The Woman Persecuted, But Preserved

Revelation 12:13-18
The End Times

More on the 1,260 Days [1]

Again God uses the 1,260-day time period. The 1,260 days of verse 6 are identical with a season and two seasons and half a season of verse 14; the latter means “a year, years, and half a year,” or 3½ years, which is the same as 42 months, which, at 30 days to the month, is 1,260 days. Why three different expressions are used for the same length of time we do not know; there may be shades of meaning hidden from us.

The woman was in the desert 3½ years or 1,260 days. The Holy City was trampled on for 42 months (11:2). The beast lived 42 months after his death-stroke was healed (13:5). The two witnesses prophesied in sackcloth for 1,260 days (11:3). Thus the Holy City was trampled on while the woman was in the wilderness, while the two witnesses were prophesying in sackcloth, while Babylon (the revived beast) was on the throne, all at the same time. The dragon (HaSatan), standing on the shore of the sea, prepares to went off to fight the rest of her children (those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Yeshua). HaSatan sets his sights on all Believers.

The Woman Persecuted, But Preserved

“When the dragon saw that he had been hurled down to the earth, he went in pursuit of the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where she is taken care of for a season and two seasons and half a season, away from the serpent’s presence. 15 The serpent spewed water like a river out of its mouth after the woman, in order to sweep her away in the flood; 16 but the land came to her rescue — it opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon had spewed out of its mouth. This spiritual contest that has been going on now for millennia is about to come to a spectacular conclusion. It can be compared to the last half of the ninth inning in a baseball game or the final two minutes of a professional football game. The whistle has blown, and HaSatan has been informed that the last 3 1/2 years are about to begin. Every bit of HaSatan’s energy will be used to destroying Israel, this planet, and all the people who live there. 

The Scriptures tell us that the dragon will bring a flood upon the land in an attempt to destroy Israel. Whether this is a literal flood or a flood of soldiers (HaSatan’s army), the attempt is foiled by God; however, there may be a massive loss of people! Zechariah, chapter 13, may be speaking of this occasion, and if that be true, verse 8 discloses that two-thirds of the nation will be struck down. Many that die could be those of different races living in Israel at that time, as opposed to those who are the blood line of the Jewish nation.

Some theologians believe that Israel’s flight (verse 14) may be made possible by the United States of America; however, this is strictly speculation. But God’s protection of Israel is certainly not dependent upon American support. God’s protection and His methods of protection are completely up to His sovereignty, whether they be natural or supernatural. But God’s divine protection of Israel from complete and ultimate destruction by the serpent is the clear teaching of this text. Before the chapter closes we find the dragon not only warring against the nation Israel but also turning against those Jews who have recognized Yeshua as the true Messiah and have embraced Him by faith.

The dragon was infuriated over the woman and went off to fight the rest of her children, those who obey God’s commands and bear witness to Yeshua.

The rest of her children are Messianic Believers who have come to salvation during the Tribulation. They obey God’s commands, not the 613 mitzvot but the Torah with the necessary changes (Hebrews 7:11, 8:6; Acts 15:22-28; Yochanan 13:34; Romans 13:8-10) that give us the Torah’s true meaning, which the Messiah upholds” (Galatians 6:2).

Then the dragon stood on the seashore; this phrase seems out of place.  You don’t typically end a sentence, let alone a chapter with a semi-colon.   Some versions place this verse at the beginning of 13:1 to accommodate a textual variation, “I stood upon the sand of the sea,” (KJV), referring to Yochanan. But better textual evidence in modern translations affirms the reading, “he [i.e., the dragon] stood.”

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 12:13-18[2]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists are divided over the interpretation of the persecution of the woman. Elliot interprets this as a severe decline in true piety and spiritual state of the church shortly after the triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  The continuing warfare against the rest of her children as HaSatan’s efforts to subvert the doctrines on Augustine and Vigilantius.  Barnes sees the dragon as the papacy.  The woman’s flight is the disappearance into the obscurity of the uncompromised persecution of the papacy. Most view the flood and the earth’s intervention as God’s protection and preservation of the true remnant even against overwhelming odds.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists consider this passage regarding the escape of the Judean Church from the Edomite and Roman invasions during the Jewish War when Believers fled to shelter in the desert caves.  The flood is viewed similarly to the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus.

