Doug Batchelor - A Woman In the Wilderness
- Amazing Facts Store
Have you ever heard of James Sterling Moran? Probably not. But chances are you've heard of publicity stunts, which he's credited with creating. James Moran was born in 1907 in the state of Virginia and he entered the publicity field in the 1930s, where he excelled at drawing the public's attention to his clients. Some of his more famous stunts were sitting on an ostrich egg for two weeks until it hatched, tanning half of his body in California and half in Florida, or leading a live bull through a Manhattan china shop. Then there was the needle in the haystack. For this stunt, Moran had somebody hide a needle in two tons of hay. Amazingly, he successfully located the needle after more than 82 hours of tedious searching. You know when you consider that there are more than 40,000 denominations in the world today that claim to be Christian, finding the true church is something like looking for a needle in a haystack, but it doesn't have to be that way. The Bible gives us specific guidelines to help us clearly identify God's end time people. So join me now as we take a closer look at this important topic.
Pray for me as I share with you tonight, because we've got a lot to cover and I want to do my best to present this subject in a very clear and practical way. We're going to be talking about a woman in the wilderness, and it's based on Revelation 12 and I think it's always a good idea to start by reading the passage that we're going to be considering. Let's start with Revelation 12:1. Now a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet and on her head a garland of 12 stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and pained to give birth, and another sign appeared in heaven. Behold, a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and 10 horns and seven diadems or crowns on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she bore a male child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up to God in his throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God that they should feed her there for 1,260 days.
Now I want to jump down to verse 13. Now, when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child, but the woman was given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she's nourished for a time and a times in half a time from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman and he went to make a war with a remnant or the rest of her offspring that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.
Who is this woman? We know who the dragon is. Woman that flees into the wilderness, a woman that brings forth a man-child, right here in the center of Revelation is one of the key characters and one of the most important studies in the topic or the subject of Revelation.
So the lesson is a woman in a wilderness and we always like to begin with a Storacle. We like to tie the Old and the New Testament together. Most of us know the story of Solomon, how he prayed for wisdom and God said I'm going to give you wisdom unlike anyone who is before you. And one of the many examples of his wisdom that's very famous is it tells us in the Bible that there were two women that had children. There were women out of wedlock, they lived in the same home. They both got pregnant about the same time. They gave birth about the same time. And then one night, one of the ladies when she was sleeping, she accidentally overlaid her little infant child and suffocated it. When she woke up during the night to nurse the baby and saw it was dead, she was devastated. And then she heard her companion's baby whimpering, and she thought, I'm too ashamed for anyone to know what I've done. She put her dead baby in that place and took the live baby to herself.
Well, when the women got up in the morning, the one woman went to go nurse her baby and it was dead and she looked at it and said, "This is not my baby." And the other one said, "No, that's your baby. "This one's my baby." And so this was a great dispute and the judges didn't know what to do with it. So it came to the king. And you know, of course what Solomon said, he said, well, one of you saying the living baby is yours and the dead baby is hers, and vice versa. Said well, the only thing you can do is split the baby in two, which has become a proverb in our society to divide the baby. And Solomon told his soldier, let's divide the baby and the soldier goes for the baby and the real mother threw herself down before Solomon, said oh my Lord, the king, don't do that. Give her the baby, but don't kill it, and the other one said, aw, it's a fair thing to do. Let's just split the baby. Solomon said, well obviously this is the real mother. And people were so impressed by his wisdom that was revealed when the soldier pulled out his sword.
Now, what does the sword represent in Bible truth? Represents the word of God and tells us that the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edge sword, Hebrews 4. What does a woman represent in Bible symbology? Woman is the church and when we look in Revelation 12 at this beautiful, glorious woman clothe the light, she must be the true church. Then there's another woman, there's only two women in Revelation. You got the true woman in Revelation 12, you got a counterfeit woman in Revelation 17, she's called the mother of harlot. So you don't have to guess if she's good or bad, right? It's pretty clear.
So we're going to be talking, we'll be using the sword of God's spirit to figure out how do you identify the true church in a world today where you've got hundreds, if not thousands of different Christian denominations, and I want to reiterate that I believe there are Christian people in many different churches. Does everyone hear me? Many different denominations there are people that love the Lord and one denomination does not have a copyright on salvation, but God does have a people and a movement in the last days and he's going to pull people together. How do you know?
