a frozen mammoth they said, “You know, it could be possible.” Could you imagine that? And then they would breed the offspring a couple of times. And I don't understand all of the genetics, and how they propose to do this, but they said the technology will soon be available to re-create the extinct woolly mammoth. And they do this by virtue of taking a remnant of that cell life from the DNA and manipulating it to resurrect the long extinct species.

You can see these principles, how sometimes all you need is a little pinch of something to remanufacture the whole. I understand that you can take the cuttings from a grape and you can take some of those cuttings and you can stick them in the ground with moisture and they will root. There are several plants I guess that do that. And all the grapes in the world could be destroyed and you could revitalize at least this species of grape just from a cutting. Now that's what the principal other remnant is. The Bible has a lot to say about God saving a remnant. We often think of ourselves, living here at the end of time, as the remnant church. That word remnants means that which remains. And our sermon today is dealing with Reviving A Remnant.

I should probably begin, as I often do, with a definition. A remnant is something left over, or a remainder. That's a good way for you to think of the word. We're going to use that for a lot during our message today. A remnant is a left over piece of fabric or something remaining after the rest has been used. It's a surviving trace or vestige. Often remnants are a small surviving group of people. Now this is the definition I got off of my Microsoft bookshelf. And it's sufficient to explain what is a remnant.

Now are going to go to the end of the Bible and work our way back to the beginning. If you turn in your Bibles to the book of Revelation, there's a verse that I think almost everybody here has memorized. And it's from a revelation 12:17. And we picture this woman who is fleeing from the devil. The first part of chapter 12 talks about the seed of the woman. And this woman is fleeing from the Dragon, through the wilderness, and he sends out a flood to devour her. He wants to eat this man child that she gives birth to as soon as it is born, but he's caught up to the throne, the seed of the woman is caught up to the throne. So he wants to destroy her because he can no longer reach the seed of the woman. When we reach the end of chapter 12 you find this verse. “And the Dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the remnant,” the remainder, “the rest,” (I'm giving you the Amplified Version here) “of her offspring,” her seed, “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Now if you were to take this one verse and quickly decipher it. The Dragon, who do you suppose that is? The devil. He is wroth and infuriated with the woman. This woman, clothed with the sun moon and stars, that's God's church. And he is bent on her destruction. And he makes war, that's the battle of Armageddon, with the remainder of her descendents, her children. The children are the church. Who have two outstanding characteristics. They keep the commandments of God and they have the testimony of Jesus. If you look in Revelation 19:10 it says the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. So the commandments of God and the prophecy. Who are the law and the prophets? Same thing.

Matter of fact, in Isaiah 8:16 it gives you a little key to unlock the characteristics of this remnant church, this woman. “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” So God's people have the law and the testimony. They have the law and the prophets. That's another biblical name for the word of God, the law and the prophets. Matter of fact, the first part of the Bible was often called the law. And then the Minor Prophets was the second part. Keep in mind, when Revelation was written there was no New Testament yet. They called the word of God the double-edged sword, and the law and the prophets, Moses and Elijah. But it had this parallel, this dual concept of the commandments of God in the testimony of Jesus. So God’s woman, that the devil hates, keeps the commandments, listens to the prophets; has the law and the prophets.

Now I want you to jump back to the first part of the Bible. I'm going to illustrate some parables. Genesis 3:15. The first curse that is pronounced on the human race after the fall is spoken by the Lord and He makes a curse and also there's a promise that's connected with it. This is a covenant promise between the Lord and the woman. “And I will put enmity between you,” He’s speaking to the serpent, “between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head,” the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent, “and you will bruise His heel.” Now look at the parallels between Revelation 12 in Genesis 3. Two characteristics that you see right away is you've got in Revelation 12, you've got the Dragon. What is it in Genesis 3? The serpent. You've got the woman in Genesis 3 and you've got the woman in Revelation 12. You've got the Seed of the woman in Genesis 3. You’ve got the seed, or the remnant of the woman in Revelation 12. There is wrath in Revelation and enmity. There is a war raging between the devil and this remnant, this seed of the woman.

The devil wants to exterminate God's people. And at times it's looked as though it was all gone. It's looked as though there was no hope. The American bison, American buffalo were slaughtered to the edge of extinction. Especially once they had the iron horse going across North America. Passengers were just shooting for entertainment the buffalo from the trains, just for target practice because Lewis and Clark, when they went across, they said there was a sea of Buffalo. They numbered in the millions. They looked like a moving wave. And it finally got to where, I forget, was it under 500? It was a very pitiful number left of those millions. Just a remnant was left. But then they made some laws. They realized that this icon of America was being exterminated. And through carefully protecting and breeding and feeding and managing, now again they've got Massive herds of buffalo. We saw them roaming in South Dakota, just roaming the fields up there. All they had left was a few. The devil wants to render genuine Christians that have the truth extinct. And many times they've been brought to the edge of extinction. But God has always managed to preserve a remnant of the faithful people.

