If you are a follower of my posts then you know I move rather slowly. Revelation chapter 12 opens with: “a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
“a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
Having spent more than a few minutes looking into this, I believe we can say with confidence that this is Israel. Finally, after all, those years, Jesus is born. Look at this description:
“She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,” Revelation 12:5 ESV
This was Paul’s message of hope, that the Messiah, the one who is to rule all the nations, has come.
Did they listen? Some did and because of that, we have the letters to the Ephesians, Galatians, Corinthians, and the letters to Timothy and the church at Thessalonica. The gospel message spread all over the world.
I suppose in God’s scheme of things 33 years is just a blink. The verse gives the impression that child being caught to God and to his throne happened almost instantly. Did you ever think about the impact this “child” made in the world in three short years? John said this of Jesus:
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 ESV)
Wait a minute. How is he supposed to rule the nations if he got caught up to God? It would appear that the implications are that he is: alive; sitting on his throne; and, if I extrapolate, coming again to finish the job he started. That is really not a bad assumption considering we know from scripture that this is the game plan.
“Caught up”, that seems so subtle and gentle. I suppose that at that point it was, but the road to get there was brutal. Beaten by order of the Jewish high priest and then handed over to the Romans to have the flesh flailed off his body. Made then to carry his own cross beam and then get nailed to that same cross. None of this was subtle, nor pretty. Dead this Jesus was placed in a tomb and the tomb was sealed, only to find it open on the third day. When they saw him again he walked among them and ate with them. Shortly after presenting himself to them alive again, he was “caught up.”
The woman, Israel, then flees into the wilderness for 1,260 days.
“and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.” (Revelation 12:6 ESV)
So, let me get this straight. Immediately after the birth of Jesus, he gets caught up to heaven (that means he died and rose again) and Israel flees into the wilderness to hide in a protected condition for three and one-half years. I can tell you from reading about the birth of Jesus that few noticed and fewer cared. While it is clear that we are talking about Israel and the birth of the Messiah, this is not a tightly knit chronology. I know this because Israel does not flee until the abomination gets set up in the temple and the false prophet arises, and from the time of Christ’s death until his promised return for those who belong to him has currently been over 2000 years. This coincides with Daniel’s seventieth week.
Daniel 9:24 ESV “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.”
Unfortunately, we only made it to the sixty-ninth week and then everything seems to have been put on hold.
I suppose you caught the time frame, 1,260 days. Yes, that equals three and one-half years, and there are only a couple of places you find reference to the time frames, both of them have to do with the last days, which, if we are not in them now, we are unreasonably close.
It is said that this place Israel flees to is Petra. What makes sense about that is that the earth swallows up a flood and I think I could picture that, but it is a narrow canyon and having watched enough cowboy westerns, you always get trapped by the bad guys there. Does it really matter what I think? No, because God’s plan will not be thwarted and a remnant of Israel will be saved.
Moving on. Again, if this is supposed to be a chronology, we have just jumped backward in time once again, all the way to what may have been near the beginnings of the earth. I say that because scripture tells us that the devil walked in the garden in a perfect state. I talked about this in some detail in my previous post, so I won’t carry on about it here, but I think it is important that you see it because I cannot remember anyone ever teaching about Satan including this.
“Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:12-15 ESV)
Now war arose in heaven
If Satan, under the name of Lucifer, was in the garden and he was blameless something clearly happened between then and the deception of Eve by the serpent, in the garden.
Revelation 12:7-9 ESV Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, (8) but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. (9) And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Earlier we read:
His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. (Revelation 12:4 ESV)
Perhaps this is merely another way to describe an incident; regardless, the result is the same. I need to address something here. We make a common mistake when we assume that this is indicative of some complete and utter destruction of Satan. If not that, then this is seen as the total banishment of Satan from heaven. If that were the case, then how is it that we can see this happening in Job.
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” (Job 1:6 ESV)
Perhaps it is best to think of Satan being thrown to earth as him losing his position in heaven. Don’t get me wrong, a final, destructive end will come for Satan, but not yet.
Verse 8 seems to give us some clarity as to the condition of Satan.
“but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. (Revelation 12:8 ESV)
Having been thrown out of heaven merely seems to mean he lost his place, position, or title.
You might think it was a reason to shout.
