She was alone and she knew it. The sound of a man stepping on a small piece of glass in the dark parking garage caught her attention. Fear shot through her… The kind of quick stinging fear that feels like bumping a nerve. Just knowing someone else was in that place pushed her mind down a slope and panic set in. “Where is my car? Where are my keys?” She thumbed through her purse nervously. Just as she lay her hands on the keys, another startling sound erupted… The window on her car went down! Through the space of the window in complete darkness, she saw her smiling husband. A tear welled up in her eye, because she knew she was safe. He came to surprise her, but she knew the truth… He was her rescuing angel.
Key Principle: The enemy KEEPS aiming his sights on God estranged bride, but God won’t let her slip away into his hand. Attacks are NOT a surprise to the Creator. God knows how to protect His people – and He never neglects His duty!
Last time we looked into Revelation 12, we saw that a series of signs were flashed across Heaven to inform John of Satan’s war with God. We noted that these signs were actually a CAST OF CHARACTERS THAT WERE RECORDED to tell us of what is ahead. Though not a pretty picture for many, understanding the vision will help us navigate in the present, and have real implications for what we do in modern life. We saw that the signs tell the story – but we have to learn to look at them and understand both the blessing of their warning and the truth of their message!
The first part of the passage is about the CAST – Three Persons that form the story (Revelation 12:1-6)
Remember, the first part of the passage told us about three people, and how they showed the story of God and His great enemy. The three persons were:
1: There is a Woman at the center of the story.
Revelation 12:1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations ….6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
She was formed in Heaven, and not the creation of some political movement in the past of the present. She was neither a contrived ancient robber nation that disposed the Canaanites of old, nor some modern Zionist plot to dispossess modern Arabs of their land.
She was a woman beloved and wedded by God as Hosea 2:16 and Isaiah 54:5 call Israel. She had the description that aligned her with the nation and its people, that had become hostile to her former husband – the Living One of Heaven. God wrote Israel a certificate of divorce. As evidence to her continual hostility to her former husband, God wrote in Romans 11:28 and her enmity at the time before her eventual restoration: Romans 11:28 “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Israel was depicted in the Epistles of the Christian Scriptures as the divorced wife of God that is awaiting her restoration to Him in a future time that will come about because of a terrible Tribulation. The fact is that she was put away only after they had a son together – and He constitutes the second sign.
2: The Child of the woman is set for great things.
Revelation 12:2 “and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth… 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
First, He was ruler appointed by God. (As God specific promises to David through Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 7). Second, He would come FROM Israel, but RULE ALL THE NATIONS one day. This seems in keeping with what we saw in Revelation 11:15 … “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” The rod of iron with which He would rule is identical in wording to Revelation 19:15 …and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and …on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Third, He would be caught up to God’s throne room. Did not the book begin with a vision of the Risen Christ in the throne room of God in chapter 1? Did not Acts 1 show Jesus being “taken up to Heaven”?
3: The dragon wants to kill both the woman and the Son.
12:3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. 4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
A third person comes into view. He is the great red dragon. Ha-satan occurs 13 times in the Masoretic Text, in two books of the Hebrew Bible, including Job 1–2 (10x) and in Zechariah 3:1–2 (3x). Biblically, he was behind the attempts at Israel’s destruction in Haman’s plot, and his fingerprints were on Herod’s killing spree of the babies of Bethlehem.
He took a third of the stars and threw them to the earth. When Satan rebelled, something changed about his characteristic lodging in heaven, because we read: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12). Jesus made a glancing reference to it when He said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). It could even be that the STAR that fell to earth in Revelation 9:1 was that of Satan himself – though that is not certain. We are told that an “innumerable company of angels” was created by God (Hebrews 12:22), and here one third of them chose to rebel with him.
The dragon was not only spiritual, but seen in the political realm – one with seven heads and ten horns. If you follow the pattern of Daniel’s visions, like that of Daniel 7, a head was a national kingdom, and a horn was a ruler of that kingdom. Satan built a national coalition through human surrogates – but it is nevertheless HIM behind it all! Satan stood before the woman to devour the child. A good reference point could be simply Matthew 2:13, where God thwarted the attempt of Herod to kill the baby Jesus.
God has an ultimate plan for both the believers of the church age and the people of Israel. God’s future for Israel does not guarantee that all they do in their current unregenerate state is acceptable behavior, but we must wise up to the rise of an increasing wave of ANTI ISRAEL thinking that is putting even churches in opposition to any future for that people. Replacement theology – that the church is the new Israel – is reaching into churches and denominations and moving them to enmity with Israel and any future plan of God specifically for them.