Now we’re going to look in the Bible at some of the characteristics of the remnant that we see from Genesis to Revelation. There's a few high points. I'll tell you why this is important. In the last days, I believe, the Bible is very clear that God is only saving a remnant. Now we think if we are part of the remnant church that we've got our tickets locked in. We've got our reservations confirmed. We have nothing to worry about. But when you study the Bible it seems that God often saves a remnant of a remnant. And so just because you have, you claim to be a Christian, or just because your membership is on the books of the remnant church is no guarantee that you will be the remnant’s that's saved from the remnant. Now I don't know that you, but this study has done me good because I want to know. I don't want to just guess and hope and speculate on eternal destinies. I want to know where I stand with God. I want to have the assurance. I don't think we should be sloppy about our relationship with God. Paul charges us to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. It's not popular, but it's biblical. We need to evaluate, are we who we think we are? Are we the remnant? God’s only going to save a remnant of a remnant. And I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in. How bout you? So I thought let's do a review of the panorama in the Bible of how God has often saved a remnant. Look at their characteristics and then see by His grace if we can reproduce those things in our lives. We want to emulate the characteristics of the remnant.

Another reason this is important, the Bible says only those who are sealed with the seal of God, only those who are part of the remnant that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus will be receiving that seal. When you read in Ezekiel 9 it tells us that an angel goes through the land of Israel beginning at the temple with the ancient men and he marks or seals not everybody, not everybody in the temple, not everybody in the land of Israel—the Holy Land. But the ones who are on their knees sighing and crying and pleading for purity, they're the ones who are sealed. And then after them comes the judgment. And we want to know that we are in that group. So let's start with the first example we find in the Bible. Who do you think is the first person that God makes a covenant with in the Bible who is a remnant? It's Noah. Noah is the first primary example of a remnant. The whole world was given to wickedness. The thoughts of men's hearts were only evil continually. And the Bible says there was one sinless man. Is that what it says? No, it doesn't say that. It says Noah found what? Grace. So God did not pick Noah because of his sinlessness. But Noah was consecrated to God.

Listen to what it says about Noah. First of all “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations and Noah walked with God,” Genesis 6:9. He’s just, perfect, he walks with God. “Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord.” Genesis 6:22, “Noah did; according to all that God commanded him.” Was Noah willing to obey God? Noah ends up being a saved remnant and I want to be. And it says, Genesis 7:1, God says, “Because I have seen that you’re righteous before Me in this generation.” Noah was righteous in a generation where the thoughts of men’s hearts were only evil continually. Jesus compares the days of Noah to the second coming. Is there a lot of wickedness in the world today? Is it possible for us to be righteous before God? To find grace with the Lord? To be willing to walk with God in this generation?

Notice something else about Noah. He was willing to both proclaim and prepare for the impossible. Now that’s something that I think is going to be repeated. Noah was willing to not only build an ark in a land where it had never rained. Build a boat where there is no sea. Proclaim an event that has never happened before. Does that take faith? Will you be popular when you do that? Will you be viewed as sophisticated and intelligent and educated if you’re building a boat on dry land? Noah took great risks of being righteous in a generation that was wicked.

Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things as not yet seen, he moved with fear, and prepared.” Prepared for something that had never been seen before. He prepared and ark to the saving of his home. Now another reason and this is crucial, I want my home to be saved. Now I'm not talking about my house. Your home means your family. Noah's house was destroyed. His family was saved. And because he proclaimed and he prepared, by his example his family was saved. Now, was Noah perfect? He was righteous, he walked with God, that's something I want you to notice as we study the remnant, they often seem to be messing up. Right after God saved Noah; it wasn't long before the devil got in. He wanted to find out what happens if you keep wine a little too long in the skein. He got drunk and he wandered around naked and passed out in his tent. You can read about all the ramifications of that. But that record’s in the Bible to remind us that Noah was a man subject to like passions. But he had the characteristics of yearning after God and wanting to walk with God.

Another example of a remnant. After God saved Noah and his family men began to populate. They built the Tower of Babel. They began to not trust in God. They started worshiping other gods. Nimrod came along and they started believing in righteousness by works, but there was someone who God found that was faithful. He called a remnant out of Mesopotamia what was his name? Abram, at that point, later it was Abraham. And so Abraham is another example of a remnant. Something we can learn from this hero in the Bible, a remnant who is saved, Abraham was willing to follow even though he didn't know exactly where he was going. Do you only obey God when you understand why He's asking you to do what He wants you to do? Does the Lord have to argue and reason with you when He asks you to do something? Or are you at the place in your trust where you can say, “God said it and I'm going to do it because He’s God, He’s the Creator, I'm the creation and He has a right to ask me.” Abraham followed by faith. “By faith Abraham,” Hebrews 11:8, “when he was called to go into a place which he should afterward receive as an inheritance, he obeyed and he went, not knowing where he went.”

