Chapter 19 - The True Church Restored

In the two preceding chapters we have briefly considered the first and second beasts of Revelation 13, showing that they symbolize two great systems of religion—Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The same twofold form of the Apostasy is also described in other parts of the Revelation under the general term “Babylon”, as we shall now show; and in this connection a final restoration is also predicted.

A Restoration Predicted

In Revelation 17, to which reference has already been made, a beast with seven heads and ten horns is brought to view, agreeing with the first beast of chapter 13. Here (chap. 17) the beast is the Western Roman Empire under the papal form, with the papal church symbolized by a corrupt woman seated upon this beast and directing its course. Outwardly, the richly adorned woman presented a splendid appearance, but her true character was symbolized by the contents of the golden cup she held in her hand, it being “full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (vss. 3-5).
The remaining verses of the chapter describe the manner in which the beast would support the woman for ages, after which the ten horns (or minor kingdoms) would turn against her and “make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (vss. 16-17). That Rome possessed and exercised temporal power during many centuries all historians know. The last part of this prediction was fulfilled when King Victor Emmanuel entered Rome in 1870 and established the free government of United Italy, at which time the pope’s temporal sovereignty, vested in the Papal States from the time of Pepin and Charlemagne, was abolished. So 1870 marks the time when the woman was indeed made “desolate and naked,” the time when “the words of God shall be fulfilled.”
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.… 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. 18:1-4).
A spiritual movement of mighty power is symbolized in these verses, and as it was to take place after the fulfillment of the things described in chapter 17, it could not take place before the year 1870, when the temporal power of the pope ceased. This movement calls forth the people of God from spiritual Babylon, which is “fallen.”

What Babylon Includes

Protestants often limit “Babylon the Great” to the Church of Rome, because the woman symbolizing the apostate church (chap. 17) is denominated “Babylon the Great” (vs. 5). But the same verse also declares her to be the “mother of harlots,” and if she, a degraded woman, stands as the representative of a corrupt church her unchaste daughters must at least symbolize churches that are her descendants. If the real name of the mother is Babylon, as stated, the proper name of her harlot daughters must be Babylon also. Whether, therefore, the mother or the daughters are mentioned in a given instance, the reference is to “Babylon,” because it is all the same family, connected with the “great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (vs. 18).
The term “Babylon” has even a more extensive application than Papacy and Protestantism. It doubtless includes the whole city of sect confusion, the babel of all man-made institutions called churches.

Admitted by Protestants

That the term “Babylon” includes Protestantism and also that the fallen condition ascribed to her is in accordance with the facts, may be abundantly proved by the testimonies of leading Protestants themselves.

Testimony of the Word

Let us appeal to the prophecies to show definitely that this heavenly cry against Babylon really includes Protestantism also.
Returning to Revelation 13, we again observe that Catholicism is symbolized by the first beast, and Protestantism by the second beast, whose man-made religious forms and institutions constitute an image to the first beast. Therefore, we have in that chapter the twofold form of the Apostasy—papal and Protestant. Immediately following (chap. 14) we have a strikingly contrasted description of the true people of God. They are following the Lamb, not wandering after the beast. They are marked by having their “Father’s name in their foreheads,” not with the mark and name of the beast. They are worshiping Christ and giving glory to him, not bowing down before the beast or his image. The whole Word of God did not have free course under the reign of the second beast, but we have here (14:6-7) clearly predicted a final restoration message and movement in which the whole truth is presented to the world.

Babylon Is Fallen

The restoration of the pure gospel after the reign of the two beasts is thus clearly predicted. But this is not all of the message; for the same light that reveals the pure word of Heaven’s truth reveals also the fallen condition of Babylon. “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation” (Rev. 14:8-10).
Here we find that the heavenly message against Babylon, “that great city,” is directed against both the beast and his image. Now, the “image” was made by the second beast, or Protestantism (13:14); therefore, the command to come out of Babylon applies to those who are in Protestantism. In other words, it applies to the whole unscriptural system of man-made and man-controlled organizations called churches.

