|Revelation 12:1,6 |
1 Now there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.1 [The woman is the true church of Christ as it first appeared.]
6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand-two-hundred and sixty days.2 [In 388 AD the true church of Christ was destroyed, its remnants driven into the wilderness, to reappear briefly 1260 years later as the early Quakers. The Quakers later became completely apostatized, resulting in the true church once again returning to the wilderness, where the Lord is leading individuals around the world, who one day will coalesce to bring the true church public once again.]
2 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand-two-hundred and sixty days. The woman is the church of Christ; the true church, which was forced by the devil to flee into the wilderness for 1260 days (years by Bible references) by the persecutions of the false church in which Satan rules. So the true church was no longer seen in the world, no longer organized, but instead became a few isolated individuals. In his Introduction to George Fox's Journal, William Penn writes of the true church being forced by persecutions to flee into the wilderness:
"But alas! Even in the time of the apostles, (those bright stars of the first magnitude of the gospel light), some clouds, (foretelling an eclipse of this primitive glory), began to appear; and several of apostles gave early warning to the Christians of their time; that even then there was, and later more and more, a falling away from the power of godliness and the purity of that spiritual dispensation, by those who thought to be godly in the flesh, avoiding the hardship of the cross. In consolation, they saw beyond the falling away to more a glorious time than ever, to the true church. Their sight was true, and what they foretold to the churches, gathered by them in the name and power of Jesus, came so to pass; for Christians degenerated into outward observances: in days, and meats, and various other ceremonies. And which was worse, they fell into strife and contention about them, separating one from another. They envied each other, and as they obtained power, they persecuted one another, to the shame and scandal of their common christianity. Such persecution became a grievous stumbling block and offended the heathen; the Lord having so long and so marvelously preserved the Christians among the heathen. When the Christians at last got the worldly power into their hands, by kings and emperors embracing the Christian profession, they changed the concept of the kingdom of Christ, which is not of this world, into a worldly kingdom; or at least styled the worldly kingdom that was in their hands as the kingdom of Christ. Thus they became worldly, and not true Christians. Human innovations and novelties, both in doctrine and worship, were quickly and massively introduced into the church. The door was opened to these novelties by the grossness and carnality that appeared then among the generality of Christians, who had long since left the guidance of God's meek and heavenly spirit, and given themselves up to superstition, will-worship, and pretended humility. And as superstition is blind, so is it violent and furious; for all must bow to its blind and boundless zeal, or perish by it. In the name of the spirit, the very appearance of the spirit of God in others was persecuted and opposed; the same which they resisted in themselves, namely the light, grace, and spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was always done through the mistaken accusation of innovation, heresy, schism, or some such plausible name. Although christianity allows of no excuse or pretense whatever for persecuting of any man for matters of religion, so called christians persecuted other men. True Christianity's very nature is meek, gentle, and forbearing, and consists of faith, hope, and charity; of this no persecutor can claim. Man cannot believe well, or hope well, or have a charitable or tender regard to another, while violating another's mind or persecuting another's body for matters of faith or worship towards that person's God.
Now the true church fled into the wilderness; from superstition and violence to a retired, solitary, and lonely state. There the true church was hidden and out of sight of men, though not out of the world. In the judgment of the Holy Ghost, her usual visibility was not essential to the being of a true church. She was just as true a church in the wilderness, though not as visible and lustrous, as when she was in her former splendor of profession. In this state she made many attempts to return, but the waters of the world were yet too high, and her way was blocked. Many of her excellent children, in several nations and centuries, fell by the cruelty of superstition, because they would not deviate from their faithfulness to the truth.
The reformation of the last age did slightly return to the true church, both as to doctrine, worship, and practice. But their practice quickly failed, for wickedness quickly flowed among the professors of the reformation, because wickedness existed in the church they attempted to reform.
Throughout his writings George Fox refers to the true church being forced into the wilderness. The true Church of Christ returned from the wilderness in 1648, when Fox entered the kingdom, which resulted in thousands entering the kingdom of heaven to be kings and priests to God. The woman had a man child who was to rule the nations with a rod of iron; The man child child was taken up into the heavens in 388 AD, (1648 - 1260 = 388), a few years after the sainted Roman Emperor Theodosius I had enacted a law in 380 AD establishing Roman Catholic Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, which completed the union of the church and Roman state as one entity. Under the leadership of Emperor Constantine, who had poisoned his son and boiled his wife to death, the Catholic sect was embodied into the Roman government, which prescribed its doctrine, built its churches throughout the empire, paid the clergy, clothed the clergy identical to Roman government officials, abolished Passover to become Easter, and designated Christmas to coincide with Roman pagan holidays; Christian names were applied to the various heathen rituals and traditions, giving credibility to the unsuspecting. All dissenting Christian believers were either banished into exile or killed.
