What does Revelation 12:13-17 mean to us now?

What does Revelation 12:13-17 mean to us now? 

Real spiritual warfare has more to do with the battle of the will. Rarely will we see the fire and brimstone that we expect; rather, we see what we want to see. Our will is the prime motivator; our needs are motivators and our desires are agendas. God’s precepts are there, perhaps even known to us, but they go unheeded, unapplied, and/or unused. God’s desire is for us to be formed in Jesus Christ, and in Him as Lord. Satan wants us to be centered on anything but that; he wants us disobedient and distorted to the things of God, and God wants us surrendered and dependant with faith upon Him. This is the battle, where the line is drawn, where what we choose will determine whether we serve Satan or Christ. There is no in-between, no middle ground, and no other choice for us to undertake. 

If Satan can’t deceive us, he will resort to anything that works—from persecutions to being overworked and having no time for our Lord. Satan will even fill our schedule with good things to keep us distracted from the ultimate good of growing in our faith and being a positive influence of Christ to others. So, watch out how you are being used, how your time is allocated. If you think you are doing well by keeping the kids very busy in sports and all kinds of great activities, but there is no time for church or the things of faith, how good are your good works? When the main call and work is misplaced and forgone, you may be being deceived by Satan and rationalizing it. Be in prayer that your deeds are lined up to biblical character and precepts and not of your will and the ways of the world. Or else, we will be advocates of Satan rather than ambassadors of Christ. The devil is in the details; are you in our Lord (2 Cor. 5:20)? 

Keep in mind that Satan’s role is to take and steal, and God’s role is for us to build and grow. Satan doesn’t want us to have what he has freely given up himself and cannot have back such as intimacy with God, ever abundant love,   triumphant life, goodness, and purpose with relationships that glorify Christ. Satan wants all the glory for himself. 

He seeks for us to have rotten relationships, emptiness and purposeless lives of despair filled with anger, betrayal, and hopelessness. He says we can have fun and fulfillment, but just think it through; how much fun is losing and taking what we do not earn only to have it rot and be meaningless or going from one meaningless activity to the next looking for a “high” and satisfaction that never comes? We can have satisfaction in Christ and His abundance infusing us—something that Satan once had but rejected, and he fervently hates all those who have it and excel in Him! So, beware to his ways—how he wants us to hate, disguising it with misplaced emotions, confusion, and hurt, so we are taken away from our family, our opportunities neutered or push aside, and our fullness in Christ ridiculed, replaced with what is fleeting, hurtful, and meaningless. 

            Christ wants you triumphant in your Christian life and seeks to save you and give you what you need so you can grow and have meaning and abundance of life. In contrast, Satan wants you to be miserable and dysfunctional; he seeks to take away anything that can help you to have what he has given up. Why would anyone fall for Satan’s methods? But, we can take heart and assurance in Christ that Satan has been defeated; he has lost, and he can’t have you or your church unless you give it to him by seeking him and not HIM. The bottom line is this: Satan can easily manipulate and destroy us. We have no chance or hope against his ancient wisdom and power. However, when we are in Christ, he does not have a chance against us! Satan can easily handle us, but he can’t handle HIM! 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Why does Satan seek to seduce us away from God by any means? What is his goal and purpose? How has God shown you Satan’s depravity, stupidity and desperateness?
  1. How has Christ’s victory over Satan influenced outcomes in your Christian life? How would you explain the consequences for Satan and those who follow him?
  1. How does real, spiritual warfare have more to do with the battle of will than our personally battling Satan? Why do most Christians seem to just expect fire and brimstone? What are some other things that we should expect?
  1. How has Satan sought to keep God’s Word out of reach or in the dark? Has he been overt or just caused you to neglect? How can we discern between Satan’s influences and our own depravity or laziness?
  1. What can be done to help prevent your church from being negatively influenced? What should the Church do about this continual threat? How can you watch out for how you are being used and how your time is allocated so you are serving God and not the ways of the Dragon?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

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The Four Main Views of Revelation 12:13-17

