||Chosen no: R-5628 , from: 1915 Year.
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RETURN OF THE CHURCH FROM THE WILDERNESS
A WILDERNESS condition is one of separation
from the blessings of civilization; it
is a cut-off condition, a separation from
the world. In the case of the Church, we
read that the Lord provided her with two
wings, that she might go into the wilderness
1260 symbolic days, or years. Apparently
she went into the wilderness condition of
her own accord, and became voluntarily an
outcast from the privileges and advantages
of the world's society; she underwent a general
ostracism or separation.
In the account of the typical Atonement Day sacrifices
we read that the scapegoat went into the wilderness, but
it did not go voluntarily; it was sent away. In the antitype
the faithful, consecrated class go into the wilderness
voluntarily, while the others will go into it of compulsion.
The two classes will have similar experiences, however.
The experiences of the Church have been tribulations,
brought on by reason of their loyalty to the Lord and the
Truth. The Lord's people can be in this wilderness condition
even while surrounded by all the affairs of the
world. We are separate from the world; we are in the
world, but not of it--isolated.
In the Book of Revelation we read that the Church
fled for 1260 years into the wilderness, and that during a
similar period of time a great system had control of affairs.
This period, we understand, began in 539 A.D.
and ended with the year 1799. It was a period of
ostracism, called the wilderness condition, but not necessarily
of persecution. One might go into the wilderness
condition and not receive persecution--not be shot, not be
hanged, or anything like that. Hence the wilderness condition
does not include the thought of persecution, but
merely of separation.
In figurative language the city represents honor, distinction
and prominence in the world, while the wilderness
signifies the reverse condition--that of being ignored,
ostracized, etc. During the 1260 symbolic days the
Church was in the condition of ostracism. The governments
paid no attention to her; but on the other hand,
they gave a great deal of attention to the great system
which exalted itself and became "that great city which
reigneth over the kings of the earth"--Mystic Babylon.
THE RETURN FROM THE WILDERNESS
At the end of this period, beginning with 1799, the
proper conception of the Church was more nearly recognized
by the world in general, when the power of Papacy
was broken, when the Pope was carried a prisoner to
France. Then the nations realized that they had been
more or less mistaken as to the Pope being Christ's representative.
From that time on the Papacy, as a great
system, has not had the persecuting power, but has been
compelled to vie with others. The Baptist denomination,
the Methodist denomination, and others, have prospered
during this period, and the world has recognized them in
the same degree as it has recognized Papacy.
The Papacy did not go into the wilderness, however;
but Protestantism stepped out of the wilderness condition,
to be more particularly recognized by the people and
[R5628 : page 46] by the government. This has continued for quite a while
and the Bible has been more generally recognized than
before. Shortly after 1799, Bible Societies began to be
organized. The Bible was brought into great prominence.
Old and New Testaments, God's two witnesses, were exalted
to Heaven. Those who advocated the Bible came
out into the full light. Bible students and Bible study
became more approved than ever before. Bibles were
printed and everybody favored Bible Study.
There is no Scriptural declaration that the Church
will go back into the wilderness condition. Our reference
to a second wilderness experience is founded upon the
symbolic picture of our day that is given to us in the
experiences of Elijah the Prophet. Elijah, representing
the true Church of God, had been a true Prophet for some
time. He was unpopular with Queen Jezebel, who had
influenced King Ahab against him. The King threatened
Elijah's life and he fled to the wilderness for 1260 days,
or three and a half years. This was symbolical of the
1260 years during which the Church remained in the
At the close of the 1260 days in Elijah's experience, he
returned from the wilderness, and made a great demonstration.
He made an exhibition of the priests of Baal,
who had been favored by Queen Jezebel and by King
Ahab. This manifestation resulted in a great exaltation
of the Word of God, and a great downfall of the priests
[R5629 : page 46] of Baal. From that time they were obliged to hold themselves
in seclusion. The people said, "Jehovah is God."
We understand that all this particularly represents how
the true Church, in 1799, manifested itself before the
kings of the world, and stood up for God and the Bible.
Elijah represented the true Church; Jezebel represented
the Papal System and other systems closely related to
her; Ahab represented the government; and the people of
Israel represented the world. The Bible was forced upon
Jezebel and Ahab, and everybody. The two witnesses
were exalted because the people took notice of them.
ELIJAH'S SECOND WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE
Coming back to the picture: Queen Jezebel represented
her daughters, her kind, her family. The Prophet Elijah
represented the true people of God in the present time.
The Queen did not persecute him, but threatened him;
and again he fled into the wilderness--not for a specified
time, however. The people in general were not under the
same kind of restraint as previously. The priests of Baal
never regained their influence. Elijah went again into
the wilderness and was there nourished for a time; it was
not the previous nourishment of the 1260 days by the
ravens, but an especially provided food for a time.
To our understanding this food especially provided for
Elijah, after his experience with the priests of Baal and
after his fleeing from Jezebel, represents the special Message
that is now feeding the people of God. After Elijah
had reached the wilderness, there was an inclination on
his part to feel discouraged; and he said, "Ah, Lord God!
..."--this signifying his discouragement. But the Lord
strengthened him and gave him a special food, in the
strength of which he went to Mt. Horeb. This mountain
represents the Kingdom of God, the Messianic Kingdom.
And we believe that by this spiritual food we are now
brought to the time when the Kingdom is to be established.
When Elijah got to Mt. Horeb the Lord gave him
three witnesses. (1 Kings 19:1-18.) The wind rending
the mountains represents the present war. The great
earthquake symbolically represents a social revolution, the
like of which was never before in the world, and which
we believe is due to come very soon. This will not come
as soon as the war begins, but the war might continue
while the earthquake is on. This was not all. The third
demonstration was a great fire, which consumed everything
before it. This represents wide-spread anarchy,
which will prevail in the world, following the social revolution.
Then after the fire Elijah heard the "still, small
voice," representing the Divine Power, which will bring
the blessings to the world.