Now how many of you men if your wife greets you at the door when you come home and she says, “We’re moving.” “Oh, we are?” “Yes.” “Where are we going?” “I don’t know, but God told me we’re moving. So let’s start packing.” How many of you men would start packing? Do you have that kind of confidence in your wife? That if she said, “Let’s go. Let's start packing.” You don't know where. Can you imagine the faith that it took for that family to start packing up like that? And to go because God told them to get up and go west? They had no photographs. They could not log on and find out from the travel log what it was going to be like. I mean, that's really traveling by faith. They don't know what kind of clothes to wear. So he followed by faith.

Another example of a remnant, and he's not the best example, but Jesus uses him so I'm going to use him, is Lot. Out of all the people that lived in the cities of the plain God only saved a remnant. When judgment came the Bible says He saved Lot. Now, the Bible tells us Lot was a righteous man. You read where Peter says he vexed his righteous soul day after day, beholding. And he did receive those messengers. He had the gift of hospitality. But you know what I think about when I think about Lot and what we can learn from him and how he survived? He was willing to leave everything he had and not look back. That’s hard. His wife was not and she did not become part of that remnant.

Luke 17:31-2, Jesus, speaking of the second coming. Don’t forget, Christ talks about two people who are saved as a remnant when He speaks of the second coming. It’s a lesson for you and me. He likens it unto the days of Noah and who else? As it was in the days of Lot. Christ says, “In that day, he that is upon his housetop, and his stuff is in the house, let him not come down to take anything out of his house. He that is in the field, let him not return back to his house.” And then Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Lot survived as a remnant because he could let go and not look back. Where are you anchored? Are you anchored to this world? Is your idea of success going to be based upon what you accumulate in this world and the abundance of possessions in this world? Or are you looking to another land, to the kingdom of God?

Next hero, who is a remnant, I picked Joseph. Now I’m not trailing people who are all part of the remnant that led genealogically to Jesus, but these were survivors. Joseph identifies himself as a remnant. God sends him in advance of his people. He is the only one of the family that goes to Egypt. And God exalts him. He manages to survive there. He prepares a great provision to preserve life. This is what Joseph said when he revealed himself to his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve you a remnant in the earth, and to save you alive by a great deliverance.” Joseph was used by God to save them as a remnant the same way Jesus is used by the Father to save us. How did Joseph save his family? By providing bread in abundance. And we are to have bread stored away. You know, Noah also stored away food, didn’t he, for the flood? And we need to have that storage of the word. Well, we know that Joseph was successful. The children of Israel went down to Egypt. Then God saved, not everybody in Egypt, but He saved a remnant out of Egypt. It was these people that Joseph had prophesied would be saved.

Exodus 19:5-6 God tells us the purpose that He saved the children of Israel. “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Why did God save Israel? To be a nation of priests and kings. Why in the New Testament are we saved? We are to serve God as priests and kings. We are to live like we are children of heavenly royalty and we are to make atonement, bringing people to the Lord. We are a royal priesthood. This is why He saved the children of Israel as a remnant.

Have you read Deuteronomy 28 where it talks about the blessing and the cursing? God foretold that is the children of Israel went to other gods and worshipped the gods of other nations and if they let go of the Lord that they would be destroyed. But you know He never said they’d be annihilated. Here’s what He says. “You will be few in number. If you turn away from me you’re going to be visited with judgment. You’ll be cut back to only a few buffalo, but there’ll be a few left.” How many times in Israel’s history were they whittled down and God saved the remnant and then they populated again? That’s Deuteronomy 28:62.

Matter of fact, there’s one story. The tribe of Benjamin did something terrible. You read the book of Judges and it’s even hard to study, but they abused this woman and her body ended up being mutilated. All the other 11 tribes fought against their brother Benjamin. Benjamin, out of 23,000 soldiers was reduced to 600 men that were just hiding out up in the hills. The whole tribe had almost been annihilated. There were 600 left. And the children of Israel said, “We could go finish them off,” because there were over a million Israelites at that point. “Let’s go kill off the last of these 600.” And you know what they said? “There’ll be no remnant left of this tribe. One of the brothers of Israel will be forever gone. It’ll be exterminated. Let’s allow them to live.” But the problem was they had killed all the women of Benjamin. And they’d all made a vow, they said, “We’re not going to give any of our wives to Benjamin.” And so they said, “What are we going to do?”

Now they’re not supposed to marry pagan women. And so finally they found there was one tribe that had not gone with them, one town that had not gone with them. And they went and they took the women from that town that had not made this oath and they made them dance among the vineyards and the men of Benjamin came out and they captured the women dancing. That’s an interesting story I can’t study with you, but the tribe of Benjamin, again, was brought back into prominence because a remnant had been preserved. But this happened several times if you study the children of Israel. Where they’re reduced, they’re humbled, He gets them down to a core and then He blesses them again when they repent. When the remnant is revived they multiply. When they’re unfaithful He usually cuts off the multitude.