God’s People Called Out

Notice, also, that the message of the two angels of chapter 14 is the same, and in the same order, as those in Revelation 18:14, already noticed. The first one cries, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” (14:8). The next one warns the people against worshiping the beast or his image, upon the terrible penalty of receiving the wrath of God. So also in chapter 18 the first angel cries, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen” (vs. 2). Then is 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” (vs. 4).
While the woman, or pure church, in the morning of this dispensation was driven “into the wilderness,” we thank God that she was not always to remain there; and in this final restoration movement, or reformation, she is to come forth out of the great wilderness of the Apostasy and, as the bride of Christ, return to Zion. “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” (Song of Sol. 8:5). “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” (6:10). It is the true church of God.
The prophecies that describe this final restoration are not confined to the Revelation. They may be found even in the Old Testament.
The gospel as preached by the Apostles out of the Sacred Writings was from the Old Testament—the only Scriptures they had then. Peter says that Old Testament “prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you … the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” (I Pet. 1:10-12).
According to the Apostles, the chief object of Old Testament prophecy was the gospel age, with its glories to follow the sufferings of Christ. Therefore they stated, over and over again, “It came to pass that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” The entire Book of Hebrews shows that the special design of God in the typology of the Old Testament was to set forth the house of God, the true New Testament church of God, “whose house are we.” So the church is the subject and object of Old Testament typology and prophecy.
Again I say, the prophecies that describe the final restoration of God’s true church are not confined to the Revelation. Zechariah clearly predicts it thus I will give this verse as rendered in the Septuagint Version, for it is clearer there: “And it shall come to pass in that day the papal day that there shall be no light, and there shall be for one day the Protestant day cold and frost, and that day shall be known to the Lord, it shall not be day nor night a mixture of light and darkness: but towards evening it shall be light” (Zech. 14:6-7). Thank God for the light of the evening time!
This same spiritual movement is predicted by Ezekiel, who describes the people of God under the figure of sheep: “And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men” (34:31). These sheep of the Lord are represented as oppressed, driven away, abused, and scattered by false shepherds, or preachers. God says, “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill [from one sect to another]: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth” (vs. 6).
Read carefully the whole chapter. It is a prophetic, true-to-fact picture of the experiences of God’s people scattered during the dark and cloudy day of Protestantism. But the work of final reformation is predicted in verses 11-12: “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.”
When the Apostles apply obscure Old Testament texts to conditions and events in the gospel age, we accept their application on the ground of apostolic authority. Now let it be remembered that our application of Zion, Jerusalem, Babylon, and other terms, to conditions and events in the latter part of this present age is no mere analogical reasoning of ours: it is the inspired Apostle John himself who thus applies these things in the Revelation. We accept the analogies, the applications, the true-to-fact symbolisms as divine inspiration.
Babylon is fallen, the divine record states, and God is said to be calling his people out. To stay there, yoked up with multitudes of godless and graceless professors of religion, who are lovers of this world, means finally to lose spiritual life. The Apostle Paul utters words which contain a principle applicable in this case: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? … Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Cor. 6:14, 17-18).

They Are Called to Zion

When the people of God hear this heavenly message to come out of Babylon, and they obey, where shall they go? Shall they wander around, independent of each other, over the spiritual deserts of the earth? No! Let the Word of God settle this point. The experiences of natural Israel under the Old Testament dispensation foreshadow, and thus describe, in many respects the experiences of God’s spiritual Israel, or church, in the New Testament dispensation. The Revelator himself draws these analogies, thus giving them apostolic and authoritative sanction. As Israel was led captive to literal Babylon, so the church has been held captive in spiritual Babylon. As literal Babylon was overthrown, and the Jews made their escape, so spiritual Babylon “is fallen, is fallen,” and God’s people are commanded to “come out of her.”
What did literal Israel do when they came out of Babylon? They made their way in a body direct to Mount Zion, where formerly the temple of Jehovah stood in magnificent glory, and began at once the work of restoration under the direction and the approval of God. And the work at Jerusalem prospered, because “the people had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6). Thus shall it be with those who make their escape from spiritual Babylon: “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35:10). The purpose of such a movement is the restoration of a pure church, or temple of God, as in apostolic days—a church dedicated by the Holy Spirit and filled with the power and glory of God. “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matt. 12:30).

