Revelation 12

Added Details: The Judgment of Israel
Revelation 12 – 14
God’s Future Dealings with Israel. God will resume His dealings with Israel in order to bring them into blessing, and thereby fulfill the ancient promises to Abraham, David, etc. However, God has a controversy with Israel, which centers around the rejection of the Messiah. Before He can bring them into blessing in the Millennium, God must take up that controversy. This will involve judgment on the nation through the seven years of Daniel’s prophetic week. First it will be the beginning of sorrows, then the time of Jacob’s trouble, and this will be brought to a close by a period of intense judgment called the Indignation, during which the Lord appears. How will God carry out His righteous government in judgment on Israel and yet still be faithful to His promises in bringing Israel into blessing? This will be accomplished by the division of Israel, in the mind of God, into two parts. On one hand we have the apostate nation of Israel, which includes the mass of the people returned to the land in unbelief. But on the other hand, we have the faithful remnant of Israel, those whose hearts God will touch. The remnant will be persecuted terribly by their own nation on account of their faithfulness, but they are not the objects of God’s judgment. God will judge the apostate nation – including those of the two tribes (Jews) and the ten tribes (Israel). He will preserve many among the faithful remnant, and they will be brought into the Millennium and become the nucleus of the restored nation of Israel. It will be all God’s work to restore and bless them! “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26). Revelation 12-14 go back over the events already covered in Rev. 6-11, but now from a different angle. These chapters examine God’s dealings with Israel in light of prophecy.
False Triad of Evil. Satan is involved in a false triad, described in Rev. 12 and 13.
  • The Great Red Dragon (Satan). Satan seeks to destroy the man-child (Christ and the church) who is caught up to God and to His throne. He then persecutes the seed of the woman (remnant). Satan is in contrast to the Spirit of God who seeks to glorify Christ.
  • The Beast from the Sea (Beast). The personal beast is under the control of Satan, and seeks to subject the world under his dominion. The Beast is in contrast to the Father.
  • The Beast from the Earth (False Prophet). The False Prophet or Antichrist leads the Roman earth into an idolatrous worship of the personal Beast. He imitates the Lamb, but is opposite from Christ in his moral character. Antichrist is in contrast to the Son.

The Believing Jewish Remnant under Satan’s Persecution
Revelation 12
Revelation 12. As previously mentioned, Revelation 12 to 14 take up God’s dealings with Israel in prophecy. In chapter 12 we find that there is an evil force behind the persecution of Israel both in the past and in the future. It is another side of history. The Devil, the Great Red Dragon, mobilizes the Gentile powers to destroy Israel because she is the mother of the man-child, the promised Seed that would crush his head. The warfare of the Dragon is divided into three parts in this chapter. We have the historical warfare against Israel and the attempted destruction of the man-child in vv.1-5. When the man-child is caught up to God, we have the ensuing war in heaven, and its result in vv.6-12. Finally, we have the twice-thwarted Dragon retuning back to the earthly front to vent his wrath on the faithful remnant of the Jews in vv.13-17. This chapter lifts the curtain on the grand theater of events, allowing us to glimpse the activity of God’s great enemy as the energizing force behind all opposition to God and His Christ, whether directly or by attacking a people in association with Him.
¶ 19 And the temple of God in the heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple: and there were (1) lightnings, and (2) voices, and (3) thunders, and (4) an earthquake, and (5) great hail. v.19 The Temple Opened. All expositors agree that v.19 belongs with ch.12. The “temple of God in the heaven” being opened marks a division in the book. Revelation 6-11 are judgments from the throne connected with creation, and Revelation 12-16 are from the temple connected with the holy character of God. The “ark” is the divine link with God’s ancient people Israel, now being resumed again, on the basis of God’s faithfulness. Then proceed five symbols of judgment that prepare us to receive greater details than we have had before (see Rev. 4:5, Rev. 8:5); “lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail”.

