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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 25

Letter to the Church of Thyatira

Picture 1 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
Letter to the Church of Thyatira
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Let’s begin this lesson with a short prayer to God:
Our Heavenly Father,

The letters to the seven churches are a valuable source of teaching and exhortation for each one of us.

Today we start on the fourth letter, addressed to the the church of Thyatira.

Please guide our study, so that this letter may help us to progress in our spiritual life. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.
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Picture 2 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 1:11 Comments
«What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira (...).» The fourth letter is adressed to the church of Thyatira.

The origin of the name «Thyatira» is uncertain, but one of its derived meanings is «Savor of labor».

Thyatira was a small city, renowned for its production of purple dye, the color of royalty.

The city was also dedicated to the worship of Tyrimnos, god of the sun, which was soon replaced by the worship of the Roman emperor.
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Picture 3 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:18 Comments
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

«These things said the Son of God, who has His eyes like to a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass.»
Just like the previous ones, this letter begins with a portrait of Jesus taken from the initial vision of John.

What does this portrait symbolize?
Revelation 1:14,15
His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace.
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Picture 4 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:18 Comments
These things said the Son of God, who has His eyes like to a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass. By drawing a parallel between these two verses, we get the following description of Jesus, the Son of God:
  • His «feet like fine brass» show that He comes in the glory, on a cloud of angels;
     
  • His «eyes like a flame of fire» show that He is fully invested with the power to judge each one according to his works.
Matthew 16:27
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels.

And then He shall reward every man according to his works.
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Picture 5 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:19 Comments
I know your works, and charity, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first. With His eyes like a flame of fire, Jesus judges the works of Thyatira, symbolizing the Church of the Middle Ages.

First, the good works: from 538 (the year when the Church began to fully dominate Europe on religious and political levels) to 1517 (when Martin Luther started the Reformation movement), the Church indeed accomplished a lot of good works, establishing hospitals, orphanages, schools and missions.
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Picture 6 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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As for the bad works, Thyatira looks amazingly like Pergamos
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Picture 7 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:20 Comments
Notwithstanding I have a few things against you, because you suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. In the lesson «How to Study Prophecy», we saw that prophetic symbolism often refers to the characters of the Old Testament, their attitude towards God, and their deeds here below.

Studying the life of Jezebel, just like we studied Balaam’s in our previous lesson, will help us understand what this character symbolizes in Bible prophecy.
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Picture 8 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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1 Kings 16:31 Comments
And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that [Ahab] took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. Jezebel, the daughter of a pagan king, married Ahab, the king of Israel.

As we can see, this union was rather harmful to the people of Israel...
1 Kings 21:25
But there was none like to Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
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Picture 9 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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1 Kings 18:4 Comments
Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord. Among her many wrongdoings, Jezebel attacked the prophets of God who were exposing her misdeeds.

A generalized apostasy became firmly established in Israel, but God could still rely on a group of faithful people, among whom was the prophet Elijah.
1 Kings 19:18
[The Lord said,] «Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.»
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Picture 10 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:20 Comments
Notwithstanding I have a few things against you, because you suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. By referring to the character of Jezebel, Jesus thus reveals the real nature of the Church: after Pergamos, the compromising church from 313 to 538, the Church sank into generalized apostasy.

Becoming a political institution, the Church gave itself a power greater than that of the kings, and plunged Christianity into an unprecedented spiritual darkness.
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Picture 11 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:14 Comments
You have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam. The progression of apostasy from Pergamos to Thyatira is obvious.

In the church of Pergamos, the apostasy was symbolized by Balaam, a prophet whose bad influence came only from the outside.

But in the church of Thyatira, the apostasy is now symbolized by Jezebel, a queen governing from the inside, leading the people to commit evil.
Revelation 2:20
You suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants.
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Picture 12 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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From 538 to 1517, the presence of «Jezebel» shows up in the Church
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Picture 13 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Other pagan doctrines infiltrate into the Church from 538 to 1517
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Picture 14 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Still other unbiblical rites and doctrines adopted between 538 and 1517
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Picture 15 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Last examples of rites and doctrines adopted between 538 and 1517
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Picture 16 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:21 Comments
And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Just as Jesus foretold, the Church of the Middle Ages was called to repentance by many Christians who were torn by its apostasy. Among those Christians we find:
  • Peter Waldo (Italy);
  • John Wycliffe (England);
  • John Huss (Bohemia);
  • Martin Luther (Germany);
  • Ulrich Zwingli (Switzerland);
  • Jean Calvin (France);
  • John Knox (Scotland).
But the Church preferred to turn a deaf ear. Even worse, it persecuted and killed many of them.
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Picture 17 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:22 Comments
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. Resolutely steeped in a generalized apostasy, Europe indeed went through a «great tribulation» at the end of the period from 538 to 1517.

