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Revelation Index


The Book of Revelation

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The Conflict  (Revelation 12) The last chapter concluded with the downfall and utter destruction of the oppressors of the Christians.  From the conflict we learned that God is longsuffering and willing to allow His children to undergo horrific persecution in order to give all mankind the opportunity to come to repentance.  We have also seen that God will not infringe upon man's free will choice to choose his own destiny.  Horrible things happened to the Roman Empire as a result of their evil lifestyles, but when it is all said and done and they stand in judgment, none of them will be able to claim they never had the chance to repent.  They killed the Christians and the Christians did what they could to save them from their fate.  What an incredible irony it is to contemplate this.  The enemies of the Christians were bent upon their destruction, using all manner of earthly means to inflict pain and suffering upon them.  Whatever atrocities their minds could conceive of was implemented against the Christians in full measure.  And what did the Christians have to fight back with?  Their weapons were taken from the word of God, their only armor was the sword of the Spirit, love, compassion and concern for the wellbeing of all mankind.  The world was determined to kill them and their mission was to save their enemies from the eternal consequences of their actions.  Imagine if you will, a war today with an army of soldiers armed with only the weapons of righteousness against an army of seasoned worldly soldiers with all manner of engines of warfare.  The worldly soldiers could mow the other army down by the multitudes with the soldiers being slaughtered trying to save the souls of those who were killing them.  The entire concept boggles the mind, however, not only did the Christians prevail in a real world example of this, they triumphed over their enemies in the end. 

Chapter 12 of Revelation starts back with the coming of righteousness which we earlier saw in the beginning of chapter six with the introduction of the white horse.  The entire vision which illustrated the coming of Jesus, then the coming of Satan and his allies all the way up through the persecution and ending with the total destruction of the enemies of righteousness and the ultimate victory of the saints over them is about to be replayed in its entirety.  The difference in this episode is that we are going to be given a lot more information that was left out of the earlier account.  the beast that was only mentioned in passing in Revelation 11:7 will be described in detail.  We will meet his ally and they both will be positively identified in the replay of the vision.  The enemies of the Christians will also be positively identified and we will learn a great deal more about them than was previously mentioned.  The horrors of the persecutions as well as the attributes of the enemies of righteousness are more graphic in their descriptions. 

One cannot help but wonder why God would choose to reveal the events represented in the Revelation in two parts.  There are a number of possible explanations for this.  First, God always revealed His will with figurative language during times of distress upon His children.  When the Israelites were in captivity, the prophets wrote using symbolic language.  The reason for this is clear in that the message was intended only for whom it was given and was written in a language style only they would be able to understand.   The style of writing in Revelation is no different than what was used by God in the past during oppressive times for His children.  It should come as no surprise to anybody and it makes perfect sense.   God had no intention of educating the enemies of His people as to His purpose and their fate if they refused to seek His righteousness.   God says He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him.  This implies that diligent seeking is required in order to receive the rewards.  It can be reasonably be stated that nobody on earth who knows nothing of the one true and living God is going to pick up a copy of Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel or the Revelation and read through it casually and understand it.  Long before any worldly enemy of the Christians ever made it to the second half of the book, they would be utterly lost in a quagmire of figurative language for which they would be utterly helpless to figure out.  The work would be dismissed as senseless letter belonging to a group of superstitious zealots.  There would be no perception of danger to the enemies of the Christians who would inevitably come into possession of it at some time.  The entire Revelation is revealed in stages that build on each other. The evil earthly characters in the Revelation are not positively identified until later on for a good reason.  The enemies of God's people are going to have to read a significant way through the letter in order to get these important clues that identify them as the ones who are going to be the ultimate losers in the conflict. 

Another possible reason is so that the Christians who first read the Revelation will see early on that they are going to be victorious if they overcome and remain faithful.  It is good to see quickly that one is going to win the conflict so that the following details are a little easier to absorb.  God plants the seed of hope early in the minds of the first readers before they get to see all the forthcoming details.  Revelation is a message of hope and perseverance to the people of God, but it also contains evidence of the suffering they will undergo as the events unfold before them. 

