|Satan Evicted: Revelation 12|
The cosmic battle of the ages...
Placement within the Primary Narrative
Some biblical scholars believe that the events within book of Revelation follow a purely chronological sequence – the events occur within the order that they are described within John’s vision. This view is in error as the birth of Jesus Christ is described in Revelation 12:5 long before John ever received his vision. A purely chronological framework simply is not feasible.
However, God is not a God of confusion and any deviation within John’s primary narrative must be justified. In this case, the narrative break is readily apparent and indicates that the events within Chapters 12, 13, and 14 occur outside the primary narrative:
The Open Tabernacle
At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the heavenly temple of God is opened and the ark of his covenant becomes visible within his temple:
Revelation 11:19: And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (KJV)
The interludes of Chapters 12, 13, and 14 then occur describing (a) the woman, dragon, and war in heaven, (b) the two beasts, (c) the song of the 144,000, and (d) the three angels with three messages
John’s primary narrative then resumes at the beginning of Chapter 15 with the final plagues originating from an open heaven and temple:
Revelation 15:5: And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened… (KJV)
The content of the actual text indicates a break within the narrative. In Revelation 12:1, John is distracted from the primary action by a great and wondrous sign in the heaven:
Revelation 12:1: And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. (KJV)
The primary narrative is once again resumed by a similar distraction calling John’s attention back to the events occurring within the primary narrative:
Revelation 15:1: And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. (KJV)
With Chapter 12, there are several events that chronologically occur long before John was ever shown his vision, namely:
Revelation 12:5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne. (KJV)
Justification Of The Seven Plagues
Christians tend to view God as a loving God, but his Old Testament qualities remain. God remains a jealous and wrathful God, and the scritpure provides ample justification for and warnings to avoid that wrath.
The sounding of the seventh trumpet calls forth God’s wrath in the form of the seven final vials. However, God will provide several warnings that manking can avoid this horrendous time period: the breaking of the first four seals (Revelation 6:1-7), the three angels with the three messages (Revelation 14:6-13), the rapture of the Christian saints (Revelation 6-12-17), the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1-13), and the sounding of the first six trumpets (Revelation8:7-9:21).
Revelation Chapters 12 and 13 provide justification for the wrath that will begin to be poured upon the earth in Chapter 15. Chapter 12 specifically indicts Satan, the devil, the great accuser and deceiver of mankind while Chapter 13 specifically indicts the Antichrist, false prophet, and those individuals who chose to walk in darkness, deception, and wickedness. (In Chapter 14, the three angels with the three messages provide warning of the wrath to come.)
God places the scene of the woman, the child, and the dragon in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation to justify his outpouring of wrath in Chapter 15. I place it at the beginning of my narrative because the primary events took place at the beginning of the current age – they were a part of the transition between the Mosaic Age and the Church Age. They also reflect the long term struggle between the forces of good (God, Jesus Christ, and Christians) against the forces of evil (Satan, the Antichrist, and the children of deception).
Prominent Actors within the Scene
The scene presented in Revelation 12:1-7 introduce five prominent actors, individuals who participate in or become targets of the actions within the chapter. Thus, our first job is to identify each of these actors:
Revelation 12:1-2: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
The woman represents Old Testament, national Israel who ceased to exist as a unified, identifiable entity in 70 AD following the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the second Temple. Although her people have been scattered (hidden) throughout the nations, God will regather a remnant during the transition between the current and next age.
ALLUSION: Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9. In this dream, Joseph dreamed that the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed low to him. Upon telling his dream to his father Jacob (37:10), his father responded, “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” The moon represents Rachel, Jacob’s wife; the sun represents Jacob, Israel, and the eleven stars represent the eleven patriarchs of the tribes of Israel with Joseph composing the twelfth.
Among the differing eschatological systems, the woman is believed to represent someone other than the nation of Israel. While each viewpoint demonstrates some merit, their overall arguments are flawed:
Genesis 3:15: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
This claim asserts that Revelation 12 represents the struggle between the dragon, the serpent, and Jesus Christ, the “promised” seed of Eve. Once Jesus ascends to heaven, the struggle is between Satan, the god of this world, and Eve’s remnant seed, redeeemed Christian.