Futurist Approach:

Some Futurists see this passage as a reminder of Exodus 19:4 and Deuteronomy 32:11-12.  There is a divergence of opinion on the flood.  Some see it as drowning out people out of their wilderness refuge. Others see it as “evil teachings…in contrast to the water of life given by Yeshua.” Still others as the overflowing horde of men and weapons sent after the Jews in the wilderness by the beast.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists tend to support the Futurists views on this passage.

In my next post, we will explore Revelation 13:1-4 dealing with The Beast from the Sea.

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[1] Halley’s Bible Handbook: Deluxe Edition.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Birth of the Male Child

Revelation 12:1-6
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 11:15-19 dealing with the Seventh Shofar.  In this post, we begin to explore Revelation 12 by unpacking verses 1-6, The Birth of the Male Child.

“Now a great sign was seen in heaven — a woman clothed with the sun, under her feet the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and about to give birth, and she screamed in the agony of labor. 3 Another sign was seen in heaven: there was a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and on its head’s were seven royal crowns. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of heaven and threw them down to the earth. It stood in front of the woman about to give birth so that it might devour the child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, the one who will rule all the nations with a staff of iron. But her child was snatched up to God and his throne; 6 and she fled into the desert, where she has a place prepared by God so that she can be taken care of for 1,260 days.” ~ Revelation 12:1-6 (CJB)

Up to this point, the Seals and Shofars carried the story forward to the final judgment, dealing largely with the fate of the world. In chapter 12 the writer returns to the starting place and in another series of visions to portray things previously omitted, relating chiefly to the fate of those who refuse to repent.

Before we take an in-depth look at the main characters in this act, let’s briefly identify them.

The Woman

The woman is not Miryam, Yeshua’s mother, but Israel, in its normal sense, the Jewish people, because the imagery is from Isaiah 66:7-10 (also compare Isaiah 26:17, Micah 4:10).  The imagery is like the sun, moon, and 11 stars that bowed down to Joseph in his dream (Genesis 37:9-11). We see Isaiah’s prediction (Isaiah 66:7-8) of a woman (Israel) bringing forth a man child fulfilled.

The Child

The child is Yeshua, the one who will rule all the nations with a staff of iron.  This imagery is taken from Psalm 2, in its entirety about the Messiah, is also quoted at Revelation 2:26-27 and 19:15.

The Red Dragon

The Red Dragon is HaSatan, the Adversary; its seven heads and ten horns also equate it with the “fourth beast” of Daniel 7:7, 24. It stood in front of the woman, opposing Yeshua, ready to devour the child the moment it was born.

The Birth of the Male Child

Now a great sign was seen in heaven — a woman clothed with the sun, under her feet the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was pregnant and about to give birth, and she screamed in the agony of labor. Chapter Twelve reveals the ongoing battle between God and Satan that has been constant throughout history. The writer is exhibiting a panoramic view of the events, people and powers which are involved in this vast spiritual warfare. Yochanan begins with a flashback into history. The only interpretation that makes sense is that the woman in this passage is synonymous with Israel. This interpretation is in keeping with many Old Testament passages. Oliver Greene writes:

The woman is not actually in Heaven—but upon the earth. The sign is in Heaven, but the birth takes place right here on this earth. This woman, clothed in the most unusual attire anyone could ever wear, is Israel. Do you remember when Joseph had his memorable dream in the Old Testament days, he saw the sun, the moon, and stars bowing down to him (Gen. 37). This was a prophetic picture pointing to his exaltation after he had been sold into Egyptian slavery by his wicked brethren. It was also a prophetic picture of the nation Israel. Joseph was sold into captivity, scattered to the four corners of the earth, suppressed and persecuted by Gentiles. Even in recent years, Israel has been persecuted by modern Pharaoh’s, some of whom were Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Eichman. They did their best to wipe out Israel, but they are gone, and Israel is still here! [1]

The supernatural child which Israel brought into the world had the authority to sit upon the throne of David and to be Israel’s sovereign ruler, but the representatives of the nation rejected their King and brought about His crucifixion. Their rejection has and will continue to bring about unutterable anguish (verse 2). They will finally see the error of their way and turn to Him, crying out for His return and their deliverance.

