Revelation 12–this Present Darkness
In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us that all the struggles, pain, wars, and tragedies are caused by more than meets the eye. He says that our struggle is not against “flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the spiritual realm.” Now in Revelation 12, the author takes us on a historical cosmic review of the big picture of what has been going on behind the scenes in the unseen spiritual realm. There are sinister forces behind all the bad goings on. There was something bigger behind all the evil empires that existed like Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. There were forces of evil behind all the ambitious ruthless world leaders who lusted for power, and tried to dominate the world. There were spiritual forces of wickedness behind the great conquerors like Nebuchadnezzer, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, and Hitler. There will also be something unseen behind the great ruthless world leader who will rise up in the end times, who is commonly known as the Antichrist. Who has always been behind all this evil– past, present, and future?
In Rev. 6-11, we have seen the future catastrophic events and terrible judgments during the end times that lead up to the end of the world. But now in chapters 12-14, we are taken back to recap historic events from the perspective of God. The author takes us back to the original rebellion of Lucifer, and then the rebellion of Israel, and then the glorious child of the virgin. The earth has been the primary theater in which the war is fought to determine the answer for that great question–Who has the right to rule? In Revelation 12, we are introduced to the main players in the cosmic struggle to decide this question. Lucifer was created as the anointed angel of God, but the highest created being became the adversary of God whose rebellion touched off a cosmic war on two fronts–the mutiny of angels, and the mutiny of human beings. What was Lucifer’s motivation? Ezekiel 28:14-16 and Isaiah 14:12-14 tell us that he had a desire to be like God and to know what God knows. The irony was that both fallen angels and humans became as much unlike God as possible. Although Satan has had access to heaven and is often there to accuse believers, the primary theater of operations is planet earth where every member of the human race faces the same choice as angels did. Most people think by ignoring the choice or choosing something else they are not a part of this, but Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, “He who is not with Me is against Me”. God has allowed His adversary a certain amount of power and freedom to carry out his schemes, but Scripture makes it clear his doom is certain and his eternal home is hell. Rev.12 pulls back the curtain that hides the transcendent spiritual realm.
The Players in the Drama
In Rev. 12:1-6, we are introduced, somewhat cryptically, to four main players–the woman (Israel), the dragon (Satan), the male child (Jesus Christ), and God Almighty. In verse 1, there was a “great sign” in heaven. The sign describes a symbol that points to a reality. It becomes obvious that since the woman has twelve stars, meaning the twelve tribes of Israel, she represents Israel, and she was “with child” meaning Jesus, and the dragon tried to devour the child by killing all the children in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:16). The Old Testament repeatedly refers to Israel as a woman, and quite often she is an adulterous unfaithful wife (Jer.3:1, Ezekiel 16:32-35, Hosea 2:2). In Rev. 12:2-4, she is clothed with the sun, which is Israel’s glory as God’s chosen nation. The “moon is under her feet”, refers to Israel’s exalted status, and the twelve stars of her crown represent the twelve tribes of Israel. She was “in labor and pain” represents the persecution by Satan from the beginning. The dragon tried to “devour” the child of the woman probably refers to King Herod the Greats efforts to kill Jesus in Matthew 2:16-18. Throughout history, the adversary of God has put his efforts into persecuting the people of God, and the genocide of Israel has always been his highest priority because they are the people through whom the Christ would come with the good news of redemption of mankind. Remember that in history Egypt, Moab, Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Nazis, and Arabs have all had a special hatred for Israel and tried to eradicate her. Do you have any doubt that Pharaoh, Haman, Herod, or Hitler were all operatives of Satan?
In Revelation 12:5-6, we read about the “male child who is to rule…and her child was caught up to God”. At the second coming Jesus will rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but until then, He has been caught up to sit at the right hand of God. The woman in verse 6 represents Israel during the “great tribulation” as was predicted by Jesus in Matthew 24:16-22. Jesus said a great persecution against Jews would erupt during the end times, and Israel would flee and hide but God would protect her during those last 1260 days (3.5 years).
War in Heaven–Rev. 12:7-12
Although Satan is already fallen and in rebellion, he still has access to heaven, and he has no idea when his time of freedom will be up. The spiritual war raging between supernatural beings will reach its peak during the tribulation. Michael and his Godly angels will have to fight the dragon and his fallen angels. In Jude 9, we are told that Michael is the archangel of God, so therefore the head fallen angel will be battling God’s head angel. The predicted result is that Satan will be permanently thrown out of heaven, and his only domain will be earth. But he is a student of prophecy so he will know that he only has three and a half years to operate and corrupt planet earth. Although the outcome off the struggle is predetermined by God, and Christ has already won the ultimate battle, the adversary will not give up. Satan will try to preserve his power and freedom as long as possible. Like men on death row who are destined to die would pay any price and do anything to just buy a few more years, Satan will be desperate. How will he try to corrupt the human race?
In fictional accounts, Satan is pictured with horns, a sinister go-tee, a tail, and a pitch fork, but the Bible says he is quite attractive and what he has to offer is appealing. Second Corinthians 11:14 says “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”, and Eph.6:11 says he is a great liar and uses brilliant schemes. Peter says he is roaming the earth “seeking someone to devour”. His battle plan is to prevent belief in Christ and corrupt all the people of God, and above all he must prevent Christ from establishing The Kingdom of God. Nevertheless, in Rev. 12:10-12 the deliverance of all creation from sin’s curse and Satan’s influence is imminent and made possible by the blood of the Lamb. How will believers overcome Satan? Will they follow all the Hollywood movies and do it with incantations, exorcisms, crosses, and magic formulas–NO, ONLY BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB OF GOD, JESUS CHRIST. Therefore Satan’s doom is guaranteed, and knowing it, he will furiously be fighting to keep it from happening while he knows he only has “a short time”.
War on Earth Against God’s People
In Revelation 12:13-17, Satan has lost the war in heaven, but now he wages war on earth against God’s people. The prophets Daniel (12:1-11), Jeremiah (30:7), Zechariah (13:8-9), Ezekiel (20:38), and even Jesus in Matthew 24, all foresaw the same scenario of unparalleled persecution and slaughter of Israel as well as all believers in Christ. John used imagery to depict Israel’s flight to desolate hilly areas to hide out where God will provide for them. The dragon’s inability to wipe out Israel will enrage him, and he will turn on “the rest of her children who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus”. This is an all inclusive phrase that means all the rest of the people who believe in Jesus will also be persecuted and martyred. This will all happen in the last 1260 days (Rev.11:3,12:6, 13:5) before Christ comes back to take over. The overall message of Rev. 12-13 put simply is “Rejoice in heaven but look out on earth”! Tough times are coming, but those who believe in Jesus will persevere and be vindicated.
P.S. This Wednesday night is Ash Wednesday at the church, so we will NOT be meeting this Wed., Feb.10, but we will reconvene the following Wed. February 17. See you then-CHARLIE