War on Earth
The war in heaven occurred before the creation of the earth and all its inhabitants. This conclusion can be made because, before mankind was created the dragon was already there in its fallen state masquerading as a snake (see Gen. 3;1-5; Eze. 28:13). The war on earth began, because the dragon deceived mankind into eating the forbidden fruit, the aftermath of which, included a declaration of war:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Gen. 3:15.
Thus, the battle for the control of the earth is enjoined. This will be a war to the death. One side will lose and the other side will win. The latter half of the Book of Revelation, is about an introduction to this war and the final outcome of this war.
The prophecy about the war in Genesis says that there will be war between the woman and the dragon. It would be a ‘forever war’ because it would be a war not just between the two principles but it would also be between the descendants/followers, of the two principles. It should therefore, come as no surprise to see the opponent of the dragon portrayed as a woman, about to give birth:
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. Rev. 1:1, 2.
The woman is a symbolic portrayal of God’s people, His Kingdom or His Church (see Jer. 16:2; Isa. 51:16). This symbolic portrayal, becomes even more obvious when we acknowledge that the dragon’s kingdom is also symbolically portrayed as a woman (see Rev. 17:1-5). However, the difference between them is very stark. God’s Kingdom is represented by a virtuous moral woman. The dragon’s kingdom is represented by an evil prostitute (see Rev. 17:1-5).
The virtuous woman is clothed with the sun because the sun is a symbol of Christ (see Mal. 4:2). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12). The fact that Satan has deceived people into worshipping the physical light, instead of the Creator of the light, is simply further evidence of his counterfeiting corruption, and has obscured the fact that the sun was originally, and still is, a symbol of Christ. Being therefore, clothed with the sun, the church is clothed with the glory and righteousness of Christ. The woman is also standing on the moon. She is standing on the moon, because, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so too, does the church reflect the light of Christ. She is wearing a crown because she is the kingdom of God on earth, she is: “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:9). This is further proven by the 12 stars in the crown. God established His first kingdom (or church) on 12 tribes, and His second on 12 apostles. The number 12 represents the kingdom of God.
Jesus becomes the Son of Man
The war between Christ and Satan, was/is sometimes fought with bombs and bullets, but that is the war on the physical visible level. The other level is a war for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people. God invites us to “come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). Heaven, lost one third of its inhabitants because Lucifer won the hearts and minds of one third of the angels. Therefore, God has embarked upon an amazing plan of salvation – a plan designed to win the war for the hearts and minds of His universe. This plan is centered around Michael becoming the Son of Man. This is why the woman standing on the moon is about to give birth. This is heaven’s champion about to enter human history. Just before Michael left heaven, He spoke these words to the Father:
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Ps 40:6-8.
With these words, Michael is expressing that He knows why He is being sent to enter the human race. He says that sacrifices and offerings were not what the Father really wanted. This is because the sacrifices and offerings were merely a shadow pointing to a greater reality. The sacrifices and offerings were pointing to the coming of the promised Messiah. The whole purpose of the Old Testament was to prepare the people of God and the world at large, for the Messiah to come and lead His people to victory in the war.
We know, that this is Michael speaking in heaven before His incarnation as Jesus Christ, because Paul quotes Him in Hebrews. Not only does Paul quote these verses, He tells us that this is Jesus speaking before His incarnation, but Paul also adds some additional information:
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Heb. 10:5-10.
Paul clarifies for us, what Jesus was saying in heaven before His incarnation. Paul explains that the bodies that were used for sacrifices and offerings were not good enough to save the human race. In order for human beings to triumph in the war, a body was prepared for Michael/Jesus to inhabit as a human being. It is the sacrifice of this body that would guarantee the victory in the war. The sacrifice of this body, is the foundation of further victories won and a harbinger of the ultimate victory and the end of the war.
When the disciples of Jesus were anxiously watching Jesus disappear into the clouds at His ascension to heaven. Angels appeared to comfort and console them; this is what the angels said:
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:10, 11.
The angels wanted the anxious men to know, that “this same Jesus” would return. In other words, Jesus would always be a man. Prior to this, whatever, form Jesus had in heaven, was now over. From this time onwards, Jesus would always be a part of the human race. And not just a part of the human race, but the human race’s new champion, the Second Adam (see 1 Cor. 15:45-49) and the new king.
Satan is a Bible student. He knew that the Messiah would come. He was ready and waiting for that great event when it occurred:
…and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. Rev. 12:4.
