Revelation 12

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 9 , 1997

Introduction

Weíve seen the events of the Tribulation unfold as seven seals are broken on a scroll, and then seven trumpets are sounded in heaven.

We know enter a section that kind of steps outside of the chain of events to deal with a couple of important issues.

:1-6 The Woman and the Dragon

:1 a great wonder

semeion - a sign, mark, token. Here used as a sign portending future events.

In other words, John sees a sign or a symbol that will anticipate or show us further things that actually have or will yet take place.

Up to this point we've tried pretty hard to take things as literally as possible, ie - trumpets are trumpets are trumpets, earthquakes are earthquakes.

Now John tells us to look at the symbols in front of us.

:1 a woman

Who is she?

If youíre not careful with this, you can come up with some funny ideas.

I donít think we have trouble with who her child is, that itís Jesus, but who is the woman?

Is it Mary? No. How about Mary Baker Eddy? (as Christian Science teaches)

Lesson:

The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible.

I think the clearest explanation is to allow the Bible to interpret itself.

Joseph was a dreamer, and in one of his own dreams, we get this very symbolism

Gen 37:9-10 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. {10} And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

The patriarch Jacob himself interprets this as himself, his wife, and his sons.

The woman is the nation of Israel.

:3 another wonder

Weíre still talking signs here, weíre still seeing symbolism.

:3 a great red dragon

The dragon is Satan, John tells us later Ė

(Rev 12:9 KJV) 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.

Why red?

Is it because Heís a murderer, and it covered in blood? Is it because Heís red with anger?

Itís hard to pin this color down.

Itís used 53x in the King James, is used in many, many ways, and Iím not sure I see a pattern.

:3 seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns

Seven heads = leadership, maybe seven kings

The pictures of the antichrist are very similar, with seven heads, ten horns, but ten crowns. (Rev. 13:1; 17:3, 7, 9-10)

We are told that his seven heads are "seven mountains" and "seven kings".

A head may indicate leadership of some sort. In Paul's analogy of the church as Christ's body, Jesus is "the head" (Ephesians 5:23)

Ten horns = power, maybe ten kings.

Horns have traditionally been seen as being symbolic of "power" in the Old Testament:

Psalms 18:2 The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower.

They also seem to have a history of representing kings.

Daniel has a vision of the antichristís kingdom as this monstrous beast with ten horns:

(Dan 7:24 KJV) And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

John too will have a vision of the antichrist as having ten horns (Rev. 13:1; 17:3, 12), which are also interpreted for us as ten kings.

There is a sense we know that the antichristís kingdom will somehow be similar to a restored Roman empire (Dan. 2, 7), though I havenít figured it out clearly just how the numbers seven and ten all figure in.

It used to be that we thought the Common Market (now the European Union) would have 10 nations, but theyíre way beyond that now.

Perhaps the "G7" nations (now "G8" with Russia) will add a few more?

Seven diadems = royal authority

A diadem, or crown, is pretty universally understood as a symbol of royal authority. (2Ki.11:12; Est.2:17)

That Satan has seven crowns shows the extent of his authority, its pretty strong.

:4 his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth

This is referring to Satanís fall into sin, which would probably have taken place before creation (because the serpent was already wicked when he was in the garden with Eve)

Originally, Satan was perfect:

(Ezek 28:15 KJV) Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Lesson:

Beware of pride!

The sin that caused Satanís fall was pride

Isa 14:12-15 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! {13} For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: {14} I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. {15} Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

The "stars" are the other angels in heaven, the ones that were persuaded to follow after Lucifer when he rebelled.

Angels are often called stars (Rev. 1:20; Job 38:7)

We call these fallen angels demons.

Lesson:

Thereís more on our side!

Did you notice how many followed after Satan?

1/3 of the angels is pretty hefty, and this means that Satan has a powerful army at his disposal, but thereís still twice as many angels on our side.

Just as Elisha told his servant:

(2 Ki 6:16 KJV) And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

For us:

(1 John 4:4 KJV) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

:4 to devour her child

We saw this in the birth of Jesus, when Herod tried to destroy him (Mat. 2:16-18)

:5 a man child Ö

This is Jesus, born a Jew (Is. 9:6)

The Son rules with a rod of iron (Ps. 2:7-9)

He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11)

:6 the woman fled into the wilderness

This story that John is telling kind of jumps around a little.

I believe thereís a big jump between verses 5 and 6.

Prophetic telescoping

This is an example of prophetic telescoping. This is an element of prophecy in which a prophecy may jump thousands of years without even a paragraph break.

Jesus demonstrated it. Youíll see if you look closely at Luke 4:16-22 and Isaiah 61:1-2.

He announces that He has fulfilled the prophecies, yet He had cut the sentence off in the middle before the prophecy started talking about His second coming.

When will this take place?

During the Tribulation period.

vss.12-14 - this flight into the wilderness is described again, but coming after the devil is cast from heaven to the earth, a time of woe for the earth, the devil knowing that he only has a short time. This is the Tribulation.

Jesus had told the nation of Israel:

(Mat 24:15-16 KJV) When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) {16} Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

The trigger to flee would be the "abomination of desolation" which takes place half way through the tribulation.

:6 a place prepared of God

Some have suggested that Isa. 16:1-4 refers to these renegade Jews trying to take refuge in a place called "Sela", also known as "Petra".

You saw the outside of Petra in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

Itís a place only accessible on horseback, and easily defendable.

