The Woman fled into the Wilderness
Here, John describes the abomination of desolation, the departure of the spirit of the truth that occurred in 193, when the Bishop of Rome exalted Himself above Christ, “and the place of His Sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:11).
The Woman “flew into the the wilderness for 1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6), meaning that the saints were known only to God. The evidence of receiving the holy spirit, the tongue emitting sound, had been taken away. The last testimony of the true “speaking in tongues” was made by Irenaeus in 180. After 180, a false experience of speaking in tongues called “Montanism” began. This lasted until A.D. 600. This false spiritual movement came by the possession of evil spirits, as Satan and his angels were cast down to the earth (Revelation 12:9). Daniel prophesied: “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength and set up the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31).
John answers the question: how could the saints have the assurance of salvation, without the evidence of receiving the holy spirit? “They overcame by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11), see Romans 10:9-10; 3:24-25 .
then the woman fled into the wilderness for one thousand two hundred and sixty days – as from Matthew 24:15-16, “when you see the Abomination of Desolation…let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” The sanctified Church had come to an end. The saints were now “in the wilderness.”
In 193, the bishop of Rome wrote letters of excommunication to those who disagreed with his doctrines, and the holy spirit was taken away. This was the Quartodeciman controversy, and is regarded by Catholic theologians as the proof of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Satan, through the Bishop of Rome, exalted himself as high as Christ (Daniel 8:11), making himself “the Lord” of the Church.
Daniel prophesied this:
“it (the antichrist) magnified itself to be equal to the Captains of the Armies (Christ); and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down.”
This sin of the antichrist was called “the transgression of desolation,” in Daniel 8:13. The meaning of “His sanctuary was thrown down,” was simply that the sanctifying spirit of truth was taken from the Church. This “removed the continual sacrifice from Him”- from Christ. The Church, no longer had any evidence that they had the authority to baptize for the remission of sins, see John 20:22-3, and Romans 8:9.
Daniel prophesied that the setting up of the abomination of desolation would begin the “time, times and half a time” that the saints were given into the hands of the beast.
Let us read Daniel 12:11:
And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.
1,290 days is Daniel’s extrapolation of 42 months. This is a more accurate estimation of 1278 days (42 months), than the 1260 days used by John in Revelation 11:3, 12:6. But from Daniel 12:7, we know that the real time had to be exactly 42 months, because the Angel lifted His hand and swore by Him who made heaven and earth, that it would be for “time, times and half a time.” It was exactly 1278 years from 193 until 1471, when the first Protestants broke free from the Papacy.
Some may question whether the spirit of God was taken from the Church in 193 AD. So let’s look at the historical evidence.
The Testimony of Irenaeus
The evidence of receiving the spirit of God, is the “tongue emitting sound” (laleo glossa) as described in Acts 10:46. By this, the Apostles knew that the Gentiles had received “the holy spirit just as they had.” When one receives the holy spirit, he knows for certain that he has been “born of water and spirit,” and his salvation has been made perfect. The holy spirit is the “seal” (John 6:27; Ephesians 1:13, 4:30; Revelation 7:3). Without the holy spirit, no one can say for sure that God Himself has chosen them.
Therefore, Irenaeus in 180, said that those who spoke in tongues had become perfect:
For this reason, does the apostle (Paul) declare, “we speak wisdom among them that are perfect,” (1 Corinthians 2:6) terming those persons perfect who have received the spirit of God, and who through the spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he used himself also to speak. In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God…Against Heresies, Book 5, Chapter 6, paragraph 1
Irenaeus was the last person to testify to a true experience of speaking in tongues.
The Rise of Montanism
Shortly after Irenaeus wrote “Against Heresies,” a false experience of speaking in tongues came through Montanism.
The mainstream Church believed the Montanists were possessed by evil spirits. Its founders, Montanus and Maximillia, were each said to have “died a different death, a mind-destroying spirit, driving each to a separate suicide.” (Eusebius Church History 5.16)
Montanism lasted from 180 to 600. Montanists pursued a false experience of tongues, because the true experience had been taken away.
The Effect on Church Theology
The greatest evidence that the holy spirit departed by 193 was the effect on salvation theology. In the apostolic time, believers knew that they were “born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5) when they were baptized and received the holy spirit, as described in John 3:8. But when people could no longer receive the holy spirit, a new explanation was made to say that one was born of water and spirit when the holy spirit sanctified the water. This is still the theology of the Catholic Church.
The Spirit of the Antichrist in John’s letters
The Apostle John described Modalism as “the Spirit of the Antichrist” in 1 John 1:3; 2:22-23; 4:2-3; and 2 John 1:7-12. The Bishop of Rome, who exalted himself as high as Christ, preached Modalism in Rome. In his tract against Modalism, called “Against Praxeas,” Tertullian described the Bishop having a “restless disposition,” that was evidenced by his “letter of Peace” to excommunicate the Churches of Asia in 193; and said the Bishop “crucified the Father, and put to flight the Paraclete.” It seems, that after making himself the new “Lord” of the Church, the Bishop tried to promote Christ to the status of God.
Michael and His angels fought against the dragon – the Spirit of Christ fought against Satan and his angels, in His identity as the Angel of YHVH, the ruling Angel Michael (WHO IS LIKE GOD). This was explained in Daniel 8:10.
he was thrown down to the earth – in the Old Testament, Satan freely appeared in heaven before the Angel of YHVH, in the Book of Job, and in Zechariah.
Why is there a close correlation between the casting down of Satan to the earth and the “time, times, and half a time” that the saints were given into the hands of the beast (Daniel 7:25)? Paul told us the coming of the lawless one is “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). The work of false miracles and deception began with Montanism after 180 AD, as the Spirit of the Antichrist possessed Tertullian and others.
Tertullian was the first writer to support three great heresies:
- he said it made no difference what kind of water was used for baptism
- he promoted Sunday rest, rather than Saturday rest, and
- he invented the Trinity
the authority of His Christ has come – after Christ endured the cross, He was made Lord “of those who are in heaven and on the earth” (Phil 2:10). In the Old Testament, the Angel of YHVH was “one of the Chief Captains” (Dan 10:13). Now He is the ruler of all Angels, “the Captain of the Captains” (Dan 8:25), and now the Angel of YHVH uses His authority to cast Satan and his angels out of heaven.
they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony – after the abomination of desolation was set up, the assurance of the holy spirit disappeared, and the power of the Church to remit sins through water baptism was compromised. But John tells us “they overcame because of the blood and the word of their testimony,” see Romans 10:9-10; 3:24-25. The “word of their testimony” is called “the testimony of Jesus” in Revelation 12:17.
When the sanctified Church is re-established in Revelation 19:10, the “testimony of Jesus” is equated to the “spirit of prophecy.” The expression “spirit of prophecy” was used to describe the spirit of God on Christ in the Targum of Isaiah 61:1. The spirit of God, will once again, be the testifying Spirit for the saints, “He will testify of Me,” (John 15:26). The spirit of God testifies that a believer “has” the Spirit of Christ, see Romans 8:9, and also provides the assurance of eternal life (Eph 1:14). Therefore, when the sanctified Church is re-established, John writes “blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on” (Rev 14:13).
they did not love their life when faced with death – this is the kind of determination that is needed to overcome Satan (John 12:25).
rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them – the saints of New Jerusalem, as represented by the sun, moon and the stars, are those who dwell in the heavens. The same expression is used in Revelation 13:6.
woe to the earth (the people) and the sea (their salvation) – those who do not dwell in the heavens, are those who dwell on the earth, as in Revelation 13:8, and 17:8.