One of the best stories in the Bible is Gideon. Now Gideon himself was the remnant of his family. All of his brothers had been slain. He was threshing wheat one day and an angel appears and he says, “I have called you to lead the children of Israel to fight against the Mideonites,” that were plaguing all the people. And so he gets his army together and he’s got 30,000 people and God says, “Now we’re going to use you Gideon, but you have too many.” Now if you’re going against a million with 32,000 would you feel that your forces were too big? And if God said, “Let’s talk. We need to talk about this. You have too many soldiers.” You would think, “Lord, where are the others you’re counting because we don’t feel like we’ve got too many.” And the Lord said, “I want you to make an announcement. I want you to tell everybody, ‘If you’re afraid go on home.’” And Gideon is thinking, “Lord, we don’t have enough as it is. We’re getting ready to go against a million with 32,000 and you want me to ask if anyone’s afraid, to go home? We don’t care if they’re afraid.” Do you think the Marines do that? They’re getting ready to go to battle at Guadalcanal, “If you’re afraid stay on the boat.” No, you don’t do that. You send them into battle. Their hearts could be pounding. So the army is whittled down to 10,000.

And then God says, “You’ve still got too many. Take them down to the brook and get a drink and I’m going to give you a test and you can separate them. The ones that put their face in the water and carelessly just slurp up the water, put them on one side. The ones who bring the water to their mouth like a dog and lap it up while they’re looking cautiously around, put them on a side.” Well most of the men were hungry. They just stuck their faces in the water and began to drink it in. But about 300 of them scooped the water and lapped it up. And God said, “I’m going to use this remnant of the original army to give victory.” The rest of them, notice what the criteria was. The fearful and the foolhardy or you could say the careless and the cowardly were eliminated. In the last days if you want to fight in God’s army. You know what that army did? They used the light and broken pitchers and trumpets and swords. All symbols for God’s word. Life up your voice like a trumpet. They word is a lamp unto my feet. We are vessels and it’s only when we’re broken vessels that Jesus can use us, right? And that’s when the light shines. And so this is a wonderful symbol of God’s word. Gideon’s army was composed of those who were neither one extreme or the other. They were not fearful and they were not foolhardy. God needs that balance in His army.

Now maybe it’s a stretch for me, but you know the way I looked at it. You’ve got some people in the church who are constantly walking on eggs because they’re so afraid they’re going to do something wrong, they live in fear. Now I believe we ought to have the right apprehension about sin. I believe Christians should be cautious. I believe Christians should have a sensitivity to what pleases the Lord. But if you’re constantly living in mental agony because you’re wondering if you’ve picked the wrong toothpaste that God doesn’t approve of, that’s a kind of legalism that makes people miserable. And they tend to make everyone around them miserable. The fearful. Then you’ve got folks who say, “I don’t have fear. I’ve got peace.” But they’re presumptuous. They’re foolhardy. They’re careless. If you want to make it in simple political terms you can call it the legalist and the liberal. I don’t care, but God can’t use either one of them.

The Bible says the devil tried to destroy the boy in the fire and in the water. He doesn’t care what extreme it is. And he still does that in the church today; one extreme or the other. Gideon’s army was composed of those who were not careless and they were not cowards. They were not foolish and they were not fearful. They had the balance that they needed to be used of the Lord.

One of the best stories in the Bible, I just said that about Gideon, but I didn’t really mean it. Now I mean it. One of the best stories in the Bible about a remnant that survives is Joash. The Lord had prophesied that through Abraham the promise seed would come. And then He was more precise. He said through Isaac, not through Ishmael, the promise seed would come. And then it was going to be through Jacob and not through Esau, the promise seed would come. Well Jacob had 12 sons and God said it would be through Judah, not through the 11, that the promise seed would come. And then He was more specific. Through the house of David the promise seed would come. And God kept narrowing the target so it became very clear where we were to look for the Messiah, when God would become a man. The devil heard those prophecies, isn’t’ that right? And so the devil began to concentrate his attention on destroying the house of David.

The Bible tells us that the daughter of Jezebel, Athaliah, came as close as anybody to exterminating the royal seed. When her son died rather than have her grandchildren rule over her she and her mother were conspiring to take over the kingdom and introduce pagan worship. It says, “And when Athaliah,” this is II Kings 11:1, “the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal seed.” All the seed of David was killed. Can you imagine how ruthless and cold-blooded a woman would have to be to kill her grandchildren? You’ve heard me say this before. I used to think the strongest earthly tie is the tie of a mother for her baby, or a father for his son. But then when you have children you start to think that the strongest earthly tie must be the grandparents for the grandchildren. Because as far as the grandparents are concerned the grandchildren can never do anything wrong and there are never enough toys to give them. You can’t spoil them. Isn’t that right? “To destroy all the royal seed. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah,” his aunt, “she took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him even him and his nurse in the bedchamber, from Athaliah, so that he was not slain. So h was hidden with her in the house of the Lord for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.” How many of David’s sons were left that could rule, through which the royal line would come? One baby. That’s pretty scary how close it came. He was only a breath away from the extermination of this royal line.

