John Bradshaw - Making Sense of Signs and Symbols
We are so glad that you have joined us. I am your host, Joseph Ikner, and I welcome you to Answers in Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. The last time we were together, John talked to us about "The Mysteries of Revelation". Today, we're gonna be talking a little bit about "Making Sense of Signs and Symbols". Strange beasts, waters, days... what does all of that mean? John is gonna unpack that in his message today. We're so glad that you have joined us for Answers in Prophecy.
Welcome back to Answers in Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. I am your host, Joseph Ikner, and I'm so glad that our speaker-presenter, John Bradshaw, is with us today. John, how are you?
— Doing well, glad to be here. I'm enjoying Answers in Prophecy. I hope you're enjoying Answers in Prophecy.
— I am, I am; it has been a wonderful experience. Now, listen, today, we're gonna be talking about "Making Sense of Signs and Symbols".
— Oh yeah.
— What's that all about?
— The Bible is a book that's filled with symbols. You know, you get into Revelation. There are seven seals; there are seven thunders; there are seven plagues... there are seven...all kinds of sevens. I don't mean just the "seven" aspect, but all of these things that, well, they're symbolic of something else. Life is like that. All around us are signs and symbols that you... okay, I'll give you one. So some years ago I moved to another town, and I think it was because I moved into a state that I needed to get my license renewed. I think that's what it was.
— So I went down to the DMV, and I got my little license book to sit the test. I had to go through the whole thing, you know. The theory as well as the... maybe it was just the theory and not a driving test, I don't know, but I had to do the theory.
— And so my wife, or maybe my son, said, "Are you gonna study that thing"? "Oh, no, man. I've been driving for years. Why would I? I know it all".
— You know, it turns out there are some road signs that if you don't know what they mean, you don't know what they mean. I had no clue what some of these things meant.
— Like, which ones?
— I remember one vividly. There's a sign that shows the road to your right, the line going from a solid white line to a broken white line.
— What? What in the world? I think in the test they said, "What does that mean"? And I looked at it on the computer screen and said, "No idea in the world. Does anybody know what that means? I've no idea in the world".
— So you didn't know what it meant at the time?
— Not a clue.
— Do you know now?
— Yeah, sure I do. That means that the lane beside you is gonna turn off like that.
— I think that's what it means.
— You know, you can survive out there on the road...
— ...without knowing what they all mean. You know, as long as you've got the major ones... the stop sign, anywhere in the world it's red and it's octagonal. And it says something like "STOP"...
— ...wherever you go.
— Right. So signs are important.
— They're important.
— Signs are important to be able to navigate. Traffic signs are important to be safe.
— That's right.
— It's important to understand the symbols of other countries...
— Sure it is.
— ...when you travel there.
— It helps us to be able to identify what is happening in the place where we are and to keep ourselves safe and protected.
— Yeah, I've said to many people, well, when you fly into the country...
— ...just follow the signs in the airport. You'll be fine. Just follow the sign. So presuming you can read them and understand them, you're good.
— So, if we should just follow the signs when we're driving and just follow the signs in the airport and just follow the signs in whatever country or place we're visiting, is it that same importance to follow the signs that we see in the Bible?
— It really is. You get over into the last book of the Bible, into the book of Revelation. Now, it's filled with signs and symbols, and many people just say, "It's just too hard". Or, "I don't know". Or, unfortunately, "It's not important". Well, I'm not saying you have to understand it or you're not a Christian or you're not a believer, you can't go to heaven. But when you see there are some really important events and issues taking place in earth's last days... the Bible points them out in symbolic form... you wanna know what those signs and symbols mean. Otherwise you're gonna have real challenges making sense of what the Bible says.
— So we've talked about bowls and thunderings and lightning and beasts and days and waters. You're gonna show us what that means.
— We're gonna get into a whole lot of that and make it simple and relevant. Therefore, you'll be able to face and approach the prophecies of the Bible with confidence.
— Simple and relevant. It sounds exciting. I don't know about you. I can't wait to hear John's message today on "Making Sense of Signs and Symbols". So John is gonna share that message with us right now. John?
— Thanks so much. Let's pray together, and we'll expect God to bless us as we open the Bible together. Let's pray.