A third possible explanation is to demonstrate to the readership that the events described in the book are not played out in chronological order in a step by step progression over the Roman Empire.   We learned in the first half of the book that God used natural disasters in order to administer His divine retribution on the the enemies of righteousness.  Specifically, earthquakes and burning mountains were mentioned and history records such things either before the Revelation was written or at least contemporary with the writing.  For example, Mount Vesuvius erupted completely obliterating the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79.  Likewise in 17 AD a massive earthquake destroyed Sardis and ten other cities several years before the crucifixion of Christ.  The events described in Revelation were already being carried out to some degree so we know the events therein cannot be consecutive, rather they occurred concurrently and diversely having been spread out across the empire over a period of many years.   The eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of the cities in Asia Minor were only two of many major natural calamities which struck the Empire and on a scale of magnitude only a fraction as devastating in terms of loss of life as those yet to come. 

And the fourth reason for the two stage revealing of the Revelation is that the first series of visions serves as an introduction to the second.  When the reader realizes the second series of visions are a re-enactment of the first, it serves to help keep the focus on what it really is and avoid going off in wild tangents thinking it is some kind of description of events associated with the end of the world.  Scripture is plain in other writings that the end of the world is going to come like a thief in the night during a time when people think there is peace and safety for all (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, 2 Peter 3:10, Matthew 24:44).  Those who contrive the Millennialists doctrine from the pages of the Revelation believe in periods of tribulation either before or after the return of Jesus.  And they have Jesus reigning on earth from Jerusalem for a thousand years which can not happen according to the Bible.  God swore that no seed of Jeconiah would rule from David's throne in Judah ever again (Jeremiah 22:30).  Jesus Christ was a direct descendant of Jeconiah from both Mary's side and Joseph's.  God didn't leave any doubt there at all.  So the entire rapture and millennial reign of Christ on earth is a contrived doctrine most of which comes from the last half of Revelation and does not find support in the rest of what the Bible has to say about the end of the earth.  With the first series of visions used as an introduction and compliment to the second series, it becomes quite clear what the second series is all about.  It was written to the same group of people and carries the same message of hope and perseverance, it has the same list of characters both good and evil, the conflict described therein is the same and the outcome is the same.  "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).  The contents of the little book which John was told to take and eat is being developed now and is the subject of the following series of visions. 

Revelation 12:1
"And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars"
The two sides in conflict in Revelation are good and evil.  The characters are God and His children in the corner of righteousness and Satan and his followers in the corner of evil.  The rules are simple.  The evil characters will use whatever earthly means are at their disposal to destroy God's children and God's children will use only the spiritual weapons described in the word of God.  Those on the side of evil are going to perish forever and while they are trying to destroy those on the side of good, the children of God are trying to save them from their eternal fate. 

"A woman arrayed with the sun". 
The sun is our primary source of light and God is our spiritual source of light.  The woman illustrates the relationship between God and His faithful children.  In this case, the remnant of the faithful from the nation of Israel is in view, described as a woman is representative as the bride of God in much the same fashion as the church today is the bride of Christ (Romans 7:4). 

"and the moon under her feet"
The moon is representative of lesser figures of authority so it being under the feet of the woman places the leaders of the world in subjection to the faithful Israelites. 

"and upon her head a crown of twelve stars"
Stars are representative of individuals so the crown of twelve stars will represent the twelve sons of Jacob who then became the patriarchs of the Israelite nation.  The overall picture here of the radiant woman is the remnant of the faithful children of Israel, with God as her head and with the world at her feet.   

Revelation 12:2
"and she was with child; and she crieth out, travailing in birth, and in pain to be delivered."
The child about to be delivered is none other than Jesus Christ, the promised messiah.  The children of Israel who remained faithful to God were certainly in misery and were crying out for the coming of Christ.  The stage is now set.  The time period for the starting point of this vision is before the birth of Christ on earth.  We have now been introduced to the righteous characters in this conflict.  We have God represented as the sun, the faithful children of Israel and the Son of God about to be delivered on the scene.  Now it is time to meet the evil force. 

