Revelation 12:17 "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
At the end of the prophecy in Revelation 12, the end-time ruling power persecutes the remnant of the woman's seed. A woman represents a church in Bible prophecy (see Revelation 12). A remnant is the last part of something, the very end. The remnant is the last of her (the church's) offspring (churches) (see the 7 Churches). As a child ("seed") of the woman, the church will resemble its mother and continue to promote the beliefs of the apostolic church and the wilderness church (contrast this woman and her offspring with the harlot and her unfaithful daughters in Revelation 17). The remnant not only shares the characteristics of her mother, but also has several additional traits that are specifically highlighted. The following lists provide insight into the identity of the remnant.
Characteristics of the Remnant
|The Remnant's Traits|
|It is a church ("her seed").||A woman symbolizes a church. Just like the children of the impure mother (17:5) represent unfaithful churches, the last ("remnant") child ("seed") of the pure woman represents a faithful church. Many true believers are within unfaithful churches (Babylon - 18:4). There are also unfaithful individuals in the remnant church (Laodicea - 3:14-19), but the remnant is nevertheless entrusted to call God's people out of Babylon.|
|It appears after the 1260 years ("a time, and times, and half a time").||The 1260 year time period went from 538 AD to 1798 AD, so the remnant appears sometime after 1798.|
|It is the last church ("remnant").||Of God's church through 7 time periods (7 Churches), it is the 7th and remains until Jesus returns (see the 7 Churches).|
|It teaches righteousness by faith ("clothed with the sun").||Jesus' perfect life is their substitute and His power molds their character to be like His (see symbols of sun and clothing).|
|It stands firm on the Bible ("moon under her feet").||The unerring Word of God lights its path and future revelation must not contradict it (see symbol of moon).|
|It is organized for success ("crown of 12 stars").||It has messengers coordinated and empowered by God to spread the gospel to all the world (see symbol of crown of 12 stars).|
|It shares the 3 Angels' Messages.||It appears during the end-times and keeps God's commandments (12:17), just like those who labor to share the 3 Angels' Messages (14:12-13).|
|It experiences a great disappointment through misunderstanding.||The beginnings of the end-time church are revealed in the prophecy of the Little Book in Revelation 10.|
|It teaches obedience, through faith, to all 10 of God's commandments ("keep the commandments").||The end-time church will keep the commandments. God's law, written in stone and on the hearts of those who submit to His molding (Heb. 8:10, 10:16), includes the 4th commandment to keep the 7th day holy (Ex. 20:8-11, Heb. 4:4-11, Mk. 2:27-28, Acts 13:42-44, 18:4). Obedience is not to earn salvation, but because of love for Jesus and His law. "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15) (see also Ps. 40:8, 2 Pet. 1:3-11). Elsewhere in Revelation, those who keep the commandments also have the faith of Jesus. They can only keep the commandments because they also have faith in Jesus" power to enable them to do so. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).|
|It manifests the spiritual gift of prophecy ("testimony of Jesus").||The angel told John "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (19:10). He also said "I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus" (19:10), repeated later as "I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets" (22:9). This refers to actual prophets, not just people who share a prophet's words. Prophets were set apart in title, function and how they received communications (1:2). Because of this gift, the remnant can uplift Jesus, the Bible, His law and prophecy in a special way, and effectively carry the last warning message to the world.|
|It is persecuted ("dragon...makes war" - 12:17).||The remnant enjoys freedom initially (under the earth beast - Rev. 13), but is eventually persecuted (when the earth beast speaks like a dragon).|
|It is willing to give up its life ("loved not their lives unto the death" - Rev. 12:11)||Those who have a personal experience with Christ, do not compromise truth and are willing to die for Him (more about the accused brethren).|
The analogy of ancient Israel:Babylon took ancient Israel captive for many years, after which a remnant returned to Jerusalem (Ezra, Neh.), rebuilt the temple, repaired breaches in the wall and called others home out of Babylon (word origin is babel, meaning confusion). Likewise, spiritual Babylon took Christians "captive" for 1260 years (538-1798 AD), after which a remnant: (A) returns to a pure faith, (B) restores the truth of Jesus' ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, (C) repairs the breach in God's law ("the sabbath" - Is. 58:12-14) and (D) calls the rest of God's faithful people to leave the confusion of end-time fallen churches and join the remnant (18:4).
The difference between the remnant and God's people:The remnant is God's end-time church, an organized entity through which He spreads the gospel. God's people are individuals throughout all churches, who are faithful to Him and follow Him according to what He has revealed to them. Notice that many of God's people are in Babylon and called by the remnant to come out of it. "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4).
God's faithful people (wheat) and those who are unfaithful (tares) are both in God's remnant (faithful church). Likewise, God's faithful people and unfaithful people are both in Babylon (unfaithful churches). Those in the remnant are tasked with the responsibility and privilege of inviting and warning God's people in other churches through the sharing of the 3 Angels' Messages.