Our Father in heaven, thank You that we can come to You to find answers in prophecy. We're finding answers in Your Word; we're finding answers from You. We are asking that You would grow our understanding, strengthen our connection with You, help us to see things through Your eyes, to have priorities in this world that match Your priorities. We ask You that as we look into the Bible, Your Holy Spirit would guide us. And we thank You in Jesus' name, amen.
It was an important discovery, but there were some unintended and some very unfortunate consequences. In 1903, the Polish scientist Marie Curie jointly won the Nobel Prize along with a French scientist for their work with radioactivity. A year before, she and her husband had isolated radium, and while today radium isn't used in a whole lot of applications because, well, because it's so radioactive, back in the day there was some real excitement about it. For one thing, it glowed in the dark. Before long, manufacturers were producing glow-in-the-dark watch dials painted by young women and girls, who were encouraged by their employers to lick the paintbrush they were using or twirl it between their lips in order to get a more precise brush stroke. They were told the paint was harmless, so many of the young women painted their fingernails, even painted their teeth with radium paint. The radium dust in the workplace caused many of the women to glow in the dark from head to toe.
Now, some of these women weren't women; they were merely girls as young as 11 years old, and they began to get seriously sick from the effects of the radium. Early experiments using radium to kill cancer cells had been a success, and it was thought, well, if radium could kill cancer, surely it could kill whatever was ailing you. So doctors started experimenting with radium as a cure for things like tuberculosis and lupus, while quacks started marketing their own so-called cures for everything from acne and baldness to impotence and insanity. People drank radium water. They brushed their teeth with radium toothpaste. Radium cosmetics were all the rage. Children played with toys painted with radium, and performers on the New York stage danced and twirled in costumes that glowed. As years passed, the women who worked with radium paint began to get sick.
Many were still only in their 20s when they became seriously ill and died slow, painful deaths. It wasn't recognized at the time that radium was radioactive and therefore extremely hazardous to a person's health. The young women who ingested the substance were hastening their own death. Years after many of the unfortunate women had died, Geiger counters recognized the presence of radioactivity in the cemeteries where the women had been buried. Bodies that were exhumed actually glowed. The whole thing was a disaster. No one knew at the time how bad it could be, but it got really bad. We live in a world that seems to be following much the same path. Here's what I mean: 6,000 years ago Adam and Eve were placed in a perfect garden where there wasn't so much as fatigue. There was no death, no sickness, absolutely no sin. But when sin entered the world, everything changed, and from that day to this, society has been on a steady decline.
There has to be hope for the world, and there is. We've seen already in Answers in Prophecy that Jesus is coming back to this world soon. He's coming back soon. Well, the question is, of course, how soon is "soon"? And the answer is... that's not for us to say. But the reason we can be so sure that we're living close to the end of the world as we know it is because Jesus pointed to this very time. Let's look in our Bibles in Matthew 24. Jesus was asked an important question by His disciples. They said, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age"? Now, Jesus had just told them that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. Now, for me and you, that might not sound like such a big deal. But back then, that was unthinkable. The temple was the symbol that God was with Israel, that the Jews were God's people.
What would it mean for them if the temple was destroyed? You know, today you can go to Jerusalem and actually see some of the enormous slabs of stone from the Temple Mount in piles, where they landed after being pushed down from the side of the temple which once stood there. Some of the stones used in the construction of the temple and the Temple Mount weighed as much as 120 tons, even more. And yet Jesus claimed that the symbol of Israel's greatness and of their position with God would be utterly destroyed. So they came to Him and they asked Him, and it says they did so privately: "What will be the sign" of You establishing Yourself as the Messiah, "and what will be the sign... of the end of the age"? Jesus would have to be talking about a whole new world, something that they just couldn't imagine. It would be the dawning of an entirely new age. In answering them, Jesus spoke not only to His followers then, but to us today, because the signs that He gave them for the destruction of Jerusalem were also for the end of the age. Jesus describes what the latter days in earth's history would look like.
Now, we need to be careful here. There's no need for us to predict when the end of the world would be. We've been very fortunate already that we're still on this earth. You know, in 1983, just weeks after the Soviet Union had shot down a Korean airliner over Russian airspace, a man named Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet lieutenant colonel who worked on Soviet air defenses, noticed that the system was warning that an American nuclear missile was headed for Moscow. Moments later the same system told him that five more missiles were on their way. Well, what would you expect him to do? For one thing, you would expect him to tell his supervisors, and then he would respond by raining nuclear weapons down on the United States. Of course, that would have been an utter disaster.