First, a dreadful famine struck at the beginning of the 14th century, soon followed by an epidemic of bubonic plague which killed 40 percent of Europe’s population.

Finally, the Hundred Years War (14th and 15th century) added to these murderous scourges.
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Picture 18 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:23 Comments
And I will kill her children with death.

And all the churches shall know that I am He which searches the reins and hearts: and I will give to every one of you according to your works.
Just as the sons of Jezebel experienced a violent death, Jesus announces the death of the sons of spiritual «Jezebel».

What does that mean?
2 Kings 10:1,7
Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. (...)

[The people of Samaria] took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons.
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Picture 19 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 17:1,5 Comments
Come here; I will show to you the judgment of the great whore. (...)

On her forehead was a name written, «Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.»
First, let’s note that God often compares the Church (or Israel, under the Old Covenant) to a woman.

When the Church is faithful, then the woman is pure. On the other hand, when the Church is unfaithful, then the woman is impure, defiled.

Like Jezebel, Babylon the great harlot, «the mother of harlots», has children too...
Jeremiah 3:6
Have you seen that which backsliding Israel has done? She is gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there has played the harlot.
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Picture 20 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:23 Comments
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searches the reins and hearts.

And I will give to every one of you according to your works.
Jesus Himself gives the key to the symbolism: the children of Jezebel and of Babylon, «the mother of harlots», are «all the churches» which take their origin in the apostate Church, having adopted some of its pagan rites and doctrines.

Jesus foretells the judgment of those churches, and their final destruction, symbolized by the death of Jezebel’s children.
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Picture 21 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:23 Comments
And all the churches shall know that I am He which searches the reins and hearts: and I will give to every one of you according to your works. The picture of God searching the reins and hearts is associated with the Last Judgment.
Psalm 7:8,9
The Lord shall judge the people. (...) Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just: for the righteous God tries the hearts and reins.
Jeremiah 11:20
But, O Lord of hosts, that judge righteously, that try the reins and the heart (...).
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Picture 22 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:24 Comments
But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put on you none other burden. As in Jezebel’s time, Jesus recognizes that a group of faithful believers did not follow the generalized apostasy prevailing from 538 to 1517.
1 Kings 19:18
Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.
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Picture 23 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:24,25 Comments
But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put on you none other burden.

But that which you have already hold fast till I come.
Indeed, between 538 and 1517, many Christians tried in vain to call to order the Church which had allowed itself to be invaded by apostasy.

Among these faithful people who «have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan», the most famous is certainly Martin Luther.
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Picture 24 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:24,25 Comments
I will put on you none other burden.

But that which you have already hold fast till I come.
Martin Luther was a German catholic monk and university professor.

By studying the Bible, he discovered that, unlike what his Church was teaching, salvation was a free gift of God, and not a reward for good works.

After many attempts to convince the Church of its error, Luther instituted in 1517 the Reformation movement, proclaiming the message of salvation by grace in Jesus Christ, a message which has been carried up to the present day.
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Picture 25 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:25,26 Comments
But that which you have already hold fast till I come.

And he that overcomes, and keeps My works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations.
The following promise makes a clear link with the Reformation’s message, since it is addressed to whoever keeps the works of Jesus until the end, not one’s own works.

The Reformation has indeed proclaimed the work of Jesus, first His sacrifice on the cross giving us salvation, then His work of intercession between God and us, without any other mediator.
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Picture 26 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:26,27 Comments
And he that overcomes, and keeps My works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations.

He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father.
The promise also tells that he who overcomes «shall rule the nations with a rod of iron», an authority which also belongs to Jesus.

What does that mean?
Revelation 12:5
And she brought forth a Man Child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.

And her Child was caught up to God, and to His throne.
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Picture 27 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 19:15,16 Comments
And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

And He has on His clothing and on His thigh a name written, «King of kings, and Lord of lords.»
Like the expression «to search the reins and hearts», the words «rule the nations with a rod of iron» describe Jesus’ work of judgment.
John 5:22
For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son.
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Picture 28 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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1 Corinthians 6:2 Comments
Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? So, God’s faithful and victorious people «shall rule the nations with a rod of iron», that is, they will assist Jesus in His work of judgment.
Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God. (...)