Satan’s attempt to kill Jesus, when He was a baby, was prophesied long in advance (see Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17, 18). However, God was prepared and plans were already in place to protect the baby by escaping to Egypt. Nevertheless, it was still Satan’s plan to kill Jesus, but he did not want to do it openly, he wanted to use proxy forces, he wanted to use the religious and political leaders to do it. Jesus knew about the plots and plans to kill Him, He said to the Jewish leaders:
Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? Jn. 7:19.
Of course, the leaders denied that they were planning to kill Jesus, but their denials were proven to be false when they conspired with Judas to arrest Jesus and then demand that the Romans crucify Him. The reason why this is important is because this is a type which will have an antitype fulfillment in the future. Jesus said:
…if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you… Jn. 15:20.
…the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. Jn. 16:2.
Satan thought that if he killed Jesus, he could win the war. However, when he finally achieved his goal, the death of Jesus turned into defeat for Satan. Jesus won the war through His death and resurrection. Nevertheless, in spite of the failure of his plans, Satan is using the same tactic against God’s people. Jesus was given three and a half literal years to sow the seed – Satan was given three and a half spiritual years (1260 years) to destroy the seed. If it was not for God’s protection, none of God’s people would have survived the onslaught (see Matt. 24:21, 22). Yet, in spite of these failures in the past, these failures still serve as types for the future. The latter half of the Book of Revelation, is about Satan’s last attempt to kill every person on the planet who is willing to stand for Jesus Christ. However, this grand scheme will also result in failure. Just as God preserved Jesus as a child, and just as God preserved the ‘seed’ during the 1260 years, so too, He will preserve His people in the last days:
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Rev. 3:10.
The Woman in the Wilderness
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, He was “caught up unto God, and his throne.” This meant that Jesus was no longer accessible for satanic attacks, therefore Satan had no option, but to concentrate his assaults on the woman, therefore the woman fled into the wilderness:
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. Rev. 12:5, 6.
God’s protection accompanies the woman. It states that God has prepared a place for the woman, and that He would feed her there. Therefore, God’s people found places of refuge on the periphery of civilization. One place that God favored for protection was the mountains:
He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Isa. 33:15, 16.
The classic example of the woman in the wilderness is the Waldenses. They inhabited the high valleys of the European Alps. They preserved and copied the Scriptures; they conducted Bible schools and they evangelized the rest of Europe. The same can be said of the Celtic Church that occupied the outer reaches of Ireland and Scotland. They did the same as the Waldenses, persevering the Scriptures etc. But these are just the more prominent of the ‘church in the wilderness’ – there were many more, most of them only known to God.
Who is the Rightful King?
We should not be surprised when the Bible provides some hints that we are not alone in God’s universe. For example, we are told that Jesus made the ‘worlds’ – plural. (Heb. 1:2), and Nehemiah praises God because “thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host…” (Neh. 9:6). When God convened a congress in heaven attended by representatives of all the inhabited universe, Satan was also there in attendance:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. Job 1:6, 7; cf. 2:1, 2.
If Satan had been cast down to the earth, when he lost the war in heaven, why was he now allowed to enter heaven again? Answer: it is because he claimed to be the king of the earth (see Lu. 4:5-7; 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). Just as the citizens of democratic forms of government vote for candidates to represent them in the capital of the nation, so too, have the inhabitants of the earth, ‘voted’ for Satan, to be their representative in heaven. But when and how, did the human race ‘vote’ for Satan, to be their representative? Answer: we ‘vote’ for Satan every time we sin:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. Jn. 8:34.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Rom. 6:16.
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 2 Pet. 2:19.
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Tim. 2:26. cf. Prov. 5:22; Acts 8:23; Rom. 7:23.
Jesus promised dominion over the world (kingship) to Adam (see Gen. 1:28; Ps. 8:6). But when Adam sinned dominion over the world (kingship) passed into the hands of Satan. And because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), Satan’s rule over the world continued until he lost the kingship of the world at the cross:
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Rev. 12:10, 11.
Satan was defeated because of what Jesus accomplished at the cross. After His victory on the cross (and resurrection), “now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.” As a result of the victory “the accuser of our brethren is cast down” – Satan was cast out of heaven for the second and last time. He is no longer the ‘legal’ representative of the earth; he is no longer the king – Jesus has won back what Adam lost. This is why Jesus is called the Second Adam (see 1 Cor. 15:45-49). Adam was the first head of the human race, the first king, Jesus is now the rightful head of the human race and the king of all the world. When Jesus was meeting with his disciples after His resurrection, He informed them of the great changes that had taken place, as a result of His victory over Satan:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matt. 28:18.
The fact that Jesus now has these awesome powers, raises some interesting questions: if all power is now given to Jesus in heaven and earth, why does He not exercise the power that He now has? Why does he not come back and put an end to all the sin and suffering? Answering these questions requires, understanding the governing principles of God’s universe.