The identity of the remnant:The only church fulfilling every description of the remnant (see table above) is the Seventh-day Adventist Church. God has faithful followers in all denominations/religions, and the remnant is commissioned to share the 3 Angels' Messages with each of them, as well as with the whole world (Matt. 24:14). It is a special calling and sacred responsibility.
Claiming to be the remnant may sound arrogant to some. People within ancient Israel fell into the trap of feeling superior to other followers of God. Israel had been chosen as God's instrument to share God's truths with the world. The people within Israel were not superior to those outside of Israel, however Israel as a nation was the "church" through which God chose to share the knowledge of Him with others. In the apostle's day, there was one church that was organized to share the gospel with the world. God always has a church, one church, an organized entity through which He works in a special way. This does not preclude other churches and individuals from working for God and being used for His purposes. But, He works to bring all into one fold.
The remnant church, the one that is fulfilling all of the identifying characteristics, cannot deny the truth of its calling and responsibility. None within it have any reason for arrogance. Let all who join it to sound the last warning message be truly humbled and delighted as they serve God in the closing work of the gospel.
More about the "Testimony of Jesus"The angel who is speaking to John in Revelation 12:17, later plainly tells him the meaning of the "testimony of Jesus". "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). The "testimony of Jesus" is the spirit of prophecy. In other words it is the witness of Jesus to His church through the medium of prophecy.
At the beginning of the book of Revelation, the angel and John are said to bare record of the testimony of Jesus, which is written down in this prophetic book (Rev. 1:2). Both the angel and John had the testimony of Jesus and were thus identified as prophets. Notice how the angel repeats a similar statement to clarify this meaning: "Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God" (Revelation 22:9). Whereas, in Revelation 19:10, the angel identifies himself as "thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus," he now identifies himself as "thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets". These parallel expressions further link that the "testimony of Jesus" means having the prophetic gift.
The spirit of prophecy, which John and the angel had, refers to actual prophets, not just people who share a prophet's words. Prophets were set apart in title, function and how they received communications (1:2). Like John and the angel, the Remnant church also has the testimony of Jesus, which means it also manifests the gift of prophecy. This results in the remnant church being enabled and equipped to teach and uplift prophecy in a special way to the world.
The remnant church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was co-founded by Ellen G. White (1827-1915). She manifested the prophetic gift and received many visions and messages from God for His people. More information can be obtained on the White Estate website.
As with all prophects, Ellen G. White must be tested against the Biblical qualifications of a prophet:
Admits that Jesus came in the flesh."Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (1 Jn. 4:1-3).
True prophets will believe that Jesus is of God and already came to this earth in human form.
Manifests fruit of the Spirit."Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matt. 7:15-16).
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:19-23).
Good things will be evident in a true prophet's life and there will be repentance and growth. The opposite traits of character will inevitably appear and reoccur in the unrepentant false prophet.
Makes predictions that come to pass."And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deut. 18:21-22).
If the prediction of a prophet does not happen, and the conditions of the prophecy are met, they are a false prophet. False prophets may be able to guess and predict many things, but only God knows the future and predicts with 100% accuracy. Keep in mind that prophets do make conditional prophecies. An example is when Jonah told the people of Ninevah their city would be destroyed. But, the people repented and God did not destroy the city. Jonah was still a true prophet; he had just made a conditional prophecy, and there were two outcomes depending on what people chose to do.
Speaks in harmony with the Scriptures."To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Is. 8:20).
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).
A false prophet will speak contrary to the Scriptures, which are all the testimony of God through the prophets. God will never contradict Himself or change His Word.
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18).
"But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet. 1:25).
Upholds God's law."Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets" (Dan. 9:10). "Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee" (Deut 13:4-5).
"And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you" (2 Chron. 24:20)
A false prophet will not uphold God's Law and will even urge away its restraining influence. They may appear or claim to uphold the law, but there will be some point, perhaps just in one commandment, that is undermined or ommitted.
Teaches repentance."Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear" (2 Chron. 24:19).
Prophets have a hard message to bear. People do not want to hear that they are doing wrong and need to repent. But, prophets speak directly to sin and make no excuse for it. They will point you to God for forgiveness.
Provides guidance through present crisis."And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved" (Hosea 12:13).
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
Prophets are sent to God's people for a reason. There is something new that is happening or about to happen. God sends a prophet to help guide His people and preserve them through current events and approaching disasters. It is not surprising that He would send a prophet to His people in the end-times.
Learn more from the White Estate about how Ellen G. White meets the Biblical qualifications of a prophet.
Read her book Steps to Christ or her other writings online.
Return to Revelation 12.
Millenium (Rev. 20:1 - 20:15)
New Earth (Rev. 21:1 to 22:21)
Epilogue (Rev. 22:6 to 22:21)