Now what can we learn from Joash? How did he grow in stature and in knowledge? He abode in the house of the Lord. That’s how he survived as the remnant. He was in the house of the Lord. How do we survive as the remnant? We have to abide in the house of the Lord. I’m not just talking about coming to church. I hope you’re mature enough as Christians to know you need to be here at least once a week. I would hope more than that, as you see the day approaching. But it’s beyond that. Christians, when they pray, we go into the house of the Lord. The Bible says we come boldly before the throne of grace. We’re entering into that heavenly temple because of Jesus. We see Him there. This is a wonderful story in the Bible because it’s a little microcosm of the second coming.

At the end of six years. Matter of fact, it’s as the Sabbath began. He is brought forth. They blow the trumpets. The people rejoice. Athaliah and everybody that follows her is slain. He is coroneted. He’s a type of Christ, who is going to be coroneted, I believe after 6,000 years. And that woman in Revelation 12, she’s like Athaliah, she’s slain and everyone that follows her. That’s what Revelation 18 is all about, the fall of Babylon. And Christ is coroneted; the trumpets blow when Jesus comes. Isn’t that right? All these things are sort of parables or allegories of what’s going to happen. But only a remnant was saved. A remnant of the seed of David. But then through that they were all revived once again because God preserved a remnant.

What about Elijah? Was he a remnant? Of all the prophets of God. They had been slain. Jezebel was killing them all. Matter of fact, Elijah, when he went he came to the prophets of Baal when they had that showdown on Mt. Carmel. And he said, “I alone am left of the prophets of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. I alone am left.” You saw that picture a moment ago when Elijah was in the cave. And what did he say to the Lord? He said, “I am the only one left. They have slain all the prophets.”

Now was he the only one left? He thought he was the only one left. And that’s where our lesson is. One of the things I believe we need to learn if we’re going to be a remnant of the remnant is being able to stand alone with God. Did Elijah spend time alone? Was he alone during the famine? Outside of being fed by the birds. He was isolated from his people. Was he alone on Mt. Carmel? He stood alone. He had that kind of courage, where everybody else disagreed with him, what he said was not popular. He had to stand against the government and the church, but he stood with God. And God stood with him. I believe he is a very good role model for us in the last days. If we’re going to be able to stand we all need to have a relationship with the Lord where when all human support is withdrawn we’re still standing. So Elijah was a remnant that was saved.

Judah, the people of God, were a remnant. Now how does this work. You remember the son of Solomon made a terrible political move. He had some bad advisors and he so insulted 10 of the tribes they said, “We no longer want to be ruled by the descendants of David.” So there was a big rift, a big split in the kingdom of God. Now instead of being the united kingdom of Israel, Israel was the northern 10 tribes and the southern kingdom, where Jerusalem was, was called Judah, the southern kingdom. It was split. But you know what happened. Israel was nervous that the people were going to be going down to Jerusalem to Judah to worship and they didn’t want them to have to do that. So King Jeroboam said, “Tell you what. Let’s make some altars here and let’s modify the religion a little bit. Let’s make it popular to keep the people coming to our church so they don’t go to their church.” Are you listening carefully to me? “Let’s modify the worship to keep them coming to our church so they don’t go down to Jerusalem to the temple like they’re commanded.” And in trying to please and to keep and to hold the people through popular trends they began to incorporate pagan ideas. They made golden calves and had the people worship like the heathen. Israel drifted away from God and began to worship the way the heathen do. They were carried away. Ten of the tribes were carried away by the Assyrians. The only thing that was left was Judah and a little bit of Benjamin and the southern kingdom.

Little trivia. Remember I told you a minute ago how Benjamin was whittled down to almost nothing. They never did become a big tribe again. Ten of the tribes lived in the north. Judah and Benjamin stayed in the south. They were the remnant. And the Levites, which were not considered a tribe because they did not get a territory. They were disbursed everywhere. Do you know why Benjamin stayed with Judah? It came to me the first time last week. I’m reading through the book of Joseph[?]. Who was it that interceded for Benjamin when Joseph said, “Let’s put him in prison”? Judah said, “I will be Benjamin’s substitute. You let him go back to his father and take me.” When Joseph heard that he couldn’t take it anymore. He broke down in tears. From that time on Benjamin and Judah sort of adopted each other. So the southern kingdom was the remnant. The other tribes had been carried off. They were all that was left. The Assyrians had destroyed them. And the Assyrians tried to destroy the southern kingdom of Judah. But God preserved them because they were still worshipping the true God at that time under Hezekiah.

You can read here [in] II Kings 19:4, “It may be,” this is where Hezekiah is praying. “It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh,” this butler of the king of Assyria who was insulting them. “Whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore,” he’s telling the people, “lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.” Only a remnant of Israel was left and it was in Judah. Isaiah came back later and he promised that God heard their prayer. 19:30, “And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.” Which makes me think of one of the other examples of a remnant in the Bible.