Revelation 12:3
"And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven diadems."
And now we meet Satan who is represented by a dragon.  The figure of the dragon always represents Satan in the Revelation and is positively identified in the ninth verse of this chapter.  The characteristics used here to describe him are "great" which is representative of his power and  "red" which represents his murderous, bloody character.  He is pictured with seven heads which is a figure for perfect.  In this instance it means the perfect embodiment of an evil mastermind dedicated to deceit and treachery.  He is pictured with ten horns which means he has complete power within his realm of operation.  Obviously Satan does not have complete unrestricted power or our lives would be unbearable on earth.  Consider what happened to Job when God allowed Satan a little more freedom to afflict than was normally issued.  Imagine if you can what our lives would be like if the same entity were granted unrestricted access to us on earth.  Upon Satan's head were pictured seven diadems.   This is not the same as the crowns worn by the righteous which is the "stephanos" crown of the victor.  Satan never wins any permanent victories and he is going to be utterly defeated in the end so he only wears a diadem and is never pictured wearing the victory crown. 

Revelation 12:4
"And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon standeth before the woman that is about to be delivered, that when she is delivered he may devour her child
The dragon's tail drawing a third part of the stars of heaven points to Satan's rebellion against God when he led many angels with him and they were cast down and bound in the hadean realm in chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment, (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6).  It is possible that the rebellious angels explains the presence of the evil spirits on earth during the time of Christ on earth.  We know from scripture that the time of evil spirits on earth was temporary because in Zechariah 13:1-2 it was prophesied that the evil spirits would be caused to pass from the land during the period of time when Christ walked the earth.  Statements made by the evil spirits to Jesus during their confrontations seem to support the idea of their presence on earth being a temporary arrangement (Matthew 8:29). 

The third part of the stars of heaven is a similar figure to the first four trumpet announcements when a third part of each realm was affected.  The figure represents more a significant percentage rather than a literal part of the whole.  Certainly it can not be concluded that an exact third of God's angels sinned and were cast out of heaven, but, the fraction given certainly suggests a vast number.  We don't know how many angels God created but Revelation 5:11 gives a hint.  The angels numbered with the rest of the righteous around the throne of God were numbered as "ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands".  The Hebrew writer simply called them an "innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22).  Obviously the number of defecting angels was significant.  One cannot help but wonder why they would do such a thing after being in Heaven and seeing the power of God firsthand.  This certainly speaks volumes to the persuasive and deceitful nature of Satan to be able to deceive and lead astray such a vast host of heaven's messengers. 

"and the dragon standeth before the woman that is about to be delivered, that when she is delivered he may devour her child"
Satan is pictured standing in front of the radiant women who is about to bring forth Jesus Christ on earth.  Obviously Satan knows what is forthcoming and intends to waste no name in trying to destroy Jesus Christ as soon as He is born.  Satan working through Herod sought the child's life right after He was born to the extent that His parents had to flee with him to Egypt in order to protect Him (Matthew 2:13).   It should also be noted that this is not the only time Satan, acting through earthly agents tried to destroy God's plan of bringing the Messiah forth from the seed of Israel.  The Egyptians, Haman in Esther 3:13 and Antiochus Epiphanes were all agents of Satan who tried to destroy Israel.  Satan standing before the radiant woman of Israel was not a one time event that suddenly happened as Jesus was about to be born, rather this conflict had been going on for centuries.  Satan has always stood in opposition to the plan of God. 

Revelation 12:5
"And she was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and unto his throne."
This is a picture of the entire life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  No need to elaborate here, the Christians who would be reading this were fully aware of all the details surrounding the life of Jesus Christ.  Jesus has ascended to the Father and is ruling all the nations of the earth from His throne in Heaven (Acts 2:33-35, Hebrews 10:12-13).

Revelation 12:6
"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
After Jesus ascension back to Heaven to reign from the Father's side, the faithful became the spiritual kingdom that Jesus ruled over.  This spiritual kingdom, also known as the church, began in Jerusalem on Pentecost following Jesus' crucifixion as revealed in Acts chapter 2.   The church in Jerusalem grew in leaps and bounds in the first years after its establishment.  In Acts 8 we see the beginning of a great persecution.  This persecution was primarily from the Jews who rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  In Acts 8:1 we see that because of the persecution of the Jews, the Christians "were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria" and in verse 4, "they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word."  To understand what the wilderness is in this context, one must look at it through the eyes of the people that were living it.  These Christians were displaced from their homes and driven out into the unknown to seek new places to live.  In their perspective, they were driven out into the wilderness.  And we see that they found places prepared for them by God.  God in His providential care made sure the Christians had a place to go and "They" were nourishing the church.  This is God, His Spirit and Jesus providing the nourishment from heaven and the food in view here is in the form of both spiritual and providential.  And under the care of the Godhood the church prospered and grew. 

