A Stephen-Sermon to the Church Today (part 2 of 2)

So long as Satan can successfully carry on this subversive work of flooding the church, he will never move a finger to persecute any for joining her, lest thereby he thwart his own evil design to honeycomb her ranks with his agents–the flood, the tares. To insure the success of this insidious work, he casts out those who dare live a consistent Christian life there among the tares, while he is going about with his extinguisher turned on, trying to put out every lifespark of light.

Finally, though, as prophecy discloses, the tables are turned, and the long controversy ends with the Lord’s casting out and destroying (Rev. 12:16) Satan’s agents, the “flood” (the tares, the bad fish), and then lighting the earth with the glory of His angel (Rev. 18:1)!

Here we see that the approaching work of making rid of the flood, thereby freeing the church from the unconverted, is the work of “the harvest” in “the end of the world.” Matt. 13:39. Next we must ascertain whether the “end of the world” brings the millennial age of peace or the great time of trouble such as never was. To determine which, we must consult subsequent events.

Since it is after the earth swallows the flood, that the dragon is to be wroth with the woman and to go “to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:16, 17), there is no escaping the conclusion that the harvest, in taking away from the church Satan’s flood, his multiplied tares, does not bring the millennium of peace. Indeed not, but rather it brings God’s wrath–the time of trouble such as never was: the time in which His people in Babylon are called to “come out of her” and into His purified church–the Kingdom.

The harvest, therefore, is a short period of time just before, rather than the moment at, the appearing of Christ in the clouds. It is the very last days of probation for earth’s kingdoms,– the days and work which bring the end of the world.

The fact that there is a remnant (that which is left) of the seed of the woman, shows that her seed is divided into two parts, and that consequently the symbolism represents three groups of people: (1) the woman; (2) the first part of her seed–those who in this instance are not the remnant; (3) the second part of her seed–those who are the remnant.

In the light of this symbolical representation, the woman, herself, is seen to symbolize the mother part of the church–God’s appointed and Spirit-filled ministers who bring in the bornagain (John 3:3) converts. The first part of her seed must, accordingly, be the first fruits, the 144,000, who, separated from the sinners that were among them, are taken to Mount Sion, there to stand with the Lamb (Rev. 14:1).

Hence, “the remnant of her seed” are in this instance those who are yet in the world when Babylon rides the beast (Rev. 17). Thus they are the second and last fruits which are to be taken to the purified church, the Kingdom, where there is neither sin nor fear of Babylon’s plagues falling upon them (Rev. 18:4).

And now, since in her progression of time, the woman represents each successive ministry, therefore at the time that the dragon is wroth with her, she necessarily must represent the last ordained ministry, the 144,000, those who bring all their brethren from all nations to God’s “holy mountain Jerusalem.” Isa. 66:20.

With this light shining on the subject, the truth is clearly seen that after the earth swallows the flood, after the angels separate the wicked (“the tares,” the “bad” “fish”) from the righteous (the “wheat,” the “good” “fish”) in the church, and take the righteous to Mount Sion (“the barn,” “the vessels” Matt. 13:30, 48), the dragon will then be angry with the woman (the servants of God), and as a result will war against the remnant (the second fruits, those who are then to be called out of Babylon–Rev. 18:4).

“In the last days,” says Micah in his forecast of the time in which the first fruits stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion, and in which the second fruits leave Babylon to go to Mount Zion, “it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

“And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.” Mic. 4:1-4.

Conclusively, therefore, the Kingdom-church must be “set up” before the Devil turns upon the remnant, those who are left behind and who are then being gathered, and against whom he wars for refusing to worship him in the person of the beast and his image (Rev. 13:15).

In this cumulative light, one sees never so clearly that though the Lord is to allow persecution to come anew upon His people in Babylon, He will do so only to serve His own end to cause them to get out of her dominion (as He caused His ancient people to get out of Egypt), and to go into the Kingdom-church–the only place on earth where there will be no sin and upon which the destruction of the plagues will not fall. (See Revelation 18:4).

“Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee,” O Lord, and “the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.” Ps. 76:10.

The separation of the wicked from among the righteous while sojourning in the wilderness in Moses’ time, before entering the land of promise, was effected not only for the benefit of the church then (typical Israel) but also for an ensample to the church today (antitypical Israel), typically pointing to the forthcoming separation of the bad from among the good (Matt. 13:48), before the good are taken into the Kingdom, their own land, “the barn.” Matt. 13:30. “All these things,” therefore says Paul, “happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Cor. 10:11.

Through the forewarning, herein, of this imminent providence, the Lord is again pleading with each Present-truth believer:

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.

“The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on Mine altar, and I will glorify the house of My glory.

“Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in My wrath I smote thee, but in My favour have I had mercy on thee.

“Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.” Isa. 60:1-12.

So, dear brethren of Laodicean, plain it is that “while the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.”– The Great Controversy, p. 425.

Then, “clad in the armor of Christ’s righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. ‘Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,’ she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.”–Prophets and Kings, p. 725. At that time “only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it [the Third Angel’s Message] when it shall have swelled into the loud cry.”–The Reviev and Herald, No. 19, 1908.

As a flaming torch in the blackness of night, stands forth the truth that the time of trouble such as never was, finds the church free from the flood of tares, free from the “bad fish,” and consequently able not only to withstand the Devil but also to go forth conquering and to conquer in the mighty power of Michael, Whose standing up delivers “every one that shall be found written in the book.” Dan. 12:1.

From this rehearsal of the long history of God’s people, we see that Abraham is the only one with whom God was not compelled, in order to get the desired results, to resort to means other than the simple command: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” Gen. 12:1.

Abraham’s unquestioning and unfailing faith and his unhesitating obedience to the Lord’s naked command in every instance, made him a “friend of God,” the “father of the faithful,” and a great pillar of living truth, with a name to be remembered and venerated throughout time and eternity.

Jacob’s faith in the promises of God, and his overmastering desire to work himself into the Lord’s plans and to carry them out, resulted in his becoming the progenitor of the first fruits or ministry of the Kingdom-church–those who stand with the Lamb on Mt. Zion (Rev. 14:1).

Joseph’s uncompromising fidelity to principle brought him into highest estate, in which he became the world’s greatest provisioner as a type of Christ, the Great Spiritual Provisioner.

Moses, in his meekness (humbleness) and in his determination “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25), rose to be the greatest general, leader, and deliverer of all times, and even to stand on the mount of transfiguration.

The apostles’ sacrifice of life for the sake of Christ and His Truth, won them the exalted honor of having their names placed in the foundations of the Holy City (Rev. 21:14).

Luther’s fearless and persevering efforts to lift up the down-trodden Truth (Dan. 8:11, 12; 11:31), fathered forth Protestantism.

Yet, Brother, Sister, none of these singularly glorious estates is greater than is yours to stand with the Lamb on Mount Sion. We beseech you, therefore, to “arise, shine; for thy light is come”! Isa. 60:1.

Now that on the one hand the Lord is pleading that you take hold of His mighty light of Truth and thereby be separated from sin, that you may escape His vengeance, be delivered from the coming trouble, and have a part in proclaiming the Loud Cry of the Three Angels’ Messages; and that on the other hand Satan is pleading that you take hold of his all-exhausted extinguisher; you are brought to the valley of decision.

Now has come the Zero hour to decide whether or not you will, if the Lord be God, follow His mighty Truth, or if Baal be God, follow his mighty men.

“Behold,” says the Saviour, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20.

Will you not, then, do as did these faithful men of old, and be God s great men today! O let nothing, Brother, Sister, longer compromise and neutralize your efforts to obtain the promise now–the unmatched privilege of being Zion’s priests and kings!

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith…” Rev. 3:22.

(V.T. Houteff, Answerer Book 2, page 13- 21)

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