Historical: Satan’s Personal War Against Christ (12:1-5)

And a great sign was seen in the heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; v.1 The Woman. The mention of signs (v.3) tells us we are on Jewish ground (Matt. 16:1). The “woman clothed with the sun” is the nation of Israel (Genesis 37:9-11) in the purpose of God as a supreme governing authority; i.e. what she will be under Messiah (Isa. 60:1-3; e.g. Num. 23:25). The “moon” or subordinate powers (the nations) under her feet. The crown of twelve stars speak of all twelve tribes, seen together, a picture of completeness of administration. Note: there are two types of crowns in Revelation: “crowns” speak of honor, and “diadems” which speak of victory. The “remnant of her seed” in v.17 refers to the faithful Jewish remnant.
2 and being with child she cried, being in travail, and in pain to bring forth. v.2 Ready to Deliver. The woman is pictured as pregnant, and entering labor. The child in her womb is the Messiah. The birth pangs represent Israel’s low moral condition, and their suffering under Roman rule at the time of Christ’s birth. An example of the woman crying is in Matt. 2:18. Meanwhile the remnant were waiting for Christ’s advent, because they had intelligence in the prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks).
¶ 3 And another sign was seen in the heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems; v.3 The Great Red Dragon. Another sign is introduced: a great red dragon. The dragon is Satan acting in a political capacity. He is only called “great” in this chapter while he is in heaven. When he is cast down, “great” is no longer used. “Red” is the color of bloodshed, but it is also the color of earthly rule (scarlet is rule, but purpose is royalty). “Dragon” represents Satan’s character in exertion of his power. The characteristics given are anticipative of Satan’s role in prophecy. The number “seven” represent spiritual completeness, and so the seven heads, as well as being the successive forms of government of the Roman Empire, from first to last, represent a completeness of evil. Satan made use of the Roman government in all its forms to work his nefarious agenda. The number “ten” represent incompleteness in administration. The ten horns are the ten kingdoms of the Roman Empire (Dan. 7:7). The “seven diadems” represent the fact that the heads (forms of government) are crowned, showing the Dragon’s involvement with the government of that empire through its history. The ten horns (kingdoms) are crowned in ch.13, when the government takes on a diabolical form
Things with ten horns:
  • the Old Roman Empire (Dan. 7:7)
  • the Revived Roman Empire (Rev. 17:7)
  • the Now Satanic Revived Roman Empire (Rev. 13:1)
  • the Dragon, power behind Roman Empire (Rev. 12:3)
Whenever you get 7 heads and 10 horns combined it is connected with the revived Roman Empire.
4 and his tail draws the third part of the stars of the heaven; and he cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, in order that when she brought forth he might devour her child. v.4 The Dragon’s Efforts. The dragon is pictured first of all as drawing “the third part of the stars of the heaven”, and casting them “to the earth”. These stars are the leaders of the Roman Empire, which were brought under Satan’s control; apostatized, and mobilized to thwart God’s purpose in the coming of Christ. The dragon stands before the woman, ready to devour her child. This was historically fulfilled when Satan, using Herod the Great, tried to kill the Lord (Matt. 2). This verse exposes that Satan’s controversy is really with Christ. He wages a proxy war with the saints, but his animosity is really against the woman’s Seed.
5 And she brought forth a male son, who shall shepherd all the nations with an iron rod; and her child was caught up to God and to his throne. v.5 The Man-Child caught up. The woman gave birth to the child, representing how Christ came to Israel (Rom. 9:5). A statement is made of His dominion, which will go far beyond Israel, including “all nations”. He will “shepherd” them (Psa. 72:11, Matt.25:32), exerting His authority. But contrast “iron rod” with “iron teeth” (Dan. 7:19). The account jumps from Christ’s birth to His ascension. This word “caught up” is only elsewhere used for the Church, and for Paul caught up to the third heaven. This verses may include the rapture of the Church, because in prophecy the church is not distinguished from Christ, as the two are united in the purpose of God.1 Christ is still seated on His Father’s throne. Soon He will take His own throne, but that will be in the Millennium (distinguished in Rev. 3:19). This corresponds to Daniel 9:26; “And after the sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing”. In heaven He got everything, but as regards the kingdom on earth, He got nothing. In heaven Christ waits for the kingdom-glory.