Revelation 12:7
"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels (going forth) to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels"
One thing we need to keep in mind when interpreting figurative statements is they never suggest a meaning opposite the figurative statement.  Therefore it can be concluded that "war" cannot mean "no war".  The elements in the statement may be figurative but the activities cannot be.  For instance when we were faced with the locusts, it was the activities and the results that helped to define what the locusts represented.   In this statement, the activity is a conflict.  Inspiration calls it a war.  There is a conflict mentioned here so it cannot be denied that a conflict existed.  Many able scholars hold to the belief that this and the next two verses describe an invasion attempt by Satan against the throne of God after they were expelled from heaven in verse 4.

Scripture is clear that there were angels who sinned and were cast out of heaven, "For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Peter 2:4).  But notice two things in this context.  First the immediate text says they were cast down to hell which in the original language is tartaroo or tartarus which is the tormented side of the hadean realm and there awaiting the day of the Lord and the final judgment.  See 2 Peter 2:9 for additional explanation.  Notice that  Peter did not mention a stopping place of earth along the way.  What we do learn here is that there was a time when angels sinned and were cast out of heaven.  Jude 6 reveals what these angels did that was sinful,  "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6).   So the angels that sinned and were cast out of heaven down to the place of punishment because they disobeyed God and left their own habitation. 

So it stands to reason that at some point in time the angels left heaven and came to earth and then were denied access back to heaven.  This is a possible explanation for the existence of the evil spirits on earth during the time of Christ.  The evil spirits existed and were on earth and they had to come from somewhere.   However this presents a difficulty in that the timeframe for the war in heaven is now at the time of Christ on earth.  Most of the scholars agree that the fall of Satan occurred at the time either before or shortly after the creation of earth.   We must also acknowledge that inspiration places Satan in a conversation with God on two occasions in the book of Job.  One would think a two way conversation would require that both be in each other's company, so it is not unreasonable to conclude that Satan was in the presence of God and the context suggests a host of the "Sons of God" presenting themselves to the Lord.  So the question arises, did this meeting happen in heaven?  Nowhere else in scripture were angels referred to as "sons of God".  The true meaning of "Sons of God" is found in Romans 8:14.  They are followers and worshippers of God; and so were those mentioned in Job.  So Satan having access to heaven is not supported in Job.  There is plenty of information in scripture that supports a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ on earth and this is a possible explanation for how the Sons of God presented themselves before the Lord without being in heaven.  Also it should be noted that in the account of Job, Satan had to acquire permission before he could afflict Job on both occasions and he was forbidden to kill him and Satan obeyed those divine directives.  Satan was bound at this time and this fact will come into play later on in this study. 

We must also give some consideration to the vision in Zechariah 3 where Satan was seen at the side of Joshua as an adversary.  Many commentators use this account to demonstrate that Satan had access to the presence of God.  If this were true, then so did Joshua.  Furthermore the text in Zechariah states that the event was in the company of the "angel of Jehovah".  So we can easily dismiss this verse as supporting the claim that Satan had access to the throne of heaven which is used by some to support that the war in heaven happened all at once during the time of Christ on earth. 

During Christ's ministry on earth, He sent seventy disciples out to preach the gospel in neighboring towns.  Before He sent them out, He gave them the power to cast out evil spirits.  upon their return they declared to Jesus that even the evil spirits were subject to them though His name.  Jesus reply to them was, "I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18).  Those who support the war in heaven during the time of Christ point to this verse of scripture every time and if the heaven Jesus mentions here is actually heaven, then Satan has to have been there in order to fall from it.  However in the absence of any supporting scripture that places Satan in heaven itself, it is difficult to place him physically there in the presence of God.  It appears that Jesus is in fact saying He can see the the power and influence of Satan falling from a very lofty vantage point.  It was not Satan that the disciples cast out, it was the evil spirits, and none of them were said to have been cast out of Heaven, rather, they were cast out of living people on earth.  The evil spirits being cast out of the people did not cause Satan to be cast out of heaven.  It is also significant to note that when Jesus said He beheld Satan falling, the evil spirits were already on earth and had been for some time. If there was a war going in heaven at that time, then why were the evil spirits still on the earth?  It seems more consistent to think of this as the influence of Satan on earth weakening dramatically as a result of the power given to the disciples through Jesus.   

