Revelation Chapter Twelve
Revelation’s Chapter Twelve is a “bridge” that is inserted after the completion of the warning period of the trumpets. Its purpose is to tell us that there is going to be a change and it is designed to help us transition into the second half of Revelation’s visions that reveal the great tribulation and God’s judgments upon the beast’s empire.
There is a pattern in the Scriptures of inserting “bridge” verses when transitioning from one subject to another. For example, in Revelation Chapter Thirteen, we see that after the description of the first beast in verses one through eight, the “bridge” verses of nine and ten are inserted just before the description of the antichrist begins in verse eleven. Likewise, we see the same pattern occurring in Daniel Chapter Eleven. Verses twenty-one through thirty-two describes the foreshadow of the antichrist, Antiochus Epiphanes; then the bridge verses thirty-three through thirty-five transitions us to the description of Revelation’s future antichrist that begins in verse thirty-six. Likewise, Chapter Twelve of Revelation serves the same purpose in preparing us for a change in the narrative.
The bridge vision of Chapter Twelve is a parable that is designed to show a church that is struggling under persecution the reason for her sufferings.
We begin our journey across this bridge in time that will eventually lead us to the gate of Chapter Thirteen where the beast and the antichrist await. With this in mind, we continue to keep our eyes focused upon heaven where our hope resides. We have beheld the Ark of the New Covenant in Chapter Eleven, our Jesus, who is watching over us as this time begins, encouraging us that help is on the way. With our eyes still focused upon that heavenly assurance, yet another vision begins to unfold across the sky like a mural. –
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 (verse 1).
We realize that we are viewing a vision of the Virgin Mary who is representing Israel. Her crown of twelve stars is symbolic of the twelve Hebrew tribes, and the God chosen royalty of her lineage. There is no additional symbolism to designate that the stars represent anything more than the original twelve tribes, and/or the angels that represent those tribes.
She is clothed with the sun and the moon is under her feet. God has created the sun and the moon, they are His signature upon this vision. As He has designed the light of the day and the light of the night, so He has orchestrated the redemption of mankind that He has birthed through Israel.
And she being with child, cried traveling in birth, and pained to be delivered (verse 2).
We watch her agony and realize that her travailing began with Eden’s fall, when God’s plan for the redemption of mankind was instigated with the first sacrifice (Genesis 3:21) that represented the final sacrifice for mankind to be fulfilled by the Messiah Jesus. The Hebrew nation that had been
commissioned by God to birth the Redeemer for this purpose, endured the profound suffering we are witnessing in this vision of Israel’s pain and labor that she had experienced through the centuries to birth the Savior of all mankind.
We suddenly witness the appearance of her nemesis through the ages of her torment. -
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads (verse 3).
This great red dragon is symbolic of the devil himself. He has seven crowns upon his heads, representing the demonic legions or strongholds under his control. He appears to us again in Revelation thirteen where this creature is seen as the motivator of the enemy of the church exemplified in the beast empire. That beast is wearing crowns upon its horns designating the worldly governments under the control of the devil and his angels, his crowns.
And his tail drew the third part of the stars (angels) of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:…
One third of the heavenly host followed Satan to aid him in his attempt to rule over the earth and replace God as mankind’s object of worship. These “fallen angels” or fallen “sons of God,” operate as princes over various territories in the earth as illustrated for us in Daniel Chapter Ten, verse thirteen. They are also mentioned in Genesis Chapter Six, verses one through five as the corruptors of mankind.
…and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born (verse 4).
Apparently the devil was aware that a Redeemer was to be born that would somehow thwart his purposes. King Herod’s devil motivated slaughter of the children was an attempt to rid the world of this Special One that the evil king saw as a threat to his rule (Matthew 2:1-16).
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to His throne (verse 5).
Here we see a picture of Jesus’ resurrection and a prophecy of His return to “rule the nations with a rod of iron,” which means that the world will eventually be submitted to His rule and righteous justice.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days - three and one half years (verse 6).
The woman Israel escapes to her place in the wilderness. Israel’s flight to this wilderness would take many centuries to complete. After Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD, Israel was homeless until her restoration as a nation in 1948. Why is her homeland referred to as a wilderness? The wilderness is symbolic of a place of testing. Israel was tested for forty years in the desert before a remnant was able to enter the Promised Land, and Jesus was tested in a wilderness. Before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jews had the opportunity to hear the Gospel preached to them upon their own soil. Now once again, the nation of Israel has the same opportunity to hear the Gospel, to be “fed” in her own land during this appointed time of testing to see who will receive Jesus as the Messiah before and during the great tribulation.
