Light, Revelation

Pregnant Women

It was 1952 when 5 women knocked on a California door and asked Audrey Wetherell Johnson to teach them a portion of the Bible. She wrote:

These were all earnest Christian women, well versed in Bible content. My heart fell! What had I come to? There in San Bernardino was such an abundance of churches where people could hear God’s Word, while by contrast in China were millions who had not even heard His name. Am I to give more to those who already have so much? I wondered. In reply I promised to pray about their request, and when they had gone I poured out to God my longing to teach pagans. He reminded me of Jeremiah 45:5, “Seekest thou great things for thyself?” (such as seeking to train teachers for China’s millions), “Seek them not!” Again He gave me His message to Zechariah (4:10) “For who hath despised the day of small things?” It seemed He had meant this for me. “You are here, not yet recovered in health; cannot you do this small thing for Me with these dear ladies who desire teaching?”

A few days later, when these ladies returned for my answer, I said, “I will not spoon-feed you. Are you willing for me to dictate a few questions which will help you in your study of each passage? I would then like you to first share with all of us what God has given you, after which I will share with you what He has given me.” – A. Wetherell Johnson, Created for Commitment p. 200

Thank God for Miss Johnson’s method of teaching. Her willingness to teach those five women gave birth to an international, non-denominational Bible study, which is still going strong today. Bible Study Fellowship: More than 1,000 classes on six continents in 39 nations, including China. I’m forever amazed by what God will do with a little yes.

Miss Johnson taught me to take a good look at the Scriptures for myself, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Katherine Bushnell inspired me to take it one step further. Dr. Bushnell was an amazing woman – physician, missionary, Bible scholar and social activist. While in China as a medical missionary, she discovered that the Chinese Bible was mistranslated to support cultural prejudice against the ministry of women.  She wondered whether the same male bias might have prejudiced English translations as well. On the long sea voyage home, she renewed her study of Hebrew and Greek in order to investigate for herself. In 1911 she published Women’s Correspondence Bible Class, later titled, God’s Word to Women.  It is reported that she died believing that her work had made little impact.

It made an impact on me.

It caused my discerning ears to perk up yesterday, for example, when I heard a pastor on a video promulgate the identity theft I wrote about here.

This morning when I was reading my BSF notes on Revelation 12, I came upon this sentence:

“Finally, he was called a serpent because he is that ancient serpent who appeared in the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve (and who was cursed to ongoing enmity with them.)”

“Not them, her,” I wrote in the margin. Her. The enmity was with the woman and her offspring. Not with Adam’s offspring. I explained why here.

One of the BSF questions asked who we think the three main players in this chapter are. The identities of the dragon and the son are pretty obvious. The identity of the pregnant woman, however, is not as clear. To most. It’s pretty clear to me.

The BSF notes give several possibilities as to who the pregnant woman might be:

  • Mary
  • The Jewish people, who gave birth to the Messiah
  • The Church
  • Both believing Israel and the Church, giving birth to many people of God

The problem I have with possibilities 3 and 4 is verse 17. If the woman is the church (or all Jewish and Gentile believers), then who are “the rest of her offspring”?

No one in the leaders’ meeting Saturday morning, and no one in the notes, mentioned Eve as a possibility.

And I think she might be Eve.

Because Eve is “the mother of all the living.” The mother of all who humbly confess their sins. (You did click on the link and read Winning the War on Women, right?)

It’s interesting that Eve is fashioned in Genesis 2, but she isn’t named until the end of chapter 3. It wasn’t until after she sinned and confessed that she was named “the mother of all the living.” (Do you get what I’m saying or do I need to publish the book that lays it all out?)

It makes sense that the players at the very beginning of the epic battle (Genesis 3:15) – Eve, her offspring and the serpent – would be the same players at the end of the epic battle. (Revelation 12).

Right?

I realize that most ordinary people don’t care all that much about Revelation, but I’m not talking to ordinary people here.

And I’m hoping to hear from your extraordinary brains.

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Light, Revelation

Sweet & Sour Scroll with Olive Oil

A mighty angel came down from heaven. A message, short and sweet, lay open in his hand.

He had one foot planted on the sea and the other planted on the land. The message was global.

The voices of seven thunders spoke and John scrambled to write their words down. But a voice from heaven said, “No, don’t write it down.”

Not everyone needs to know everything all the time, but God seems to always tell someone what He is going to do. On that day He took John into His confidence. I want to be taken into His confidence, too.

For the Lord detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence. Proverbs 3:32

The voice from heaven told John to eat the scroll.

It was sweet and sour.

That’s how God’s words are sometimes – sweet when we take them in, but a little hard to digest, a little hard to actually incorporate into our being. Sweet in thought and word, but not in deed.

Like forgiveness. It’s a sweet concept in general, and God’s forgiveness of us, specifically, is even sweeter.  But the thought of actually extending it to certain people can make us a little nauseous.