Have you read the story in Daniel 4 about Nebuchadnezzar having a dream of this big tree? This tree feeds the whole world, but then something happens. An angel comes down in divine justice. He’s got this heavenly chainsaw. He whacks the tree off right at the ground. And it’s bound with a band of brass and iron. And it’s left in the ground for seven years. It looks like it’s dead. It’s just a dead stump. All that’s left is a remnant. But you know, the roots are still there. When the wicked are destroyed there’s no remnant. It says Malachi, he’ll be destroyed root and branch, nothing left. But this stump is still left and after seven days it comes back and it grows into a tree again. Not only was this a prophecy about what was going to happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. That tree I think is a symbol for God’s people. God’s church is supposed to be a tree of life that feeds all nations. And more than once that tree has been cut down to the ground and it looked like it was gone. But it continues to come back. And especially after seven years. I believe that after these 7,000 years, including the millennium, God is going to plant His people again in the earth. Isn’t that right? So there’s much more to the word of God than we can sometimes see on the surface.

When you continue to march through the Bible, as we near the time of Christ there’s another example of a remnant. The children of Judah eventually started to do like the children of Israel. They worshipped pagan gods; they compromised with the religions around them. God said OK. Judgment came. Nebuchadnezzar came. He destroyed the temple. He destroyed many of the people. Some of them were carried away captive into the land of Babylon and they lived there 70 years. Then after 70 years they became comfortable. A proclamation was made that they could go home. The king of Persia said, “You’re free to go.” But you know what happened? Of the remnant of Judah that survived in Babylon only a remnant of the remnant had the courage and the yearning to go back to the Promise Land. I mean, if you live somewhere 70 years you’d speak the language, you’d be comfortable. It’s like after Israel became established as a nation in 1948, most of the Jews were in other parts of the world. Only a fraction wanted to go back to Israel because they couldn’t speak the language anymore. They had their business and their family. And only a few were willing to leave Babylon and go to the Promise Land in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

This echoes down to Revelation 14 and 18 where it says, “Babylon is fallen, come out of her my people.” Who is it that God calls out of Babylon? It’s a remnant. Not all of them come. The plagues fall on those who remain in Babylon, but only a small fraction of the remnant come out of Babylon. Why? What were the characteristics of those who came out? They came out in three sets. One group left Babylon under Zerubbabel. Then another group left under Ezra. Then the third group 10 years later left under Nehemiah. In three waves they came out of Babylon into the Promise Land. One to establish things politically, one to establish things religiously, the third group came out of Babylon to establish things physically. Nehemiah came to build the temple up. Zerubbabel came to build the city up, the structure. And Ezra came to build up the religion. They had a vision and a purpose. They were not a passive people. The remnant of the remnant that will be saved they are people who have a mission. They want to build. They want to build up the church in its structure, in its faith, in its mission. And these were the characteristics of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Let me read some of these to you. Ezra 9:8. Listen to the language. And he’s praying here. “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God might enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” God was reviving the remnant. Ezra 9:14-15, when the people began to start to compromise with the nations around them after they had gone back Ezra warned them. “Should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so there would be no remnant or survivor?” Now that was the scariest thing you could say to a Jew. That no remnant would be left. No DNA, nothing left.

I understand that; let me make sure I get this to you right. The oldest viable seed that was found that sprouted was a bean that came from the tomb of Tutankhamen that was 3,400 years old. Can you imagine that? A seed 3,400 years old. A remnant. That variety of bean, probably because of the natural hybrid process, didn’t exist anywhere in the world anymore, but they found one bean and in theory they could revive the whole species or type of bean from one bean. It’s amazing what God can do. But if there were no beans left, no DNA, no people. And it happens through their marrying with the heathen.

Now we go to the New Testament. The children of Israel that came out of Babylon were a remnant that was saved from Babylon. A remnant from the remnant that went to Babylon. But what happened? Are you beginning to notice a trend? What typically happens to the remnant? They get soft, they lose their vision, they lose their courage. They begin to compromise with the environment that they’re in and God ends up having to either revive them or save a remnant from the remnant. What happened during the time of Jesus? Who was the remnant church when Jesus was born? The Jewish people. But did they accept Christ as a majority? After He preached for 3 ½ years, like no preacher ever preached. After He did more miracles than any one man had ever performed, and signs and wonders that you and I cannot even comprehend. If you lived back in the time of Christ and you saw those kind of healings. They weren’t this Benny Hinn variety where people say, “The pain in my back is gone.” I mean there were people who their arms were gone and an arm appears. Covered with leprosy—sound skin. Never seen before—perfect vision. Deaf from birth—now they can hear. Never spoke—they can sing. Never walk—now they can dance. Those are first class miracles. Dead four days, decomposing—back to life. That man walked the earth. And yet His own people did not accept Him. But some did.

And after He preached for 3 ½ years what did He have to show for it on the day of Pentecost? There was a remnant that was saved from the remnant. It’s called the church. Now you’re part of that. That was the apostles. And He poured out His Spirit upon them. This is how Paul identifies it in Romans 11:5, “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” What was it that qualified Noah to be a remnant? A willingness to walk with the Lord, but it was by what? Noah found grace. What is it that made the New Testament church the remnant? A willingness to follow Jesus, but did they have problems in their church? Just like the children of Israel were God’s remnant in the Old Testament, but they had problems. But it was grace. So now there is a spiritual remnant.