There have been Christian businessmen who have put supplies and tracts in the caves specifically for this time.

Another passage tells of "Kedar", a city in northern Arabia "rejoicing" over the Lordís coming (Isa 42:10-13). Perhaps this is because there are Jews hiding out there!

One last passage also seems to tie in, regarding Bozrah, one of the ancient capitals of Edom (southern Jordan):

Isa 63:1-4 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. {2} Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? {3} I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. {4} For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

It has been suggested that when Jesus first returns to the earth, He doesnít arrive first in Jerusalem (arriving at the Mount of Olives happens after Heís already on earth), but in Jordan to rescue His captive people, and then from Jordan, He will move to retake Jerusalem.

:6 a thousand two hundred and threescore days

Or, 3 Ĺ years.

This is the last half of the tribulation, as the Israelites flee from Israel when the Antichrist sets up the abomination of desolation.

:7-12 War in heaven

:7 there was war in heaven

As weíll see because of the outcome of this war, this is a future war, one that will take place during the Tribulation period, right in the middle.

:7 Michael and his angels

This is Michael, known as an archangel, or "head" angel. (Jude 9)

This means that he's one of the heads, probably in charge of the armies of God (as we see here).

He is the angel who is specifically in charge over the nation of Israel (Dan. 12:1), as their defender.

You can also read about him in Dan.10:10-14,20-21

:8 neither was their place found any more in heaven

Some people have taught that when Satan first fell in sin, that he was cast out of heaven forever, sometimes pictured as ruling from hell.

But this is incorrect.

We see in the book of Job that Satan presented his case against Job in heaven before God (Job 1,2)

Satan right now has access to heaven, and is known as the "accuser of the brethren" (vs.10) and constantly is accusing us before God.

Itís not until this upcoming battle in the tribulation period, that Satan will be barred from heaven.

Iím curious how these working in the spirit realm will affect the natural realm.

Perhaps itís at this time, when Satan is cast out, that Satan comes to possess the antichrist, and maybe itís then that the antichrist commits the abomination of desolation.

After all, the abomination of desolation sounds an awful lot like Satan:

(2 Th 2:4 KJV) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

:9 deceiveth the whole world

This is how Satan works, by deceiving or leading people astray, by causing them to wander.

We are told that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2Cor.11:14). That means that he appears in a way that's appealing, in a way that makes you think it's okay, things are good. Satan gets you off track by appealing to you with "good" things.

:10 Now is come salvation, and strength Ö

A loud voice in heaven proclaims the heavenly victory of Michael over Satan.

:10 which accused them before our God day and night

Satanís main occupation.

Lesson:

Donít give in to Satanís condemnation.

Whereas the Holy Spirit will convict our hearts, pricking us to turn to God and repent, Satan will come and heap condemnation upon us, trying to make us think that God no longer can love us.

Whereas Satan is a "prosecuting attorney", Jesus is our "defense attorney"

I John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

We have to stand on what God says to us:

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:33-34 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

:11 they overcame him by

The "they" here refers to the brethren of verse 10, not to Michael and company.

The victory on earth of the tribulation saints was reflected in heaven with Michael's victory.

Lesson:

Spiritual victory -

1. the blood of the Lamb

As we've seen, one of Satan's major works is that of accusing or condemning. With it, he alienates us from God and makes us ineffective.

Itís the blood that cleanses us and frees us from all condemnation.

I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When you are under condemnation, confess your sins, receive God's cleansing, then you can say, "I've been washed in the blood".

2. the word of their testimony

Godís Word is meant here, the "word" of our "testimony".

And Godís Word is a powerful weapon.

Itís the "Sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17)

Itís sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12)

Itís the very thing that Jesus used to fight temptation from Satan with (Mat. 4).

3. they did not love their life even to death.

What can you do to people who are willing to die for the Lord?

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego had the right attitude when Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into the fiery furnace for not bowing to his idol:

(Dan 3:17-18 KJV) If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. {18} But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Quiz: It might be easy to say "did not love their life", but what if:

Your TV breaks down (bummer city? praise the Lord?)

You lose your job?

Your savings account dwindles?

Your car gets dinged?

If you're too attached to these kinds of things, then itís easy for Satan to make you ineffective, all he has to do is break them.

What are you willing to lose for the Lordís sake?

:12 Woe to the inhabiters of the earth

If we think we've got it bad now with Satan, wait until he's thrown to the earth and he knows his time is short.

He'll be like a wounded, caged lion. You wouldn't want to be in the same cage with him.

:13-17 The Woman is persecuted

:13 he persecuted the woman

We get back to the events on earth, at the midway point in the tribulation.

When Satan is cast from heaven, thatís when the major persecution of the Jews starts.

:14 two wings of a great eagle

Some have conjectured that this might be the United States Air Force (our national bird is the eagle).

It could simply be referring to Godís intervention in rescuing the Jews.

Exodus 19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and [how] I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. (see also Deut. 32:11-12)

:14 a time, and times, and half a time

This is simply another way of referring to 3 Ĺ year, or, 1260 days.

:15 water as a flood

This could be an actual flood of water.

It could also be descriptive of an army.

God referred to the Assyrian army rising up to judge Israel as a flood (KJV)

(Isa 28:2 KJV) Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

:16 the earth helped the woman.

Who knows?

Somehow, miraculously, Israel is rescued from the Antichristís attack.

:17 to make war with the remnant of her seed

This is a persecution of believing Jews, of those who believe in Jesus Christ.