Let's get to our lesson for tonight. We'll begin with question number one. How does Revelation picture God's true church? Now, we just read this to get our background. You read in Revelation 12:1, pictured as a what? A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a garland of 12 stars. Who is this woman? Some say, well, this is Mary and you can look around, if you look at a lot of the medieval art, you'll often see Mary standing on, paintings and sculptures of Mary, standing on the moon, 12 stars above her head. She's holding the baby and she'll have a halo of like sun behind her. You've probably seen this before. But how could this be Mary? It says she flees into the wilderness, where she's persecuted for 1,260 years.
This is a broad picture of God's true church. Jesus said to the church, you are the light of the world. Now, these are the lights that God made. God made the sun. God made the moon. God made the stars. It's God's light. This woman has God's light. She is great with child, and she's getting ready to bring forth this man child, this singular man child, and the dragon is standing before the woman to devour the child as soon as it's born. The devil is not too happy with that. That's the second part of our question. Revelation 12:2, then being with child, she cried out in labor and pain to give birth. The purpose of the church was to introduce the world to the Messiah and to really be a place that presents salvation to the world. It's to be, you might even say a hospital for sinners.
One reason I think that the church is portrayed as a woman is typically by nature, women are more nurturing than men. Women are more sensitive than men, they're more caring. You know, we are connected with a self-supporting ministry. 75 or 80% of the checks are written by women that are moved by needs. It's not that men don't ever or don't ever care, but I think we all know that, that God's designed women for one thing, that is they're designed to bring forth children, to nurture those children, and so this is something like what the church is supposed to do in the world, is to be bringing people to Christ and helping to multiply the kingdom for Jesus.
This woman is standing on the moon. What does the moon represent? It's the Old Testament promises and prophecies that support the New Testament. The New Testament is Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world. You read in Malachi 4 that the sun of righteousness will arise, and that's not S-O-N, it's S-U-N. The sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings. It's talking about the light of the New Testament gospel.
12 stars above her head, what does that represent? What's 12 represent in the Bible? How many? It's a number for the church. How many apostles? New Testament? 12. Old Testament, how many patriarchs? 12. They figured there were 12 judges and I think I told you that there were also, in the New Testament, you've got 12 Jewish apostles that were chosen and Paul goes to Ephesus and he baptizes 12 Gentiles and I thought that was an interesting number too. New Jerusalem, 12 gates, 12 foundations, tree of life, 12 different kinds of fruit 12 times a year and the Bible tells us that it's 12,000 furlongs around. 12 is a number for the church. Principally the leadership. The stars are above our head and that usually typifies leadership in the Bible. So this is God's church getting ready for the Messiah to come and be introduced to the world. But the dragon wants to stop it.
Question number two, who is the great red dragon and what does he try to do? Who is the dragon? It tells you right, in that same chapter. That old serpent called the devil and Satan. How can that be misunderstood? Serpent, dragon, devil, Satan. He is the arch themed that is bringing all the evil into our world and that Jesus called the devil, the prince of this world. He's kind of hijacked or kidnapped this world because the original parents of the human race, God made man at his own image and he was given the ability to have dominion over this planet and then Adam and Eve basically handed the keys over to the devil. You and I are all suffering as civilian casualties in this war, but Jesus didn't want to lose us. So he came into the world as a man to live among us and to save us, to show us what God is like, to show us what the father's like, to die for our sins that teach us how to live.
So it says that the dragon, he stands before, he's cast out of heaven. That old serpent of old called the devil and Satan, and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born. Did the devil make an effort as soon as Jesus was born to kill him as a baby? Have you read there in Matthew where King Herod, he was so jealous that there was another king of the Jews, he sent to soldiers into Bethlehem when the wise men did not return and he ordered them to kill all the male children two years old and under. That was the devil that was behind Rome doing that. It's not the first time. You can see in Egypt, the devil thought that a savior was coming for the children of Israel. He thought it would be one of the Jewish children. He had the Pharaoh killing, not all the babies, all the male babies. Have you noticed that? Bethlehem, all the male babies. And then when Athaliah became queen of Judah, the devil again knew that through the seed of David, a savior was coming and so she went to annihilate all the descendants of David, all the male children. So through history in the Old Testament, the devil was trying to keep the savior from coming and destroy him as he was a baby.
Number three, what happens after Satan fails to destroy Jesus? You read in Revelation 12:5, well you read this before, her child was caught up to God into his throne, and from there, it says Jesus rules all the nations with a rod of iron. After Jesus, question four, was caught up to heaven, what did Satan do to the church? It tells us in Revelation 1213, when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he cannot reach Jesus, but he wants to hurt Jesus. Says he persecuted the woman. Now who is this woman in Revelation 12? She's a church. She's wearing light. You go to Revelation 17, it says the woman is wearing gold and pearls and scarlet and costly array and it's not talking about the same kind of light. It's artificial, manmade. This is God's church filled with the light of God. The devil has then vented his fury on the church.
