27/05/18 Revelation 12:11-17 “Satan’s unsuccessful attempts to destroy Israel”
Revelation 12:11 – And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word (logos) of their testimony; and they loved (agapao) not their lives unto the death.
overcame – to conquer; win one’s case; hold fast even to death.
they = the brethren in Vs 10.
him = the accuser of the brethren (Vs 10).
“they” are the ones who overcame their accuser in this way.
by – through; with; by; by reason of; on account of; therefore.
The brethren who were constantly accused (and opposed) before God by satan overcame satan because of the imputed victory through the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony.
The devil accuses us because of our sin. It is sin that separated man from God since the fall of Adam, and it is because of that separation that satan was able to gain some measure of control over mankind. The only reason that satan cannot demand absolute control and dominion over mankind is because Christ died on the cross as our Passover Lamb, and His blood became the redemption (the buying back) of mankind from satan’s power. Without the payment of blood, satan could accuse man of every sin, and God would have to acknowledge satan’s right to accuse (and therefore gain further control and dominion over man as a result). Note that John 19:30 records Jesus as saying “It is finished!” The payment had been made in full. The wrath of God toward man’s sin had now been satisfied. (If even just one sin of any man had remained unpaid, then satan would have still had a claim of sorts on the one who committed that sin.)
It is on account of the shed blood of Christ that those who are His may stand before God without condemnation (Romans 8:1), for whenever satan accuses Christians, we have an Advocate (paraclete), Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1) who pleads our cause before holy God. (See Zechariah 3:1-5) It was sin that bound man to be enslaved to satan, and only the removal of the penalty of that sin would prevent satan from taking control of those who were justified by faith in Christ. When satan accuses us (probably quite rightly, too) of sin, it is Christ who grants us His righteousness (that is, imputed to us) such that we may come boldly into God’s presence through the blood of Jesus.
John 1:29 – The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Hebrews 10:19-20 – 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Matthew 26:28 – For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Ephesians 1:7 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
They (the brethren in Vs 10) also overcame because of their insistence on testifying according to the truth of the word of God, and because the testimony of God’s word was indeed truth and nothing else. They did not hold back on stating the whole truth of the word of God (Thy word is truth – John 17:17). Satan knows what the Bible says; he can do verbal gymnastics far better than any calvinist, even better than MacArthur! You will not win an argument with satan unless you stick 100% to the truth of the Bible. You can’t afford to add little “extras” here and there to colour up your message, but just tell it like it is – the truth and nothing else! When you speak God’s word boldly and correctly, then it will achieve the purpose that God has for it.
Isaiah 55:11 – So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.
Those brethren of Vs 10 were willing to pay any price, even to love not their lives unto the death. The spiritual battle is so often lost because satan is able to find a cost that so many Christians refuse to pay! Christians who set limits on the cost of spiritual warfare also set limits on the effectiveness of their warfare. Real victory only comes from having no limits to the cost of battle. There is no victory without a battle, and no battle without a cost. Only those who have no limits on that cost (even unto death) will see no limits on their victory.
Revelation 12:12 – Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
And such people (who set no limit on the cost of battle) cannot be defeated, even in death; with such the devil has great anger. His desire is for absolute victory over mankind in order to gain absolute dominion (or so he thinks), and when any effectively oppose him, he must destroy them or fail in his bid for total conquest. So, all those who are of heaven rejoice, for you can see the victory mounting against satan, through those martyrs who were prepared to die for their beliefs. And, woe to those who belong to earth (including the sea – island dwellers?) for the devil has only a short time in which to achieve absolute victory or be defeated. The devil has nothing to lose now; he must gain total victory or else totally fail. What has satan to lose by committing all his resources into this battle? It’s all or nothing now! And satan knows this all too well!
dwell – skenoo (dwell (among); fix one’s tabernacle; live in a tabernacle or tent)
Not those who merely are in heaven but those who tabernacle in heaven, and God tabernacles with them.
Revelation 21:3 – And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.
Satan has throughout history savagely opposed those who would dare to stand up against him. A “short time” may apply to the past 2,000 years since the crucifixion, or even to the whole of time – a mere blink of the eye on all eternity. But with 7 years (in particular, the final 3½ years before the end) of time now left to run, satan has but a very short time. The fuse is burning and when time’s up, only those who win will remain standing; if satan wishes to be standing at the end, he must make his enemies go down!
Revelation 12:13 – And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child].
And when that serpent, satan, saw that he had no further inheritance in heaven, he persecuted the woman, Israel, from whom the Messiah would be born.