While Eve most certainly is the mother of the “promised” seed, the Messiah, and a prototype of Israel, Eve within biblical literature is not viewed as an entity that embodies a unified group, such as Israel or the Church. What identifiable group was persecuted following ascension of Jesus Christ?
Should these alternative views be rejected outright? I don’t believe they should. Each has an element of truth and each adds a flavor to our overall understanding. When we close our minds to alternative viewpoints, we stop listening… and that can have dangerous results.
The Male Child of the Woman
Revelation 12:5: she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
The male child is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father, who came in the flesh in order to redeem mankind and the earth from human disobedience. He will return as a conquering king at the end of this age and physically rule the nations from Jerusalem.
The male child is Jesus Christ as indicated by the attributes of ruling all nations with an iron rod:
Revelation 2:27-28: They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star! (NLT)
Revelation 19:15: From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. (NLT)
Psalm 2:8-9: Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. (NLT)
The second portion of the verse “her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne” adds further to the identification of the child as Jesus Christ:
Luke 22:69: But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.” (NLT)
Acts 7:55: But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Jesus Christ has only a secondary role within this scene, and his role as ruler of all nations, “king of kings,” will not be fully realized until his Second Advent (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:16).
There seems to be little debate among biblical scholars as to the identity of the male child.
THE MALE CHILD REPRESENTS THE CHURCH: There are some who contend that the male child is the Body of Christ, the church, and the “catching up” of the male child represents the rapture of the church.2 Revelation 2:27-28, seems to be somewhat supportive of this view as the Church will also rule the nations with an iron rod. Additionally, the term used for the catching up – harpazó – is similar to that used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. However, since the Church is the Bride of Christ, representing her as a male child would result in a confusing, mixed metaphor. The use of harpazó in both passages tends to be a simple reflection of Acts 1:9-11 – Christ will return in the same manner he ascended.
Revelation 12:3: a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads
Revelation 12:9: that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world
The red dragon represents Satan. A former archangel who sought to lift his throne above God’s and ultimately drew one-third of the heavenly host of angels into rebellion. After his fall, Satan assumed the role of accuser and deceiver of mankind and is the personification of evil.
Verse 9 clearly identifies the dragon as the Devil, otherwise known as Satan, and labels him as the deceiver of the whole world. Verse 10 also describes him as the accuser of our brothers and sisters – the voice providing the description is not identified but is assumed to be Christians whose souls are in heaven.
The dragon is said to have seven heads, seven diadem crowns, and ten horns:
The best we can do at this time is to speculate as to the nature and locations of the kings and kingdoms represented by the heads, crowns, and horns… and we are treading on dangerous ground,I believe, if we establish any specific speculation in concrete. All Christians should be familiar with the symbolic nature of the heads, crowns, and horns so that they may properly identify the Antichrist if he aassumes authority during their lifetime.
There is a special distinction between the huge red dragon and the beast from the sea who is granted ruling authority from the dragon. The dragon, Revelation 12:3, has only seven diadem crowns while the beast from the sea has ten, Revelation 13:1. In my view, the difference is the result of a time difference between each appearance. The dragon first appears in Revelation 12 before the birth of Christ in 3 BC; he has seven diadem crowns at that time. The beast from the sea first appears in Revelation 13 at some point yet in the future, after 2011; within that two-thousand year time span, the dragon may have earned three additional diadem crowns. This view, of course, is purely speculative and should be treated as such.
See “Topics for Analysis: Who is Satan” for greater detail on Satan’s traits, origins, and purpose.
Revelation 12:7: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon
Michael is one of the three original archangels who commanded one-third of the heavenly host of angels. Gabriel and Lucifer were the other archangel. Lucifer, known as Satan after his rebellion, commands the angels (one-third) who joined in his rebellion and currently reside either on or under the earth.