The first principle of God’s government, is that God does everything legally. God constantly exhorts His people to keep His laws. He is only asking us to observe what He Himself observes. God cannot ask us to keep His law, if He Himself does not do the same.
The great principle that governs in God’s universe – the principle that underlies everything else and is the foundation of everything else, is the principle of free will. All of God’s creation must have free will, because God constantly reminds all to keep His law. In other words, we have to choose, whether we will keep his law or not. It is an absurd notion to expect creation to keep the law, if creation does not have free will. Therefore, because free will is vital, to the good governance of His universe, God respects the free will choices of all His creation. He will not use His power to compel us to make choices that are contrary to our own will. And Jesus does the same. God’s kingdom does not operate on the principles of compulsion, it operates on the exercising of free will.
However, there is more. There are consequences for every choice that we make. As we have already noted if we choose sin, it places us in captivity. Legally we become the prisoners and possessions of Satan. Through Isaiah God asks a rhetorical question:
Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? Isa. 49:24.
Because people choose sin instead of righteousness, they automatically become legal captives of Satan, this is because they have ‘voted’ to follow Satan instead of Jesus. Therefore, Satan claims the legal right to represent all those who ‘voted’ for him. This is why he is back in heaven being the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). He is not content with claiming sinners for his prison house, he claims all of God’s people as well, because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Therefore, Satan accuses God of violating His own principles of legal governance. He claims all law breakers belong to him and God is unfairly interfering in his kingdom if he attempts to set the captives free. Therefore, God asks the rhetorical question, is it right and proper for me to set legal captives free? The answer is an emphatic yes! God answers his own question:
But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. Isa. 49:25; cf. Ps. 142:7; 146:7
This is why Jesus is sent to earth, incarnated as a human being. It is Jesus who will “contend with him that contendeth with thee.” Jesus was sent to earth to accomplish many things, but ultimately the main purpose was to set the ‘captives’ free:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Isa. 61:1; cf. Isa. 42:7.
When Jesus went ‘home’ to Nazareth, He wanted to explain, to those who thought they ‘knew’ Him, who He really was and what His mission was. Therefore, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day to declare who He was and what His mission was:
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. Lu. 4:17-21.
Jesus wanted the people of Nazareth and the whole world to know that He had come, in fulfillment of the promise made in Isaiah, that He had come to set the legal captives free. He spoke about this mission on other occasions and in different ways, for example:
No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Mk. 3:27; cf. Jn. 8:36; Rom. 8:2; Gal. 5:1; Isa. 14:17, 42:22
The ‘goods’ that are ‘spoiled’ are the dead and dying in Satan’s prisons. They are ‘spoiled’ by giving them new life and life eternal (see Jn. 10:10, 11:25).
However, we can only escape ‘the strong man’ if we choose to be free. And there are few that are courageous enough to choose Jesus and be set free. Therefore, even though “all power in heaven and earth” has now been given to Jesus, the fact that the majority always continue to ‘vote’ for Satan, means that Jesus restrains Himself from using His power, because He respects everyone’s free will.
However, the restraint will not last forever. The time when Jesus begins to exercise His power fully and appropriately is announced with the blowing of the seventh trumpet:
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. Rev. 11:15-17.
The great power of Jesus is exercised when the time of grace and mercy is over and it is time for justice and punishment. It was prophesied of the man child, that the woman brought forth, that He would “rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5). This prophecy is fulfilled when Jesus comes back as Lord of KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (see Rev. 19:15).
The Persecution of the Woman
Just before His crucifixion Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (Jn. 12:31). When Jesus said ‘cast out’ what did He mean? Cast out of where? Answer: cast out of heaven for the second time. Because of sin and rebellion, Satan was allowed back in heaven. Because of the victory over sin, he is now cast out again:
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Rev. 12:10.
The inhabitants in heaven rejoice because the evil disrupting ‘accuser of the brethren’ has been locked out of heaven for ever. However, the consequences for the world and the woman are going to be severe:
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. Rev. 12:12.
Satan has been defeated. As a result of the defeat, he knows what the consequences are going to be. Commenting on Satan’s reaction to the resurrection of Christ, Ellen White wrote:
When he (Satan) saw Christ come forth in triumph, he knew that his kingdom would have an end, and that he must finally die. DA 782.