In particular, during the final 7 years of Israel’s timeline, satan knows that in order to win, he has to remove the threat of Israel to his dominion of earth. Satan may be able to control to some extent most of those left on earth; however, he cannot win unless he can remove those who refuse to be controlled, God’s people. Until this time it was the Church that held satan’s rule back, but since the rapture (with the Church being snatched away from the earth), the focus has once again returned to God’s chosen nation, Israel. And with only 7 years to go (or even just 3½ years by the time Israel flees from the abomination in the holy place), satan has very little time to defeat the nation of Christ the Messiah (who would be born of that nation of Israel). That this is after the birth of Christ is suggested by the wording which seems to place the birth of the man-child in the past. That this is dealing with that final 3½ years is suggested by the following verse where the woman (Israel) flees for safety and sustaining in the wilderness for that 3½ years before the last days leading up to Armageddon and the second coming of Christ.
If this is before the birth of Christ, then the persecuting of Israel can be seen as an effort to destroy that nation before the man-child could be born. It could also refer to that time after the ascension of Jesus, a less than 40-year period of turmoil ending with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD.
But, as seems more likely, if this refers in particular to the final tribulation 7-year period (that last week of years as per Daniel 9:24-27), then this persecution may be seen as satan’s last chance to salvage some sort of victory: if he can’t actually stop the Messiah from returning, then at least he can try to destroy the nation that brought satan down in defeat through Christ on the cross. If satan can’t have heaven, then at least he has to make every effort to have earth, if at all possible! All he has to do (he thinks) is destroy all opposition on earth, that is, have dominion over all on earth, and perhaps he might just come out of it with a victory of some sort.
Israel in Egypt was persecuted because of satan’s desire to have control of God’s special nation, and God rescued them through Moses. In today’s passage God’s special nation, Israel, is rescued from the domination of satan again. God has said that one day He will be Israel’s God and they will be His people, and nothing can change that, not even satan can influence God’s will here, ever.
Revelation 12:14 – And to the woman were given (the) two wings of a (the) 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.
But satan’s final efforts to destroy Israel are to come to nothing, for in that 3½ years when satan has some hopes of destroying Israel, that nation is taken away and hidden from satan. For that final 3½ years, while satan has control of Jerusalem through his antichrist, all he can tackle are those 2 witnesses, and nothing permits him to get near them for that time. Israel, as the people who God still calls His people, will soon desire God to be their God; the remnant will return and give glory to God as per Revelation 11:13. That 3½ years of rule of Jerusalem will be an anticlimax, a hollow victory, empty of any glory, for where is the enemy that he has to defeat? Israel is being sustained (see Revelation 12:6) in the desert by her God, hidden from sight, kept from the face of that serpent, satan. That is, satan just won’t have any idea where Israel will be, for God will keep that information from being visible to (kept from the face of) satan.
Some have suggested that the 2 wings of a great eagle represents USA who might fly them out of Israel to a place in the desert, possibly Petra or similar (Cambridge suggests Pella in Jordan). Gill though says that the 2 wings represent the eastern and western divisions of the Roman empire because the eagle is the symbol of Rome. Pulpit Commentary says "The two wings" may typify the Old and New Testaments, by the authority of which the Church convicts her adversaries, and by which she is supported during her period of conflict with the devil. Jamieson says proving that the Old Testament Church, as well as the New Testament Church, is included in "the woman." Barnes say the sense is, that the church, when exposed to this form of persecution, would be protected as if miraculously supplied with wings.
But, it is most logical to interpret the woman as literal Israel and that God will by some (probably miraculous) means arrange for Israel to be kept safe in the wilderness.
Revelation 12:15 – And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
A flood suggests that in spite of satan not being able to effectively oppose Israel during this time, he still puts out a flood of warfare, opposition, soldiers etc to seek and destroy that which he desperately wants to be rid of. He can’t find Israel, but yet he still puts great effort into the search = a flood of seeking?
In the Old Testament a huge army could be described as coming like a flood.
Jeremiah 46:7-8; 47:2-3 – 7 Who [is] this [that] cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers? 8 Egypt riseth up like a flood, and [his] waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, [and] will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.
Or a prophecy concerning the Philistines:
Jeremiah 47:2-3 – 2 Thus saith the Lord; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl. 3 At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong [horses], at the rushing of his chariots, [and at] the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to [their] children for feebleness of hands;
And the army of the king of Assyria is pictured as a flood
Isaiah 8:7-8 – 7 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 he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: 8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach [even] to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
It is clearly a matter of great importance that satan has to find and destroy Israel. Therefore, he will send forth huge resources (manpower and equipment etc) in a desperate effort to destroy that which must be destroyed if satan is to have any hope of winning anything in these last 7 years. However, Isaiah also says that when the enemy does come in like a flood, God will lift up His standard (of battle) against the enemy and then a Redeemer shall come to Zion. Satan just will not win – he cannot!
Isaiah 59:19-21 – 19 So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. 21 As for me, this [is] my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that [is] upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.
