GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
For the week ending 07/20/03
A Place of Refuge
Revelation 12:5 deals with Satan's attitude toward the Person of Christ and the reason he seeks to destroy the Jews and those who are born again and saved: "And she [the virgin Mary] gave birth to a son [the humanity of Christ], a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron [the harness that the Lord Jesus Christ will use to rule during the Millennium]; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne [the ascension and session]." Revelation 12:6">REV 12:6 continues, "And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days."
"The woman" here refers to true Israel, believing Jews who were evangelized in the first half of the Tribulation, and in this verse we see the divine protection for Israel from the great holocaust of the Tribulation period.
In Revelation 12:6">REV 12:6 we also see that sometimes God gives antithetical advice and commands to believers. The Jewish believers of the first half of the Tribulation are given a command to flee to the mountains, whereas the Jewish believers in the second half of the Tribulation are given a different command, and that is to fight. The believer must have a personal relationship with God so that he can hear His voice and follow His call. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 brings out this principle;
ECC 3:1, There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven,"
ECC 3:2, A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
ECC 3:3, A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up.
ECC 3:4, A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
ECC 3:5, A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
ECC 3:6, A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.
ECC 3:7, A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
ECC 3:8, A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Without a relationship with God and the divine viewpoint of life, you will not be able to discern the antithetical commands that God gives.
1. There is a time in your life for you to uproot or destroy that which you have been investing your time in, ECC 3:2.
2. Do not try to hold on to something that God desires to take away; there is a time to run and there is a time to fight.
3. There is also a time to tear down and break away from pursuits and relationships hindering your spiritual growth. There comes a time when we need to break away from others.
4. There is a time when we must have certain things in our life completely removed.
5. God has allotted a certain amount of time for us to be destructive and constructive, and God gives antithetical advice as to what to do and when to do it.
6. There is a time to just simply admit that things did not work out the way you wanted them to and go on with your life.
God gives antithetical advice and commands to believers, and here if they are going to survive to fulfill the plan of God, they must run. There are times you have to run, other times you have to fight. We have to be flexible in the plan of God; only Bible doctrine itself is inflexible. What you do by way of application to a certain situation, demands that you have a detailed knowledge of God's plan and the ability to make more than one application in the variety of situations you will face in this life as a believer. Flexibility is extremely important, and lack of flexibility in the Church has certainly given the plan of God and everything else we represent, a "black eye," as many believers today misrepresent the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Jews in the first half of the Tribulation run, although they most likely wanted to stay and fight, but to do so would have been inflexibility. The application of doctrine to their situation is run, flee, and get going. In the last half of the Tribulation, it is fight, don't run, and stand fast. You have to know when to fight, and you have to know when to run, and if you run when you should fight, you're going to die. If you as a believer live by your emotions, or what is sometimes called your "instincts," you will not make it in the plan of God.
The born-again Jews flee to the "wilderness," an uninhabited region, referred to in the Middle East as the high desert country. This includes areas such as Moab, Edom, Ammon, and Petra. This wilderness is "where she had a place prepared by God." The word "where" which is the Greek adjective hopou, which denotes only one place where the Jews in Palestine can go to be absolutely safe for the rest of the Tribulation period; this is God's geographical location for their life. The woman, true Israel, has a wonderful place of refuge, the wall of fire, ZEC 2:5, "'For I,' declares the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"
So many believers are afraid of changing their geographical location, but when God calls us to get up and move on, we cannot afford to ignore Him. And we must not only go where He calls us, we must make the commitment to stay there. Even after you enter into the will of God, you still need staying power.
The word "place" is the Greek noun topon, and it means a specific place, a correct geographical location. This place of refuge is said to be prepared by God because God does not neglect the believer in time of disaster. It is the believer who neglects God in time of disaster and even prosperity-prosperity meaning opportunity, the great opportunities given to us in the plan of God.
