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© by Rich Kelsey.  All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any way by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without the prior permission of the copyright holder, except as provided by U.S. copyright law.  ISBN 1-57921-526-2 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2002115819

RICH KELSEY

 THE MIDNIGHT HOUR

 

Chapter Six

THE OVERCOMING
CHURCH IN PROPHECY

 

     Many of the groups within Revelation's pages are composed of people who had once died. These assemblies, such as "the twenty-four elders,"[1] "the great multitude,"[2] and the "souls"[3] under the altar are illustrations of the church in heaven with Jesus Christ symbolized as the "Lamb"[4] standing as head of the church. Much of the events that occur in the book of Revelation are the direct result of prayers[5] from these various groups. The woman found in Revelation's 12th chapter is also most likely an illustration of the Heavenly church and the male child she brings forth represents Jesus Christ along with a ruling class of overcoming Christians who gain access to the throne.

     It's written of this child,

"She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter" (Rev. 12:5).

     On this subject Jesus proclaimed,

"To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery— just as I have received authority from my Father.' " (Rev. 2:26)

     As Christ and his church take authority in heaven Satan is banished to the earth; then a loud voice in heaven says,

"Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down" (Rev 12:10).

     As Satan is no longer able to approach the heavenly throne waging accusations at the church in heaven, he initiates an all out war with the church on earth. As it is written,

"Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12:17).

     There are parallels between the woman and her offspring from Revelation 12 and the woman and her offspring from Genesis and Isaiah. These are fascinating prophecies because they go into details about the role of the church in the last days.

The Woman and Her Offspring from Genesis

     Because of the fall of man and the role Satan played in man's fall back in the Garden of Eden, God spoke these words to the serpent,

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Gen. 3:15).

     Many teachers believe the offspring from the woman in this prophecy is Jesus Christ, and that analogy does apply. The first woman Eve is the Mother of us all, including Christ. Jesus cer­tainly did "crush" the head of the serpent (Satan) figuratively speaking when he atoned for the sins of mankind upon the cross. Satan no longer "holds the power of death"[6] over us because of Christ's sacrifice. Yet, there is more to the woman's offspring than the physical lineage of Jesus, and there is more to this illustration of the woman's seed crushing the serpent's head and the serpent striking his heel than the struggle between Christ and Satan 2,000 years ago. This prophecy has a spiritual fulfillment with Jesus Christ and his collective body (the church) interacting with Satan and his entourage at the end of time.

     In the original Hebrew language in which Genesis was written, the word "crush" is showing us a deathblow to the head. In all of Scripture, the only place there is a serpent mentioned that has re­ceived a death wound to the head by the seed of a woman is in the book of Revelation 13:3. Revelation 13 is mostly about Antichrist's rise to power and the persecution of God's people. Therefore, way down at the end of time we will see the fulfillment to this prophecy from Genesis. Satan will be banished from the presence of God's throne, never to be allowed access to the heavens again. This banishment from heaven has much to do with crushing the head of the serpent, however the church on earth may also play a significant role in dealing the deathblow.

 

The First Woman with Child from Isaiah

"As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, O LORD. We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth; we have not given birth to people of the world." (Isa. 26:17-18)

     It's obvious that this is not "a woman" in a natural sense. The word "we" is found in the passage six times. The word usage itself suggests a figurative interpretation: "so were we in your presence". "We were with child". "We writhed in pain". "We gave birth to wind." "We have not brought salvation to the earth". "We have not given birth to people of the world." The "we" in this prophecy is a reference to God's people. God's people are shown going through the pains of labor, figurative speaking, with the anticipated result of bringing salvation to the earth.

     This prophecy gives the impression that the church is suffering as a woman in labor. She is in pain trying to bring forth offspring. The context of this passage is in the last days right before the rapture as shown by the following verse:

"But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morn­ing; the earth will give birth to her dead" (Isa. 26:19).

     God is assuring the church consisting of both the dead and the living that she will have a fruitful offspring regardless of how bleak things look in the natural. Could this end-time prophecy be show­ing us a church struggling to fulfill Christ's great commission?