Another sign was seen in heaven: there was a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and on its head’s were seven royal crowns. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of heaven and threw them down to the earth. It stood in front of the woman about to give birth so that it might devour the child the moment it was born.  Yochanan goes back in time to recount the fall of Lucifer. Originally, Lucifer served God as one of His foremost mighty angels. Because of pride Satan and one -third of the angels in heaven rebelled against God and God cast them down to the earth. (Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:11-15). After his fall, Lucifer comes to be known by many names; he is given at least seven titles and subtitles here in Chapter Twelve alone.

  1. Dragon (verse 3)
  2. Devourer (verse 4)
  3. Serpent (verse 9)
  4. Devil (verse 9)
  5. Satan [Adversary] (verse 9)
  6. Deceiver (verse 9)
  7. Accuser (verse 10)

It is known from passages such as Genesis 6:1-6; 2 Kefa 2:4; Jude 6; and 1 Kefa 3:18-20, that there were angels who deserted the purpose for which God had created them. Some of these angels, no doubt, are confined to the bottomless pit while others are serving with HaSatan, even now, to accomplish his purposes.

The seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven royal crowns represent HaSatan’s dominion as the prince of this fallen world and efforts toward universal dominion. He is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), and the prince of this world (John 12:31) ~ but he is not God. He is not all-powerful, he is not everywhere, nor does he know everything. He swept a third of the stars out of heaven and threw them down to the earth, which may signify his power to marshal the hosts of the unseen world against the saints of God.

She gave birth to a son, a male child, the one who will rule all the nations with a staff of iron. But her child was snatched up to God and his throne; and she fled into the desert, where she has a place prepared by God so that she can be taken care of for 1,260 days. Yochanan is now looking at events that occurred during his lifetime, while for us, these events are history, having occurred nearly two thousand years ago. This verse focuses on three things about Yeshua:

  1. His incarnation: She gave birth to a son, a male child.
  2. His ascension: Her child was snatched up to God and his throne.
  3. His kingdom: Who will rule all the nations with a staff of iron.

Keep in mind that Yochanan is not concerned with recording a chronological view of history, but that his readers can envision the total picture. The image revealed to us in Chapter Twelve spotlights Israel.

During this interval, we have now been introduced to five of the seven principal characters who play a significant role in the last half of the tribulation. In Chapter Eleven the two witnesses, Elijah and Moses or Enoch are introduced. In Chapter Twelve, verses one through five, there appears a woman clothed with the sun, who is Israel; the red dragon, better known as HaSatan; and a male child, who is Yeshua. Before continuing with the action, Yochanan connects this prophecy so that we will not get lost! Verse six coincides with chapter 11:1-2. The 1,260 days of Revelation 12:6 is the same as the 42 months in Revelation 11:1-2. Before Yochanan introduces the last two characters, the beasts of chapter 13, he recounts a fascinating event that occurs in heaven.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 12:1-6[2]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists see the first series of visions contained in chapters 4-11 concerned with the outward state of the church.  This second series of visions recorded in 12-19 covers the same time frame interested in the internal affairs of the church.  The woman is the true church. The male child is seen as the body politic raised to a dominant power.  The dragon fits the image of any heathen persecutor, Imperial Rome.  The child was snatched up to God and his throne symbolizes the enthronement of Constantine over the entire empire in 324 CE.

Preterist Approach: 

At this point, two groups of Preterists part company on their interpretation of the material.  One group believes that the remaining chapters through chapter 19 continue the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem.  The second group believes that Babylon is the city of Rome and that the destruction of Jerusalem is already complete.  There is little disagreement as for the identity of the woman ( a faithful remnant of Israel); the dragon (a combination of all four of the beasts in Daniel 7); and, the male child (Yeshua).

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists take the woman to be Israel and the male child to be Yeshua.  Since he named in verse 9, there is little difficulty in identifying the dragon with HaSatan.  The prevailing opinion of 1,260 days is the second half of the seventieth week of Daniel 9:24-27 and corresponds to the final three and one-half years before Yeshua’s Second Coming.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view the main characters of our passage similar to that of the Preterists and Futurists.

In my next post, we will explore Revelation 12:7-12 dealing with War in Heaven.

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[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

 

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.