“Now as they came down from the mountain [this was coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration,] Jesus commanded them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.’ And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first.’” Matthew 17:9, 10.
Looking for Elijah
You see, the Jews were looking for the Elijah who had talked to Ahab and Jezebel to come down from heaven. That had not happened. “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” Matthew 17:11–13.
Can you imagine a greater tragedy than this? God sends to you, His chosen people, a special messenger, somebody who is more than a prophet. Since the days of Moses there had never been anybody like this with the people of God. Yet you do not know who it is, so you miss the blessing God has for you. The religious leaders turned their backs on him. They would not listen.
This is what happened to the Jews. I do not want this to happen to me or to you. “‘But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go, work today in my vineyard.” He answered and said, “I will not.” but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, “I go, sir,” but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said to Him, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him.…’” Matthew 21:28–32.
They did not believe the special messenger whom God sent. Jesus said the harlots and the tax collectors were going to be saved before they would be, because they believed. It is a dangerous thing, a very dangerous thing, to reject a messenger whom God sends. It is supremely dangerous, because you are turning your back on the Lord Himself. That is the way God accounts it.
Rejecting the Lord
Do you remember when the children of Israel came to Samuel, the prophet, and said, “We want a king”? And Samuel went to the Lord, and he wept all night. He said, “Lord, they have rejected me.” And the Lord said, “No, they have not rejected you. They have rejected Me.” (See 1 Samuel 8.) What we are talking about is so deadly serious; I must convey to you how serious it is.
If I reject a messenger whom God sends, I have turned my back on the Lord Himself. I will never be right with the Lord again unless I repent. This is serious! “…John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but tax collectors and harlots believed him, and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent [repent] and believe him.’” Matthew 21:32.
What did God mean when He said “I will send you Elijah the prophet?” (See Malachi 4:5.) He meant, as the angel said to Zacharias concerning John the Baptist, “‘He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah.’” Luke 1:17. In the spirit and the power—not the same body, not the same person that talked with Ahab and Jezebel, but an Elijah prophet.
The Lord promised that we would have an Elijah prophet again in the end times, because the Lord knew these perilous times would come. He knew what would happen to the world on account of the theories of higher criticism that would destroy the faith in the Christian churches. He knew what would happen in the scientific world because of the theory of evolution. It would destroy confidence in the Bible. He knew what would happen to the world because of the development of modern spiritualism.
So God promised His children a special messenger; He promised to send them Elijah the prophet. God considered this so important that in the book of Revelation, when He is talking about the end of the world, the end times of world history, God says, “I am going to have a people, a remnant, and if you want to find My remnant in the last days, My remnant are going to have two characteristics.” Notice what they are in Revelation 12:17. It says, “And the dragon [the devil] was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring [the remnant of her seed], who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 19:10 tells us that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of Prophecy. We are living in a time when God is in the process of calling millions of people to become a part of this remnant.
Spiritual Gifts will Continue
Ephesians 4 makes it clear to us that the gifts of the Spirit exist until we come into the unity of the faith, into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ unto a perfect man. (Verse 13.) Now that has not yet happened. That will not happen until the church is ready for Jesus to come in the clouds of heaven. So we know from that Scripture that spiritual gifts are to continue until the Second Coming, including the gift of prophecy.
Some people are terribly mixed up about spiritual gifts. They think that the main spiritual gift is talking in tongues. But if you look at spiritual gifts in Romans 12 or in 1 Corinthians 12 or in Ephesians 4, you will find that tongues is just one of many gifts, and it is never even mentioned as the most important one. The most important gifts are the gifts of apostleship and of prophecy.
Let us compare Revelation 12:17 with Revelation 19:10, and let me just write it with what the words mean. The dragon is the devil; the woman is the church; and the rest of her offspring, or the remnant of her seed, are the last church. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. So it would read like this:
“And the devil was enraged with the church, and he went to make war with the last of the church who keep the commandments of God and have the Spirit of Prophecy.” Ibid. So God’s last people in the world will be keeping the commandments. They will be a Sabbath–keeping church because that commandment is right in the heart of the Ten Commandments, and they will have the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy.
In 1988 while I was preaching in Australia, I was given some material by someone I met there. (Everywhere I go people give me things, and I appreciate that very much. It helps me get a lot of information easily without doing the research myself.) The material I was given was documentation about something that had occurred on a radio program in Australia. I do not know what religious topic was being studied on this radio program, but it was probably about the antichrist. The documentation I was given is a photostat of a letter. I do not know the writer. I have no way of authenticating the letter, but it is very interesting that he sent this letter to the radio station.
In the letter the writer said, “I am a teacher in a Church of England, or an Anglican, School.” He indicated he was an SJ, which means that he belonged to the Society of Jesus, commonly called the Jesuits. So he was a Jesuit priest who apparently was working under cover in an Anglican School as a teacher. He wrote, “There is a church spoken of in Revelation 12:17 and 19:10.”
I thought that was interesting, that the Jesuits know that there is a church described in Revelation 12:17 and 19:10. And then the next statement he made is very revealing. He said, “We [Who is “we”? the Jesuits.] have thoroughly infiltrated that church.” Which church? The church that keeps the commandments of God and has the Spirit of Prophecy! Maybe that will help explain why there are some things happening in the world that some people have a hard time understanding.
Do not think that is the only church that has been infiltrated. But it was interesting to me to find out that even the Jesuits know that there is such a church, and they know who it is, because it says it is the people who keep the commandments and have the Spirit of Prophecy.