After Christ ascended to heaven, he poured the Holy Spirit out on the church. Christianity began to spread like fire all through the Roman Empire and even in Paul's day, he says, the gospel's been preached to every creature, and the more they tried to persecute Christians, the more Christianity spread. And you've probably heard about where the different Caesars, they, you know, Christianity was called forbidden religion, and Christians were thrown to the lions and the coliseums and they were burnt. Nero was supposedly, he'd smear them with pitch and he'd burn the Christians, but the more that he persecuted the church, the more the church grew. So the devil then said, this is not working. And he went to plan B. Plan A was just an annihilate Christians, but the more he, it's like trying to get rid of your weeds by mowing them. They just spread the seeds and he said, I've got to find something else. I'm going to try to destroy the church through infiltration. That's what he did by putting Judas in Jesus's group and by getting them to compromise.
See, the devil is not worried about Christianity if he can dilute the truth so we lose our impact. The devil is not worried about people saying they're Christians and going to church and singing if we are not living holy lives, if we're not preaching the real gospel about salvation from sin and the real power of the gospel, the devil doesn't mind.
Matter of fact, the devil prefers if we have the facade of Christianity and we don't have the power. Paul talks about a people in the last days that have a form of religion with no power. God wants us to have the real McCoy, amen? So what the devil did is he got, he kind of came into the church and through Constantine, the Roman emperor, Constantine was a pretty shrewd politician. He said, Christians really aren't hurting anybody. All these things about Nero said that Christians were cannibals because he heard that in their services, that they would eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus, which of course was symbolic. There's no cannibalism going on. And so he spread terrible rumors about Christians. Constantine realized that was all nonsense and he said, they're not hurting anybody. We ought make peace with him. We've got enemies on the outside right now we're fighting.
He claimed to have a vision where he said he was supposed to now conquer under the sign of the cross. And to show his sincerity, his mother converted to Christianity. Constantine then ordered his army to march through the Tiber River in Rome and he says, you have all been baptized, says you're all Christians now. But the problem was they had no teaching. We learned before baptism there should be some teaching, right? Go teach baptize. They went into the water dried pagans and they came up wet pagans and all of a sudden, almost overnight, all these pagan teachings came into the church and they got commingled with Christianity.
So now Christians who were, you know, not involved at all in idols, they had idols of pagan deities everywhere in Rome and Greece and throughout the empire, and they said, what do we do with all these beautiful idols? And some of the Christian leaders said, you know, we'll probably reach more pagan if we don't make them change too quickly. Let them just rename their idols and all of a sudden they're praying to Peter, James, John, and they just renamed their idols. So they basically subsumed all of these rights and ceremonies that were not in Christianity, and then you entered a period of time where you had a co-mingling of Christianity and instead of the church becoming a movement of love, it started to become a political institution.
What are two other identifying marks of God's church according to Revelation 12:17? The dragon. Who is he again? The devil was enraged or wroth, if you got a King James version, with the woman. Who, who is she? Which woman? True church. This woman of light. Obviously, if the dragon is wroth with her, is she the right woman? Yeah, if the devil's mad at you, you're doing something right. Isn't that true? You can be pretty sure of it. He was enraged with the woman and he goes to make war with the rest of her offspring. It's not just her now, it's those who have been converted through her influence that are spreading. This is in the last days now, and it says rest of her offspring, who have a couple of characteristics that keep the what? The commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
If you look in Revelation 19:10, it says that testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. You know what is the law and the prophets? You've got, it says here, remember the law of Moses. Behold I send you Elijah, the prophet. Commandments of God, the law of Moses, Elijah the prophet, the spirit of prophecy, the law and the prophets is a symbol for the word of God. This woman has the word of God and the devil is wroth with her.
Now, I'm just going to let you take a breath for a second because I'm going to make a little speech and kind of, we're just going to drift from the lesson because I want to get the big picture for you. How do you think the average person picks a church? I was in South Dakota visiting my son and we saw this little church on the side of the road. It must be one of the smallest churches in the world, and I said, there's a church I think I could handle. You can fit the pastor and maybe a couple getting married in there. I didn't even go inside, but I thought it was kind of cute. But how do you pick a church?