But something within Mr. Petrov told him that this wasn't really happening, that it was actually a false alarm. And fortunately, his hunch was right. But it goes to show you that if things had worked out just slightly differently, this today would be a very different world. We might not even be here. Today we've got the ability to destroy ourselves multiple times over. World leaders still push each other to the brink, in spite of knowing all too well the devastating nature of war. We continue to make decisions that aren't good for our planet or for our spiritual well-being. So we consider the destruction of the earth. It seems that for the last 6,000 years, humanity has been determined to push itself to breaking point. So Jesus answered them, and He said in Matthew chapter 24 and verse 4, "Take heed that no one deceives you".
I want you to notice that was the first thing Jesus said: Don't let anyone lead you astray. I'm gonna tell you: There are experts in every field, well-educated, well-meaning people in every walk of life, but each one of us has to decide for ourselves just what or who the final authority in our life is going to be. If your final authority is a biology teacher, or a humanities professor, or a psychology professor, or even a pastor or a priest, eventually you're gonna come unglued, because no human being alive should be relied upon as the final authority in spiritual matters. There's a reason the Bible is widely available today. A few centuries ago, you couldn't have got your hands on a Bible if you had wanted to. You would have been put to death by the ruling church if you were found to be in possession of the Bible, or even parts of it. But today, it's everywhere. I can walk literally five minutes from where I'm standing right now and buy a Bible for a dollar.
You know, when you get on a plane, you wanna be really familiar with the advice they give you on a plane. You know that, right? Even if you've heard it a dozen times or more, you wanna know what to do in an emergency. It wouldn't be wise to block your ears every time you hear that message. It's also not wise to remain ignorant of the message of the Bible. The Bible is everywhere. God has set that up for you. You cannot miss it, unless you want to. And why would you want to? I know that today there are many different interpretations of the Bible; I know that. There are hundreds of different Christian churches all across the United States, right across Canada, all around the world. Add to that many non-Christian religions. So how do you know which one's telling you the truth? Well, the answer is really pretty simple. You pick up a Bible, and you read it for yourself. It's that easy. Jesus said, "For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many".
But, you see, there are reasons people get deceived. One, they don't think for themselves. Two, they do what they do because of the influence of family and friends. "I've always believed that way. I've always thought this way. Our family has always done it like this". The third reason: It's all they've ever known, so they stay where they are. Maybe that's comfort; maybe it's security. Four, 'cause they don't think for themselves. I know I just said that, but I'm saying it again. You hear something on TV; you hear something in church. Well, one question you really ought to ask yourself is this one. It's a profound question. Here's the question. It's... "Really"? How about that question? Say it with me: Really? That's a question that we really ought to ask ourselves. The end of the world is coming. Really? Well, we looked into the Bible, and we've seen many things talking about that, and we're looking at it now.
Jesus is coming back. Really? Yes, we looked into the Bible and we found out the Bible says that Jesus is coming back. You know, in the book of Acts there's an interesting passage that speaks to this. Acts chapter 17, and we'll start in verse 10: "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few". Did you see that? They heard it, and then they searched to see if it was so. If people would do that, instead of just following whatever they hear or whoever's leading them, instead of just swallowing the falsehoods and sometimes the outright lies that they're told, the world would be a better place. God asks people to come to Him.
Look at this, Isaiah chapter 1, verse 18, where God says, "Come now, and let us reason together...: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". It's very similar to Matthew 11:28, which says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light". Jesus says, "Come to me". Jesus said, "Learn from me". I'll give you one more. John chapter 7 and verse 17, Jesus said, "If any man will do His will", that's God's will, "he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself". God says that you'll know what the Bible says if you come to Him with an open mind, a willingness to learn. Sometimes that means a willingness to shift in your belief system. John 16, verse 13 says, "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth".
If you come to God with an open Bible and with an open heart, that's how you're going to know God's will for your life; that's how you're going to know what the Bible says and what it means. Jesus was clear: Take heed; be careful that nobody deceives you. The Bible says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you". The Bible says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope". God is a God who wants to be known; He wants to know you closely. Don't be thinking that the Bible is a closed book, it's all shut up, it's restricted in some way. The Bible is God's front-line method of communication with you. In Matthew chapter 24, the signs continue. Jesus said, "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for...these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom". We just keep on seeing this.
