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The Woman who fled

Query for the Month

of

November 2015

Next up-date: December 1st 2015 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

 

This article is available as a PDF file here.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!
 

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

In the meantime, try this site.   

 

Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.

In this reply the old-fashioned words of the KJV have been modernised, and in some instances, the man-made punctuation has been altered for greater understanding.  Some of the comments are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.  All the ideas expressed in this article, right or wrong, are my own.   


 The query:

In Revelation 12:6 the “woman” who represents God’s church is said to flee into the wilderness (the places where few men dwell, which were literally OUTSIDE of Europe) during the Papal dominancy from 538 -1798, and stay in those places protected from the Roman Catholic system while being nourished by God.

But in Revelation 12:14 she is given extra speed (eagles’ wings) during one of the alternative time periods, where she is again protected from the direct attack from Satan.  Why?  Is the provision of the “wings” a signal to us of a change in the prophecy, as does the alteration in the description of the period? 

Response:

To be able to rationalise this query we need to see the whole story in context, for this is the beginning of a new prophetic timeline.

We are told that:

{GC 438.2} 

The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found [the beast, the image, the mark, which are last-day codes] begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth.  The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. 

But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion

Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome.

We, therefore, in this chapter, begin by reading about the church of God in the first centuries AD, but then progress on to the end of time.  As we read, let’s note the differences in the texts, for the Spirit of God has deliberately used different phrases to describe similar, but different, actions and events.  We should be aware that these differences tell us that although the events are alike in character, they are NOT alike in length or circumstance! 

Revelation 12:

1 And there appeared a great wonder [an awesome sight] in heaven [in John’s vision]; [it was] a woman [the church of God] clothed with the sun [the righteousness of Christ], and [having] the moon under her feet [reflecting His image], and upon her head a crown of twelve stars [the apostles]: 2 and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained [longed] to be delivered. 

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon [a beast representing Satan’s agents on earth], having seven heads [one of which represented Pagan Rome] and ten horns [the minor nations of the empire, three of which the Papal head would dispose of], and seven crowns upon his heads [illustrating that the seven major nations were in charge of the world at various times – in the case of this prophecy it was the 4th head – Pagan Rome.  The three previous ones had been Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece.] 

[Then we are told about the other aspect of Satan’s kingdom.]

4 And [with] his tail [the dragon] drew the third part of the stars of heaven [the angels who joined him in the heavenly rebellion], and did cast [draw] them to the earth [he did not force, but persuaded them as a mother cat wraps her tail around her kittens]:

and the dragon [Satan, through Pagan Rome] stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born [about 4BC]. 5 And she brought forth a man Child [as of one, Jesus Christ], who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron [the unbending force of love]: and her Child was caught up to God, and to His throne [at His ascension after the crucifixion]

After that [in 34AD] the first persecution of Christians began, which caused them to fulfil the following command, which, if they had obeyed earlier, would have saved them much grief.  

“And He said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned [self-condemned]”.  Mark 16:15-16.

Acts 8:

1 And Saul [later known as Paul] was consenting to his [Stephen’s] death.  And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria [which were close by], except the apostles [who stayed in Jerusalem, held there by their attraction to the temple]

Later it was written:

Acts 11:

19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen [later] travelled as far as Phenice [aka Phoenix, a harbour in Crete], and Cyprus, and Antioch [the 3rd largest city in the Roman Empire, in modern-day Turkey], preaching the word to none but to the Jews only.

20 And [but] some of them were men [originally] of Cyprus and Cyrene [Greek Jews], which, when they were come to Antioch, spoke to the Grecians [non-believers], preaching the LORD Jesus. 21 And the hand of the LORD was with them: and a great number believed, and turned to the LORD. 

Time went by and the persecutions increased:

Revelation 12:

6 And the woman fled [which tells us that some 500 years later under God’s direction, from 538AD the bulk of His people left Europe and travelled to the rest of the world] into the wilderness [where few men dwelt], where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [1260 day/years].

This dispersion occurred at different times over the years from 538AD to 1798AD, and during that time the Son of God used it to protect His people from the Roman Catholic system.  Of course, some stayed in Europe just as some of the earlier Christians had stayed in Jerusalem – but it was not God’s plan that they should do so, except at His direct suggestion.  Therefore much (but not all) of the persecutions suffered by those ones were caused by their own lack of obedience.

For some of the experiences and history of the dispersed ones see

http://ancient-sda.com/truthtriumphant/introduction.html

and

http://ancient-sda.com/centuries/centuries.html

Then we come to the next few verses in Revelation chapter 12, which, although they appear to describe the conflict as it had begun in heaven millennia before that time, have another meaning, and are being used here to describe the decisive battle of that war which took place at Calvary, and to tell us of the results of the conflict at the end of the earthly life of Christ.  This time it was not only words, but also actions!