Before I read another verse, let me be as clear as I am able to be in words:
- The future of Israel is not in the hands of the Netanyahu government – for though they have elected him their Prime Minister – he cannot protect her from an attack that has been perpetrated upon her with Satan’s backing.
- The future of Israel is not dependent upon her by the so-called “Quartet” government peace initiatives. Each of these governments has their own interests and agenda – and they cannot guarantee Israel’s safety.
- The future of Israel is not in the hands of President Obama or our Congress. They can pledge to stand at her back, but we are borrowing just to stay afloat in our own economy, and with a rising number of American Muslims in our national scene – that dependable source of friendship has deep limitations.
- The future of Israel is not in the hands of the UN. If one is to look past the veneer of the surface you will discover a deep and abiding disrespect (read: hatred) of Israel by many nations that have little to do with the Arab cause or any direct insult that Israel may have made to them.
The future of Israel is UP TO GOD. Let me show you by looking at the balance of Revelation 12, with what Paul Harvey would say is … the rest of the story.
The second part of the chapter is about the CLASH – Six Events that unfold between Satan and the Woman and Child (Revelation 12:7-9)
Event One: Satan is tossed from Heaven
Revelation 12:7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Long before this passage was written, Daniel prophesied the day was coming for the Heavenly wrestling match that would end in Satan’s tossing from Heaven.
Daniel 11 offers the description of some earthly events. A ruler will arise, according to 11:36, and he will be a despot. He will do whatever he pleases, even magnifying himself to be like a god in the eyes of other men. Daniel 11:37 says he won’t have regard for the god of his own father, but will be a stockpiler of weapons and will create a federation of states by buying off powerful people. Daniel 11:40 argues that some will be unhappy and attack him, finally coming into Israel and even gaining control of many Near Eastern countries. He will establish himself in Israel, but will eventually himself be taken out of power, with no friends to help him remain. At that time, Daniel 12:1 says: “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”
Remember that the Tribulation on earth is about the Jewish people, for the Jewish people. It is to get the estranged wife of the Father to see the truth about the world and its empty gods and worthless promises. Satan’s arrival after the war in Heaven steps up an already virulent hatred against the Jewish people world wide.
The dragon is clearly called Satan in 12:9. In other places in Scripture he is called “The murderer from the beginning” by Jesus. He is called a “destroyer” in Revelation 9:11, and shown to have a deep connection to ruling people and blinding them to truth in this age in 2 Cor. 4:3-4:
2 Cor. 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
At the same time, the battle between Michael and Satan is not new. Jude 1:9 showed this battle went on in the past:
Jude 1:9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
For a time, God allowed the enemy to keep up his attack and accusation against the brethren day and night. Heaven had to be tired of Satan’s constant harassing voice of the deciever. Now might be a good time to recall that SATAN IS A DEFEATED ENEMY!
Paul ended the treatise to the Romans with these encouraging words: Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
John knew it would happen as well: 1 John 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
The whole defeat was a DONE DEAL when Jesus died on the Cross at Calvary: John 12:31 “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
Don’t go on… stop! Look at what we have just read! Jesus said that HIS DEATH would defeat the enemy. He said that what was given to us as His followers was stronger than what the enemy has to hold us back. He said He will soon CRUSH the enemy. The heel bruiser is about to get stomped on! What an exciting promise.
The great thief of the heavens is about to get jailed. The great murderer of thousands is about to get the electric chair. The rapist, the vile abuser, the kidnapper – he is about to be cut off from ever harming or maming again. His work – the destruction of men and women, the slow and painfulkilling of cells and planets is about to be reversed – and Jesus will bring it all about. We will not mourn his passing – for the Creator of all will crush him once and for all.
Event Two: Striking up Heaven’s Band
12:10 Then 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 brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.
The other night I sat in a Jerusalem restaurant with the fire alarm going off the whole time. It was a high pitched squeal, and it was clearly out of order. The whole meal was Aaron and I having a conversation with a screeching behind us…..I about went nuts.
I cannot help but think that some of the rejoicing in Heaven is nothing more than Heaven throwing a party over the fact that the slithering, whining, irksome voice of the enemy has been silenced. Like the voice of a foul mouth co-worker that just grinds on you – he is finally barred from the office – and Heaven breaks into praise. The screeching of the baby has ended. The screaming voice of the emo band has gone silent – suddenly a sign comes up from the choir of the Heavenly host!
NOW we are finally going to see an end to this harassing of Heaven. Now we are rescued from his mouth. Now the kingdom is set to move ahead. Now the authority of the Savior is becoming seen in all Heaven and earth. The problem is that what is good for HEAVEN is bad for EARTH….