World War I, "the war to end all wars". Except, of course, it wasn't. World War II, tens of millions dead. Then Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the War on Terror. Does anyone really believe we're actually done with all that? It's impossible to imagine we are. We wish we were. No more war? Hard to imagine. We're very thankful for the sacrifices made by our service men and our service women; we are. But don't we wish it just didn't have to be this way? We're ready for war to end. Jesus went on to say, "And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places". That's Matthew 24 and verse 7. In the 1970s, a major famine in Africa, one famine, claimed 6 1/2 million lives. Almost 2 million starved in Cambodia in 1979. In the '80s there were five famines that claimed a million lives...that's amazing. And even now there are food shortages around the world today. Add to this: There are almost 40 million people living in poverty in the United States today. More than 3 million Canadians live below the poverty line. It is hard to imagine that it really needs to be this way. Jesus mentioned earthquakes.
Now, keep in mind the context of all this. He said that they would be a sign of the last days of earth's history. In 1976, one earthquake in China killed 1/4 of a million people: 255,000 people. In 2010, in Haiti, 222,000 of people died in one earthquake. In 2011, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck 231 miles northeast of Tokyo, Japan. $300 billion of damage was done; 22,000 lives were lost. It was the largest earthquake to ever hit Japan, and it triggered a tsunami that caused massive devastation. And then we remember the day after Christmas in 2004; there was a strong undersea earthquake; it triggered a tsunami that claimed 230,000 lives from Indonesia to southern Africa. Now, you remember that one. We looked at the pictures with amazement. I still remember the name of the location, Banda Aceh, in Indonesia, completely devastated. Did you ever see those pictures, the satellite picture before and the satellite picture after? I was stunned by that. Sea levels rose even on the west coast of North America. This thing was utterly calamitous, and it was recent.
You know, the worst events like this in memory are happening in our lifetime. And what about pestilences? In 1918, 50 million people died from the Spanish flu. It's thought that 1/3 of the world's population at that time got sick; 675,000 people died in the United States alone. Did you know 75 million people have been infected with the HIV virus? Something like 35 million people have died. A million people died from the flu in 1968. Now, what have we seen in recent years? We've had disease like SARS, H1N1...that' swine flu... 300,000 people died around the world from H1N1. Then we had Ebola. That was truly terrifying. Tens of thousands of people were killed by Ebola. There's mad cow disease... we kinda forgotten that.
And again, I want you to notice these are all recent, and now we're dealing with the novel coronavirus, a new coronavirus for humans, manifesting as what we commonly refer to now as COVID-19. We're up to close to 35 million cases around the world, around a million deaths. Countries have wrestled with this in various ways; different approaches have been taken. Countries have struggled with it. It's cost governments tons of money; entire industries have struggled; countries have been saddled with debt they'll be paying off maybe for generations. Hospitals and medical experts have struggled to come to terms with this thing. It seems very much like the virus is on the uptick in countries where it was thought to be dying down. There has been a very real emotional toil as well; people have struggled with isolation. Many elderly people have just been devastated by having to remain home, no visitors, can't go anywhere. I've talked to people who've been paralyzed by fear, drained by isolation. It's really tough.
So when will the restrictions be rolled back around the world? Well, in some places it's happening, but it's anyone's guess. It's a virus. Just how do you get rid of that? Governments are racing to develop a vaccine, but vaccines typically take years to develop, and many people, even physicians, are worried about potential complications from a virus that's being made quickly. What's made this challenging for so many people is that it didn't take long for it to become politicized. There's information; there's misinformation; there's claims; there's counterclaims. But what we want to know, or what we know, I think, is that we wanna get past this; we all agree with that. We agree that COVID-19 has been an absolute game-changer for this world. It's affected the whole planet. It's affected every single economy in the world. So these are just some of the things happening, I think, in fulfillment of what Jesus said would be taking place in the world at the end of time.
So when Jesus mentioned earthquakes, does it look like we could be living down at the end of history? Looks like it. When Jesus mentioned pestilences, and we're dealing with illness and disease in ways we've never dealt with it before, could it be that we are living down in the end of time? Sure looks that way, doesn't it? We're dealing with a frightful crime rate. We're living in a world where there's terrorism on a global scale. No one is ever gonna forget 9/11, and nobody believes it couldn't happen again. You know, we're seeing weather events on an unprecedented scale, whether it's hurricanes or tornadoes or wildfires, they just don't seem to wanna stop. We had tornadoes come through where I'm standing right now. Not far from here, dozens and dozens of homes were completely destroyed. This is just...weeks ago... I guess you'd say months now...Easter weekend Lives were lost. We had twisters come right through the It Is Written backyard.