And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
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Picture 29 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:28,29 Comments
And I will give him the morning star. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches. The letter to Thyatira ends by promising the morning star to him who overcomes.

Peter says that this star will rise at the last day. What is it?
2 Peter 1:19 (NKJV)
We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
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Picture 30 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 22:16 Comments
I, Jesus, (...) am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star. The morning star is Jesus Christ.

Having already sacrificed Himself on the cross for our salvation, He will once again give Himself, at His return, to those who have given themselves to Him during their life on earth.
Luke 12:37
Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He comes shall find watching.

Truly I say to you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
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Picture 31 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Exodus 34:12,15 Comments
Take heed to yourself, (...) lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice to their gods, and one call you, and you eat of his sacrifice. And now, what is the personal application of the letter to Thyatira?

When we share the message of salvation with the people around us, we must make sure that our faith and commitment toward God remain undefiled.
John 17:15
I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil.
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Picture 32 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Revelation 2:26 Comments
And he that overcomes, and keeps My works to the end (...). The Corrupt Church, symbolized by Thyatira, forgot and refused to remember that salvation cannot be gained by men’s works, but only by the work of Jesus, by His sacrifice for us. Let’s draw a lesson from it.

Let’s close our study with a summary of the letter to Thyatira.
John 6:29
This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.
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Picture 33 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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The five points of the pattern in the letter to the church of Thyatira
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Picture 34 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 25
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Let’s pray together:
Father,

It is written, «Be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.» (Romans 12:2).

The church of Thyatira did not follow this advice, and lost sight of the message of salvation by grace in Jesus Christ.

As we share this message of hope with the people around us, please help us to avoid being like the church of Thyatira.

May our presence in the world, like many bright lights, not cause us to stumble, but strengthen our faith so that it remains unshakeable. In Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.
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Lesson 25 - Test The test of Lesson 25 is waiting for you!

