Lesson 4

The Gift of Prophecy and God's Remnant

(Revelation 12)
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Introduction: Throughout Biblical history, we find that God works with a specific group of people to advance His kingdom. Is this still true? Will it be true in the days before the close of earth's history? Since these are the people who speak for God, wouldn't it seem reasonable that the gift of prophecy would be a special gift to this remnant group? Let's dive into the Bible and see what it teaches on this topic!



  1. The Woman and the Dragon


    1. Read Revelation 12:1-2 and Revelation 12:5. The only certain thing in these verses is that this woman gives birth to Jesus. From that fact, who do you think the woman represents? Is this Mary, the woman who actually gave birth to Jesus? Is this Israel, the nation which gave birth to Jesus? Is this a reference to the Christian church, which seems to be the majority view?


      1. What are the arguments against this woman being Mary? ( Revelation 12:1 hardly seems to be a description of a human.)


      2. What are the arguments against this being the Christian church? (Jesus gave birth to the Christian church, not the other way around.)


      3. What are the arguments against this woman being Israel? Could the twelve stars be the twelve tribes? (The argument that Israel killed Jesus is as strong as the argument that it gave birth to Jesus. Given this entire history, it seems odd that this woman would represent all of Israel.)


      4. What if the woman represented some distillation of all three: specifically the humans who were faithful to God? Would Mary be one of them? Would some of Israel qualify? Would some in the early church qualify? (This introduces the "remnant" concept very early on. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was one person with whom God had a special relationship. She represents the faithful among humans. The twelve stars then can be understood to be the apostles - some from Israel in the early church who were faithful. Being clothed with "the sun" is a reference to the relationship Jesus has with His faithful. The woman standing on the moon (which reflects the light of the sun)is an indication the faithful reflect Jesus in their lives.)


    2. Read Revelation 12:3-4 and Revelation 12:7-9. Who is the big red dragon? (The Bible specifically tells us it is Satan.)


      1. What does it mean that "the tail" of the dragon swept a third of the stars from the sky? (Satan won the allegiance of one-third of the angels in heaven. They, like Satan, were cast to earth after they lost their battle against God. They lost the battle for heaven.)


  2. The Dragon's Hunt


    1. Read Revelation 12:4-6. What was Satan's plan for Jesus? Did he accomplish his plan? (Satan wanted to kill Jesus. He accomplished this plan.)


      1. As you think about Jesus' life, was killing all that Satan had in mind? (No. Satan wanted to trick Jesus into giving Satan His allegiance. Satan wanted to inflict pain, mental distress and humiliation.)


    2. Read Revelation 12:13-15. We find two time references: 1,260 days and "a time, times, and half a time." What does "a time" mean? (Many commentators have said that "a time" means a year. This would be 3.5 years or 42 months or 1,260 days. Thus, the two time references are the same!)


      1. What happens during this time? (It seems to be a period of safety for the remnant.)


    3. Read Daniel 7:23-25. We see the same time reference in Daniel and we see a beast that seems similar to our Revelation dragon. The problem is that we see persecution of the saints, not a safe place for them. Can you reconcile these two ideas: persecution and sanctuary? (Commentaries such as Barnes' Notes, Matthew Henry and Adam Clarke explain this as symbolic of a period of time (1,260 years) when Christians were persecuted by pagan Rome or "Christian" Rome and they fled to remote places ("the wilderness") for safety.)


      1. If these commentators are right, what does this tell us about the "remnant" idea? (The division among humans is not between pagans and Christians, rather it is between Christians who take their allegiance to God seriously and everyone else. Just as Satan gained followers among the angels of heaven, so he can gain followers among those who either claim to be or at one time were true Christians.)


  3. Characteristics of the Remnant


    1. At this point you may be scratching your head and asking yourself, "How can I be sure I'm a "remnant" person? Let's explore the remnant! Read Revelation 12:10-11. Here we see a clash between the true Christian and Satan. How do the Christians win in this conflict? (They relied on the death and resurrection of Jesus and they told others about it.)


    2. Read Revelation 12:16-17. Who made the dragon mad? (If we are right about the woman, it would be a faithful remnant.)


      1. Who, logically, would be the "offspring" of the remnant? (Those born later who were also true Christians.)


        1. Why is Satan mad at the offspring? (For the same reasons he was mad at Jesus - they are the opposition. They stand in the way of his evil plans for the earth.)


      2. Look at Revelation 12:17 again, because it gives us a very clear description of the remnant. What two characteristics do we see? (They obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.)


  4. Obeying God's Commandments


    1. If we are saved by grace, why is "obeying God's commandments" the first description of the true and faithful Christian?


      1. Why not say ( Matthew 22:37-40) "Those who love?"


      2. Why, from a "prophetic gift" point of view, are the Ten Commandments so important? (Recall that they are the "gold standard" for God's communication to humans. They are the only communication we have which was written by the hand of God. Everything else communicated by a prophet is hearsay.)


    2. I finished reading a currently popular book entitled "The Blue Parakeet." The thesis of the author is that we should understand the Bible as a story (series of stories) told by the prophets about our relationship with God. What do you think about that approach to the Bible? (The amount of "wiggle room" in this approach to understanding the Bible makes me a little nervous. I would tighten this up by saying the Bible is a series of stories to help us understand what God meant in His gold standard - the Ten Commandments.)


    3. From the Satan's point of view, why would he attack those who kept the Ten Commandments? (If you are not following God's will for your life, how are you an enemy of Satan? There is no need to fight those who are not on the field of battle against you.)


  5. Testimony of Jesus


    1. Look again at Revelation 12:17. Put yourself in John the Revelator's place. How important is the message about Jesus? (The whole point of his ministry was to persuade people that Jesus was the Messiah - Jesus is God.)


    2. What is Jesus' relationship to the Ten Commandments? (If need be, read Romans chapters 4 through 8. Without Jesus, the Ten Commandments only signify our death sentence. Through Jesus we satisfy the requirements of the Ten Commandments. Romans 5:9-19. Obeying the Ten Commandments does nothing without the rest of the story - Jesus.)


    3. Let's read a series of texts to better understand how Revelation uses this term "testimony of Jesus." Read Revelation 1:1-2, Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:9, Revelation 14:12, Revelation 17:6, Revelation 19:10, Revelation 20:4, Revelation 22:16, Revelation 22:20-21. How do you understand the meaning of the term "testimony of Jesus" after reading these verses? (These are people who are communicating Jesus' message to the world.)


      1. Did you notice Revelation 19:10 says "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." What do you understand that to mean? (In this series of lessons we learned that a prophet conveyed God's message. The remnant's testimony about Jesus is a message from God.)


    4. Read Joel 2:28-29. What does Joel prophecy about the remnant in the last days? (They are filled with the Holy Spirit. Their message about Jesus is driven by a close connection with the Holy Spirit.)


    5. Friend, would you like to be part of the remnant? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit, saved by the grace of Jesus, witnessing to what Jesus has done, and determined to live a life in obedience to God's law? How is your church? Is it Spirit filled? If your answer is not a clear, "Yes!" then will you pray right now for the Holy Spirit to come into your life and your church in power?


  6. Next week: The Inspiration of the Prophets.

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