Literally, on either side of the building, over there and over there, trees down on both sides of the building, and you can see where the trees went across the road... sorry, not the trees, but the tornadoes went across the roads and through the woods. We here are really thankful that the tornado didn't come down in the middle and take out our It Is Written headquarters. Does it seem to you that weather events are slowing down, getting tamer, getting easier to bear, easier to handle? No, no one thinks that. This year we've seen plagues of locusts in Africa. Plagues of locusts. There's tremendous concern about the environment, air pollution, massive problem, and you don't have to be any sort of radical environmentalist to see that we really do have major problems. Even though we've got history to go by, the great nations of the world seem to be up to here in conflict and dispute. We just don't seem to be able to learn the lessons of the past. All right, are there more signs that we shouldn't ignore? Oh yes, plenty of them.
I want you to look with me in Matthew 24 and verse 37. Jesus said, "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be". The Bible says Noah's day was like this. Genesis 6:11, "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence". Does that sound like today? "Filled with violence"? Every time you catch a plane you're reminded that life has changed, seriously changed, because this world is filled with violence. What if Jesus wasn't talking about our day? That's some other day? No. Hard to imagine, isn't it? But of course there's a temptation to say, "Ah, we've always had natural disasters. There were earthquakes way back in the Bible. Same with famines and pestilences and violence. We've had mindless violence forever". Oh, that's true. But I want you to notice something Jesus said in Matthew chapter 24 and verse 8: "All these are the beginning of sorrows".
Well, that word Jesus used, "sorrows," means "birth pains". And you understand something about birth pains. I mean, in our family we have a real expert; that's my wife. But what I learned from being in close proximity to my wife at the time was this: Before a child arrives, contractions come. The first contraction will take a prospective mother by surprise. And after a while, those contractions become closer together, more frequent and more intense, more frequent and more intense. In speaking about the signs of His return, Jesus said they're like birth pains. They will become more frequent, and they will become more intense. And that's what we're seeing in the world today. And of course there are other signs. "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase". That's Daniel 12 and verse 4.
Now, you might say Daniel is referencing the increase in secular knowledge. If he were doing so, well, we know that when Daniel was alive there were no phones, let alone mobile phones. There were no smartphones, no electricity, no television, obviously. Just go back 100 years, even 50 years, we've gone from black and white to color. Nobody now puts film in their camera before they take a photograph. We've got self-driving cars, facial recognition, artificial intelligence... artificial intelligence that can write articles and play chess and pick fruit and make phone calls and carry on a conversation... and you wouldn't even know that's not a real human being... diagnose disease. We have no idea where that's gonna end or how it will end. We have no idea at all. But now, if you read that verse in Daniel in the way it's really meant, you'll find that Daniel's writing that there will be an increase in spiritual knowledge as the years pass. And there undoubtedly has been. It wasn't that long ago that the Bible wasn't freely available. Then it was outlawed. Regular people weren't allowed to have it.
Now it's the global best-selling book every single year. Understanding of the Bible has increased as study of the Bible has increased, so now there's a great deal more understanding of the Bible. You might say there's more confusion; that would be true, too. So let's ask ourselves about this. The world is a complicated sort of place. We've just scratched the surface, but what we've done is we've seen that long ago Jesus predicted that the world would one day come to an end. And He said, "You can know you're getting close by these signs I'm telling you about". He said in Matthew 24 and verse 36, "But of that day [or] hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only". So we're not trying to pinpoint a day or a year. What we do see is that Jesus said just a few verses before, "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near... at the doors"! When you see these things happen, you can know that the end is that close. Could it be that we're that close? It's hard to imagine we're not.