In Heaven: A Mid-tribulation War and its Results (12:6-12)

6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has there a place prepared of God, that they should nourish her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days. v.6 The Remnant Sheltered. The narrative now jumps forward over two thousand years, plus three and a half years, because the Church period is a parenthesis in God’s dealings with Israel. This is the same event as v.14; the remnant fleeing from Judea to escape the storm of judgment. But between v.6 and v.14 is the reason why she fled. The majority of the faithful remnant flee Judea at the Lord’s direction (Matt. 24:15) to the mountains, and stay until the Lord appears and reveals Himself to them (Zech. 14), and the she will come up “out of the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved” (Song. 8:5). Some of the surrounding nations will shelter the fleeing Jews (Isa. 16:4, Ezek. 11:16). The “they” who nourish the woman might include the Maskilim, who teach the remnant and ‘feed’ them (Dan. 12:3). The duration of her time in hiding is 1260 days, which is the last three and a half years, although every day of their care noticed (Matt. 25:34-40).
¶ 7 And there was war in the heaven: Michael and his angels went to war with the dragon. And the dragon fought, and his angels; 8 and he prevailed not, nor was their place found any more in the heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, the ancient serpent, he who is called Devil and Satan, he who deceives the whole habitable world, he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. vv.7-9 War in Heaven. God must cleanse the heavens first, then the earth (Job 15:15, Heb. 9:23). Michael is the only archangel ever mentioned, always connected with Israel (Dan. 10:21). This time (v.7) corresponds to when Michael “stands up” (Dan. 12:1). Micheal and Satan have had one controversy in the past, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 1:9). Satan outranks Michael in status, although Michael is elect. Therefore, Michael did not dare to accuse Satan, because he had respect for authority. But in the middle of the prophetic week, God will instruct Michael to stand up, and the two armies of angels – on elect, the other fallen – will join in battle. Satan will be vanquished in the heavenly places, and cast down to earth. Satan’s influence will be restricted to earth (Job 1:6). This wonderful defeat was foreseen by the Lord on earth, when the victory was foreshadowed by the disciples’ power over demons (Luke 10:18). In v.9 we have four names of Satan. First, “Dragon”, symbolizing cruel power (Rev. 12:3) and marked by persecution (Rev. 12:4). Second, “Serpent”, symbolizing the deceiver (Gen. 3:1), deceiving or beguiling the woman. Third, “Devil”, symbolizing the slanderer or tempter (Luke 4), as in the three temptations. Fourth, “Satan”, which means the adversary or opposer (Zech. 3:1,  1 Chron. 21:1), and this is same word as “Abaddon” or “Apollyon” (Rev. 9:11). This is the last time in scripture that the Dragon is called ‘great’. After v.9 he is simply ‘the dragon’. The demons also will be restricted to earth.
Satan's Downward Progression. It is striking that we always see Satan moving down, down, down...
  1. Iniquity was found in him; "I will cast thee to the ground" (Ezek. 28:14-16)
  2. Cursed in the garden; "upon thy belly shalt thou go" (Genesis 3:14-15)
----- 4000 Years ------
  1. Bound in the wilderness; "first bind the strong man, and then spoil his house" (Matt. 12:29; Luke 4:13)
  2. Defeated at the cross; "through death he might annul him who has the power of death... the devil" (Heb. 2:14)
----- 2000 Years ------
  1. Cast down to the earth; "he was cast out into the earth" (Rev. 12:9)
  2. Cast into the abyss; "and cast him into the abyss, and shut it" (Rev. 20:3)
----- 1000 Years ------
  1. Cast into the lake of fire; "was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" (Rev. 20:10)
¶ 10 And I heard a great voice in the heaven saying, Now is come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren has been cast out, who accused them before our God day and night: 11 and “they” have overcome him by reason of the blood of the Lamb, and by reason of the word of their testimony, and have not loved their life even unto death. vv.10-11 A voice is heard in heaven, and it is a united voice of the heavenly saints. Heaven has witnessed the opening motion (“kickoff”) of the Lord’s work to set up His kingdom, and so an anticipative statement is made; “Now is come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ”. The power which Christ will exert in establishing the kingdom will first be put forth to cast Satan out; “the accuser of our brethren has been cast out, who accused them before our God day and night”. This helps us to understand the activity of Satan, who always accuses the object of God’s delight (e.g. Job), or Christians today, and in context “our brethren” would be the faithful remnant. This also dovetails with 1 John 2 where we learn that Jesus is our Advocate with the Father. Satan accuses, our Advocate answers! The praise is twofold: (1) because Satan is cast down, and (2) because the saints on earth have overcome Satan “by reason of the blood of the Lamb, and by reason of the word of their testimony”. This must be talking about the martyred portion of the faithful Jewish remnant, because it says “to the death”. However, we can apply it to ourselves. We can overcome Satan, who wants to control us by accusations, because the blood has given us a purged conscience (Heb. 10:2).
12 Therefore be full of delight, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great rage, knowing he has a short time. v.12 Heaven and Earth. The heaven is told to rejoice, and the earth is told to watch out. In contrast to earth-dwellers, there are heaven-dwellers, who can rejoice because God is in the final stages of victory. But woe to everything below; stable (earth) or unstable (sea). It doesn’t matter where people are on earth, the Devil is going into overdrive; “the devil has come down to you, having great rage”. The devil knows that he has “a short time”, which would be three and a half years (Job 20:5).