Source of the Pictures of this Lesson
Screen 1: Photo in: «Master Clips 500,000» by IMSI, CD #17, 06310023.JPG. Screen 2: «Apollo, the Greek sun-god», Temple of Apollo, Pergamum Museum, East Berlin. In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990. Screen 3: PROVONSHA, Clyde. In: «God Cares, volume 2» (MAXWELL, C. Mervyn), Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985, p.88. Screen 4: RUDEEN, Herbert. In: «The Bible Story, volume 8» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.82. Used by permission. Copyright ©1956, 1984 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 5: CONVERSE, James. In: «God Cares, volume 2» (MAXWELL, C.Mervyn), Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985, p.123. Screen 6: In: «The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes» (TAYLOR, Kenneth N.), Moody Press, Chicago, 1956, p.91. Table of Screen 6: POUSSIN, Nicolas. «The adoration of the golden calf», The National gallery, London. In: «The Compton’s Interactive Bible CD», Zondervan Publishing House, 1996. Screen 7: BOWER, Maurice. In: «The Living Bible Encyclopedia in Story and Pictures, volume 3», New York, H.S. Stuttman Co. Inc., 1968, p.336-c. Screen 8: In: «My Book of Bible Stories», New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1978, story #66. Screen 9: RUDEEN, Herbert. In: «The Bible Story, volume 5» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.27. Used by permission. Copyright ©1955, 1983 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 10: In: «Histoire du Monde: Volume 8 - Réformes et Explorations» (STEFFENSEN, J.-L.), Les Éditions Maisonneuve, 1967, p.680. Screen 11: In: «La Révélation - le grand dénouement est proche», New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1988, p.239. Screen 12: First picture: «Krishna with a triple-crown tiara.» In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.288-66. Second picture: GHIRLANDAIO, Domenico. «Pope Honorius wearing a triple-crown tiara» (1484-85), Cappella Sassetti, Santa Trinita, Florence. In: «La Peinture de la Renaissance Italienne» (BECK, James H.), Editions Könemann, 1999, p.302. Table of Screen 12: «Pope Paul III». In: «Collier’s Encyclopedia Deluxe 1998», Sierra Home. Screen 13: First picture: «Dagon, the sun-fish, with fish attire and mitre.» In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.288-42. Second picture: PENNI, Gianfrancesco. «The Donation of Constantine», Sala di Costantino (1517-1525), Vatican Museum. In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.288-8. Table of Screen 13: Unknown source. Screen 14: First picture: «Pluto, god of hell, holding the keys.» In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.288-34. Second picture: «The keys of the pope». In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.288-34. Table of Screen 14: In: Video serie «Be Not Afraid», 1993, Apostolate for Family Consecration. Screen 15: First picture: «King Tut, identified with death, holds the crooked augur in his hand.» In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.27. Second picture: «Pope holding a crosier.» In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.43. Table of Screen 15: MEMLING, Hans. «Casting the damned into hell», taken from «The Last Judgment» (1467-71), Pomorskie Museum, Gdansk, Poland. In: «Revelation - Art of the Apocalypse» (GRUBB, Nancy), Abeville Press Publishers, 1997, p.114. Screen 16: «John Wycliffe», «Martin Luther», «Jean Calvin», «John Knox», «Melanchthon», «Erasmus of Holland». In: WHITE, Ellen G., «The (New, Illustrated) Great Controversy», Laymen for Religious Liberty Inc., 1990, p.432-60,62,64,67,63,65. Screen 17: Photo by Publiphoto. In: «L’Omnipraticien» journal (April 16, 1997), p.18. Screen 18: In: «The Watchtower» magazine (November 15, 1993), New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, p.15. Screen 19: First picture: HARLAN, Russell. In: «Revelation 12-13/The Church and its Foes», G.C. Ministerial Association, 1976, p.1. Second picture: BISHOP, Tom. «Woman and Scarlet Beast of Revelation 17». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #45. Composite picture by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 20: In: «The Watchtower» magazine (June 1, 1991), New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, p.24. Screen 21: FRA ANGELICO. «The Last Judgment» (c. 1450), Museo di San Marco, Florence. In: «Revelations - Art of the Apocalypse» (GRUBB, Nancy), Abeville Press Publishers, 1997, p.86. Screen 22: PROVONSHA, Clyde. In: «The Triumph of God’s Love, volume 1» (WHITE, Ellen G.), Pacific Press Publishing Association and Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1950, p.40. Screen 23: AYRES, Robert. In: «The Triumph of God’s Love, volume 1» (WHITE, Ellen G.), Pacific Press Publishing Association and Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1950, p.102. Screen 24: STEEL, John. In: «The Triumph of God’s Love, volume 1» (WHITE, Ellen G.), Pacific Press Publishing Association and Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1950, p.116. Screen 25: First picture: STEEL, John. In: «La Sentinelle» magazine (May 1993), Pacific Press Publishing Association, p.9. Second picture: ANDERSON, Harry. In: «The Bible Story, volume 10» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.156. Used by permission. Copyright ©1957, 1985 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Composite picture by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 26: In: «The Watchtower» magazine (January 1, 1985), New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, p.7. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 27: In: «La Révélation - le grand dénouement est proche», New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1988, p.283. Screen 28: In: «The Bible Story, volume 8» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.148. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Used by permission. Copyright ©1956, 1984 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 29: In: «The Bible Story, volume 10» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.175. Used by permission. Copyright ©1957, 1985 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 30: CONVERSE, James. In: «God Cares, volume 2» (MAXWELL, C.Mervyn), Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985, p.469. Screen 31: In: «Vous pouvez vivre éternellement sur une terre qui deviendra un paradis», New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1982, p.229. Screen 32: DELACROIX, Eugène. «Christ on the Cross» (1835), Musée de la Cohue, Vannes. In: «Charlton Heston Presents the Bible», GT Publishing, New York, 1997, p.231. Screen 33: DA FORLI, Melozzo. «Inauguration of the Library of Pope Sixtus IV» (1475-77), Pinacoteca Apostolica, Vatican, Rome. In: «La Peinture de la Renaissance Italienne» (BECK, James H.), Editions Könemann, 1999, p.287. Table of Screen 33: In: «La Révélation - le grand dénouement est proche», New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1988, p.242. Screen 34: Photo in: «Master Clips 500,000» by IMSI, CD #18, 29230018.JPG.
Any copyrighted images not bearing a statement of permission, are used for the purpose of non-commercial scholarly commentary or criticism in accordance with section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law, and with article 29 of Canada Copyright Act (Chapter C-42), which by law can be without the consent or endorsement of the copyright holder. Images lacking attribution are either known or assumed to be in the public domain, or have an as yet undetermined status. Anyone having knowledge of proper attribution for an image is requested to contact us via email below so that it can be correctly noted. It is our intent to comply fully with applicable laws regarding intellectual property rights.

Lesson 25 - Test The test of Lesson 25 is waiting for you!