Revelation 12:16 – And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
That flood (clearly of manpower and equipment including weaponry) sent by satan to find and destroy Israel will be dealt with by God. The earth opening her mouth clearly depicts an act (or series of acts) of nature such as earthquake, cyclone, flood, fire – events which insurance companies generally describe as acts of God (that is, those events which they excuse themselves from having responsibility for). Satan’s “flood” will be dealt with by “acts of God” such that satan is unable to get to Israel and thus cannot destroy her. (Note the earth opening up in Numbers 16:30-32.)
The earth helped the woman by getting rid of the flood which satan sent after Israel. That is, all those who were ordered to find and destroy Israel were destroyed because of their efforts to find God’s people. God continued to hide His people, Israel, from the enemy, and destroyed all those who actively sought His people.
Revelation 12:17 – And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
went – to go away; depart. The devil departed (went away) to make war with those of God’s people who still remained within his reach.
the remnant of her seed – It is apparent that either not all Israel was able to flee to the wilderness, or this remnant are those of God’s people who were not in that mass exodus of Israel into the wilderness and may not actually be considered to be Israel.
Possibly a remnant of Israel was still around for the antichrist to take out all his frustrations on those who dared remain obedient to God and continued to testify of their salvation in Jesus Christ. Or else these could be those who have been saved by the witnessing of the 144,000 sealed of Israel, yet not of Israel themselves. That is, if satan cannot have Israel, then he’ll take out his anger on those who have sided with Israel, probably those who are believers yet may not be of the physical seed of Israel.
In Revelation 12, the woman is the physical Israel, because the spiritual Israel (which Paul discussed in Romans) were those who believed, not necessarily those who were physically born of Israel. But in today’s passage the Messiah could have come physically from only one nation. He was born physically of Israel, and so the woman can only be identified as the physical ancestor of Christ, not a spiritual ancestor! But is this remnant of her seed a physical or spiritual seed? However, the point is that the antichrist will take out his frustrations on those of God’s people still remaining within his grasp.
It is obvious that those of this remnant, which satan is able to make war with, will face martyrdom if caught; John’s vision also included those who had been martyred (especially those during the tribulation) and now in heaven.
Revelation 6:10-11 – 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.
When reading so many of the allegedly acceptable commentaries, it is difficult to see why they go to great lengths to explain how it is the Church that is going through the tribulation, and that, while this period is measured in days, months or years, somehow they have to translate this into other measurements such as a day equalling a year, and so on. (The 3½ days the 2 witnesses lie in the streets of Jerusalem is a problem for them, though; likewise, 42 months as per Revelation 11:2.) In general, these commentaries come up with events that have occurred since the crucifixion and ascension, but rarely agree with one another as to what is actually meant. All must be explained by either symbolism, or Israel meaning the Church, and only occasionally do they teach something as a reasonably literal event.
What also must be noted is that all these commentaries (that use allegory and symbolism to explain Revelation) are either calvinist or have strong calvinist leanings or sympathies. Their doctrines must assume that Israel must mean the Church. (Even MacArthur, while seemingly on Israel’s side, also declares himself to be a “leaky dispensationalist”.) Anything that opposes Calvin’s allegedly perfect interpretations must be rewritten so that it is in support of Calvin’s teachings.
Which brings us to another point: while calvinists so often reword or twist verses to come into line with their calvinist doctrines, they do not (to my knowledge) ever try to disprove the traditional interpretations held by genuine fundamentalists. MacArthur, in his “Portrait of false teachers Pt 2” says of 2 Peter 2:1 (But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.) that you could view it in the traditional way as meaning the redemption of all sinners, or you could understand it as MacArthur no doubt would like all people to understand it.
And how does MacArthur understand it? “But I think there is a second sense in which we have to understand this, that they have made an earthly identification with Christ's redemption so that they claim Him as the one who bought them and they claim Him as their Redeemer, testifying that He indeed has bought them and their word then is taken at face value. No matter what they say, though they say they are Christ's, they refuse to say yes to His sovereign lordship and thus they are false teachers.”
That is, MacArthur acknowledges that while being bought by the Lord could mean having their sins paid for on the cross, in fact he thinks (“thinks”, mind you!) that they weren’t actually bought but just claimed that they had been bought when they hadn’t really been bought! But does the verse actually say this? No! Can MacArthur actually prove the traditional view to be wrong? No! (He admits it could be right, but then “thinks” he is more correct! So when is the last time you noticed a calvinist teacher actually prove (or even attempt to prove) that the traditional fundamentalist view was wrong? Has any calvinist ever set out to prove that “the whole world” in 1 John 2:2 cannot mean all the world without exception? They never actually prove the other view wrong! They just present their view as the only view. They cannot prove the truth to be lies, but instead replace the truth with their lies, yet the truth still remains. Think about it!