Prior to his defeat, Satan thought that he was secure in his possession of the earth. He thought that because he had corrupted the human race into sin and rebellion, that he would always be ‘king’ on the earth. In addition, he believed that he could use the earth as a launching pad into God’s universe, to corrupt other worlds into favoring his cause. When Jesus ascended to heaven, after his resurrection, we have some intriguing commentary, that points to the fact that Satan had ambitions, that were now thwarted:
There is the throne, and around it the rainbow of promise. There are cherubim and seraphim. The commanders of the angel hosts, the sons of God, the representatives of the unfallen worlds, are assembled. The heavenly council before which Lucifer had accused God and His Son, the representatives of those sinless realms over which Satan had thought to establish his dominion, – all are there to welcome the Redeemer. They are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King. DA 834.
Not only were Satan’s ambitions now crushed, there were even worse consequences in store for him. The ‘short time’ referred to, means that at some point in the future, there was going to be an end – including an end to Satan. Satan knew that he was ultimately going to die in the lake of fire. He understood that the prophecies about his death (see Isa. 12:15; Eze. 28:16-18), would be fulfilled.
It is for these reasons that it is said, that he is “having great wrath.” He is full of anger and hatred because he has lost everything, and he only has his own death and destruction to look forward to. Therefore, it is stated, “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!” because the earth and its inhabitants are now going to be the focus of his wrath. He cannot exact revenge on heaven, because he has been cast out of there, therefore he has to concentrate all his rage upon the earth, and in particular the woman, because they are the followers of the person who caused his downfall:
And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. Rev. 12:13-16.
If Satan is going to be destroyed, he has now dedicated himself to taking as many of God’s people as he can, with him. We are told:
As Satan influenced Esau to march against Jacob, so he will stir up the wicked to destroy God’s people in the time of trouble. And as he accused Jacob, he will urge his accusations against the people of God. He numbers the world as his subjects; but the little company who keep the commandments of God are resisting his supremacy. If he could blot them from the earth, his triumph would be complete. GC 618;
His plans for the destruction of God’s people will reach their climax during the time of trouble. But death and destruction, since his downfall, have always been his main method of expressing his wrath. This is why the 1260 years of persecution are again mentioned (time, and times, and half a time), because this period of persecution is a harbinger of what is to come. The 1260 years are the type and the time of trouble is the antitype.
But God continues to protect His people. When God took his people out of captivity and ushered them into the Promised Land, it is said that He gave them ‘eagles wings’ with which they ‘flew’ to safety (see Ex. 19:5; Isa. 40:31). In the same manner God ‘flies’ His people away from the wrath of Satan, to places of safety in the wilderness areas of the earth.
And what does Satan do to try and ‘catch’ the fleeing people? He sends ‘water’ like a flood to try and sweep the people away to destruction. Water in Scripture represents peoples and nations (see Rev. 17:15). This imagery is used extensively in the Old Testament. The Euphrates River is often depicted as an overflowing torrent of water, invading the land of Israel, representing the enemies of God’s people, attempting to ‘drown’ them. Water and the Euphrates River is the type, and Satan attempting the same method in New Testament times, is the antitype.
However, once again God’s protection prevails. It is stated that, “…the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:16). When the Egyptians tried to trap God’s people and destroy them, the earth ‘helped’ the woman. The Red Sea parted for them, they went into the wilderness and they were miraculously provided with all their needs. In the same manner the earth helped the church during the 1260 years. Sometimes, armies sent out to destroy God’s people got entangled in the terrain and they themselves were destroyed there.
The 1260 years ended in 1798, when the beast from the sea received its deadly wound. Jesus said if the 1260 years were not shortened, “there should be no flesh saved” (Matt. 24:22). Which means that after 1798, only a remnant of God’s people remained.
What is a remnant? In times past there used to be drapers, who sold cloth to those who wanted to make their own clothes. Customers would place an order of yards/meters of cloth, and the draper would measure it off and cut the amount off the bolt of cloth. Eventually the cloth on the bolt, would be all sold, but there would always be a remnant of cloth left over, attached to the bolt. This is what a remnant is, it is what remains, of the original. All throughout the 1260 years, the dragon was ‘measuring’ and cutting off pieces of God’s people, until only a remnant remained. But the dragon’s wrath was not satiated by this success, he now directs all his efforts to eliminating the remnant as well:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Rev. 12:17.
This is why the enemy has introduced ‘a new manifestation of satanic power.’ The old satanic power has received a deadly wound – it has been temporarily put out of action. until the deadly wound is healed. Eventually the deadly wound would be healed. But in the meantime, ‘the new satanic power’ is to be used to play the same role, the role of persecution. Over time things change. It had become ‘politically incorrect’ to burn people alive at the stake. Therefore, it was necessary to ‘update’ the method of persecution. Therefore, ‘a new manifestation of satanic power’ was necessary. The new method, required a new instrument.