Now, it's true there have been earthquakes and wars and famines and so on for thousands of years, but this is different. And it feels different. We've never been locked down like this. The planet hasn't been immobilized like this before. We are hopeful and praying that we'll come through it soon, but this is telling us we are living in a new age. So what's the solution to this planet's troubles? Do you think politicians can fix this? Politicians will do their best, and we're glad for that, but politics cannot keep this world from going the way it's going. Do we believe that human beings are suddenly gonna get better? Make better decisions? Learn to get along? Hasn't happened yet. And without wanting to sound pessimistic, I think we both know it's not going to happen. We've been talking about civil rights for decades, and there's still racism and hate. We've been fighting hunger for decades, and in spite of there being no shortage of food in the world, there are still hungry people everywhere.
We live in a land of beautiful homes, and yet thousands are homeless. In spite of the pain caused, families continue to rip apart. Look over to the book of Revelation, and when you do, you'll see that there is hope ahead, even as we see challenges in the world around us. Revelation doesn't mince words; we read about troubled times in the world, seals and trumpets and plagues, plagues that are still to come. And we'll look at that in-depth in a future presentation. Daniel said that there's coming "a time of trouble" unlike anything the world has ever seen. It has been said that ignorance is bliss, but ignorance is expensive, and it could cost you eternally. And one of the challenges with prophecy is that the symbols really confuse people. However, the symbols are usually interpreted right in the Bible itself. There's an urgency about this, because we know that life is short. Let's look at something we saw when we were together last time. Read the Bible and you will see that one day there will be something called the mark of the beast introduced to the world.
Now, instead of guessing what that is, you can start to analyze what some of these things mean. In Revelation 13, you read that the whole world follows the beast, and the beast has a mark that is forced upon the world. You've likely heard that it's a computer chip, you've heard theories saying the antichrist is a Jew in the Middle East, some global political figure, but we see this written... and this will help our understanding. The Bible says, "I stood on the sand of the sea. I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were [as] the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world... followed the beast".
You'll notice the allusions to the book of Daniel. It's in Daniel where you find beasts, and in Daniel 7 you see a leopard, a lion, and a bear. This is a strong indicator that we need to be looking towards Daniel 7 to understand this. So let's do so. Daniel 7, verse 1: "In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts. Daniel spoke, saying, 'I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.'" Four beasts. The same chapter tells us what they represent. "Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which [shall] arise out of the earth". So what we see is that in prophecy a beast represents a kingdom or a nation. We've looked at that before.
So in Revelation, when John writes about beasts, he's not talking about a computer chip; he's not writing about a bar code; he is talking about a nation. All the speculation over the years has been wrong. I'll give you a for-instance. There are voices that say the beast of Revelation chapter 13 is the emperor Nero. But that simply cannot be, because Nero was an individual and not a nation. And one other thing: Nero is dead. You see how knowing these simple things helps? And it's simple. Daniel is clear about this, very clear. Let's take a look at another symbol. We'll elaborate on this later, but for now, I wanna give you this. Revelation 12:6, "Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she [has] a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days".
So, we might wonder how long that time period is. Is God talking about this woman going into the wilderness for three years or so, 3 1/2 years? There's a reason we know that that's not the case. Look, we're digging; we're learning; we're understanding some symbols. We've seen the signs; we're understanding symbols. Back in the book of Numbers, Israel was to march on to the Promised Land. But you'll remember the story of the 10 faithless spies who brought back an evil report. They were gone for 40 days, and when they came back and said, "We just can't do it. There's no way; they're too big; they're too strong," God said, in the wake of their faithlessness, "But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know my rejection".
Here's what I wanna zero in on: God said, 40 days you were gone, and now, 40 "days" you'll wander in the wilderness. "Each day you shall bear your guilt one year". A day was used here by God to represent a year. There's another place we see this; it's in the book of Ezekiel. I'll read this for you, Ezekiel 4, verse 6: "And when you have completed them," he said to Ezekiel, "lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year". Again, God used the principle of a day being equal to a year. And so we find that when talking about prophecy, a day is a symbol used to represent a year. No, I don't mean that the six creation days were six years, nothing prophetic about that. But you see that in Revelation. You see that in Daniel, in Daniel chapter 12, where God gives time prophecies that are days, but those days represent years.
Now, that's significant, because if you're calculating what these time prophecies could really mean, then you've got to understand these time prophecies. We're gonna look deeper into this in a future presentation, and you and I together will discover how these time prophecies really affect us today. So we've got a beast representing a nation, and we've got days that represent years. Isn't that something? You've got tools in your hands that help you to understand the prophecies given by God. And there's more. We read this verse a moment ago; it's Revelation 12:6. "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". Revelation 12:6. Who's the woman? Now, this entire chapter refers to this woman several times. Verse 17 starts by saying, "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and...went to make war with the rest of her offspring".
