Would you consider me a cheater if I told you I have been reading ahead. This is such an exciting time we live in. Just this morning, 02/17/2013, I read that a top Iranian military official attended the nuclear test in North Korea. You might wonder how this plays into anything. What we do know from scripture is that in the short future armies will amass against Israel. God will step into that fight and rain torrential floods upon the enemies of Israel, but he will also rain fire and brimstone, just like Sodom and Gomorrah. There is the possibility that this war will have a nuclear aspect to it for Ezekiel 38, 39 describe a scene in which people mark bodies for future disposal and normal burial teams are instructed not to touch them. Go figure!
“ For this reason, rejoice,”
"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."
(Revelation 12:12 NASB)
We seem to think that the beginnings of the earth are tumultuous, almost as though they were filled with a rage. The statements made in Genesis 1 about the formation are difficult to argue at best.
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2 NASB)
But at some point God called it all good. It appears that God's handiwork really kicks in a verse later.
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. (Genesis 1:3 NASB)
Here is my point. If I base my ideas of creation on some science fiction movie I could be off by 180 degrees. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that what God made was perfect and something happened to it. It could be that the something was Satan crashing violently into the earth, for Jesus told us that he saw him get thrown out. And we know he was in the garden at some point with the express purpose of deceiving Eve.
If the whole earth was perfect then why make a garden? Just speculating here. Paleobotanists' have found petrified plant life that only grew in lush environments, in the harshest of terrains, across the entire globe, suggesting that the entire earth was a garden. Obviously something changed. We can argue when that happened and why until we are blue in the face, but you cannot deny that there was a drastic change. I have always associated that change with Satan's entrance into the world.
If God tossed him angrily, so early, and Satan immediately begins making useless plans for retaliation from the very beginning, could we then assume that “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." could apply?
That would mean that the earth was would have been under Satan's wrath from the beginnings of man. But that is not what this passage is telling us.
We have been looking at a context and it applies, primarily, to the last days. Specifically to the final seven year period. Some of the best evidence we have for this argument is:
- When does this take place.And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. (Revelation 13:2 NASB)The logical assumption for this empowerment of the Antichrist is right at the beginning of the seven years, or slightly before it. It would not make sense for someone to usurp authority without some previous demonstration of ability. But then we are dealing with demonic abilities being given. This is empowerment is exactly what Jesus turned down. Satan offered him everything and said it was his to give. Think about that.The him in this passage is the beast. That is not some mythological monster but a man; a man empowered by the devil himself.Here is where the water gets muddy. There are several beasts and you need to keep your beasts straight, sort of. Daniel, in the seventh chapter states that there are four beasts. John, looking into the future describes “a beast coming out of the sea”. Read what he says he saw.And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. (Revelation 13:1-2 NASB)
You ought to know by now that the sea represents people of the nations (Those outside of the church and Israel). This ugly thing had seven heads and ten crowns. Think about that for a moment. Heads represent governing bodies or tyrannical rulers, and history has proved them all out but for a couple. We are watching one of the last described as falling happen on the news as we speak (Syria). But crowns represent rulers or ruling bodies so it is safe to assume that one or more switch controlling bodies, several times.
I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; (Revelation 13:3 NASB)
Wait a second. We know that Satan empowers the beast, and that is true. Why we even know that several men gained the title of beast in apocalyptic writings. But here you have a beast with heads and one of the heads sustains what many feel is a mortal wound. With modern science it is possible to recover, to some degree, from a mortal head wound. Here in America senator Gabriel Giffords recovered to deliver a speech to congress about the need for gun control. If you happened to see it I think you would agree that it will be some time before she can return to an authoritative position, if at all. That being said, I do not think we should be looking for a man to sustain a head wound. If the heads are governing bodies then we certainly have an excellent choice if we intently consider the Ottoman/Islamic empire.
We are not told to separate this head from the freakish body that John sees, and yet we do. So the clue as who this is comes more from the pattern (More on that later.)
- Because of Satan's empowerment, the beast sends the remnant of Israel running into the desert where they are protected by God for three and one half years. You should understand that not all leave. Why they stay I am not sure, but the concept of the entire remnant escaping is not valid.And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 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. (Revelation 12:13-14 NASB)If Satan was tossed, as this verse describes, at the beginning of time, there was no Israel to call a woman and persecute. So this is clearly a last days event.
So, try as you might, you cannot place this passage anywhere else and make it fit. It is true that Satan got tossed out of heaven, but to what extent. This is a subject that I toyed with in a previous chapter (post).
“Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath..”
The earth can be taken literally, but the sea, which meant people only moments before is quite probably the same thing now.
What is the most prolific attribution given to cataclysmic weather or seismic events? An act of God! Really? Why would Satan change his style or character just because God finally locked him out of heaven? He wouldn't. So if he was thrown to the earth previously with his bad attitude, and he gained control of the earth in the process, then who is causing all the harm around here?
Certainly the Revelation tells of God throwing his wrath at the earth but that is during a specific time period. If only we could understand this.
Now consider this aspect of the “sea”. If we are talking people then who? Satan directs most of his energies against anything that looks like God and the Saints of the tribulation period fit that bill as he goes on an all out killing spree.
As for the wrath aspect. Certainly the killing of the saints as they refuse the mark, name and number of the beast, but he also goes after Israel with a vengeance.
And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. (Revelation 12:13 NASB)
“..so that she might fly..”
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.
(Revelation 12:14 NIV)
God is not strapping two wings to the back of an entire nation but he can certainly give them swift feet. You, nor I know how they are getting out of town, nor do we know if all Israel has some contingency plan should such a massive attack be leveled against them.
In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. (Zechariah 13:8 NIV)
It is the majority of this one third that will make great haste out of town.
The idea of God taking care of someone supernaturally is not new. Consider Elijah:
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there." So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. (1 Kings 17:2-6 NIV)
By the way, how long did Elijah live in the wilderness and get fed by Ravens? Three and one half years.
You cannot exclude the probability that God will do the same thing once again. Here Israel, what is left of them, will hide for three and one half years, the entire second half of the tribulation period. How do I know that? Jesus said, “So when you see the appalling sacrilege [the abomination that astonishes and makes desolate], spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy Place--let the reader take notice and ponder and consider and heed [this]”--[Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11.] (Matthew 24:15 AMP)
Jesus continued to say, “then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. "Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:16-22 NASB)
This appalling sacrilege happens three and one half years into the seven years of the tribulation time.
“like a river out of his mouth”
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.
(Revelation 12:15 NASB)
“And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth..”
In a previous post I struggled with this concept, even toying with the idea of a dam breaking, but a friend of mine suggested that this was a mass of people come against Israel once again. It only took me a moment to see the strength in this idea.
The serpent is Satan and he apparently has not had a creative idea since his inception, so why start now. This is a highly symbolic statement and not that dissimilar to John seeing the beast come out of the sea.
Revelation 13:1 NASB And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.
Here the sea is representing people, nation, and tongues. How do I know that?
Revelation 17:15 NASB And he *said to me, "The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.
So it would not be all that far-fetched to use that analogy here.
The concept of a flood is not new to John's readers: Job spoke of it -
Job 27:20 NASB "Terrors overtake him like a flood; A tempest steals him away in the night.
In this case terrors were said to overtake someone, probably Job.
“And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth..”
This same word poured, was translated as cast in the King James version. In my mind they have two distinct meanings, and yet not. I will explain. If I pour out something it can be directed or targeted, and with a very specific intent, such as watering a plant. But it can also mean to dump with no intent or specific target and cover a wide area. Were I to be watering plants in this manner it would be very ineffectual.
Cast however, based on Thayer's definition (to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls), implies something more like a shotgun blast. The impact will cause damage, but the intent is to take out as big a target as possible, not really caring who gets hit.
“And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth..”
The word mouth sounds benign enough until you dig into the definition.
Thayer Definition: For the Greek word stoma.
- the mouth, as part of the body: of man, of animals, of fish, etc.
- the edge of a sword.
In this case it is easy to visualize Satan pouring water out of his mouth. Of course it is for most of us have seen some statue that has water spewing out of its mouth. But only one verse later the earth is opening its mouth and swallowing the flood. The word stoma has not changed, nor has the definition, but the earth does not, as we understand it, have a mouth. So what is he talking about.
This same word was translated as the edge of the sword twice: Luke_21:24, Hebrews_11:34
Jesus was speaking of this very scenario when he said,
Luke 21:24 NASB and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
So what we have is another large attack against those of Israel that:
- Still remain in Israel
- Have not taken the mark, the name, or worshiped the beast.
- And obviously have not been slaughtered yet.
But the earth helped the woman
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.
(Revelation 12:16 NASB)
“But the earth helped the woman,..”
Back to Thayer. I realize that to say the earth is fairly understandable but having God thrown in the mix tends to give it a life of its own.