This is the same event as described in verse fourteen. The two descriptions contain differences in the wording of the time frames possibly indicating dispensations within a specific period of time. Israel will be in her land as the beast empire is developing; a time of relative peace during the last three and one half years before the forty two months when the beast has gained full control (Rev. 13:5). Israel’s invasion by the Gentiles in Revelation Chapter Eleven, verse two, matches the wording of the time frame, “forty two months” when the beast empire has fully emerged. This seven year time period; the three and one half years and the additional forty two months, is generally thought to be the last seven years of Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, which could be symbolic of a longer period of time. We will contemplate this possibility in our study of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.
The generalized wording of the time frame of her sojourn in verse fourteen, "a time, and times, and half a time," could represent the entire time Israel is in her homeland from 1948 which would include the literal three and one half years that precedes her invasion.
In the verses we have been shown so far we see the arrival and ascension of the Messiah, and a provision being made for the “Mother.”
We see the moment when Jesus was on His cross, look down at His disciple John and commission him with the care of His mother, Mary (John 19:26,27). Likewise, believers in Messiah Jesus are also required to honor their Jewish mother who has birthed their Messiah for them and we are to assume our responsibility to feed her the Gospel and work for her restoration to God.
There has been a tremendous error within certain segments of the Christian camp that has come to the belief that somehow the Jewish people don’t need the blood atonement of the Messiah Jesus in order to be saved. If that is the case, then why did the Apostle Paul teach that the Jews, or the natural branches of the olive tree were cut off, but could be grafted in again (Romans 11)? How can they be grafted in again without faith in the blood of Jesus? Where do the Apostles teach that there is one salvation for the Gentiles and another for the Jews? That doctrine does not exist in the word of God.
This apostasy seeped into the church as the result of Cyrus Scofield’s flawed theology.
Scofield taught that there were four forms of the gospel; “the gospel of the kingdom” that was preached by Jesus and His disciples, “the gospel of the grace of God,” which is that men are saved by grace, “Paul’s gospel,” which to Scofield was “the gospel of the grace of God in its fullest development,” and “the everlasting Gospel”23 which is preached by the angel in Revelation 14:6 during the tribulation. It appears that he doesn’t really know what this gospel is, but it is not grace, or the gospel of the kingdom; it is more of judgment, but good news for Israel and those who are saved during the tribulation.
This indicates that Scofield really had very little understanding of the atonement. There is and has been from eternity only one Gospel and that is the Gospel of Grace. It’s foreshadow was instigated by the first sacrifice in Eden’s garden and fulfilled on the cross by Jesus, the Passover Lamb.
The apostles did not teach any other gospel.
The gospel of the kingdom that Jesus and the disciples preached was in essence that Messiah has come, the kingdom has arrived; and the miracles and healings that manifested as the result of this message were designed to be the evidence that the prophet Isaiah’s portrait of Israel’s and the world’s redemption through God’s suffering servant was about to be realized. –
He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities… (Isaiah 53:5).
In the same breath Scofield rightly recognized that there was “another gospel,” (Galatians1:6, 11 Cor. 11:4) a false one that mixed grace with works. Apparently he could not comprehend that the Jew’s religion of works without grace would not be able to save them in the tribulation and was actually part of that “other gospel” as Paul laboriously strove to educate the people about in his epistle to the Galatians.
The church has stumbled on many occasions over man inspired doctrines that have little or no resemblance to what Jesus and His disciples actually taught.
A little digging into Scofield’s background reveals that he was funded by Zionists who apparently wanted to keep the Gentiles’ Jesus at a distance from the Jewish people. This explains much concerning Scofield’s teaching, and why he labels Ephesians 2: 1-13 as “The Method of Gentile Salvation.”
The Everlasting Gospel of Revelation 14:6, is exactly what it says it is; that the Gospel of God’s grace through the Messiah Jesus is everlasting - to all mankind, Jews and Gentiles.
Getting back to Revelation twelve; Israel did not arrive at her place in the wilderness until 1948, telling us that there is a considerable amount of time that transpires from Jesus’ ascension in verse five to that event in history when Israel became a nation. During this period of time the church and the Jews endured great persecutions and we are shown the reason why in verses seven and eight. -
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon fought with his angels.
And prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven.