Now, you might think this is quite a lady. But you're gonna see that a woman is also a symbol used in Bible prophecy. We see another woman in Revelation chapter 17. Let's take a look at what the Bible says there: "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, 'Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.' ...So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns... I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement". So again you have a woman. The first one, pure. The second, a woman of ill repute. So what's this about? You'll find that a woman is a symbol used to represent a church. That pure woman represents God's church down through the ages. The impure church, that represents spiritual danger, a false system, false worship in the end of time.
And you'll notice that in Revelation chapter 17 the woman was depicted as riding a beast. Well, if a beast is a nation and the woman represents a church, then you've got a picture of a church-state union down in the close of time. Amalgamating church and state has never worked well, and we're being warned that to go in that direction in the future is to go in the wrong direction. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and he said, "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ". The symbol of a woman is used to represent the church. Ephesians 5:25-27 says this: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish".
A woman is a symbol used to represent a church. There are other symbols. You'll find that "waters" in Bible prophecy represent multitudes of people. In Daniel, the beasts rise up out of the sea. In Revelation, we're told that, "he said to me, 'The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.'" People...waters represent multitudes of people. And you'll find that wind represents strife or warfare. "The four winds of the heaven strove upon the Great Sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea". There was strife among the people, warfare, commotion, and this gave rise to nations coming up as a result of all of that. Warfare, with nations subduing other nations. Now, I don't want you worrying about all this. Someone is thinking, "How am I supposed to know all this? How am I supposed to remember this? Can I be a Christian if I don't remember all the details? Can I know my Bible if I don't know all this"?
Of course you can. Don't be alarmed. Knowing this is important when you study the Bible so that you're not confused. The most important thing is that you know God. As you grow in your knowledge of God, you'll grow in your understanding of the Bible, and this understanding of the Bible will help you know God even more. We find answers in prophecy, even though it might seem sometimes like there's more questions than anything. And I'll remind you of this right now. If you'll go to our online studies at ItIsWritten.study, you'll really learn a lot that you'll be able to take on board. You'll make notes. You'll advance in your understanding of the Bible. That's ItIsWritten.study. You can dig deep there. And of course, go to AnswersInProphecy.com. You'll get the notes from this presentation; they've got all this information right in them.
Why is God keen that we know what Revelation is saying? Because we're living in tumultuous times. I read John Glenn's biography not so long ago. He said something in there I found interesting. John Glenn, the fighter pilot-turned-astronaut- turned-Senator from the state of Ohio, he said that when he went into the Senate in the 1970s, there was collegiality in the Senate. There was a spirit of cooperation. But he said that by the time he left the Senate in 1999, that spirit was gone. He said the desire to really work together was gone. We see it today among our leaders: a combative spirit. Is it true in other countries? Would Canadians say the same thing? Would Canadians say the Canadian parliament is all sweetness and light? In many countries, leaders just don't work well together. And this is reflective of the spirit in society. We're on a slippery slope. The devil has been studying human nature for 6,000 years; he knows what buttons to press. He knows how to cause people to become frustrated and angry and violent.
We've got a massive amount of marriages ending in divorce. I don't say that to be critical, because divorce is painful, but this affects children. It affects society. People are so busy. Demands are so great. Children now spend a lot of time in the home without parents there. Instead they're being raised by TikTok and Instagram. And when you've got the very people who created these social media platforms talking about, hey, they won't even let their own children on there, you know it's affecting children. And therefore, you know it's affecting society. Social media is antisocial. It's not all bad, of course. Check out It Is Written on Facebook and Twitter. It's not all bad, of course, but it's life-shaping, and I'm not sure too many of us are happy with the shape that we're seeing. I spoke to a high school student recently. I said, "How you doing"? He said, "I'm tired". I said, "Why are ya tired"? He said, "I was up until four o'clock this morning". I said, "Well, I'm sure you were studying". He said, "Honestly, no, I was watching Netflix".