John wasn’t eating the words on the scroll for his own personal nourishment, though. He was eating them in order to speak them. He had more prophesying to do.

And that’s it. Chapter 10 ends right there.

The scene changes and John is told to measure the temple, its altar and the worshipers.  Don’t measure the outer court, though, because that has been given to the non-believing Gentiles, who will trample the holy city for 42 months (3 1/2 years).

God will appoint two witnesses to prophesy for 1,260 days, which coincidentally works out to just about 3 1/2 years.

I wonder why 42 months is used for the trampling and 1,260 days is used for the prophesying. Perhaps because the witnesses, clothed in sackcloth, giving their mournful message, were counting the days.

They would be witnessing to a hostile crowd who was trampling on everything holy, but they wouldn’t be left defenseless. They’d be equipped to breath fire, should anyone get too close. And with the ability to shut off the rain (so everything would be dry and easy to ignite?). They had all the plagues at their disposal to call down as often as they wanted. God knew He could trust them with that.

Who were these witnesses? No one knows. Chapter 11 is considered by some to be the most controversial chapter in all of Revelation because of the variety of theories.

Some think they might be Moses and Elijah. Reasonable guess: Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain and it didn’t – for 3 1/2 years. Elijah also called down fire from heaven. Moses was instrumental in the Egyptian plagues. Plus, Moses and Elijah both met with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. So, though they had both long since been “gathered to their people,” they were both still players in God’s grand scheme.

All I know is that they are described as lampstands and olive trees.

In Revelation 1 Jesus told John that the lampstands are churches. And olive trees produce olives, which are pressed for oil, which is used for anointing.

So are these two anointed churches witnessing to a hostile crowd in God’s holy city?

Hmm….

I turn to Zechariah 4.

Zechariah wrote:

Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, “What do you see?”
I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand… Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
He answered, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I replied.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Okay hold it right there. These witnesses, whoever they are, cannot prophesy out of their own intelligence or strength, but only by God’s Spirit. Same goes for us. We’ll see how true that is in a minute.

Zechariah went on:

…Then I asked the angel, ‘What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”
Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?”
He replied, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I said.
So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.”

Two things: First, sometimes you have to ask more than once in order to get answers. Second, the two olive trees here are two servants who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth. It sounds like its a permanent assignment. So are they the same olive trees that John sees? Are they on duty right at this very moment?

They are protected for exactly as long as their service is required. And when their job is done, the beast is allowed to come up from the Abyss, attack and kill them.

And how do the gnarly non-believing citizens respond? They refuse to bury the two witnesses – just leave them lying dead in the street. They celebrate and give one another gifts in a bizarre sort of anti-Christmas.

Glad tidings are everywhere because there is no longer light exposing their hard, dark hearts.

Everyone can finally sin* in peace.

It’s a good thing they didn’t bury the witnesses. It’s a good thing they left them lying in the street. This way everyone could see God breathe life back into them. They could hear God call them back to heaven, maybe even hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

Whatever they heard, they definitely saw these two resurrected. And there were lots of bloodless faces gulping.

God shook the earth hard and 7,000 died. And the terrified survivors finally gave glory to God.

Those two olive trees, who may have been at their earthly post for centuries, were no longer needed. They were called back to heaven, their work on earth was done.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet. Loud voices in heaven said:

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.”

After generations of uttering of the Lord’s prayer – “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

His kingdom has finally come!

The temple in heaven is opened, and within the temple the ark of the covenant is seen.

“And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder…”

A new storm is brewing, this time in the heavenly realm…

 

P.S. If you want to see for yourself… and add your own two brilliant pennies:

Revelation 10, Revelation 11, Zechariah 4

*Chapter 9 ended with: “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts [pharmakeia – the use of drugs], their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

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Light, Revelation

Prophecy: Telling it Like it Is, Telling it Like it Will Be

Elkl Rapids marina storm

Did you know that twenty-seven percent of the entire Bible is prophecy?  28.5% of the Old Testament and 21.5% of the New Testament.

At least 737 separate prophetic topics are covered in the Bible.

Sixty-two of the Bible’s 66 books foretell future events.

Ruth, Song of Solomon, Philemon and 3 John are the only books of Scripture that have no explicit prophecy.

All those facts are from my BSF notes.  I’m back in BSF studying Revelation.  This is week 2 and we’re still in the overview phase, and I’m itching to getting into the nitty gritty.  So as I share my daily life from now ’til May, it will likely be seasoned with Revelation this and Revelation that.

Yes, it will be scary at times, but then chapter 19…

Hallelujah.

Don’t worry, it’ll be good for you.

And it will be good for me, should you choose to toss in your two cents.

Oh and here’s something that wasn’t in the notes:

If you include the FORTHTELLING aspect of prophecy with the FORETELLING, then a much greater percentage of the Bible is prophecy.  It is one unified story of the glorious things God has done, is doing and will do.

And it’s all pretty thrilling.

In case you were wondering.

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