Up until the time that Jesus came, died for our sins and rose from the dead, the devil had access to heaven as we see in the book of Job (Job 1:6), where he exercised his skills as “accuser of our brethren” before God (Rev. 12:10). After Jesus paid the price for our sins, the devil could no longer accuse God’s people because –There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1).
Satan, who is the embodiment of self-exalting pride, was exquisitely defeated by one magnificent act of self-sacrificing humility by Jesus on His cross.
Satan’s authority before God was revoked when Jesus declared “it is finished” (John 19:30) and the devil was banished from God’s presence forever when Jesus ascended; replacing the “accuser of our brethren,” with the "intercessor for our for our brethren" as the Lord Jesus assumed His office of our High Priest at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20, Hebrews 7:24,25).
The war of resistance in verse seven illustrates a principle for us that the forces of evil have no place in heaven, and that no one who rebels against God and His plan of salvation for mankind in Jesus, can have access to God’s Holy Presence.
This principle is illustrated for us in Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast, (Matthew 22: 1-14) where we see the rejection of one who arrived at the banquet without a wedding garment. The wedding garment represents the righteousness of the saints that is imparted to them through faith in the death (atonement) and resurrection of Jesus. No one who rejects God’s plan of redemption for mankind can enter His holy presence without that spiritual wedding garment, or covering. The one in the parable who attempted to enter heaven apart from God’s provision is rejected and treated in the same manner that God deals with demons; demons who know the will of God and reject it. Likewise, all those who have been exposed to the Gospel and refuse it will experience the same rejection.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (verse 9).
The Apostle John is witnessing the devil’s fall in this vision, possibly remembering Jesus’ prophecy of this event as His arrival and God’s kingdom was proclaimed by His disciples. –
I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven (Luke 10:18).
Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out (John 12:31).
Jesus was referring to the devil’s defeat by our Lord’s victory. The accuser of the brethren was cast out when Jesus ascended and not in some obscure time in the future as some teach.
John listens to the sound of heaven rejoicing at the devil’s removal. –
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ (Messiah): for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (verse 10).
“The kingdom has come;” the Gospel has been released upon the earth and the devil’s doom has been sealed.
The devil has been “cast down.” It is here we are being shown the reason for the persecution of the Jews and the Christian church throughout history. The devil’s role was changed from “accuser” to “persecutor.”
Let’s skip ahead briefly to verse thirteen of this chapter which is a continuation of verse ten. -
And when the dragon saw that he was cast out into the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the Man Child (verse 13).
The Jews were persecuted because they were the womb that God chose to birth the Messiah Jesus, and thus they became the object of the devil’s revenge. Those who proclaim the Gospel share in this persecution as we read ahead in verse seventeen. –
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, (her “seed” as Paul has taught are Jews and Gentiles united by faith in Jesus - Romans 9:6-8, Ephesians 2:12-19) which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
We return to heaven’s rejoicing at the devil’s rejection in verse eleven, where those who are described in verse seventeen are celebrated. –
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death.
These are the disciples of the Lord Jesus who will not deny their Lord even in the face of death, recognizing that their true home is in heaven and that is where their treasure resides. In this declaration John is seeing a reflection of himself and all the faithful, persecuted brethren in his age and in the ages to come.
These words are written for you, dear believer. God wants you to know the reason for your trials in the wilderness of this
life. You are the devil’s enemy. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for you, you now have received in heaven a position of divine authority before the throne of God, and the devil is jealous and angry. You will defeat him in your life the same way your brethren have defeated him through the centuries: – through the blood of the Lamb, through the God glorifying and life giving words in your mouth, through your faithful devotion.
Rejoice, you heavens and you that dwell in them …Rejoice!
The devil’s wrath is vented upon God’s people and spills over upon the entire world, as he sees the end of his reign as prince of this world coming to an end. –
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (verse 12).
Every day we witness the agony the devil and his angels inflict upon the inhabitants of this world. And we realize that some of these events are also judgments upon those in the world who have invited these attacks upon themselves by their blatant rejection of the one true God of Israel, the Messiah Jesus and His word.
While the earth writhes in the death throes of its rebellion, God’s people operate within the chaos as agents of His healing and forgiveness.
We return to verse thirteen, where we were previously shown the devil’s persecution of the Jews through the ages, and we read again. –
And when the devil saw that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
The woman is transported to her place in the wilderness. –
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 (verse 14).
In verse six we saw that the woman fled into the wilderness, indicating a process of time to arrive at her destination. In verse fourteen we see that she is given some help in her journey. The two wings could represent the United States as her ally and the United Nations that granted her status as a nation, both residing under the symbol of an eagle.