How do most people pick churches? I'll tell you, I don't know if I'll remember it all, but there's about 10 different ways that people pick a church. It's the church that their family went to, they grew up in. Why do you go to that church? It's where my family's always gone. They were born this way, we're going to die that way. Doesn't matter, right or wrong, that's what my family did, that's what I'm going to do. They pick a church, it's close to the house. That's great to have a church close to the house. They pick a church, pastor is charismatic and good looking and I know that's why you're all here tonight, right? Why, why are you laughing? They pick the church because the music. Why do you go there? Oh, the organ vibrates the build, it's wonderful. The choir, I want to be in the choir, they got a choir. What do they believe? I don't know, but that's where I'm going.
You ask the average person, what does your church teach? Says well, we believe just like our pastor. Well what does your pastor believe? Well, he believes like us. Well what do you and your pastor believe? Same thing, they're just, yeah, people really don't know the ingredients or they pick a church because this is the church where the important people go. They say if you want to get anywhere in this town, your connections, that's the church.
I understand for generations in Washington, DC, as various presidents have attended different churches, people start calling those churches every Sunday to say, "Is the president coming this week?" They want to be there when the president goes. And I heard a one pastor, I think it was when George Bush used to visit a Methodist church with Laura, and they always wanted to know when the pastor, when the president was coming, said, will the president be here? And he'd say, well I'm not so sure, but God will be here if that matters. Or they pick a church because the building, the architecture. Why do you go to that church? Oh, the stained glass, it's beautiful, modern, it's clean. That's good. Why do you go to that church? The loving, the people are loving, they're friendly. What do they teach? I don't know, but they're friendly or they have an exciting worship service. It's exciting. These are some of the reasons that people pick a church.
Now, all of those things are good. It's great if you can go to the same church that your family's always gone to, if the music is good. I mean you don't want it to be like feeding time at the zoo when they start singing, right? You want to have a good children's program. It's good if the pastor can keep you awake. It's good if it's close to the house and they got a modern clean building and all of those things are good, but not one of those things, which happened to be the main reasons people pick a church, not one of them is the right reason.
The one right reason to pick a church is the foundational teachings of that church are the teachings of Jesus Christ. Re read the ingredients. Do not be fooled by the marketing on the box. And a lot of pastors right now, they're designing their churches, they'll do surveys in the community and say, what do these people want? I'm going to design my church to meet the felt needs of these people. Is that what Jesus did? Or Jesus say, this is the truth and this is what you need. You need salvation from sin, instead of saying, we're going to create a church to reach the people.
God is not wanting a church that will change to morph into the culture, because quite frankly, our culture is sick. God wants a church that is going to change the culture because they're standing for the truth. So when you want to know what church do I join, choose very carefully and you want to make sure it matches with the Bible. Now did that make sense?
All right, with that as a foundation, how do we find this woman in the last days? How did Solomon figure out which was the real mother? Use the sword. We find the truth by the word of God, the sword of God's word, amen? How did Jesus say that we demonstrate our love for him? Honk your horn and shout, is that what he said? No, he said, if you love me, do what? Keep my commandments. And then you read on here in John First John 5:3, for this is the love of God that we keep his commandments. God wants us to be obedient and this is one of the criteria a church is going to be teaching the word of God and the law of God. Because how do you know you need a savior unless you're saved from sin? And when you understand the love of God through the law of God, you become a loving church because he's forgiven you for your sins. Since there are so many faithful Christians in other churches... You hear me friends?
I want to make sure you get that. Don't walk away from this meeting saying, Pastor Doug says he's the only one being saved because he knows the church. There are good people in many different churches, but things are going to be changing in the last days. Since he's got other people in many churches, and there's only one true remnant church, remnant means the remainder in the last time, what will happen to these sincere Christians? The words of Jesus, John 10:1, and other sheep I have that are not of this fold, them also I must bring and there will be one fold and one shepherd.
So what's going to happen? He said, I'm going to bring them together. There's going to be a shaking in the last days. We see the world as being polarized in many ways now. People are polarized based on their countries. If people are polarized now over racial issues, people are polarized over political issues and there's going to be a big polarization over religion and there's going to be a shaking in the world, and those that want to follow Jesus in his word, they're going to kind of shake off in one direction. They're going to have the other's going to shake off into the other direction. One's going to have the seal of God, one's going to have the mark of the beast, one's going to be the true bride, one's going to be Babylon.
And this is how things are shaping up right now. And I don't believe it's an accident. You're hearing what you're hearing right now. I believe that God is wanting you to know that he wants you to be his child and you need to read the ingredients, friends. just don't say, well, I think it's whatever you feel, or All rivers lead to the ocean. What does the word of God say? That's going to be your only safety in the last days.