There is no support for a literal war in heaven during the time of Christ in the rest of scripture that cannot be reasonably explained away.  Did a conflict happen where Satan and those angels who sinned were expelled from heaven?  Absolutely yes.  Satan and his angels, as they are referred to in Revelation 12:9 have been cast out of heaven, they are forbidden to return and they are all bound in chains of darkness reserved for the judgment (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6), and 2 Peter 2:9 makes it clear that this period of imprisonment is not pleasant.  It is clear from the text that when Satan and his angels left heaven, it was not under peaceful conditions.  But there is no conclusive evidence to support the belief of some that Satan led an army of angels in an attempted invasion and overthrow of heaven.   In fact, it is quite evident from an observance of the way in which the evil spirits on earth acted towards Jesus upon their encounters that they obviously knew who He was, and they always obeyed His directives without rebellion. 

It is very logical to conclude that if the forces of evil were going to lead a revolt against heaven while Jesus Christ was on earth, they would have started it off by slaying Jesus Christ or at least attempting to.   It does not make any sense to think that Satan and his angels who were already forced to operate under constraints on earth would even have the barest chance for a victory in heaven.  Why would they have any better chance to overcome God in heaven than they did to overcome Jesus as a man on earth?  They couldn't touch Him and they well knew it and the inspired accounts which tell of their encounters reveal only that when Jesus Christ gave them an order, they obeyed it.  While on earth, Jesus Christ was a man.  He had to have food in order to live, when He was cut, he bled just like any man would, He could and did suffer .  Jesus Christ was as human in his existence on earth as any of us and as such would be an easy target for any angel to outright destroy in an unrestrained confrontation.  Satan had to have divine permission to even touch Job and the divine permissions were obeyed.  Clearly something is in place which forces the evil entities to obey the divine directives.  It would be foolish and naive to think that the evil spirits obeyed Jesus out of any desire on their part to do so.   Clearly their were restrictions on the activities of Satan and the evil spirits or Jesus would have perished the instant He was born. 

So the question becomes not "was there a war in heaven?" rather, "when was the war in heaven?".  That there was a rebellion in heaven which resulted in the defeat and expulsion of Satan and "his angels" is beyond question.  We do not know anything about this ill conceived and foolish confrontation other than the fact that Satan and His allies did not prevail and the outcome was unpleasant for them in the extreme.  The most logical explanation of this and the following three verses is that an ongoing spiritual warfare, which had been going on from the beginning of the creation, reached its climax at the final triumph of Jesus over death.  

Revelation 12:8
"And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven."
Satan and an obviously large host of angels couldn't overcome God's throne, the Roman Empire didn't stand a chance.  God's throne and purpose stand inviolate and unconquerable against any and all opposition.  Nothing can stand in the way of God's will.  Satan and his foolish followers, at some point in history, found themselves booted out of heaven forever. 

Revelation 12:9
"And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him."
And this is the climax of a conflict that had been ongoing since before Satan deceived Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.  Looking at this through the eyes of the first readers, it is easy to see this as the final ultimate defeat of Satan once and for all which was evidenced in Jesus' triumph over death.  Satan and his angels may have thought they had won when Jesus died on that cross.  They were not alone in that either.  Jesus' disciples were in a state of confusion and indecision.  Their champion had died on that cross and they thought Satan had won.  It was no secret that Jesus was suppose to arise because the Jewish leaders had guards placed at His tomb, but the shock of His death was more than the disciples could handle.  Jesus' shocked and demoralized disciples scattered and left.  If they had been absolutely confident of Jesus' resurrection, one would think they would have set up a vigil outside His tomb in anticipation of His resurrection.   Notwithstanding, Jesus did arise and when He did the power of Satan over mankind was crushed forever.