 

The Second Woman with Child from Isaiah

" 'Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?' says the LORD. 'Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?' says your God. 'Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance". (Isa. 66:7-11)

     Let's go through this prophecy verse by verse:

Isaiah 66:

Verse 7.

"Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son."

     This verse is expressing something that is impossible in the natural because no woman on earth can give birth before she goes into labor. This saying has to do with time: "Before" is the key word here, it is used twice in our text. Let's ask the question what son did Israel deliver "before" it entered into labor? The answer is Jesus Christ.

Verse 8.

"Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such

things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought

forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children."

     In this verse we have a contrast between a single "thing" the birth of Christ, and plural "things" the birth of children. The words "a nation" speaks of a great multitude of people. We also notice the words "no sooner;" this appears to imply that as Israel/the church first enters labor offspring are produced. Labor implies a spiritual struggle. Since this labor is an illustration of a spiritual event we can assume that the birth is also of a spiritual nature. On this subject Jesus said,

"Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (John 3:6-8).

     This saying, "Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children" implies that as the church first encounters a struggle in the spirit, most likely from satanic persecution, multi­tudes of people will come into the Christian faith.

Verse 9.

"'Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?' says the LORD. 'Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?' says your God."

    God is promising us that no matter how impossible things look in the natural this spiritual "birth" will take place. God is also saying that He is the author of this thing and He will finish what He starts. This fruitful multiplication of God's faithful will be accomplished through a work in God's Spirit as it is written: "I" will bring to delivery.

Verse 10-11

"Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance."

    Zion and Jerusalem are illustrations of God's covenant people; in the New Testament this would mean the church. It's the church that will give "birth to her children" and "nurse" her young. This prophecy in Isaiah had its initial fulfillment in the days when Christ walked the earth and shortly thereafter when the church was first born. A nation was "born in a day". Many people were nursed, figuratively speaking, from the teachings of Christ and the Apostolic church. Yet, the devil was quick to bring persecu­tion upon the Christian movement through powerful emperors and corrupt religious rulers.

 

History Will Repeat Itself

     The next fulfillment to this prophecy will be in the days ahead, shortly before and during the time of Antichrist's regime. History is bound to repeat itself. A great light will sweep over the land much like it did in the days of the early church, then just like in times past the world will plunge into darkness. Through the administration of a powerful emperor and a false religious system[7] the developing Christian movement will be overthrown.

"Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them." (Rev 11:7)

 

War and Victory

     There's no doubt that Christians will be martyred in the days ahead as recorded in our last text. In the natural, by all human observations, it may appear that Satan will bring humanity into complete subjection. The Antichrist will receive deification from the masses. By his administration Satan will stir humanity into a killing frenzy. Every logical reason will be given to wipe Christians from off the face of the planet. The devil is seen coming to the earth with the intent of waging war and a satanic war is exactly what we shall face. In any war there are bound to be casualties. Innocent blood will be shed. However, war also has an upside. We shall be victorious.

 

The End-time Church

     The church has a ministry to perform in the last days, that min­istry is to bring salvation to the earth. Jesus said,

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).

     The bulk of Revelation 11 is an illustration of the end-time church. Although the description of her ministry is penned in highly figurative language the point being made is clear: the word of God will go forth with great power. Then in Revelation 12 we see the church again, she is illustrated as a woman with offspring, and once more she is seen bringing forth a testimony.

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…" (Rev 12:11).

    What we see throughout Revelation is a victorious church. We see a church that is turning the world upside down for Jesus Christ. A church composed of believers that will not back down to the edicts of Satan. A church that stands strong and fights the good fight of faith, and when the battle is over reigns with Christ in the Promised Land.

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his im­age and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Rev. 20:4)

 

BOOK INDEX



[1] Rev. 5:8

[2] Rev. 7:9

[3] "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. (Rev. 6:9)

[4] "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." (Rev. 5:6)

[5] "The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake." (Rev. 8:4-5)

[6] "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14).

[7] "He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fi re to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. (Rev. 13:12-15)