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The Shepherd's Rod vol. 2
Shepherd's Rod book, Vol. 2
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelves stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth; and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.... And the great dragon was cast out that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Rev. 12:1-4, 9.) The dragon was seen in heaven and being "cast out," it is obvious that the symbol is of heavenly origin. Of him it is said: "That old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan." Note that the dragon is a symbol of Satan, even as the Lamb having "seven horns and seven eyes" is a symbol of Christ. (Rev. 5:6.)
Since the numerous beasts form an unbreakable chain of the world empires, the dragon cannot intersect between the links as the symbol of a separate earthly system; thus he represents just what the Scripture says: "The Devil, and Satan." The figure is given to reveal Satan's scheme at a certain time in our world's history.
The "woman clothed with the sun" is understood to be God's church. The child to which she gave birth was Christ. The twelve stars that comprise the woman's crown were originally symbols of the twelve patriarchs. This will be made plain in another study. Therefore, we shall endeavor to make clear the time of the dragon and his work. It will be noticed that the dragon stood ready to devour the child (Christ) as soon as He was born. It is evident, that the old serpent armed himself with seven heads and ten horns prior to the birth of Christ.
"And his tail drew a third part of the stars of Heaven." The Scripture is self explanatory as to who the symbolical stars are, for Inspiration says: "He was cast out into the earth, and his Angels were cast out with him."
Therefore, the "third part of the stars" represent the angels who were deceived by Satan's controversy. Quoting "Testimonies for the Church," Vol. 3, p. 115: "Satan, in his rebellion,
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took a third part of the angels. They turned from the Father and from His Son, and united with the instigator of rebellion." The question may arise: Why draw them with his tail and not some other way? The symbol is perfectly capable of indicating the manner in which Satan drew them to the earth. Had it been done with claws, it would denote that Satan defeated Michael (Christ), and by force dragged out a third of the angels. But since he drew them with his tail, the significance is that a third part of the angels joined him in rebellion against Michael. For when the dragon was cast out naturally he was coming head first, and as he drew them with his tail, it reveals that they voluntarily followed him. Thus Christ could do nothing for them.
War In Heaven
"And there was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was there place found any more in heaven." (Rev. 12:7, 8.) The conflict was in heaven. The name "Michael' means who is like God; hence it is one of the many titles of Christ. Daniel calls Him "Michael the Great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people." (Dan. 12:1.) Christ has numerous titles, each bearing a definition of a certain phase, or character of His work. The angel said to Joseph, "and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for he shall save His people from their sins." He is also called "Emmanuel," meaning, "God with us." etc.
Time Cast Out
Satan could not have been cast out of heaven immediately after he sinned, or when he deceived Adam and Eve, for in Job 1:6, 7, we read: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it." "The sons of God" are the representatives of unfallen worlds equal to Adam before he sinned, created by the hand of God, and representatives in the same capacity as Adam could have been had he not fallen from his throne by sin. Quoting from The Spirit of Prophecy: "The commanders of the angel hosts, the sons of God the representatives of the unfallen worlds, are assembled. The heavenly council before which Lucifer had accused God and His Son, the representatives of those sinless realms over which
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Satan had thought to establish his dominion." -- "The Desire of Ages," p. 834.
Satan still had access to heaven in Job's time. Therefore, he must have been cast out at a later date. Says John: "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child." (Rev. 12:13.) The next necessary step is to find when the dragon first persecuted the "woman" (Christian Church); we shall then have the truth of the time Satan was cast out. That time of persecution is recorded in The Acts 8:1, "And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen's] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." Thus the great persecution against the church was about 34 A.D. It is true that Satan persecuted Christ before that time, but Christ is not the "woman." He is the "Child" whom Satan wished to "devour." Therefore, Satan was cast out immediately after Christ ascended on High. The Spirit of Prophecy speaking of the occasion says:
"All are there to welcome the Redeemer. They are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King.... He presents to God the wave-sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming.... The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied. Satan is vanquished. Christ's toiling, struggling ones on earth are 'accepted in the Beloved.' Before the heavenly angels and the representatives of unfallen worlds, they are declared justified.
"Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ's brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken." -- "The Desire of Ages," pp. 833, 834, 761.
The time he drew a third part of the stars (angels) from heaven, and the time of the war in heaven, were two distinct occasions. He drew the angels when they followed him from heaven to earth and sought to devour Christ. "And when the dragon saw that he was cast out into the earth;" that is, after Christ was crucified, Satan at his return to heaven was forbidden
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an entrance. Thus he "saw" -- understood that he was cast out. Then he persecuted the church.