Revelation 12:10
"And I heard a great voice in 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 is cast down, who accuseth them before our God day and night."
We see in this part of the vision, the eternal purpose of God in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.  God's righteous nature demands the punishment of death for sin.  Satan and the sinful angels well knew this and it is obvious here that God was reminded of this by Satan continually.  Satan is demanding man suffer the same punishment for sin that he received.  Mankind sinned and Satan is right there accusing mankind of this and wanting to know why God hasn't given them the same treatment He got.   When Jesus Christ died at the hand of man for the sins of man, the penalty of death which God's righteous nature demanded was paid in full by Jesus Christ who was one of the three persons of the Godhood.  In effect, God paid the penalty of death for man's sin in man's place.  Satan did not know what God's plan was until it unfolded and when it did, and the debt was paid for the sins of mankind, Satan had no more complaint against man with God.  Until Jesus paid the death penalty for man's sin, Satan had a valid argument.  God's righteous nature demanded death for disobedience and Satan never let God forget it. 

Satan hates God and He is powerless to harm God.  The only way Satan can hurt God is to drag mankind whom God loves through the muck and mire of sin and then cast it in God's teeth.  Of course Satan's hatred is especially focused on God's faithful and it is the faithful he wants most to bring down.  He knows that when he brings down one of God's own, God suffers for it.  Old Testament scripture reveals that it was God's faithful who were the targets of Satan's accusations.  Satan tried to say that Job was only faithful because of the goodness God showed him.  When that failed to be true, Satan said Job would curse God to His face if God would allow him to afflict Job directly and Job prevailed and prospered.  In Zechariah 3:1 we see a picture of Satan resisting Joshua who was standing sinful in the sight of God and God clothed Joshua in clean garments.  There is no evidence in scripture anywhere of Satan opposing unbelievers so from this we can conclude that Satan's primary attention was directed towards God's faithful children.

Now that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has paid the penalty for the sins of mankind, all faithful children of God can stand before Him justified of their sins.  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, faithful children of God can no longer be accused by Satan.  Satan cannot accuse God's faithful children of sin anymore because God provided them a way of appearing sinless before Him by suffering the death He demanded for man's sin, Himself.  In today's language we can illustrate this thusly:  "Satan, you demanded the same penalty for your sin be inflicted on sinful man, so I went down there and died for them in their place.  I suffered the death you demanded of them myself, now stop accusing them and get out of my sight."

With the death of Jesus and the coming of the Christian age, there was a justification of sin, never before known.  The Hebrew writer taught that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (Hebrews 10:4) and that the transgressions under the first covenant were forgiven (Hebrews 9:15).  All who lived before the cross and who will live after can have the complete and total forgiveness of sin.  It was at this time that salvation for man had come, and the power of God had been revealed and the spiritual kingdom of God was established.  This part of the vision is the coming of the church of Christ. 

Revelation 12:11
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death."
And this is a vision of those who overcame and triumphed over Satan.  There are three conditions here for the overcomers.  There was the blood of Jesus which served as the perfect sacrifice, the will of God revealed in the New Testament and faithfulness to the terms of the covenant even to the point of death.  Without any one of these, there is no salvation.

Revelation 12:12
"Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the devil is gone down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time."
Through the sacrifice of Christ, we have a "better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6).  We have every reason to rejoice because now we can stand justified in the sight of God, something never before known to the children of God.  Satan can no longer accuse the faithful in God's sight for past sins.  All that is left for him now is to deceive the nations and try and lead as many astray as he can.  Satan knows now that there will be people who live in God's presence forever.  He knows what his fate is and knows there will be no escape for him so his mission now is to take as many with him as possible.  This is the only avenue left open for him to oppose God and cause Him suffering.  Satan knows the only way he can hurt God now is to hurt those he loved so much and he can do this by deceiving them and leading them astray away from the shelter of His church.  Satan's time is short and he knows it, so his efforts towards this end are reinforced. 

Revelation 12:13
"And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he persecuted the woman that brought forth the man (child)."
When Satan realized he could no longer accuse the righteous, he set out to try and destroy the faithful children of God.  This is the beginning of the great persecution. 