[We should always remember that most of the prophecies in the Bible have three applications.  The first, which is local and historical and concerns the literal participants; a second, which applies to all whom the subjects represent over a long period; and a third, which shows a repetition of the events but encapsulated into a relatively brief time in the last days. 

With that in mind, we can reread those verses:

Revelation 12:

7 And there was [a] war [of words] in heaven [as there would be at Calvary and during the 1260 years, and will be in our future, for God does not fight as men do]: Michael [the Son of God] and His angels fought against [pleaded with] the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 and prevailed not [in the argument]; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [They then left God’s presence of their own accord.  Jude 1:6 and Revelation 12:4.] 

9 And the great dragon was cast out [by his own choice, because no one in heaven would listen to him anymore], that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him [which he then claimed as his headquarters]

God NEVER leaves any one of His own choice – He only accepts the decision   when that person refuses to be helped and leaves Him.  Nor does He punish, hurt or destroy, anyone at any time for any reason, that is all brought about by separation from divine protection.

Here is the inspired record:

***************(Begin Quote)

{PP 39.1-2}

In great mercy, according to His divine character, God bore long with Lucifer [when it all began].  The spirit of discontent and disaffection had never before been known in heaven.  It was a new element, strange, mysterious, unaccountable. 

Lucifer himself had not at first been acquainted with the real nature of his feelings; for a time he had feared to express the workings and imaginings of his mind; yet he did not dismiss them.  He did not see whither he was drifting. 

But such efforts as infinite love and wisdom only could devise, were made to convince him of his error.  His disaffection was proved to be without cause, and he was made to see what would be the result of persisting in revolt.  Lucifer was convinced that he was in the wrong.  He saw that “the Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works” (Psalm 145:17); that the divine statutes are just, and that he ought to acknowledge them as such before all heaven. 

Had he done this, he might have saved himself and many angels.  He had not at that time fully cast off his allegiance to God.  Though he had left his position as covering cherub [Exodus 25:20], yet if he had been willing to return to God, acknowledging the Creator's wisdom, and satisfied to fill the place appointed him in God's great plan, he would have been reinstated in his office [forgiven and cleansed].  The time had come for a final decision; he must fully yield to the divine sovereignty or place himself in open rebellion.  He nearly reached the decision to return, but pride forbade him.  It was too great a sacrifice for one who had been so highly honored to confess that he had been in error, that his imaginings were false, and to yield to the authority which he had been working to prove unjust. 

A compassionate Creator, in yearning pity for Lucifer and his followers, was seeking to draw them back from the abyss of ruin into which they were about to plunge.  But His mercy was misinterpreted. 

{GC 495.2}  

He [Satan] sought to create sympathy for himself by representing that God had dealt unjustly with him in bestowing supreme honor upon Christ.  He claimed that in aspiring to greater power and honor he was not aiming at self-exaltation, but was seeking to secure liberty for all the inhabitants of heaven, that by this means they might attain to a higher state of existence.

Lucifer pointed to the long-suffering of God as an evidence of his own superiority, an indication that the King of the universe would yet accede to his terms.  If the angels would stand firmly with him, he declared, they could yet gain all that they desired.  He persistently defended his own course, and fully committed himself to the great controversy against his Maker. 

Thus it was that Lucifer, “the light bearer,” the sharer of God's glory, the attendant of His throne, by transgression became Satan, “the adversary” of God and holy beings and the destroyer of those whom Heaven had committed to his guidance and guardianship. [And thus did those who followed him.] 

***************(End Quote)

He and his host came to this earth and beguiled Adam and Eve, continuing the war through humanity over the next 4,000 years, and meanwhile travelling the universe (outside of heaven) to gloat over his apparent victories.  But then things changed, on earth as they had in heaven. 

Revelation 12:

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “[But] now [at the cross] is come [is seen] salvation, and strength, and the [true] kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brothers [and sisters] is cast down [a second time], which accused them before our God day and night.  [His criticism was never-ending, but now it was seen by the angels and the people of the universe for what it was, lies and deception and hatred.]

11 And they [the saints of God] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them, [but] woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!  For the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a [relatively] short time”.

How did he know?

{DA 746.4} 

And Satan with his angels, in human form, was present at the cross [and could be seen by the peoples of the universe]. The archfiend and his hosts were co-operating with the priests and rulers.  The teachers of the people had stimulated the ignorant mob to pronounce judgment against One upon whom many of them had never looked, until urged to bear testimony against Him.  Priests, rulers, Pharisees, and the hardened rabble were confederated together in a satanic frenzy [mob fury].  Religious rulers united with Satan and his angels.  They were doing his bidding. 

{DA 753.1-2}

So great was this [spiritual] agony [while He was on the cross] that His [the Son of God’s] physical pain was hardly felt. 

Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus.  The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb.  Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice.  He feared that sin [which He had borne since the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8] was so offensive to God that Their separation was [now] to be eternal. [This is the effect of the second death. This is true, but not in the way Satan portrayed it to Him.] 

Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race.  It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father's wrath upon Him as man's substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of man. 

{DA 758.2 - 759.2} 

To the angels and the unfallen worlds the cry, “It is finished”, [John 19:30] had a deep significance.  It was for them as well as for us that the great work of redemption had been accomplished.  They with us share the fruits of Christ's victory. 

Not until the death of Christ was the character of Satan clearly revealed to the angels or to the unfallen worlds.  The archapostate had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings had not understood his principles.  They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion [or its result]

It was a being of wonderful power and glory that had set himself against God.  Of Lucifer the Lord says, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Ezekiel 28:12.  Lucifer had been the covering cherub. (Exodus 25:19-20.)  He had stood in the light of God's presence.  He had been the highest of all created beings, and had been foremost in revealing God's purposes to the universe.  After he had sinned, his power to deceive was the more deceptive, and the unveiling of his character was the more difficult, because of the exalted position he had held with the Father. 

God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this.  Rebellion was not to be overcome by force.  Compelling power is found ONLY under Satan's government.  The Lord's principles are not of this order.  His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used.  God's government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power [the rod of iron]

It was God's purpose to place things on an eternal basis of security [Nahum 1:9], and in the councils of heaven it was decided that time must be given for Satan to develop the principles which were the foundation of his system of government [the survival of the fittest].  He had claimed that these were superior to God's principles [helping one another]. Time was given for the working of Satan's principles, that they might be seen by the heavenly universe. 

The events which occurred around the time of Calvary at last showed Satan in his true light to the loyal angels and the peoples of the universe.  The “veil” was torn from their eyes by his own actions, not just the word of God.  From that moment on they would not even listen to him or his companions or welcome them into their presence, and so he remained on earth harassing those who had accepted the LORD’s invitation to be saved.

Revelation 12:

13 And when the dragon saw that he was [again] cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man Child [this time through the Papal power, the fifth head].

     [This first of the great persecutions (there were to be three of them) lasted for 1260 years.

The next few verses give us a considerable insight into what the dragon did during that time:

Daniel 7:

21 I beheld, and the same [the little] horn [the imitation church, Satan’s other puppet, the Papacy] made war with the saints, and prevailed against them [for 1,260 years];  

22 UNTIL

the Ancient of days [the Father] came [to the judgment in 1844.  Then began the period of relative religious peace in which we have lived until today],

But before that, this happened:

Daniel 7:

13 “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man [God the Son] came with the clouds of heaven [some loyal angels], and came to the Ancient of days [God the Father], and they brought Him near before Him.  14 And [in the judgment that followed] there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages [those whose names were accepted in the judgment], should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed”. 

However, Satan will not give up easily, so there will be a second terrible time of trouble just before the Second Advent, in which the people of God will apparently be beaten again (as Christ appeared to be on the cross)!   That’s when they flee “into the wilderness” again, but this time very hurriedly as shown by the wings.

The “time” is the same in character, but NOT in length, for after the events of 1844 prophetic time (the day for a year principle) no longer applies. 

We have been told that in another place:

Revelation 10:6-7.

And [the Angel] swore by Him that lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be [prophetic] time no longer: but in the days of the voice [the trumpet] of the seventh angel [Revelation 11:15], when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God [the teaching of the gospel] should be finished, as He has declared to His servants the prophets.

{7BC 971.7}  

This time, which the angel declares with a solemn oath, is not the end of this world's history, neither of probationary time, but of prophetic time, which should precede the advent of our Lord. That is, the people will not have another message upon definite time. After this period of time, reaching from 1842 to 1844, there can be no definite tracing of the prophetic time [from a beginning to an ending]. The longest reckoning [in prophecy] reaches to the autumn [October] of 1844. 

This does not mean the times are not real, but that we can no longer point to a positive start, and therefore, a certain end.  God has also said in Revelation chapter 10:11 that His people must “prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” at the end of which “loud” cry they will be hated by all those who have rejected the call.  This will also lead to another disappointment, or “bitter belly”, which is why chapter eleven is written as it is, using the horrors of the French Revolution as an example. 

But, carrying on with our query, we read that at the end of the last call;     

Revelation 12:

14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle [implying great speed], that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [3 years], from the face of the serpent [not just the Papacy]. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood [a great many combinations of people] after the woman [using ALL his forces], that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 

The major persecutions of 538 – 1798 were slow starting under the Papacy (see note 1), but the second time under the eighth head of the beast (Revelation 17:11), the reaction will be much quicker, leading quickly to a universal death decree.  The first time there were places and people to go to for safety, but in the last days there will be no refuge except in God.  Some of it is called “Jacob’s trouble” in another place.  (Jeremiah 30:7.)