Identifying the Remnant
There are thousands upon thousands of churches, denominations, organizations and groups, in the world today, all claiming to be the true, and proper people of God. Surely God, would not leave us ignorant on this vital point. After all, He has told us that we have, “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19) that we can rely upon. Therefore, we should expect some light shed on this question. The ‘light’ is in the last verse of this chapter about the introduction to the final outcome of the war. The last verse in chapter 12, is arguably the most important verse in the Book of Revelation. This is because the verse identifies who God’s people are in the last days – from the early 1800s to the Second Coming of Christ. The identity of these people is revealed, by the three main characteristics describing the remnant:
Firstly, the remnant is the last portion of a greater whole. Therefore, God’s people will be a small and scattered people. Therefore, they will not be found in the monolithic cathedrals and church denominations. This is because the 1260-year persecution broke up any structure the church had, stripped it of its possessions, and killed its members. Therefore, could the Church described here, as the Remnant, be the Philadelphia Church? The church, that only had “a little strength – and hast not denied my name” (Rev. 3:8). When did the Philadelphia Church rise to preach its message of one door being shut and another being opened? It was at the end of the 1260 years! The same time that prophecy says a remnant of God’s people would be left, to carry on the work.
Secondly, if we search for God’s people in the last days, we would have to look for a church that would “keep the commandments of God.” Again, could this apply to the Philadelphia Church? The church that “hast kept my word” (Rev. 3:8). The church that rediscovered the fourth commandment and incorporated it into their name the “Seventh-day Adventist Church.” It is not generally recognized that the church that was driven out into the wilderness was originally a seventh-day Sabbath keeping Church. Sabbath keeping was condemned by the Laodicean Council held in the year 365AD, but Sabbath keeping flourished in the ‘wilderness’ for hundreds of years as some historians testify:
The “wilderness churches” of Celtic Britain and of the Waldensian valleys, like the church in the east, not only preserved the primitive faith while Roman Christendom sank into the deepest apostasy, but they were missionary churches, which through the dark centuries sent out a constant stream of missionaries into the countries dominated by the apostate papal church, sowing the seeds of truth and raising up companies of believers to witness and to suffer for their faith. The influence of the Sabbath-keeping Celtic missionaries is evident from the reference to Judaizing in the minutes of the Synod of Liftinae in Belgium in 743AD. “The third allocution of the council warns against the observance of the Sabbath, referring to the decree of the Council of Laodicea.” Dr. Karl J. von Hefele, “Concilien-geschicte,” Vol.3, page 512, sec. 362.
There was never a time when God was without His witnesses (see Isa. 43:10; Matt. 24:14; Acts 1:8, 10:43, 14:16, 17). Throughout the history of the world, there have always been faithful Sabbath keepers. God does not allow His Truth to be devoid of ‘witnesses’ in the world.
The third feature that the Remnant people of God will have to distinguish themselves from all others is, “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” One could speculate about what “the testimony of Jesus Christ” exactly means. But that is not necessary, the Bible provides the answer, an angel said to John:
I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10.
Paul tells us that we should: “Develop the kind of love that Christ has and long for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Cor. 14:1). The gift of prophecy appears to be especially bestowed upon God’s people in times of crises or transition. For example, it was given liberally at the time of transition from God’s first church (the nation of Israel) to His second church (the Christian Church). This is because there was much that needed to be explained interpreted and preached. The situation was very similar in 1844. The transition from the ministry in the holy place to that of the most holy place, needed to be explained, interpreted and preached. Therefore, the ‘spirit of prophecy’ was given to the Philadelphia Church, and was clearly manifested in the ministry of Ellen White.
Verse seventeen is remarkable, in that, in one single verse God has been able to describe and distinguish the church that would appear at the end of the 1260 years. It would be small, with few resources. It would keep the commandments of God, including the Sabbath and it would have the spirit of prophecy. It is this Church that God has given the commission of: “thou must prophecy again before many people, and nations and tongues, and kings” (Rev. 10:11). And the message to be preached, expressed in its simplest form is, “come out of Babylon my people” (Rev. 18:4).
The purpose of the Advent Movement is to call God’s people out of confusion and into the Truth. Throughout the 1260 years the Truth had been virtually buried under the weight of ‘tradition’ – which had altered and obscured the Truth. The Advent Movement’s role is to call the people of God, back to the “faith that was first delivered to the saints.” This ‘witness’ must be stopped. This is why there is a war being waged. It started in heaven, but it is now concentrated on earth. Satan attacks the remnant. It is this attack that is the subject of the rest of the Book of Revelation. It is also about the failure of that attack, and the eventual triumph of the Remnant.