See, we didn't have that when we were kids. When I was growing up, TV went off at about midnight. We didn't have hundreds of channels. We didn't have the internet. I'm not saying it was better; I'm saying we just didn't have that stuff. What it meant was we couldn't check the weather every five minutes. We couldn't check the news every two seconds. We also didn't have pornography and violence right at our fingertips. Things have changed. You need to tell me if they've changed for the better. I don't know that they have. In some ways, sure. In others...I don't know that we can say that. We don't even know the end result of making social media and the internet and Netflix and pornography... we don't even know what the end result of all that is gonna be, because it's a great, big experiment in social engineering, but it would be impossible to say it's all gonna end well.
We're in a spiritual battle on this planet. Jesus saw it coming. He warns us about it in the Bible. He urges us into the Bible to read and to study and to learn and to know. This is why Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1 and verse 10, he said, "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your [calling] and election sure". God says, "Make it sure". In one place, Jesus summed up the problem when He said, "But you are not willing to come to me that you may have life". We'll probably talk about that again. You see, that's Jesus' burden: that we come to Him, that we might have life. It's funny, isn't it? Jesus called Himself "the bread of life". He's coming to a starving world offering spiritual food. Jesus wants to bless people, to help people, to lift people up, to encourage them. Imagine going to a place where there's a famine, offering people food, and being told, "We don't want that". It doesn't make any sense. And yet here we are in this world... where it doesn't make any sense. You don't find another offer like this anywhere.
Jesus says to sinful people, "I will save you. I will love you. I will help you. I will walk your pathway with you". Did you know that Jesus walks with you? Sometimes we might think of God as being condemnatory, like that's God's primary aim, to condemn, but that's not God's objective. God's objective is to lift up the fallen, to strengthen the weak, to forgive the erring, to be a loving Father to everyone. Several weeks ago, parts of a building, a residential building in Mumbai, India, collapsed. More than 40 people were killed. There was one man trapped in the building alive. His name was Khalid Khan. So he took out his phone, and as he lay there trapped, he recorded a message for his wife. In the video he filmed, he said, "If I survive, I will be grateful to God. If I don't make it, then this is goodbye".
His leg was stuck, he spent 10 hours in there, not knowing if he would live or die, but rescuers reached him; they got him out of the ruins. And this is what he said. He said, "I have been given a new life by God. I wasn't sure if I would survive". "I've been given a new life by God". And that's something we can all say. Jesus came into this world to give people the gift of eternal life. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, human beings were from then on in opposition to God rather than being in harmony with God. What could possibly bring the human family back into harmony with God? Jesus came into this world to succeed where we had failed and to offer us His righteousness. And now, with the righteousness of Christ as our own, a righteousness we can have when we claim it by faith, we are then fitted for heaven, and we can live in the hope of Jesus' soon return.
You can have Jesus' righteousness. He'll give it to you, a gift. Just ask for it. And then claim it. And know that in possession of the righteousness of Christ, God sees you as no longer being in opposition to Him, but in harmony with Him. If you've waited for this, don't wait any longer. Just claim Jesus, and know that you can be a child of God, now and forever. Have you done that? If you have, then we're gonna pray together in a moment, and you're going to thank God that Jesus is still your Savior, steal your Lord. But if not, come on, you're carrying your burdens on your own. If not, you're trying to make it through this world, what, on your wits, on your smarts.
You look at yourself and say, "I'm not good enough". All right, but you can have Jesus, and He's good enough. "I'm weak". Ah, but the God of heaven is strong. There's no need that you have to face life's challenges and burdens alone. You know, a boxer steps into the ring to fight. Probably not the best example, I'm talking about violence here. But when a boxer steps into the ring to fight, the boxer is not there alone. He's got someone in his corner. He's got someone saying, "Duck and weave. Use your left. Stay out of trouble. Grab a hold of the guy"...or the girl. The boxer has someone in his corner. It's the corner saying, "Come on, you can do it. Come on, press forward! Come on, you can do it". I want you to know that you've got Someone in your corner. Jesus is in your corner. And He's not saying you can do it; He's saying, "We can do it". He's saying, "If you let me, I can do it in your life. I'll do it for you". Come on, let's pray to Jesus, who's in our corner. Come on, let's pray.
Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus we come to You, grateful that there is a God who is in our corner. The signs say time is short. The symbols say we can understand Your Word and Your will. And we say, "We want You in our heart".
Friend, would you want Jesus as your Savior? If the answer is yes, believe now that He is, and He is.
Lord, grow us continually until Jesus returns to take us home. This is our prayer. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.