Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Revelation 12: the War in Heaven comes to earth.

Due to the nature of this material, I plan to write more than one post, and I will also put together as many YouTube videos as I need to properly cover it.

So here goes the first post:
Revelation 12:1 (NASB 1995) 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;
2 and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
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.
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.
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.
...
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.
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.
17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children (Greek, seed), who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

These verses cover an unknown number of years, and there is also lots of symbolism. Our first task is to identify the players, since these determine what the story's about:

The Woman: There are quite a few opinions as to who this is, but the simplest answer (based on the symbols and events) seems to be that this is believing Israel.
Why?
  • Because of the woman's appearance (the sun, moon and stars represent Israel, see Genesis 37:9-10 for the symbolism) (Joseph's dream had 11, but that was missing Joseph)
  • Because of what the woman does (she bears the "man-child" Jesus);  See Genesis 3:15 and Romans 9:3-5: the early Christians acknowledged that Jesus came from Israel as to the flesh, and the story of Israel begins with the Promise of the Messiah, who came from the nation, brought into existence by the Almighty.
  • Because of the 1260 days that the woman is protected from the Dragon (see preceding posts for timelines and so forth). The 1260 days represent the final 3-1/2 years of the tribulation period, which Jesus calls  "Great Tribulation--see Matthew 24:15-22. The reason that this refers to a specific place and time is found in Matthew 24:15--Jesus is speaking of a local event; notice the mention of the Temple, and fleeing from persecution in Judea.  If you read Matthew 24, you'll see that the events of Matthew 24 approximately parallel the events of Revelation 1-19, with Matthew 25 representing a judgment (my inference, from the timing) following the Great Tribulation.
So what does this mean to you and me? Well, if you're in Israel, quite a lot. Jesus prophesies that at some point in time Jerusalem and Judea will be overtaken by invaders, headed by the Dragon (we'll see more of this in Chapter 13 and following), and that everyone will have to run for their lives. The persecutions will be so overwhelming that if the Lord didn't cut them short, no life would be saved (Matthew 24:22).

Furthermore, as we move into the rest of the book, we'll see that these persecutions spread like ripples in a pond throughout the world as the Antichrist takes ever more power, and ultimately forces all believers into hiding, not only the Jewish believers in Revelation 12:14 (and following). This persecution is intense. It is also the dividing point between Christians and everyone else, as the rest of Revelation will tell us; as these persecutions increase, so do God's judgments on the earth, and many of these judgments are restricted to the people who've taken the "mark of the Beast," as we'll see later. The Dragon, whom they've chosen, cannot protect them, and God demonstrates Himself to be in ultimate control of all the forces of the universe.

The operative question at that time will be, "Who's side are you on? Do you worship the living and true God, or the Dragon?" Many people will choose the Dragon, because, as it's written elsewhere, "They received not the love of the truth [i. e. about Jesus] that they might be saved. This will be a time of complete division--good vs. evil, God vs. the devil, God's people vs. the children of the devil; there will be no room to sit on the fence and say, "Well, I am agnostic / atheist." That possibility will be denied all who believe it by the events which will take place. If you are alive then, you WILL worship someone. It's your choice as to who that will be, and that choice will be crystal clear.