More than a Prophet
I want to tell you; I am so happy to tell you; I am not the least bit embarrassed to tell you; God has sent His people not only a prophet, but also somebody who is more than a prophet, a special messenger. If we would listen to this special messenger, we would be guided back to all the truth in God’s Word.
God is going to have a perfect church. To have a perfect church, the members have to be adhering to everything in the Bible. We cannot come up to the Day of Judgment, when Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, and say, “Oh, Lord, I did not see that text. I am sorry, Lord, I was not living according to that, because I just did not notice it.”
The Lord knows that you and I are living 6,000 years from the Garden of Eden, and we all, compared with our forefathers, have very feeble minds. So the Lord chose to send us a special messenger to lead us back to Bible truth. There is a text in Isaiah 55 that says, “My ways are not like your ways.” Oh, no? God’s ways are not like our ways.
1 Corinthians 1:19–24 shows how different God’s ways are from our ways. Look at this. This is really something! “For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Let us look at the power and the wisdom of God, which is supremely higher than anything that we would figure out or imagine. Notice what it says, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” Verses 25–29.
And when God chose to send His people in the last days a special messenger, He chose to send somebody who would not only be a prophet, but who would be more than a prophet. A special messenger who, if they would listen, would lead them back to the truths of the Bible, so they would be ready for the coming of Christ. Because when Christ comes, He is coming to receive a perfected church—not a backslidden church, not an apostate church, a perfected church—and not a lukewarm church, either.
The Weakest Vessel
So, we read in the Bible that God chose to use an instrument that would be so weak that we would be forced to recognize, if we were willing to recognize, that this was the power and the wisdom and the might of God. God chose to send His message through the weakest of the weak.
Now who are the weak? Please do not be insulted, ladies, but in the Bible Peter does say that the wife is the weaker vessel. (See 1 Peter 3:7.) I did not say that; please do not be offended. It is in the Bible.
So if God said He was going to send a message through the weakest of the weak, who would it have to be? It first of all would have to be a woman. But it would not be just a woman. There are some women who are much stronger than other women. It would have to be a woman who was weak. Not just weak as a woman but a weak woman.
Somebody might say, “Pastor John, that is impossible. If God was going to send somebody who was going to be more than a prophet, obviously He would send a man. John the Baptist was a man. Moses was a man. God would have to send a man.” Some people do not believe in women prophets.
Have you ever checked that out in the Bible? In both the Old Testament and the New Testament there were women who were chosen as prophets. It did not even matter what their status was as women. Sometimes men judge women by a woman’s status. But whatever her family status was, I have found that there were women in all different family relations or status, and God still chose them as prophets.
For instance, in the New Testament in the book of Acts it says Philip had four daughters who were prophets and these daughters were virgins. (See Acts 21:8, 9.) So can a virgin be a prophet? Yes. But would you have to be a virgin to be a prophet? No, because in both the Old and the New Testament there are recorded married women who were prophets. Sometimes it even records their husbands’ names.
So, according to both the Old and New Testament, you could be a virgin and be a prophet or you could be married and be a prophet. And then, there were women who were prophets whose husbands had died. Just because their husbands had died and they were widows did not disqualilfy them from being a prophet. In fact, when Jesus was born, they brought Him into the temple and one of the persons who came and held Him, adored Him and admired Him, was Anna, a prophetess. (See Luke 2:36, 37.)
Anna was a widow, but she was a prophetess. Since she was a prophetess, the Lord had given her special instruction. She knew, when she looked at this Baby, that this Baby was the Messiah. She was a prophet. The Lord showed her that. So there is much information in the Bible about women prophets.
The Lord said, “I am going to choose the weakest of the weak.” The person whom God chose as a special messenger to His people in the last days was a person 17 years of age who was so weak the she could not write without her hand shaking. She had been in an accident when she was about nine years of age. A girl had become angry with her and had thrown a rock, and that rock had hit her in the nose and she had a deformed nose for the rest of her life.
There are many fine blood vessels in the nose, so when the rock hit her in the nose, the blood gushed out, and she lost so much blood that she had to be carried home. She was so weak from loss of blood that she could not go back to school. After some months, she was able to go back to school but when she tried to write, her hand would shake so bad, she could not write. So she had to quit school. She was not expect to live very long. The first thing her father would ask when he came home was, “Is Ellen still alive?” That is the way she grew up. “Is Ellen still alive? Is she still here?”
She only had a second—or maybe a third–grade education. That is the person whom God chose, because He was going to do something to show the difference. He was going to show that the foolishness of God was wiser than men and the weakness of God was more mighty than men. That woman, at 17 years of age, received her first vision. After she received her first vision, a number of times she had very serious medical problems and again it was thought she would die—soon.
Given a Death Sentence
One such time she went to see a physician. There were three ladies there waiting to see the physician. She was the third one. The first one went to see the physician; the second one went to see the physician, and then Ellen went to see the physician. He said, “All three of you have heart trouble, but (he said to Ellen) your heart is far worse than the others.’” She was not expected to live because of heart disease.
She only lived about 60 more years after that, but that is a miracle. The Lord healed her of that. Another time she had cancer. Because of the cancer, she should have died. But the Lord healed her of that. She was not supposed to live. She could not write. She was too weak. She was too timid. The Lord allowed these things to happen so men would find out that He was the One in charge. This person had a special message.
She said to the Lord, at first, “I could never address anybody in public! I cannot write; my hand shakes.” How much did she write? She wrote more pages of manuscript than any other woman in recorded history—over 100,000 pages! That from somebody who was shaky, with a second, or third grade education, who, at the age of 17, was supposed to die in a few months from tuberculosis.