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the continuance of verse 12:6 and show analogies of the escape of the Christians and pious Jews from the Jewish revolt and the counter Roman invasions of Jerusalem in 68-70AD. Most Christians escaped to other providences while some hid in the desert and caves near the Dead Sea, but all Christians were saved; none perished, which was quite a miracle (Dan. 7:21-22; Matt. 24:15-28). They see a contrast of the serpent that crawls and the Church that flies on wings, that resonates the Exodus. The flood is seen as human persecutions against the Church and the campaigns of Satan to destroy the people of God. In contrast, God protects, delivers, and helps provide the resources and guidance for the Church to persevere. They see “offspring” as the Gentile converts in the Early Church, and “spiritual Israel” as those of faith and not just of lineage. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as the result of Satan’s defeat and his being cast down to earth where he pursues the woman. Basically, they see this as adding more details to verses 12:1-6. Some see this as literal, and others see the imagery of the Exodus in relation to the last days and that God provides. Most see the flood as a literal event that Satan and/or the antichrist uses to flush out the righteous, the refuges in hiding. Others see this as false teachings in the last days as referenced in 2 Peter, or the armies of the antichrist, which while descending on Jerusalem to exterminate the Jews, is frustrated or stopped as God opens the earth and swallows them. Then the “offspring” are those who testify to Christ; Satan and/or the antichrist, turns the attention to them. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as a testament of the Devil’s defeat and his rage to attack the Church on earth. The woman represents the Church as it spreads into the world, giving birth to the Church Age and Satan’s opposition against it as well as the opposition of corruption and apostasy. The wing of eagles is seen as the Exodus, and the protection of God on His Church. The flood is seen as all the human efforts, such as Islam, internal corruption, cults, false teaching, pseudoscience, and philosophy opposing the Church. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as metaphor, that the flight of the woman is the downfall of true spirituality and piety in the Church. Others see Satan’s role as influencing the Catholic papacy and/or the Dragon is the papacy (Popes). Others see his role as to subvert and oppress the great doctrines of Augustine and others, and/or spiritual warfare to the individual faithful. The “wings of eagles,” focusing on the word two is seen as western and eastern divisions of the Church. The “earth opened” is seen as the downfall of Rome, while others see this as the persecutions through the ages against the Church. The flight in to the desert is seen as God’s protection of the Church’s faithful. Some in this camp date this age to 256 to 1514, between the beginnings of the fall of Rome and the start of Reformation.

Exegetical look into Revelation 12:13-17

 

  • Pursued/persecuted the woman: The meaning here is to “eagerly seek after, to pursue, to harass, cause trouble, molest.” Satan is being represented as creating and using deceit to trick and deceive people of faith and those who could be so (2 Thess. 2:9-10; Rev. 13:1-10).
  • Two wings of a great eagle: Shows the plight of the Exodus and how God guides, protects, shelters and cares for His people (Ex. 19; Deut. 32:11; Psalm 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 91:4; Is. 40: Jer. 49:22).
  • Fly to the place prepared: Indicates that God prepares and then comes through to deliver His people from their oppressors. Remember, Revelation is a book about God’s grace and protection just as much as it is about condemnation and last days.
  • Desert: Means a place that is deprived of aid and protection, a solitary, lonely, desolate, place. Here, it refers to God providing the manna for the people of the Exodus while they were in a desolate environment. In context, it shows the grace and hand of God as He cares and provides for His people. In the midst of dire circumstances, we have a God who not only cares, He is involved!
  • Be taken care: Meaning God’s provision to bring up, to nourish, and to support. This, in context, is also the expression of how Christ’s work delivers us and enters us into His Kingdom as well as protects us in spiritual warfare (Rom. 8:12-17; Eph. 6:10-18).
  • Or a time, times and half a time: Refers to the three and a half years of Daniel. Also stated as 1,260 days in the idioms and language of the early Church and Jewish community, and was colloquial for the period of time from the finished work of Christ until He comes back. This is the period in which the Church has been since its inception, where we are now at this writing. This is also shown in the context, as 12:1-6 shows Christ’s exaltation, while 12:10 shows His salvation to us; in 12:11-17 the Church is shown in the world with faith and persecutions, then Christ returns to slay the Dragon. This encompass the Church Age (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 4:32).
  • Out of the serpent’s reach/face: Protected from the deception, cunning, wisdom, and the outward appearance of evil. The application to this term is that we can tolerate all things with Christ!
  • From his mouth: Meaning the “edge of a sword,” as the utterance of thoughts to cause harm.
  • Spewed water…to overtake: Means a flood or war and refers to being overwhelmed and carried away. This is a theme of judgment (Psalm 32:6; 69:15; Jer. 47:2).
  • Sweep her away. This passage is a parallel to the Exodus.
  • The earth helped/hid. For the Jewish audience, this meant that God sometimes uses His creation to intervene on behalf of others, such as the earth opening and swallowing Korah and his wicked men, the tree that hid Isaiah, and Jonah and the great fish. This is also an illustration from the Greek story of “Leto and Apollo,” where the sea god hid and provided for Leto, and protecting her from a dragon so she could bear a child. The image here is that God protects and promises safety just as he did with the Exodus (Gen. 4:10; Num. 16:30-33; Is. 43:2; 53:7-8).
  • Enraged: Satan is mad because he did not get his way and definitely does not want us to have His Way!
  • Make war: How Satan produces and constructs quarrels and battles us fervently. He seeks to destroy and mislead us into thinking we do not need God. And, if his tricks do not work he will do all he can for as long as he can to destroy us. But, the great news in this passage is, we do not just have a great Referee, we have God on our side! Satan wants us to do his bidding, deceiving us along the way, but he can do nothing that God does not allow and he can’t do anything against the strength and resources that Christ gives us.
  • Offspring/seed: Means the descendents of Eve and more to the point believers who will obey God, and the one who will crush the serpents head. It refers to the people of God, Christians saved by faith. Christ also defeats Satan, but Satan, as prophesied, will bruise His and our heel (Gen. 3).
  • Who keep/obey: This infers that those of faith have received their faith from Christ; thus, we resound to observe, attend, and carefully take care of His precepts and what He gives us. Keep in mind that there are conditions—not to our salvation other that to receive it by faith—but conditions under which to grow in our faith and service to Him. We have to have faith, we have to be saved in Christ, and we have to respond to Christ, being proactive with our faith in our situations, producing Fruit and character, not sitting and doing nothing.
  • Testimony of Jesus: This refers to the testimony that Jesus bore by His work and involvement. Christ’s blood and sacrifice prevails when we accept it and us it as our main artillery. Our unwavering faith in Christ, by whom and what He has done is too much for Satan to handle; he can’t stand against the goodness of Christ. Thus, when we are in Christ, we prevail; Satan has already lost and has been defeated (Rev. 1:2, 9; 19:10).