And you know what happened? As long as they were faithful there was persecution. The devil now tried to destroy the Christian church by exterminating them. Make it an illegal religion. See if you can just annihilate all of them the same way he tried to get rid of the house of David. That’s why all the babies were thrown in the river. He tried to get rid of all the baby boys in Egypt. The devil’s always been trying to eliminate the remnant and the seed. But God preserved them. Well, you know, the more that he persecuted the Christians the more they grew. You’ve probably heard someone said, “The blood of the martyrs is seed.” It’s like trying to get rid of star thistle by mowing it. I saw someone one time, all the star thistle in their yard. They said, “Don’t worry, I mowed it all.” I said, “Now all you’re going to have is thicker, shorter star thistle.” You don’t get rid of it that way. And as they tried to mow down the Christians they came up thicker.

So what the devil could not do through persecution he tried to accomplish through politics, through compromise. It became a legal religion. And now the church became very popular, but they compromised and they ceased to be the remnant. God now had to save a remnant from the remnant of the New Testament church. And a lot of times it looked like the light went out. Matter of fact, the Bible says that for over 1,260 years God’s church had to prophesy through sackcloth. The truth was obscured. It looked like the light was almost out, but He had His people in many different parts of the world who were still faithful. They were an invisible remnant. They didn’t come to the surface. But then about 1500 a man named Martin Luther came along and there was a revival in the remnant. And they began to rally around the message of let’s get back to the Bible and away from the political version of religion. And a number of different denominations sprang up during that time. Of course the Lutherans were formed because they followed Martin Luther. And you’ve got Calvinists and the Baptists connected with them. And you’ve got the Methodists who followed John Wesley.

All these different churches rose up because the church had become so dark and so far from God during the Dark Ages that no one group of people could get it all back together. It seems that different aspects of the revival, different elements of this remnant discovered different elements of truth. But then, about 1844 God said He was going to cleanse the sanctuary. Not only the sanctuary in heaven, but He began to cleanse the sanctuary on earth from the truth that had been cast to the ground. And He began to pull together the remnant that we’re part of. Different people from many different persuasions, Presbyterians and Methodists and Baptists and even Catholics and all different persuasions, they began to come together. And they studied the Bible and in essence they said, “Let’s forget about what our church teaches. Let’s find out what the word of God teaches.” And the Lord was able to revive a remnant from the fragments of truth that had been beaten down during the Dark Ages.

Now that movement is the one that I am a part of and many of you, and I’m very excited about. But I’m not gullible and patronizing enough to lead you to believe that all you’ve got to do is be a member of this movement and you automatically become God’s view of the remnant. I still think that He’s only going to save a remnant of the remnant. I have to be faithful to you, friends. I like to say amen when I hear people up front. You’ve got a thousand people at some camp meeting and the pastor prays, “Lord, those who are here, let not one be missing when Jesus comes.” And I think, “Yes, Lord, that’d be nice.” But that’s not the way it’s going to happen, friends. I’d just like to be realistic. I like to be honest. I don’t like to give you animated versions of Christianity.

Jesus said, “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it.” Do you think that’s talking about the world or could that also apply to the church? What has been the history we’ve just reviewed of God’s people, of the remnant? Was it the majority of the remnant who were willing to follow? Or does it seem that He’s always saving a remnant of the remnant? Because so many people get stuck in the mud. I don’t want you to be just stuck in the mud. There’s no reason that anybody here or anybody who might be listening cannot be a revived remnant. You can be. If you’re not it’s not God’s fault. You can be if you want to be. We have the counsel in His word. He’s given us the examples that we can follow so that we can have that faith.

Let me read this from Zephaniah 3:13, God wants His remnant to be holy. You can be holy. God says, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” God will never ask you to be anything you cannot be. In fact, the word be is an enabling word when it comes from God. When God said, “Let there be light,” there was light. And when He says, “Be ye holy,” the same thing can happen to you that happened to that leper. When the Lord said, “I will be thou clean,” he was clean. When God says, “Be thou holy,” you can be holy. If you believe His word all things are possible. “The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.” This is some of the criteria. He’s calling us to be holy. He promises that He will gather His remnant. They’re composed of people from everywhere. “I will gather the remnant of my flock from all countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their folds. And they will be fruitful and increase.” The remnant that are few will increase and be many. That’s His plan for you and me.

Now my Jewish brothers and sisters want to believe this prophecy is talking about the Jews, the great dispersion all over the world, and they’re the remnant and they’re all brought back to the Promise Land. I do think there’s a parallel fulfillment there, on a literal, historical level. But what are the New Testament prophecies talking about when they say the remnant? One race of people? Or a spiritual Israel? It’s supposed to be His people who are gathered from all over the world. They’re not just Jews. And they are called to be a holy nation, a new people. And He will revive that remnant.