Restoration a Necessity

A final restoration of the true church of God before the end of time is not only desirable but necessary. Such a movement is not dependent on prophecy, nor on anyone’s particular interpretation of prophecy; it is made necessary and inevitable because of the nature of the church itself.
Sectarianism, however, is not altogether modern. In fact, the original church itself was built wholly out of sectarians. In those days everybody was religious, identified with some party or group. The Jews themselves were broken up into a number of rival sects and parties, such as “the sect of the Pharisees” (Acts 15:5)—“the most straitest sect of our religion,” Paul said (26:5)—and Sadducees, Essenes, and Herodians. The entire Gentile world consisted of religious groups and parties of all kinds.
Into such a confused and hopelessly divided religious world Christ came and built his church. How did he do it? Was it done by accepting or joining any one of those sects? Was it by recognition of the existing religious condition? Was it by an organic confederation of them all, or by a broad, tolerant, intermingling process? Not at all. Good people there were in all these sects, of course, but they had been misled, blinded, deceived. Saul of Tarsus was one of that kind, but when God finished with him on that Damascus highway and in the house of Judas, all sectarianism was entirely gone from him. By a divine process he and all other honest and God-fearing people were separated from sects and sectarianism, were reconciled “unto God in one body by the cross” (Eph. 2:16), “called in one body” (Col. 3:15), united “for his body’s sake, which is the church” (1:24). Thus the apostolic church was built out of the good material already existing in that old-time sectarianism. But it was done by spiritual processes, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God. And since God accomplished this miracle once, it is but reasonable to suppose that he both can and will do it again.
There is no way to square organized denominationalism with the Word of God—with the one divinely organized church of God, as set in order and ruled by the one Spirit of God. The only way under heaven to realize and to exhibit in practice again the visible unity of believers for which Christ prayed in John 17 is to forsake all the doctrines, commandments, and sectarian divisions of men and to abide in Christ alone.
According to the prophecies, there will be a final church restoration before the end of time. It is represented as being accomplished by God calling his people out of, and outside of, Babylon, thus preparing the bride for the coming of the Bridegroom. (See again Rev. 18-19.) Such a movement is not—and cannot be—a geographically defined and limited colonization scheme, but, like the primitive church itself, it must be a great spiritual state and ideal whose true center of gravity is Christ himself in all his revealed truth. Whenever and wherever people of God accept the Christ in the fullness of his divine power, in his complete rule as active and actual head of the church—wherever the Holy Spirit is not only permitted to take full possession of individual hearts, but also to have absolute spiritual dominion over the collective assembly of the saints, thus destroying every principle of sectarian divisions and effectually breaking down denominational walls separating God’s people—then, no matter what the geographical location, the physical barriers, or the natural separations such as language differences, then and there is a concrete exhibition of the restored church of God.
So far as we can see, no prophetic time limitations are placed on this final church restoration period. Whether it will be one century or five centuries nobody knows. The work must be done, and time is not particularly important; the fact that there is to be such a restoration is the really important thing.
To us who live in these last days it is inspiring to know that this work of restoration has already begun.* Countless thousands, awakening to the unscripturalness of sectarianism, and discerning by the Spirit “the body of Christ,” which alone is the church, have forsaken that which is only human in order to abide in, and represent properly and scripturally, the body of Christ, the true church of the living God. This work is also being attested and confirmed by the manifestation of his glorious power. Men who are possessed with devils, men whose cases are as bad as those described in the New Testament—the victims lying on the floor, writhing under demon influence, foaming and frothing at the mouth, and uttering horrible cries—are delivered by the power of God, restored to their right minds, and made to worship and praise God. God is indeed “confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20). The eyes of the blind are opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame made to leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing. Cancer and tuberculosis, rheumatism and heart trouble, appendicitis and nervous prostration, and other diseases of almost every description and name are, in hundreds and thousands of instances, healed by divine power. I myself have witnessed the healing of thousands.

Triumphant over the Apostasy

To witness such results, after the long reign of the beast and his image, is enough to start songs of rejoicing among the angels of heaven and to awaken shouts and praises among the redeemed of earth. When the Israelites were in Babylonian bondage, sadly they hung their harps upon the willows by the riverside and wept when they “remembered Zion.” Here they were tormented by their captors, who said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion”; and they answered, despairingly, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Ps. 137:1-4). Zion’s songs were songs of deliverance; therefore it was not possible to sing them in a strange land.
So has it been in spiritual Babylon. The truly saved held captive therein during the long reign of apostasy have had their righteous souls vexed from day to day with the pride, the worldliness, and the ungodliness of their surroundings; and there they have wept and groaned when they remembered Zion’s primitive condition. At the same time, however, they have been expected to be happy and to sing the songs of Zion. How could they sing these songs of deliverance in a strange land? Impossible! It is when “the ransomed of the Lord return, and come to Zion,” that the “songs and everlasting joy” break forth again. And this was described by the Revelator: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God a song of deliverance, and the song of the Lamb a song of redemption, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Rev. 15:2-3). Thank God! Since we have returned from Babylon we have our harps once more and are able to sing the songs of Zion. Hallelujah!
* For specific quotations, see pp. 238-240 of the unabridged edition.
* For a fuller treatment of this subject, see my specialized works, Prophetic Lectures on Daniel and the Revelation (now out of print but available in some church libraries) and The Revelation Explained.

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