Mortal humans have only a very small glimpse of the spiritual world that exists outside our five physical senses, and this is especially true concerning the role and workings of angels. As God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, he most certainly doesn’t need angels to inform him of what events are occurring nor would he need an angel to perform a specific task – he could simply will it into existence. Yet, we see angels reporting to God about conditions here on earth (Job 1:6-7), carrying messages to mankind (Luke 1:30), struggling with earthly forces (Daniel 10:20), and performing chores about the earth (1 Chronicles 21:15).
I know that when I was in a horrific motor vehicle accident several years ago, an angel released my seatbelt preventing me from being crushed when the engine block breached the cab of my truck. I believe that angels look over and protect us. But, I also know virtually everything written about angels is speculative and based of sources outside of the Bible. Considering that Satan was once a beautiful covering angel, we should be very cautious when considering the topic:
2 Corinthians 11:14: But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (NLT)
There are only a few, specific scriptural references to Michael the archangel:
Jude 1:9: But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses' body.) (NLT)
Revelation 12:7: Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. (NLT)
Daniel 10:13: But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. (NLT)
Daniel 10:21: Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one helps me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince. (NLT)
Daniel 12:1: “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. (NLT)
According to rabbinic Jewish tradition, Michael performs the role of a protector and advocate of Israel:
One of the archangels one of the chief princes (Dan. x. 13), who is also represented as the tutelary prince of Israel (ib. x. 21, xii. 1). The signification of the name (= "Who islike El"?) was recognized by the Talmudists…
Michael is specially designated in early Jewish writings and very frequently in the Book of Enoch as "the prince of Israel," and in later Jewish writings, particularly in cabalistic works, as "the advocate of the Jews."3
Regardless of the exact nature and role of Michael, archangels, and angels in general, they have sufficient strength to succeed in their task of forcing Satan out of heaven.
Jesus Christ’s Role as Michael the Archangel
Within any hierarchical structure be it military, business, or government, subordinates act in the name and on the behalf of their superior. Such, I believe, is the case with Michael and Jesus Christ – they share attributes, but Michael is a subordinate to the “Commander in Chief” – Jesus Christ.
Michael is a created archangel, a messenger of God, and the protector of the nation of Israel. He, along with Gabriel and formerly Lucifer, are (were) “commanders” of one-third of the heavenly host of angels. All three, until Lucifer’s fall, were “covering” angels who “stood in the presence of God” (Ezekiel 28:14, Ezekiel 28:16, Luke 1:19). Jesus Christ is not an angel, not even the chief among angels; this is laid out clearly in Hebrews, Chapters 1 and 2.
In fact, I’m sure that Satan takes great pleasure when humans place Christ and Satan on the same level… I’m sure that is a key element in his grand strategy – minimize the stature of Jesus Christ’s stature and increase his own… this is part of the great deception.
The Remnant of the Woman’s Seed
Revelation 12:17: the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The remnant seed represents the redeemed Christian during the entire Church age. An apostasy of the faithful, a falling away, will occur at the end of this age and the remnant of overcoming Christians will be subject to the persecution of Satan and his evil legions.
The term “remnant” is generally associated with Israel and the few who will be regathered at the end of the age (Revelation 7:1-8):
Micah 2:12: I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people. (NIV)
However, this verse specifically mentions those who hold to “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Why refer to Christians as a remnant? The focus of the passage is on the woman, her travails, her persecution, and her flight into the wilderness. The remnant is what is left behind after she flees. This is consistent with the word remnant: loipos: the rest, the remaining, the others.5 Unlike when used with Israel, the term remnant does not necessarily infer a small portion of the original… The “remnant of her seed” specifically refers to redeemed Christians.
Is labeling Christians the seed of Israel consistent with biblical scripture? Yes.
Galatians 3:29: And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV)
Romans 9:8: In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. (NIV)
Does Satan make war on the Christian believers? Yes.