The Dragon's Horns And Heads
The only possible time for the application of the symbolical horns, heads, and crowns would be with the closing of the old dispensation, and at the commencement of the New. For the dragon appeared in that form when Christ was to be born. The horns represent the same as they do on any symbolical beast. Being ten in number the symbol denotes that the effect of his scheme was universally felt. It also signifies that Satan had obtained full control of the nations which were symbolized by the ten horns of the non-descript beast of Daniel 7; and thus he moved upon Herod to kill the children at the birth of Christ with the hope of destroying the Saviour -- devouring the "Child."
Let us not overlook the fact that all the horns, heads, and crowns, were present when he stood ready "to devour her Child." Consequently, whatever the meaning by these symbols, all must be in existence at the same time. Had this not been so, the symbols of heads and horns would have so indicated by coming up one after another like the beasts, and also like the horns of the ram and of the goat of Daniel 8. The same is true with the non-descript beast of Daniel 7:7, from which three of the ten horns were "plucked up by the roots." Where systems and governments do not all exist at the same time, the symbols appear one after another in their correct order. Thus we see that Inspiration is perfect in every respect, and faultless in revealing the truth intended. Therefore, it would be inconsistent for one to conclude that the "horns" as well as the "heads" could represent a consecutive order of systems as long as they all appear in a group, and in oneness with the beast that carries them.
It is also impossible that both horns and heads could represent civil governments, or kings. If the horns stand for political systems, then the heads cannot. If the wounded head on the leopard-like beast of Revelation 13:1-3 represents a religious organization, then all the heads must stand for religious systems. However, there is an exception with the four-headed leopard of Daniel 7:6, for he is without horns and his heads are proven to be civil by the four horns of the goat. It is an unmistakable fact that the symbols are intended to reveal the civil and religious phases during the period represented by the non-descript beast in both his stages -- imperial and papal Rome.
As crowns denote civil authority and as they appear on the heads instead of on the horns, it is evident that the church in
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that period was using civil dictatorial power to propagate her dogmas. Thus the lessons embodied in these symbols are far greater than we can comprehend in a moment. As the facts brought forth regarding the nature of the symbols cannot be questioned, we have a positive foundation for their application.
The dragon with his seven heads and ten horns, with the crowns on the heads, appeared at the birth of Christ as previously explained, and occupies the period parallel with the non-descript beast. The heads are represented by the Biblical number seven," meaning "completeness," and embrace every religious system in the days of Christ. As the dragon represents the devil who controls the heads, the symbol unmistakably denotes a complete apostasy. It is not intended to reveal that the pagan system of worship was headed by the devil, for it has never been otherwise. It was the Jewish church that had apostatized, and that is what made the Biblical number "seven heads." Just such an apostasy had gripped the world in the days of Noah; and its wickedness made the continuation of the world impossible. Therefore, necessity, for the good of mankind, brought about the flood. The terrible apostasy of the Jews made unavoidable another disaster similar to the dreadful deluge. As God could not overthrow the world by water the second time, and yet keep His never failing promise to his faithful servant Noah, He sent His Son to die in the world's stead. Therefore, the world perished not because of the supreme sacrifice of the Son of God; and the world exists today because Christ arose from the dead.
The Dragon's Crowns
Next we note the crowns and their significance. It has been explained that the crowns denote civil authority. The heads being crowned, it reveals that the churches of that time employed the civil arm of the state. Had this not been true, the Jews could not have crucified the Lord of glory; neither could they have stoned Stephen, or beheaded and killed the others. It was the civil arm of Rome, headed by the dragon, through which the Jews committed these terrible crimes; resulting in their own destruction.
The Accuser Of The Brethren
After the dragon was cast down from heaven according to the vision says John: "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." (Rev. 12:10.) "Satan's accusations against those who
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seek the Lord are not prompted by displeasure at their sin. He exults in their defective characters; for he knows that only through their transgression of God's law can he obtain power over them." -- Prophets and Kings, pp. 585, 586. When the Spirit of God prompts to reprove, He will reveal sin and rebuke the sinner. But Satan, encourages the sinner to unconsciously commit himself in transgression, then he accuses him before the great Judge in Heaven, as "being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin," to secure his condemnation. God's people must learn to detect the voice of the Spirit of Christ, as well as the spirit of Satan. When the two clash, the One will strive for obedience to God's Word, but the other will excuse the sin and sympathize with the sinner. In this way Satan gains ground, for the sinner loves his sin.
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