Thayer's definition includes:
- arable land
- the ground, the earth as a standing place.
- the main land as opposed to the sea or water
So the earth helped Israel.
Is this a new concept? Not if you have read through the bible. I will give you a couple of examples:
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
(Numbers 16:32 KJV)
and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them.
(Deuteronomy 11:6 NIV)
In the two passages shared here there is no water or sea but people, and again, I do not believe that this a flood of water referred to in Revelation 12.
“..and he went away to wage war on the remainder..”
So then the dragon was furious (enraged) at the woman, and he went away to wage war on the remainder of her descendants--[on those] who obey God's commandments and who have the testimony of Jesus Christ [and adhere to it and bear witness to Him].
(Revelation 12:17 AMP)
Thwarted in his attempt to kill the escaping remnant, he goes away, back we assume into Israel, to make war on the remainder of the descendants. A word of caution: When you have a clear, logical path assumption is not bad and provides clarity, but without a clear path assumption can lead you incorrectly and have you looking in the wrong direction.
If I look at the broader picture. Christ came into the world and the dragon was waiting to kill him. Unable to do that he waged war on the church. But you have to keep the context clear on your exploratory missions. This is about him waging war on the descendants of the woman, and the woman is Israel.
Again, this is exclusively an end times event being spoken of.
Israel, being warned of God to flee when they see the abomination in the temple, should have evacuated the country. Maybe that is the problem. Most will understand that the majority of the comments about Israel seem to focus on Jerusalem, therefore the majority who escape are from Jerusalem while others in Israel think they are safe. That will not be the case.
Revelation 13:10 CJB "If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he goes! If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he is to be killed!" This is when God's holy people must persevere and trust!
This passage is integrated into the context of the beast's war upon the saints and its potential impact. It is easy to see that some will survive, making it all the way to Christ's return. How Christ deals with those is entirely up to him. I can speculate but that is really pointless.
the rest of her seed, those keeping the commandments of God, and having the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Satan went away to make war with “her descendants”, and yet it speaks of those who obey God's commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Wait a minute, think this through.
Typically, we do not understand Israel as having the testimony of Jesus Christ. I would love to see that happen but I know that will not be the majority. Scripture even tells us that the “elect” will be deceived by the miracles that the false prophet works. The deceived will take the mark and worship the beast, sealing their fate. But keep in mind that we rarely are to take comments like “all Israel” as literal. Instead, is it wiser to think in terms of a majority, or a lot of them. If this passage says they have the testimony of Christ, then we have to assume that during the tribulation many of Israel will turn to Christ as the Messiah they were waiting for.
God performs a few of his own miracles to catch the elect. Observe.
And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an everlasting gospel to proclaim to those dwelling on the earth, even to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a great voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him, because the hour of His judgment has come; also, Worship "Him who has made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea," and the springs of waters. Ex. 20:11
(Revelation 14:6-7 LITV)
Revelation 14 is not the first place we see this type of activity, and there is no doubt that it will have a huge impact, not only on Israel but on the world.
This has the possibility of including followers of Jesus Christ, tribulation saints, as well as Jews, because this terminology “having the testimony of” can also include tribulation saints.
And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those having been slain for the Word of God, and for the witness which they had.
(Revelation 6:9 LITV)
You do not have to wait until an angel flies overhead shouting out the glories of God and how to become his; give your life to him now, you are making a mess of it anyway and Jesus already paid the price for your freedom. Run to him, accept his love for you and be received into his kingdom. Doing this gives the hope of a life with him, and Jesus told us that he would come back for us, and rescue us just before pouring out his wrath on the earth. Sure you can wait if you wish, missing out on the period of grace, choosing to endure what is to come during the time of wrath, but why?
Life here on earth during the seven years after the church is pulled out of here will be a little taste of hell. Jesus told us that he is the only way to the Father, not religion, not cults, not good works, but a faith in Jesus Christ alone. That act of belief is the only hope of being caught up with the church before the tribulation.
But is it the only hope? Not necessarily. You can refuse the mark of the beast that indicates your allegiance to the beast and his ways, and you must refuse to worship the beast. Scripture tells us that very few will survive this onslaught. Refusing to take his mark should get you beheaded and get you your ticket to reign with Christ during the millennial years. But as I noted before, there may be survivors of the beast that make it through until Jesus returns. Standing as one that testifies to Jesus Christ as King of the earth should get you into the kingdom, but what your life will look like I do not know. I can see a picture of heartless captivity for you, and it will not be pretty. Why wait to find out.