Ephesians 6:11: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (KJV)
1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (KJV)
Some believe that “keep the commandments of God” implies that the remnant has a Jewish in nature; however, within the book of Revelation, the phrase specifically targets the Christian listener:
Revelation 14:12: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (KJV)
Revelation 22:14: Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (KJV)
Several commentaries, e.g. Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, and Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, assert that the woman is the Christian Church; therefore, they tend to struggle to explain the remnant of her seed. Most assert that the remnant indicates the scattered church or the individually persecuted Christian; however, such designations seem rather arbitrary and inconsistent with the narrative.
Individual Events within the Scene
Many premillennialism scholars assert that the primary events within this passage occur at the end of this age during the great tribulation. Such a view, unfortunately, tends to ignore a plain reading and “spiritualizes” the passage ultimately missing the primary message… Satan role as man’s accuser before the throne of God ended with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Might the passage serve a dual role, one describing the events after the resurrection and another describing the events at the end of this age? Possibly. The passage describes the woman fleeing into the wilderness twice, once for 1,260 days and once for three and one-half years. Repetition within a literary work is frequently used for emphasis, e.g. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” However, I don’t believe that is the case here, and it particular use in this passage deserves a closer examination.
The Woman in Labor About To Give Birth
Revelation 12:2: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (KJV)
The woman’s labor pains represent both the long and short-term troubles of the nation of Israel prior to the first arrival of Jesus Christ. It is the long-term travails that demonstrate a need for a Savior, the Messiah. The short-term travails results in the rejection and sacrifice of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Israel, after its regathering during the transition from the current to the next age, will once again suffer the travails of child birth as it struggles against Satan and his legions prior to the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
Israel experienced a number of travails prior to the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The following chart reflects a few of Israel’s troubles:
The chart does not include many other troubles including the stiff-nakedness of Israel during their exodus from Egypt, the personal tragedies of King Saul and David, the rejection of God resulting in the destruction of the Israel by Assyria, and the carrying off of the Judah into the Babylonian Captivity. During the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, Israel was suffering a form of spiritual apostasy (a departure from the faith) – probably much like the described of the Sardis Church:
Revelation 3:1-3: I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (NIV)
Matthew, Chapter 23, describes the many attributes of the apostasy of the Jewish authority during Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry:
Matthew 23:23-24: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (NIV)
Will a similar apostasy occur among the Christian Church at the end of the current age? Yes.
2 Thessalonians 2:3: Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. (NASB)
1 Timothy 4:1: But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. (NASB)
In fact, the Olivet Discourse, a dual occurrence prophecy, uses similar wording, labor pains, to describe the transition from the Mosaic Age to the Church Age and then from the Church Age to the Millennial Reign:
Matthew 24:7-8: For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (NASB)
Mark 13:8: For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (NASB)
How then should we apply this passage? When we consider the history of Israel, we wonder how God’s chosen people could repeatedly and consistently turn away from God. But, we seldom consider that the Christian Church suffers from a similar plight. In ancient Israel, God dwelt among his people within an earthly tabernacle, but Christians have something far greater – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Yet, the tragedy of Israel tends to pale in comparison with the atrocities committed in the name of Christ.
During the last transition between ages, Israel suffered for her sins by having her temple destroyed, her country dissolved, and her people scattered throughout the nations:
from “Oh Jerusalem,Thou that Killeth the Prophets”7
By 70 A.D., Jerusalem and Judea were left desolate, most of the people either killed or being held in captivity, or had become refugees fleeing to remote lands. All that remained in Israel was the defiant little garrison atop the mount at Masada, a fortress complex south of the Dead Sea, which was built by Herod the Great. Thus when the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 the period of the second exile began. (Diaspora) The Jewish people were soon to be scattered throughout the earth. For the next 1900 years the Jews would have no authority in the land God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I suspect that during the next transition between ages, from the current Church Age to the Millennial Reign, the world will experience a similar “travailing in birth” and that the Christian Church will not go unscathed. Yet, like Israel, the woman within this passage, God will not permit an absolute and total annihilation of those who remain faithful to the testimony of Jesus Christ:
Revelation 13:7: It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. (NASB)
Revelation 14:12: Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (NASB)
Revelation 3:10-11: Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (NASB)
The Dragon Swept 1/3 of the Stars from the Sky
Revelation 12:4: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth
The stars represent one-third of the heavenly host of angels who joined Lucifer in his rebellion against God. This event occurred before the creation of Adam and Eve. The fallen angels who sinned with mankind prior to the Great Flood currently reside in the abyss symbolically located within the bowels of earth. The other fallen angels currently reside on earth in the form of demons.