The crushing boot of the Empire's sponsored Roman religion was used to persecute and kill the true church by burning all heretics. The Roman Empire's church, both east and west, had doctrines that had been dictated by the sainted Emperors Constantine and Justinian the despot, thus eliminating the true gospel by 388 AD. As prophesied in Revelation, the church adulterated with the Kings of the earth.
The Book of 4 Esdra 7:28 states: "For my son Jesus shall be revealed with those that be with him, and they that remain shall rejoice within four hundred years." 400 years is close to 388 AD, the time that the early church died and the woman went into the wilderness.
The following is a small excerpt from Francis Howgill's outstanding writing, Of the Entering in of the Apostasy, and Decline from Purity of Doctrine, Worship, and Practice – from that Time to the Present Time, which shows how the Roman Catholic church was never in the wilderness, (the Protestants were also never there for 1260 years), and so is clearly not the true church:
Christ said: "Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves: you shall know them by their fruits;" Mat 7:15-16; and, "many false prophets shall arise and deceive many." Mat 24:11. This was fulfilled in the age of the disciples. John testified: “Little children, it is the last time; and as you have heard that antichrist should come, even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time; they went out from us but they were not of us." 1 John 2:18-19. And Peter said: “False teachers should arise, who should bring in damnable heresies." 2 Pet 2:1. And Paul wrote to Timothy: "That the Spirit spoke expressly, that, in the latter times, some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats;" 1 Tim 4:1-3; who were enemies to the cross of Christ. These went out into the world; and this is upwards of 1400 years ago, when the mystery of iniquity began to work: they went out and preached Christ in words, but denied the cross, and spoke things they ought not to have spoken, for filthy lucre’s sake. This was the beginning of the hirelings that cared not for the flock: they held the form, but denied the power, for they were out of the power and out of what mortifies the deeds of the flesh; and they spread themselves over nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, which have now gotten the name of a church. John said: "these were the waters upon which he saw mystery Babylon sit; and she and all her children turned against the free woman, the Lamb's wife, and made her flee into the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time; and mystery Babylon reached forth her golden cup full of abominations, and claimed Christ to be her husband, and sat as a queen, and the kings of the earth drank of her cup, and were bewitched by her sorceries. Then all nations becoming as waters, and unstable, being drunk with the abominations of this cup, staggered up and down, being out of the power of Christ which should have established them. Then, a great beast arose out of these waters, with seven heads and ten horns; and these apostatized ministers, who preached for filthy lucre, and those who believed them, took shelter under the beast, and cried: "who is able to make war with the beast? " And the kings of the earth gave their strength to him; and the false church got upon him, and rides upon him, and has done so these many years; and she has traveled in the greatness of his strength; calling herself by the free woman’s name, and putting on her outward attire, she said, 'I am she;' and thus has deceived the nations. Then laws began to be made about religion; then began forcing in matters of conscience, which were contrary to the practice of the true Church. Now Rome look to your beginning and view your antiquity. If nations, kindreds, tongues, and people have drunk of the cup of mystery Babylon since John's days, then what cause have you to boast of antiquity and universality? That sooner proves you to be the harlot than the true Church; for if nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, universally, are the waters that she sits upon and the beast rose out of the waters; read yourself and clear yourself of the apostasy if you can. Since John saw the true Church, the woman clothed with the Sun, who brought forth the man child, flee into the wilderness; what cause have you to boast of visibility or universality? When were you in the wilderness? If your church has not been there, then it demonstrates that your church is not the woman clothed with the sun; for she flew into the wilderness as with the wings of an eagle.
If the beast made war with all who did not bear his image, then we have you as in a press, between us and the apostles time; for no such compelling was in the true Church. Instance any such thing, if you can, from their [the Apostles] writings; where [in the Apostle's writings] were men and women killed by the sword, or by lingering torments, in their time! Such practices have been nowhere found in any other church except in you, [Rome] and in those who, at the best are but in your suburbs, [the Protestants].