War on Earth: Persecution of the Remnant (12:13-17)

¶ 13 And when the dragon saw that he had been cast out into the earth, he persecuted the woman which bore the male child. 14 And there were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the desert into her place, where she is nourished there a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. vv.13-14 Persecution and Deliverance of the Remnant. Satan’s fall will spark intense persecution of “the woman”, who pictures those of faith who stand in the place of Israel (although not all twelve tribes will be there). The “two wings of the great eagle” represent providential help (rapid motion and guaranteed protection) from God (see Ex. 19:4). In v.6 the sheep-gentiles of Matt. 25 are in view under the pronoun “they”, and so there each day (1260) of their kindness is noticed. In v.14 God’s protection is in view, and “a time, and times, and half a time” (three and a half years, see Dan. 7:25) are mentioned.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth behind the woman water as a river, that he might make her be as one carried away by a river. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. vv.15-16 Phase 1: Corruption. Satan unleashes a “river”, the movements of people under the influence of special motive and guidance, to overwhelm the woman and bring her under Satan’s power. This river of apostasy will be escaped by those who flee to mountains (Matt. 24:21-26). The “earth”, the organised system in which men live, providentially absorbs the attack and it fizzles out. “The forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured” (2 Sam. 18:8).
17 And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus. v.17 Phase 2: Violence. Satan unleashes a “war” of intense physical persecution, to be endured by those who remain. There is no providential help for these; they are martyred or hurt badly. These ones have the “testimony of Jesus”, His personal testimony. They also are those who “keep the commandments of God”, which implies faithfulness and obedience to the Word of God.
Events that take place in the Middle of the Week. The middle of Daniel's seventieth week is an important milestone in prophecy. It is referred to as "the midst of the week" in Daniel 9:27. 
  1. War in heaven, and Satan cast down to the earth (Rev. 12:9)
  2. False Church demolished by Roman Empire (Rev. 17:16)
  3. Transfer of Roman government to the Beast (Rev. 13:3)
    • Tremendous upheaval in the West (Rev. 6:12-17)
    • He will subdue three of the horns (Dan. 7:8, 20, 24-25)
    • Then the others will capitulate (Rev. 17:13)
  4. The Antichrist is revealed (Rev. 13:11; 2 Thess. 2:3; Rev. 9:1)
  5. Jewish sacrifices forced to stop (Dan. 9:27)
  6. Abomination of desolation set up (Dan. 12:11; Matt. 24:15)
  7. Part of the faithful remnant flees to the mountains (Matt. 24:16)
  8. Intense persecution begins (Matt. 24:21)
  9. Two witnesses begin to prophesy (Rev. 11:3-6)
  10. Half hour silence, then first trumpet blown (Rev. 8)
  1. I cannot but consider that the rapture of the man-child to God and His throne involves the rapture of the church in itself. The explanation why it is thus introduced here depends on the truth that Christ and the church are one, and have a common destiny. Inasmuch as He went up to heaven, so also the church is to be caught up. “So also is Christ,” says the apostle Paul, when speaking of the church; for we must naturally suppose the allusion is to the body rather than to the head. – Kelly, W. Lectures Introductory to Revelation.
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