Revelation 12:14
"And there were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness unto her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent."
Looking at this through the eyes of first century Christians, this is likely one or both of two events being in view here.  In Acts 8:1, we read of the first great persecution of the Christians by the Jews:  "Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."  These Christians left their homes and fled Jerusalem out into the unknown and scattered all over the Roman Empire preaching the gospel (Acts 8:4).  From the perspective of the Christians who fled, they were going out into the wilderness away from their homes.  The apostles stayed behind in Jerusalem when the first Christians fled.  The next great event happened in 70 AD when Titus destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple.  The Christians living in Jerusalem then had been warned by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 24 to leave Jerusalem before this happened.  History has no records of any Christians dying in the destruction of Jerusalem so the general belief is that they all escaped.  They too would have been scattered across the empire wherever they could find a place to live.  To them, when leaving their homes, fleeing for their lives, it doubtless looked to them like they were heading out into the wilderness much like the children of Israel did when they left Egypt.

The "time and times and half a time" is three and a half years, representing an indefinite period of time, which is the same time period as seen in verse 6.  The nourishment for the faithful Christians during this time could be the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit providing them with the word of God which was their spiritual food.  The providential care of God can be said to be included in this as well.  It is obvious from the content of the letter of Revelation itself that God was extremely concerned for the well being of His children and He made sure they knew He was with them and in control of the situation. 

Revelation 12:15
"And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream."
Water as a river is a familiar old testament picture of a flood of oppression against God's people.  "And Jehovah spake unto me yet again, saying, forasmuch as this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the River, strong and many, (even) the king of Assyria and all his glory: and it shall come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks; and it shall sweep onward into Judah; it shall overflow and pass through; it shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of its wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel" (Isaiah 8:5-8).  Similar examples of water being pictured as oppression against God's people are found in Isaiah 43:2, Psalm 144:7 and Psalm 32:6. 

The serpent sending a flood from his mouth is a figure for the amount of oppression he will send forth upon the children of God.  Pagan worship with all the lusts associated with that, lies, deceit, false philosophies, false teachings and false accusations against the church were just a part of the river of persecution that Satan spewed forth against the saints.  Christianity became illegal in the Roman Empire before it was all over and the persecution came in all forms up to and including death.   

Revelation 12:16
"And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth."
This is a picture of God's providential care for His people.  Looking back to an earlier vision, God made it plain that His retribution upon the people of the earth was held back in favor of God's children.  Earthquakes, floods, famines, diseases and other natural disasters hampered and weakened the instruments of Satan's wrath and he was unable to completely destroy God's people from the face of the earth. 

Revelation 12:17
"And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus"
Satan is angry because he cannot destroy Christians from the face of the earth so he is going to entrench himself and continue his war with God's people for the rest of the time available to him.  This part of the vision is prophetic past the final destruction of the Roman Empire.  Satan is still at war with Christians and those who "keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus" are still fighting the battle between good and evil.  It is a worldwide battle and the stakes are the souls of mankind, both saved and unsaved.  The world is filled with false gods and false worship.  Those who claim Christ as their savior are divided into thousands of different denominations. 

Satan is still waging his war against righteousness and will continue to do so until the end.  The persecution is still life and death in some areas of the world and in others it is religious deception.  Billions of people on earth claim Christ as their savior in thousands of different denominations in the face of scripture that commands unity.  The advent of salvation by faith only is destroying more souls than the Roman Empire ever thought of and billions of people are going to their judgments only to be saddened because they believed Satan's deceptions. 

This was the introduction to the bittersweet contents of the little book John was told to take and eat.  Revelation chapter 12 is a overview of the whole coming of Jesus Christ from the Israelite nation.  The vision portrays the birth and ascension of Jesus to the throne of God in Heaven.   In this vision we see the fall of Satan and his angels and his rage over his defeat by Jesus Christ.  Satan finds himself cast out of heaven and powerless against the heavenly host so he turns his malicious hatred upon those who God loves still on the earth.  Bent upon their destruction, he goes about trying every method of temptation and deceit he can think of to bring about the destruction of God's faithful children from the earth. 

The introductions to the characters in the little book have been made, the setting for the vision has been set and now following will be the details of the battle between good and evil specific to the minds and experiences of those Christians living in the first century and following up until the downfall of the Roman Empire.  And in the end of this series of visions, we see death itself and all those who chose that as their destiny, forever cast into the lake of fire. 