Revelation 12:10 ESV “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”
Because we just read that Satan was thrown to earth, stripping him of his position in heaven, you might think that his moment of punishment had come and it was time to shout for joy, but that was not the case.
We really have to get past the assumptions we make and pay attention to the context. I told you that this was a cryptic history lesson, but it is certainly not chronological. If you have taken history in college you learn several things: One, history tends to be told from the perspective of the winner of the battle in most cases. And, two, it oft times makes more sense studying say, the American Civil War if you know what led up to that war. But you could, for example, be specifically interested in one particular battle, like the last major action of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House which occurred on May 19, 1864, at the Harris Farm. The point being that we can look intentionally at moments in time independent of the overall picture.
The context of the Revelation is not meant to give you a history lesson, but to show you an unfolding of God’s mystery that is the culmination of all things; a gathering of those who are his; a punishment of those who continue to reject and fight against him, and the termination of Satan. Because of all that verse, 10 would be the victory shout heard as that page in history comes to a momentary close.
What would it mean to these voices in heaven to say, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” if that was not the case? And, though we see him thrown down in verses 8 and 9, it is not his end. And, as I pointed out in the passage from Job, he was back before God a short time later, among other angels, accusing Job.
(Satan now spends all his time accusing the saints. Is what Satan says about me a lie, no, because I do those things and so do you, but the fact that Christ covered us with his blood and since we accepted that salvation it makes me his – I am in him. We call this being covered by the blood. God, from that point forward, sees me as justified, as though I had hung on that cross.)
As an evidence of where we are in the biblical time frame, I want to look at Revelation 12:11.
Revelation 12:11 ESV “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
But I have to ask myself if I understand this verse to be speaking of the martyred saints throughout the time of wrath or is it speaking of saints throughout all time?
Because the context of Revelation primarily has to do with the time of wrath, then I can ascertain that verse 11 is speaking about a time that is still in the future (though not too distant future.)
Let’s camp out here for a moment.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Our militaristic mentality tells us that you have not conquered much if you are dead. Is that a true assessment? I do not think so for several reasons:
1. Wars have been fought and sides have won, and yet scores of good men have died. Does the fact that people have died make them a loser? Not in the mind of the winners.
2. The militaristic mentality is not truth. Truth is, things hurt, and admitting that is not necessarily a bad thing.
3. Thirdly, God does not see death as a failure.
This group of people we find in heaven, rejoicing because justice is finally being served against Satan, are those who were martyred during this time of wrath. They are painfully aware that Satan had a role in their deaths.
Revelation 7:13-14 NASB (13) “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” (14) I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
How did they conquer?
“by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” This is really a two-part equation, not that they necessarily did both. The blood of the Lamb is understood to be Jesus blood; often, this is seen as that which was spilled on the cross. Obviously, there is more to the blood than merely spilling it, and the trail of blood may have begun when the chief priest ordered Jesus struck in the face.
The point I want to make here is that the way I see ISIS flooding into a town, blowing up the church, and taking the survivors captive, in many cases probably point several guns at you while shouting, give praise to Allah. It could be that simple. In that moment of time you merely, through tears, say no. The end result is that they kill you. Let’s take this one step further. Suppose they round you up, demand that you give praise to Allah (we will ignore all the tortuous things they do to you for now), and perhaps you say little, but you do not bow to Allah. What if in your rejection of Allah you are assenting to God and his ways? It’s just a question; but, what if you are not given time to speak, as Paul and Stephen did? Then the word of your testimony would have to be an ongoing aspect of your life.
I, for example, am not an outgoing evangelist, and could never compete with Pastor Greg Laurie and his big stadium crusades. But, I do publish my thoughts and messages on the internet, where they are read around the world. You might also find me talking about these same things at the place where we get our coffee, and I am not very quiet about my God.
There is, of course, a problem with all this. The government here in America monitors everything we do on the internet, and so I can guarantee you that I am a marked man. How do I respond to that? By continuing to try to open people’s eyes to the truth found in the Bible.
Here is the truth: God is love, this is His nature and character. I know many can’t believe that, using the argument about God ordering Israel to kill everything on many occasions.
Knowing who he really is, aside from tradition, requires a personal relationship, and that is entirely up to you. It begins with you asking Jesus into your life to make a permanent home. He then will quietly clean the place up.