There’s a few things I want to read here that are solemn. Here’s a quote from a General Conference bulletin by my favorite author. July 1, 1900. “It’s a solemn statement that I make to the church that not one in 20 whose names are registered on the church books are prepared to close their earthly history. And would be verily without God as without hope in the world as the common sinner.” Not one in 20 that are in the church and this was the turn of the century. Do you think conditions have improved or worsened from that time to the present? Here’s a message, eight testimonies, 148. “Not one in a hundred among us is doing anything beyond engaging in common worldly enterprises. We’re not half awake to the worth of the souls for whom Christ died.” One of the characteristics of the remnant is they’ve got a living, vital experience with the Lord and they’re working for the salvation of others. So if you want to evaluate, “Lord, am I part of that remnant? I want to be like Noah. I want to be like Gideon. I want to be like Joash. I want to be like Ezra and Nehemiah. I want to be like Abraham, willing to follow.” Then we need to study these heroes in the Bible and ask God, by His grace, to help us moment by moment to follow Him.

You care about what you invest in. The Lord has made a great investment in each one of us. And Jesus has paid a great price that we might be saved. The Bible tells us that the dragon is wroth with the woman and he goes to make war with the remnant of her seed, that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. That means that we’ve got the word of God in our hearts, the law and the prophets. It means more than that, but at least on the very basics means that. What is another word for Jesus? Isn’t He the word? “Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin.” It’s not just memorizing scripture, it means thy word, Jesus, in my heart, that I might not sin. “If we abide in Him we sinneth not.” It’s the only way to live a holy life, is to have Christ in us, the hope of glory. And the only way we can do that, friends, is by following Him moment by moment. Amen?

I want to be among those who are in the remnant of the remnant. How about you? Maybe you’re part of the remnant now, but you’re not the remnant of the remnant. This gets confusing. Follow me. You’re part of the remnant, but you want to be part of the remnant of the remnant. Amen? Well that means the remnant needs to be revived. And the Bible tells us in His word God can do that. And if you believe He can then why don’t you turn to your hymnals. Let’s go to 483 and we’ll sing about this together, I Need Thee Every Hour.

When Jesus came the first time He shocked everybody because the people that Jesus identified as the remnant were not at all what the church expected. It was not the lawyers and the scribes and the Sadducees and the Pharisees that rallied around the Savior when He walked the earth. It was what some people would think of as the off scouring of society. It was the common folk, the shepherds and the fishermen, the publicans and the harlots. The remnant isn’t always what we think it is. Some of you might think, “I’m not worthy to be part of the remnant.” Maybe that’s what makes you worthy. You can find grace if you’re willing to follow. And you can follow Him if you do it moment by moment, hour by hour.

There may be some here who, you’re questioning, “Lord, do I have these characteristics? I want to follow like Abraham. I want to prepare like Noah. I want to have that Spirit filled experience like the apostles.” You can ask for that and I believe you can get it by coming just like you are and claiming His promises. If that’s your desire and you’d like to express that by making some special demonstration, come to the front. We’ll have prayer for you specifically as we sing verse two.

We see at the beginning, the Lord prophesied there would be enmity; there’d be resistance, animosity between the woman and the serpent. We see at the very end of the Bible that the dragon is going to be wroth with the remnant. But that doesn’t worry me, friends. I’d rather have the approval of Jesus and the anger of the enemy than the other way around. How about you? But let’s face it. It can be discouraging. If you’re in this life and you felt the wrath and the breath of the dragon it can get you down. But if the Lord is with you all the time, if He is in your heart, you can make it through. Moment by moment and hour by hour. There may be others who would like to come and ask for special strength. Come as we sing the last verse. We’re going to pray together that we can be the remnant of the remnant.

Now this feels like the remnant church. When we really know what it means and we say, “Lord, I want to be in that group.” He invites us. He says, “Come.” We must not presume, but we must believe. And I want to thank you for that decision. Let’s pray together.

Father in heaven, this is a difficult study. It’s an eye opening study. We can see that there has been an attack in the Bible, that the devil has put a price on the head of everybody who wants to follow Jesus. He would like to annihilate, to exterminate, to commit genocide against the church. But we just praise you, Lord, that through history you have continued to keep the root in the ground sprouting up again and again. We know at the end of time there’ll be another concerted effort made by the enemy to get your remnant church to compromise with the world. And perhaps only some will listen and come out of Babylon. I pray, Lord, that we will be faithful that Babylon will not be in us. We ask, Lord, that we will keep our eyes on Jesus, that we can abide in your house and follow by faith, prepare to the saving of our homes. Help us not to be careless or reckless about what it really means to be the remnant, to be covered with the coat of Jesus’ righteousness. Bless us, Lord. We’re coming humbly; we’re asking that we might find deliverance, even as Hezekiah did and trusting that we will. Please be with each of us with our respective struggles. We have felt the enmity of the serpent, the wrath of the dragon, and I pray that we will know that in that war that’s being waged we can be victorious as we invite Jesus inside and keep our eyes fixed on Him. And it’s in His name we pray, Amen.

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Revival for Mission by Mark Finley

Revival for Mission by Mark Finley
God's Promises




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