The Tribulation period is divided into two parts, each approximately 3½ years. There are two categories of saved Jews-those who are saved in the first half, and those who are saved in the second half of the Tribulation. The remnant in the first half of the Tribulation are evangelized by 144,000 Jewish evangelists, and in obedience to the Word of God they flee to the high desert country of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, DAN 11:41. The second category is the remnant evangelized in the second half of the Tribulation by Moses and Elijah, the two witnesses whom we have studied, and instead of fleeing, they take refuge in Jerusalem, where they fight the king of the North in the final phase of the Armageddon campaign, ZEC 14:1-7. We see the fleeing remnant in the first half of the Tribulation and the fighting remnant in the last half of the Tribulation. There are those who run in obedience to the Word of God and those who fight in obedience to the Word of God.
Revelation 12:6">REV 12:6 And the woman [believing Israel, those evangelized in the first half of the Tribulation], fled into the wilderness [to the high desert country], where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
There are many doctrines that apply to you as a Church-age believer. You are in the Church-age as a member of the Royal Family, and you are not going to die before the time appointed by God, as long as you are of positive volition, and you are functioning inside the predesigned plan of God. You cannot die, and you cannot be destroyed by all the power of Satan, as long as God has a purpose for your life, so death is nothing to fear. You do not have to live in fear of what Satan and the fallen angels are trying to do to you, 2Ti 1:7, "For God has not given us a lifestyle of fear, but of power and love and discipline."
Even though you face the greatest possible historical disaster, instead of death, there is a place of refuge. That place is not always geographical, but we always have the principle of the wall of fire protecting us, wherever we are, inside the predesigned plan of God. The predesigned plan of God in this dispensation is the place of refuge. Inside this wall of fire that we call the predesigned plan of God for the Church-age, we have:
·The filling of the Spirit through rebound.
·Enforced and genuine humility.
·The "momentum gate"-perception and application of doctrine.
·Motivational virtue directed toward God.
·Functional virtue directed toward man and circumstances.
The believer functioning consistently inside the predesigned plan of God is safe. In the midst of a place of danger, there is a place of refuge, if you are inside the predesigned plan of God. No matter how chaotic and difficult circumstances become historically, the prosperity provided in the predesigned plan of God is extended to believers in disaster as well as in prosperity. Historical prosperity or historical disaster will not affect your blessing.
Because you realize the secret&ldots;
PHI 4:10-11 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Paul is revealing that no matter what the circumstances of life may be, he is not changed by the circumstances, and he is not a slave to circumstances. He has passed the adversity and the pressure test and with the gift from Philippi, he will pass the prosperity test. He was just as happy in poverty as he was in prosperity because he had God's happiness. The victory for the Christian is to face the situations of life with total stability so that he does not become a slave to his circumstances.
Doctrine makes us self?sufficient and gives us freedom, and in Phi 4:12 we see the basic virtue in the Christian life, as Paul opens this verse with the phrase "I know," since knowing the truth is what matters most.
Phi 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need."
He can now even handle adverse situations that continue for an ongoing period of time. He now knows how to handle living in prosperity and having over and above what is necessary. The key to living in humility and prosperity is to realize that though circumstances vary, grace remains the same under all circumstances. If we are rightly related to the grace of God, we can have the same contentment in all geographical locations and circumstances. While most people are slaves to their circumstances, the happiness of the Christian does not depend on circumstances. The word for "secret" is the Greek noun mueo, and it means to have been instructed or initiated into the "mystery." Mueo comes from musterion where we get the word "mystery." It means to be initiated into an exclusive club where there are very few who "know the score," or who are aware of the benefits and privileges.
Paul is saying that in all places and in all circumstances, he has been taught the secret, the secret of being "well fed" and "going hungry." Remember that happiness does not depend on prosperity, neither does misery depend on adversity. This verse is the description of the normal Christian life. Being a Christian does not mean you will always be smiling and everything is always going to be "nice." No matter how far you advance in the Christian life, you will never be free from changing circumstances; they will change for better or worse, but that does not mean you have to change. When you have God's happiness, you will not change with your circumstances. Occupation with Christ through Bible doctrine allows us to handle any problem we face.
PHI 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Here it is-Bible doctrine giving strength to the supergrace believer. This verse literally says, "I have endowed power for all things by means of the One who keeps on pouring the power into me." Jesus Christ keeps on pouring the power into you as you perceive, metabolize, and apply Bible doctrine. When adversity hits, it's not time to quit, it's time to pour it on. You have not yet arrived, so drive harder, and hit harder. Keep going and you'll keep growing. This is the package that can grant you victory over every circumstance in life.