Revelation 12 Paraphrase

Then in my next vision, I witnessed an event of great significance.  I saw the faithful remnant of the Israelites like a bride irradiated with the brightness of God, with the nations of the world beneath her feet and the likeness of the twelve sons of Israel on her head.  She was about to being forth the promised Messiah and she was in great distress and torment from the world while awaiting His birth. 

Then I saw another event that happened in heaven.  I saw Satan who was like a great red dragon with total hatred for mankind and great power and wearing headpieces like the wicked kings of the earth wore.  He had deceived a great number of angels and they had all been cast from heaven onto the earth.  And Satan who had opposed God stood on the earth in front of the faithful children of God awaiting the arrival of the Messiah so that he could destroy Him as soon as he was born. 

And then Jesus Christ, the promised messiah who would rule all the nations triumphed over death and ascended up unto God and to His throne.  And God's children fled into the wilderness to escape the wrath of Satan and where they were nourished by God and His word for a space of time.  And the war between good and evil waxed hot and Satan and His angels were finally defeated and thrown down and there was found no more place for them in the heavens.  Satan, the deceiver of the whole earth and his followers were at last cast out.  

And then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, "Now salvation has come, and strength, and the spiritual kingdom of our God under the authority of His Son.  And the adversary Satan has at last been defeated and his constant accusations before God are now ended."

And the saints overcame Satan by the blood of Jesus, and by faithfulness to Jesus Christ's word, and by patience and perseverance even unto death.  Therefore rejoice all ye who remained faithful unto death and dwell in paradise.  But Woe to those who yet live upon the earth for Satan has come to persecute you and he is angry because he knows he has lost and has only a short time left to hurt mankind. 

And Satan persecuted the children of God and to them were given the wings of eagles so they could escape into all the earth where God cared for them and fed them and protected them from the face of the evil one.  And Satan brought upon God's children a flood of persecutions from worldly enemies in an effort to destroy them but the earth rose up against them and helped the faithful children of God.  And Satan was angry with the Christians and went to make war with the remnant of the faithful who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.


Church of Christ Lessons on the Revelation of Jesus Christ

1.  Understanding Revelation
2.  Symbolic Objects in Revelation
3.  Understanding the Numerical Symbolism in Revelation
4.  Identifying the Opposition Characters in Revelation
John's Introduction to the Churches of Asia

6.  John's Vision of Jesus Christ
7. The Church who Left Her First Love, Ephesus
8.  Smyrna, the Suffering Church
9.  Pergamum, the church in Hell's Headquarter
10.  Thyatira, the church that Condoned Sin
11. Sardis (The Dead Church)
12. Philadelphia (The Church With Opportunity)
13.  Laodicea (The Lukewarm Church)

14.  Letter to Your Church
15.  John's Throne Vision (chapter 4)
16.  God the Redeemer Revealed  (chapter 5)
17.  God the Avenger of His Children (Chapter 6)
18.  Who Will Be Able To Stand  (Chapter 7)
19.  The First Four Trumpets
(Chapter 8)
20.  The Fifth Trumpet (Chapter 9:1-12)
21.  The Sixth Trumpet Announcement (Chapter 9:13-21)
22. The Little Book and the Unutterable Thunders (Rev 10)
23.  The Seventh Trumpet Announcement (Rev 11)
24. The Conflict (Revelation 12)
25.  Revelation 13 (Identification of the First Beast)

26.  Revelation 13 (Identification of the Second Beast)

27.  Chapter 14 (The Victorious Lamb and the Redeemed)
28.  Revelation 14 (The Turning Point)
29.  Revelation 14 (The Sickle and the Winepress)
30.  Chapter 15 (Comfort for the Saints)
31.  Chapter 16 (Bowls of Wrath)
32.  Chapter 16 (The Battle of Armageddon)
33.  Chapter 17 (The Scarlet Woman)
34.  Chapter 18 (Fallen  is Babylon)

35.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Chapter 19)
36.  The Fall of Satan  (Chapter 20)
37.  Heaven, the Home of the Soul  (Chapter 21)
38.  The Spirit and the Bride Say Come  (Chapter 22)
39.  The Dating of the Revelation

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Revelation 21:5-7

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.