Symbolism: Stars of Heaven
The Waiting To Devour the Child When It Is Born
Revelation 12:4: the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
This event specifically represents Satan’s use of King Herod who attempted to destroy the infant Jesus during the Massacre of the Innocents.
Some scholars list a long litany of strategies that Satan employed to prevent the Messiah from ever being born. While interesting, I believe that those correlations go beyond the passage. A plain reading tends to point to King Herod’s fear that Jesus’ birth as the king of the Jews represented a threat to Herod’s throne:
Matthew 2:1-4: Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” (NLT)
In an attempt to safeguard his throne, Herod had all the male children less than two years of age killed:
Matthew 2:16: Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. (NLT)
Jesus escaped this incident of infanticide by escaping to Egypt:
Matthew 2:13-15: After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.
Revelation 12:5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.
The male child is Jesus Christ who is destined to rule the world from David’s throne physically located in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ’s first coming was not to establish an earthly, messianic kingdom but to preach the Gospel, to reject Satan’s temptation, to live a obedient, holy life as a human being, to suffer at the hands of mankind, to assume the penalty of death for mankind’s disobedience, and to overcome death through his resurrection. Christ, after his ascension, did not assume David’s throne but rather took the position at the right hand of God.
Rule All Nations with a Rod of Iron
The Harpazó of Jesus Christ
The Woman Flees into the Wilderness for 1,260 Days
Revelation 12:6: And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Revelation 12:14: And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
The primary event of this prophecy took place in two primary installments: (1) a spiritual flight immediately following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ in c. 33 AD and (2) a physical flight following the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD when the nation of Israel was dissolved as a national, political, cultural, and religious identity and scattered (diaspora) among various Gentile nations. Although humans view Jews as individuals within a specific religious sect, God readily identifies the “true” Jew including their specific tribal root, e.g. Dan, Judah, etc.
As a secondary event, this event is tied to the “time of the end” through the parallel use of 1,260 days and three and one-half years. This parallelism indicates the scene serves a dual role with that secondary role being discussed within other relevant sections of this study.
FLED: pheugó: to flee, escape, shun.17
WILDERNESS: erémos: properly, an uncultivated, unpopulated place; a desolate (deserted) area; (figuratively) a barren, solitary place that also provides needed quiet.18
ALLUSION: Possibly to Matthew 2:13 where Joseph fled into Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus to escape King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocent:
Matthew 2:13: After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (NLT)
ALLUSION: Possibly to the temptation of Jesus after his fasting in the wilderness:
Luke 4:1-2: Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
Mark 1:12-13: The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
ALLUSION: Possibly to Leviticus 26:14-17 and Luke 21:21-22 in response to their rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah:
Leviticus 26:14-17: However, if you do not listen to me or obey all these commands, and if you break my covenant by rejecting my decrees, treating my regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey my commands, I will punish you. I will bring sudden terrors upon you—wasting diseases and burning fevers that will cause your eyes to fail and your life to ebb away. You will plant your crops in vain because your enemies will eat them. I will turn against you, and you will be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you, and you will run even when no one is chasing you! (NLT)
Luke 21:21-22: Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. For those will be days of God's vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.
ALLUSION: Possibly to Israel’s wondering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt:
Numbers 14:33-34: “And your children will be like shepherds, wandering in the wilderness for forty years. In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness. Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.” (NLT)
The wilderness tends to be indicative of the need for one or more of four things:
The first occurrence of the woman fleeing is placed immediately after the ascension of Jesus Christ and immediately prior to the battle in heaven between Michael and Satan. This placement indicates that the first fleeing seems associated with the Jewish rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and invokes Leviticus 26:14-17. Israel found themselves in a spiritual wilderness deserving divine punishment as well as a need for cleansing from the wicked and adulterous generation of hypocrites, fools, blind guides, snakes, and vipers (Matthew 12:39, 23:13-36).