Event Three: Earth Warriors Helps Heaven’s Angels
Heaven quieted down, but earth got that much more perilous. Satan’s entry permit to Heaven was cancelled. Heaven prevailed. The shocking part is that EARTH appeared to play a role in the victory. Look at the verses:
Revelaiton 12:11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. 12 “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
We are so accustomed to the pagan notion that earth is subject to Heaven, that we forget that this is not the Bible’s position. Heaven is affected by earth as well. In 1 Corinthians, Paul argued that rebellion among women was a danger to the angels in Heaven.
1 Cor. 11:8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
Here in Revelation, the work of the witness of the believers who had lives on earth that were able to be lost because of their testimony aided Heaven’s victory. The stone of Messiah crushed the work of the enemy as Daniel 2:44-45 showed in the vision. His reign is established in the hearts of believers on the way to being established in all the earth! The martyrs and witnesses helped overthrow the wicked one’s case from Heaven’s court when they finished the job the JOB began at the time of the Patriarchs long ago!
Look at the power a believer surrendered has to affect Heavenly things! They overcame the enemy by speaking the truth and living the truth. They gave the enemy a punishing blow when they lived in integrity. They shamed him when there was no hidden areas in their lives he could use against them… they – and we – can defeat the devil because he doesn’t have anything to accuse us with. If all he can do is make things up – his power diminishes over us!
Recently I heard Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America speak at a conference about reaching people in the age of relativism. He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus. They responded, “wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble.” Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, “critical, exclusive, self righteous, narrow and repressive.””There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said. “We are the evidence! How we live our lives are the evidence. Everything counts–all the time.” “With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved,” Zander continued, “but not any more. I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for. Not something they can relate to. They are looking for a transcendent God. They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed.” (sermon central).
We have an enemy that is facing defeat, a Savior that has been proclaimed victor, and Spirit that empowers us and provides a way of escape. Why not start living like we actually ARE on victory’s side?
Event Four: Tribulation Persecutions Against Israel
Now on earth and seeing the end in sight, the enemy has but one ploy up his sleeve. He did not stop the King by death – for the King rose again. He did not corrupt the world by impregnanting the women (Genesis 5). What was left?
Revelation 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
Satan put a full court press into the persecution of Israel. What else was there? If you cannot kill the King, try to nuke the Kingdom. It would stop the future plan – and that is his end game. It has always been his end game… try to show he can defeat the Creator. Just as he tried, God provided a special and unpredicted wing of escape for the Jewish people.
Event Five: God’s Blockers Come Through
One need only be in the desert during a delue to know how dangerous water can be to a desert landscape. Satan poured our a river:
Revelation 12:15 And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.
It seems that God has more answers than Satan has questions. A problem seems to arise, and one of God’s many tools, seldom used in the past, is employed to aid His people. Not since the swalowing of men in the Genesis account was such a method used by God’s hand and recorded in Scripture.
When I was young, I recall reading about how Heaven helped the earth’s missionaries: I read of a Norwegian missionary, Marie Monsen, who served in China in the 1950s. She testified to the intervention of angels when Christians were in great danger. They had taken refuge in the mission compound only to be surrounded by looting soldiers and they were astonished to find that they were left in peace. A few days later the hostile men explained that they were ready to break down the flimsy wall when they noticed tall soldiers with shining faces on a high roof in the compound. Marie Monsen wrote, “The heathen saw them, it was a testimony to them, but they were invisible to us. (sermong central illustrations).
God isn’t limited to the size of the team we can see. His heavens will respond to His command. His earth will eat up the flood waters. He is able to wipe the place clean – but has decided to be patient with men.
Event Six: International Believers Get Pressed
Unsuccessful at annihilating Israel, the enemy moves to other believers around the world, to martyr them and torment them:
Revelation 12:17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
His rage is placed against them. The “offspring of Israel by faith” as Paul called the believers among the Gebtiles in Galatians 3:6-9, share the wrath of the enemy once reserved for the Jewish people. When the enemy can’t get what he wants, he goes after someone he doesn’t – just to wound, mame, destroy… it is his way.
The enemy KEEPS aiming his sights on God estranged bride, but God won’t let her slip away into his hand. Attacks are NOT a surprise to the Creator. God knows how to protect His people – and He never neglects His duty!
Oh, dear ones… we should see the day approaching. The clouds are gathering. It is not Iran we should fear. It is not an election that should raise our hackles. It is not the plethora of causes that should make us feel as though we are drowning… it is simply this.
We serve a risen Savior that desires us to lift high His holy name. We serve a Savior that longs for His own people to believe in His ability to conquer temptation, His power to completely clean the inner prison of self guilt, to conquer death’s sting and provide peace, power and purpose. We can follow Him, and the enemy’s ability to wound us firther will be blocked by His good hand. Can we not learn to trust Him?