Around 1750, the Quaker movement, as pure as it was in the beginning, became completely apostatized. From the Word of the Lord within: "The last substance of the Quaker faith disappeared in 1880; who have become Quakers are an anathema.; there is no fear of God or obedience." The long night of apostasy had picked up again. The man child awaits his appearance again. From the Word of the Lord within: "The woman was snatched away and hidden in the wilderness again. The woman in the wilderness is beautiful. Little children, listen to the woman in the wilderness. This time when she appears, she will come in great power. Modern Pentecost is fast approaching, when the arm is bared. His arm has been cloaked since the apostles. It will be the mightiest church ever, with the greatest punishments too. It is God's judgment that apostles are to be sent into the world. There will be many sites in every language." He has a wonderful, furious plan to take the veil of misunderstanding off the earth, and we are about to witness it. The first outbreak of Christianity was by Christ and the original disciples, which occurred at the peak of the Roman Empire, with roads, boat transportation, and mail, allowing the Apostles to travel and communicate. The second outbreak of Christianity occurred with the early Quakers when there were printing presses in most major cities allowing the Quakers to quickly disseminate their gospel and hope. The third and permanent outbreak of Christianity will be through the world-wide web, allowing the world to fully read the detailed, full, unfiltered, uncut, unvarnished, without snippet, gospel and hope.
But for now the true church is no longer seen in the world, no longer organized; instead it is a few isolated individuals being prepared alone, following the teachings of their Lord and Master.
Isaac Penington writes of the church in the wilderness:
But Zion, all this while, has lain in the dust, and been despised; she has had no building, no fence, but has been trampled under foot by every unclean beast. Her witnesses have been clothed with sack-cloth, (a garment which all the lofty inhabitants of Babylon disdain): her fare has been hard in the wilderness, only a little manna, (which, with the fleshly Israel, who lust after rich and large knowledge, is counted light bread, and their souls soon loathe it);* nor had she this in plenty, but only a small proportion daily, from the hand of the free Giver, sufficient to keep life in her in the wilderness, and to furnish her with strength to give in her testimony against Babylon, so far as the Lord saw good to call any of her seed thereunto. Now what believer can be willing to fare thus with her at present, and to wait for her future riches, fullness, beauty, and glory? No, no; they have so long lived richly, and fared deliciously in Babylon, that they know not how to eat the bread of affliction, and drink the water of affliction, with sad and desolate Zion: and yet this is the only way and passage out of Babylon into Zion. That which (the fleshly part of a man) has been rich and fat, and full fed there, must become poor and lean, and feel hunger, and have none of the bread of life administered to it; no, not so much as husks either.
*Penington has said that a seeker in the wilderness must be satisfied with a difficult-to-receive bread and with not much bread, (spoken words heard in the heart); in the wilderness there is no organized, mature body of true Christians to meet with and be ministered to by them all speaking from the Word of God in their hearts. Further Penington observes that many fleshly Christians cannot tolerate small beginnings, only content with volumes of words heard or read. For years, waiting on God every day for an hour in the morning, I would hear one short sentence every week or two; such are the small beginnings in the wilderness.
Quotation from George Fox:
"But all of you who are in your own wisdom and in your own reason, you say that silent waiting upon God is a famine to you. It is a strange life to you to come to be silent. You must come into a new world. Now you must die in the silence, die from the wisdom, die from the knowledge, die from the reason, die from the understanding.
So as you come to feel that which brings you to wait upon God, you must die from the other [that resists the silence and feels famished in silence]. It is this [dying in silence] that brings you to feel the power of an endless life, and you come to possess it; in silent waiting upon God you come to receive the wisdom from the above by which all things were made and created, and it gives an understanding and reason that is clearly different from that of the earthly man. This life of God in you is what brings you to wait upon God—and to know God is eternal life. To you this is the word of the Lord God."
When a gate-crasher enters the kingdom in this age, many will follow in successive waves; meetings will once again be set up by those kingdom-dwelling individuals throughout the world. The fourth power of God to salvation will be opened in those meetings: the power of the spiritual fellowship, (which is in addition to the three previously available sources to the power of God: 1) power in the true hope and gospel, 2) power in the inward cross of self denial, and 3) the power in the name of Jesus.)