The second occurrence of the woman fleeing is placed immediately after the battle in heaven between Michael and Satan. This placement seems to indicate that the second fleeing is associated with the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the second temple in 70 AD and results in the dissolution of the national, political body of Israel. The Jews, a people without a nation, are scattered throughout the Gentile nations and, thus, experience a political wilderness.
Revelation 12:6 and 12:14 both mention nourishing the woman for 1,260 days (3 ½ years) and seems to be more of a protective nature than punishment. However, this is consistent with Israel’s trek in the wilderness following their exodus from Egypt:
Exodus 16:35: So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
Hebrews 3:8-11: …don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’
As in their 40 year trek in the wilderness, Israel is currently being divinely sustained in the wilderness for 1,260 prophetic days:
Does the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 indicate that the regathering has begun? Possibly, but without a tabernacle or temple, their biblical relevance is difficult to determine. This scene provides no clues of a regathering and the topic will be discussed elsewhere.
Revelation 12:7-9: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry – his resistance to Satan’s temptation, his spotless, obedient life as a human being, his mocking and scourging at the hands of Roman soldiers, his physical suffering upon the cross, his separation from God upon the cross, and his sacrificial death upon – removed the “blight” upon mankind. Satan no longer had justification to stand before the throne of God as man’s accuser, and he was thrown out of heaven to earth. This event took place immediately after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
WAR IN HEAVEN: The commentaries on this verse are quite interesting ranging from Satan’s forces consisting of two Roman legions to the struggle between good and evil in the sky. The meaning is far simpler and was foreshadowed when the seventy-two disciples returned and reported that even the demons obeyed them:
Luke 10:18: “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!” (NLT)
NEITHER WAS THEIR PLACE FOUND ANY MORE IN HEAVEN: Within the Old Testament, Satan went before the throne of God to accuse mankind (Job 1:6, Job 2:1, Zechariah 3:1, Psalm 109:6, Revelation 12:10).
Job 1:6: One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. (NLT)
Zechariah 3:1: Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel's right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. (NLT)
The accusation? Disobedience… that human beings are incapable of being obedient to God’s will.
Romans 5:18: “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (NLT)
However, Christ’s earthly ministry corrected that ill:
Matthew 27:46: At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (NLT)
The “blight” on mankind was lifted and Satan’s accusations before the throne were no longer valid:
Romans 5:19: Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (NLT)
Satan’s presence in heaven no longer served a purpose so he was evicted from heaven. He was thrown to the earth, and there he remains the “god of this world” to those who continue in disobedience to God.
John 12:31-32: The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. (NLT)
MICHAEL AND HIS ANGELS: Some believe that Michael, the archangel, is the warrior side of Jesus Christ – that they are one in the same. However, this belief is a deception from the devil:
Satan would like nothing better than for mankind to believe that he is the equivalent of Jesus Christ and possesses the power and ability to resist all of creation. Assuming that only Jesus Christ has the ability to expel Satan from heaven gives far too much credit to Satan. He is merely a created angel and it is beneath Christ’s station directly deal with this “minor” task.
We should, however, be careful not to underestimate Satan’s authority or capabilities:
2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV)
Jude 1:9: But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (NIV)
If we assume that there were originally three archangels, Michael, Gabriel (Luke 1:19), and Satan (Lucifer – Isaiah 14:12) and if we assume that each commanded one-third of the heavenly host of angels (Revelation 12:4), then the cosmic battle of Revelation 12:7-9 involved two-thirds of all angels (Michael’s one-third and Satan’s one-third). This was quit a struggle. However, the importance of the event was not sufficient to require the direct intervention of God the Father or Jesus Christ the Son.
This was a battle between angels and demonstrates the established hierarchy within creation – Satan is a created being; his authority and capabilities are sharply limited.
TIMING: There is disagreement among scholars as when this war in heaven actually occurred:
Additionally, placement after Jesus Christ’s ascension within the scene tends to indicate that the war occurred sometime after that event.