Again, the phrase, “a time, times and half a time” indicates the entire period of time that she will be residing in her homeland/wilderness.
This wilderness is to be a place of protection from the devil for a season. During this time before she is invaded by the Gentiles (Rev. 11:2) she is fed, “nourished,” through the proclamation of the Gospel. This prophecy of Israel being “fed” in her own land relates to elements in the prophet Micah’s “Bethlehem prophecy.”
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).
The Messiah Jesus is born in Bethlehem as prophesied (Matthew 2:1), and then the Messiah gives up His people. -
Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she which travails has brought forth: then the remnant of His brethren shall return unto the children of Israel (Micah 5:3).
Why does the Messiah give them up? Because they have rejected Him fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah fifty-three. –
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him: He was despised and we esteemed Him not (Isaiah 53:3).
He gives them up - “until the time that she which travails has brought forth” (given birth). The travailing indicates a time of intense pain preceding a time of fulfillment and joy. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD and Israel travailed until she was restored to her own land and then -
…the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.
When Jesus was told that His mother and brothers were waiting to speak to Him He said that His brethren were those who did the will of God. -
Then one said unto Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brethren stand without, desiring to speak with You.” But He answered and said to him that told Him, “Who is My mother? and who are My brethren?” And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, “Behold My mother and My brethren!”(Matthew 12:47-49).
And He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:20, 21).
“For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50).
The will of God is that we believe on the One whom He has sent and receive the Gospel of our salvation. –
“And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
For both He (Messiah Jesus) that sanctifies and they (Gentiles and Jews) who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying "I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee” (Hebrews 2:11,12, Psalm 22:22).
Therefore, Jesus’ brethren are believers in Him, Messianic Jews and Christians, and these believers return to the children of Israel and there is a time of evangelism. –
...then the remnant of His (Messiah’s) brethren shall return unto the children of Israel (Micah 5:3).
And He (Messiah) shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD (God the Father) (Micah 5:4).
Jesus is seen in this prophecy as being present in the land of Israel when His brethren return. We know that when the Holy Spirit comes into a believer Jesus comes. -
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but you know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you (John 14:16-18).
When Jesus’ Spirit comes, so does the Father. –
Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘If a man loves Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him,” (John 14:23) - just as God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (11 Corinthians 5:19).
There is a time of “feeding,” when the remnant of His brethren are operating in the power and strength of God because the Lord is in them through His Spirit. As they are fed by the Holy Spirit, they in turn feed Israel the Gospel during the appointed time allotted for this evangelism.
During this designated period of time that Israel is being fed, she is receiving protection from the devil. -
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 (verse 15).
We see that the attacks upon Israel are inspired by the devil. -
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 (verse 16).
The earth in this verse is representative of the governments in the world who are being used by God to protect Israel’s sovereignty as a nation. While it is the will of God for Israel to be a nation, it is for the purpose of evangelism, and when the designated time is fulfilled, the protection will be removed for a time during the great tribulation.
It was never the will of God for the Palestinians to be abused, as many of them are Christians, indicating that the means by which Israel became a nation was not God ordained. This is obvious when we examine God’s commands as to how the Jews are to treat the strangers in their land, (Exodus 22:21, 23:9, Lev. 19:34, Deut. 10:19, 24:14) and we realize that these commands have been grossly violated. This situation will be rectified when Jesus returns and all carnal squabbles over who lives where will be settled once and for all, fairly and justly through Messiah’s rule and all men will dwell in peace when the devil is removed.
We arrive at the final verse of the bridge, and once again we are reminded that we are in a war, a spiritual war. -
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 (verse 17).
We reiterate the fact that the remnant that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus are disciples, both Jews and Gentiles that are the object of the devil’s rage. The truth of these verses is illustrated for us every day as God’s people suffer persecution all over the world. This persecution will increase as the days progress to the Messiah Jesus’ second coming.
We have reached the end of the bridge which has brought us to the gate of Chapter Thirteen. We have been prepared to expect what lies ahead. We will be facing the dragon that has been introduced to us in this chapter as he emerges as the beast world empire and dons his disguise as the false prophet. We are not intimidated, because our eyes are still focused on the Ark of the New Covenant smiling over us in the heavenly vision and in us through His Holy Spirit. With fearless confidence and faith we approach the gate of Chapter Thirteen and prepare to enter through its portals.
Revelation Chapter Thirteen
copyright 2013 by H.D. Shively
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