Revelation 12:

16 And the [lonely places of the] earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood [of people] which the dragon cast out of his mouth. [There will be no gospel teaching then, for they will be hiding from those who would like to kill them.]

17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [her children, not One this time, but many], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. 

Daniel 12:1.

“At that time shall Michael stand up [cease His work as a Mediator], the great Prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the Book [of Life]”. 

It is at that time that the number of His subjects will finally be made up; “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven”, will be given to the heirs of salvation, and Jesus will reign as KING of kings and LORD of lords.  Daniel 7:27; Revelation 11:15.

Here are some details of the second persecution.

{GC 615.2}

As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand [and desecrate the Sabbath] will make them objects of universal execration.

[It is NOT the refusal to observe Sunday as a holy day,

but the refusal to dishonour the Sabbath of the LORD our God

that upsets the opponents of God!]

It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. 

The same argument many centuries ago was brought against Christ by the “rulers of the people.” “It is expedient for us,” said the wily Caiaphas, “that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” John 11:50. This argument will appear conclusive; and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death.

Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts. 

How will the remnant feel about this?

{GC 618.3 - 619.3} 

As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost. Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested.

As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them [as he did with Christ on the cross] with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away.  He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God. 

Though God's people will be surrounded by enemies who are bent upon their destruction, yet the anguish which they suffer is not a dread of persecution for the truth's sake; they fear that every sin has not been repented of, and that through some fault in themselves they will fail to realize the fulfillment of the Saviour's promise:  I “will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.” Revelation 3:10.

If they could have the assurance of pardon they would not shrink from torture or death [yet they were literally pardoned when they first confessed]; but should they prove unworthy, and lose their lives because of their own defects of character [they were unsure of themselves], then God's holy name would be reproached . . .

They afflict their souls before God, pointing to their past repentance of their many sins, and pleading the Saviour's promise: “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me”.  Isaiah 27:5. Their faith does not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. (Luke 18:1-8.) Though suffering the keenest anxiety, terror, and distress, they do not cease their intercessions. They lay hold of the strength of God as Jacob laid hold of the Angel; and the language of their souls is:

                   “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me”. [Genesis 32:26.] 

{Christ Triumphant 248.6}

The enmity of Satan will continue, fierce and determined, against the followers of Jesus.  Christ has said to His faithful ones, “They have persecuted Me; they will also persecute you”.  There can be no enmity between fallen angels and fallen human beings who have practiced the very works and sport of Satan . . .  Evil—wherever it exists, in rejecting light and truth and departing from the living God—will always league [combine] against the righteous and obedient.—Manuscript 62, 1886. 

{7BC 972.5}

Under the symbols of a great red dragon, a leopardlike beast, and a beast with lamblike horns [in Revelation chapter 13], the earthly governments which would especially engage in trampling upon God's law and persecuting His people, were presented to John. 

The war is carried on till the close of time. 

The people of God, symbolized by a holy woman and her children, were represented as greatly in the minority. 

In the last days only a remnant still existed. 

Of these John speaks as they “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”.  (ST Nov.  1, 1899). 

 

Conclusion:

Verses 6 and 14 in Revelation 12 describe two things which are called by the same name, but which are different!  The persecution is the same, but the people and time are different.

šššš

 

 

Note 1:

***************(Begin Quote)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Inquisition

The Medieval Inquisition was a series of Inquisitions (Catholic Church bodies charged with suppressing heresy) from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition (1184-1230s) and later the Papal Inquisition (1230s). 

The Medieval Inquisition was established in response to movements considered apostate or heretical to Christianity, in particular Catharism and Waldensians in southern France and northern Italy.  These were the first inquisition movements of many that would follow.

The Cathars were first noted in the 1140s in southern France, and the Waldensians around 1170 in northern Italy.  Individual “Heretics”, such as Peter of Bruis, had often challenged the Church.  However, the Cathars were the first mass heretical organization in the second millennium that posed a serious threat to the authority of the Church.  This article covers only these early inquisitions, not the Roman Inquisition of the 16th century onwards, or the somewhat different phenomenon of the Spanish Inquisition (late 15th century), which was under the control of the Spanish monarchy using local clergy.  The Portuguese Inquisition (16th century) and various colonial branches followed the same pattern.

***************(End Quote)

šššš


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated,

but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

 

Next query. To be discussed from December 1st 2015.

Next query:

In Revelation 12:6 the “woman” is said to flee into the wilderness (the places where few men dwell which were literally OUTSIDE of Europe) during the Papal dominancy, and stay there protected from the Roman Catholic system while being nourished by God. 

 But in 12:14 she is given extra speed (eagles’ wings) during one of the alternative time periods where she is protected from the direct attack from Satan.  Why?  The provision of the “wings” should be a signal to us as an “extra”, similar to the change in terminology of the period. 

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