Placement after the first mention of the woman’s fleeing into the wilderness for 1,260 days may also indicate that the war takes place sometime after the completion of those 1,260 prophetic days.
Revelation 12:12 also seems to bolster this view. The verse indicates that Satan knows his time is short and tends to contradict placing the war immediately following Christ’s ascension – nearly 2,000 years can hardly be defined as a “little time.” Additionally, the events of the “time of the end” – the works of the Antichrist and false prophet – seem to be the personification of Satan’s “great wrath.”
I tend to believe that this war in heaven took place long in the past, immediately following Jesus Christ’s ascension. Narrative placement, immediately following the description of Jesus Christ’s ascension, indicates that Satan’s role as accuser of the brethren has been rendered moot. This view is further bolstered by verse 12:10 which seems to indicates that redemption follows the casting down:
Revelation 12:10: … Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down… (KJV)
While Revelation 12:12 clearly indicates that Satan only has a short time remaining, we need to remember that only God the Father knows the time of the end (Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36) and a sense of imminence in an inherent theme within the book of Revelation (1:3, 22:6). I’m sure Satan has prepped many an Antichrist and false prophet over the millennia in preparation for the time that God removes his restraints (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
1 “Woman of the Apocalypse,” Wikipedia, Sep. 23, 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_of_the_Apocalypse> Nov. 25, 2011.
2 Michael J. Svigel, “The Timing of the Rapture in Revelation 12:5: A Sequel (Part 1),” RetroChristianity, June 8, 2007. <http://svigel.blogspot.com/2007/06/timing-of-rapture-in-revelation-125_08.html> Nov. 25, 2011.
3 Joseph Jacobs, M. Seligsohn, Mary W. Montgomery, "MICHAEL," JewishEncyclopedia.com, 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10779-michael#1833> Nov. 25, 2011.
4 “Who Is Michael the Archangel?” Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 2009. <http://www.watchtower.org/e/bh/appendix_11.htm#fnt1> Nov. 25, 2011.
5 “loipos,” Strong’s Concordance, Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/3062.htm> Nov. 28, 2011.
6 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Introduction to Chapter 12,” Truthnet.org. ND. <http://www.truthnet.org/christianity/revelation/revelation12/> Nov. 25, 2011.
7 Darrell G. Young, “Oh Jerusalem, Thou that Killeth the Prophets,” Focus on Jerusalem, Vol. 68, Issue I, Feb. 2004 <http://focusonjerusalem.com/thefallofjerusalem.html> Nov. 29, 2011.
8 See Topics for Analysis: Olivet Discourse: The Rapture?
9 “tsaba,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblios.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/hebrew/6635.htm> Dec. 1, 2011.
10 “kokab,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblios.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/hebrew/3555.htm> Dec. 1, 2011.
11 Sid Litke, “Survey of Bible Doctrine: Angels, Satan, Demons,” bible.org. ND. ” <http://bible.org/seriespage/survey-bible-doctrine-angels-satan-demons> Dec. 3, 2011
12 Bryan T. Huie, “FALLEN ANGELS AND DEMONS,” Here a little, there a little. Oct. 5, 2011. <http://www.herealittletherealittle.net/index.cfm?page_name=Demons> Dec. 4, 2010.
13 Rick Reinckens, “SATAN—THE DEVIL, AND DEMONS— THE FALLEN ANGEL,” God On The Net, 2011. <http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/satan.htm> Dec. 3, 2011.
14 “exousia,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/greek/1849.htm> Dec. 4, 2011.
15 “harpazó,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/greek/726.htm> Dec. 5, 2011.
16 “726 harpázō,” HELPS Word Study: Helps Ministries, 2011 <http://concordances.org/greek/726.htm> Dec. 5, 2011.
17 “5343. Pheugó,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com. ND. < http://concordances.org/greek/5343.htm> Dec. 7, 2011
18 "2048 érēmos,” HELPSWord Studies, Helps Ministries, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/2048.htm> Nov. 15, 2011
With all glory, honor, and praise to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit...
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