Revelation 12:13-17

Introduction 

The Woman Perseveres 

John now sees that the great war is over, but the battle is taken to the streets of human life between struggling humanity that seeks its own and the Satan who sees his role to help people be independent from God. So Satan usurps his role as persecutor and makes war with humanity, focusing on the faithful. Satan is on a rage and seeks to hurt and destroy those who are of faith in Christ, whose trust is in Him. In the meantime God is caring for and sheltering His faithful, giving armor, abilities, and opportunity to defend ourselves by using His means and power—His “means” being His blood that we have as artillery and as protection. 

The contrast is God’s Kingdom and authority and His abundance that is at our disposal. Even though Satan is out of office, his influence still prevails in the world and is snaking its way to you and your church. Satan seeks to accuse, while Christ seeks to save; Satan wants you defeated, Christ wants you triumphant. Why would anyone want Satan’s ways? Remember, Satan has been defeated, he has lost, and he can’t have you or your church unless you give it up by seeking him and not HIM.  

We are now halfway through the Book of Revelation! This passage has two main themes to it. One is the Exodus, how God led His people out of persecution on His wings, and then, continuing to show images that deal with authentic spiritual warfare. This is the ultimate conflict of good versus evil of light versus dark, rooted in history and with future ramifications. We see how Satan failed to stop the work of Christ and then was punished and thrown from Heaven, so he changed his game plan from hunting Christ to hunting His people. Now Satan hunts for people of faith or those with the potential to be of faith. He not only wants us wounded so we are ineffective, he wants us annihilated! We have a great enemy capable of unspeakable harm, but we also have a Great Savior who leads and protects us, and who is much greater and more powerful, beyond our imagination, to us and our enemy! This passage continues in the style of a Greek play in verses 12:1-6, with the story of “Leto and Apollo,” which would have been very familiar to John’s readers to identify with and contextualize to this plight and of how God intervenes and cares.

Farewell to the Rapture?

 

(N.T. Wright, Bible Review, August 2001.  Reproduced by permission of the author) 

Little did Paul know how his colorful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

The American obsession with the second coming of Jesus — especially with distorted interpretations of it — continues unabated.  Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre[1].  Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal “rapture” in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been “left behind.”  This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith. 

This dramatic end-time scenario is based (wrongly, as we shall see) on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). 

What on earth (or in heaven) did Paul mean? 

It is Paul who should be credited with creating this scenario.  Jesus himself, as I have argued in various books, never predicted such an event[2].  The gospel passages about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Mark 13:26, 14:62, for example) are about Jesus’ vindication, his “coming” to heaven from earth.  The parables about a returning king or master (for example, Luke 19:11-27) were originally about God returning to Jerusalem, not about Jesus returning to earth.  This, Jesus seemed to believe, was an event within space-time history, not one that would end it forever. 

The Ascension of Jesus and the Second Coming are nevertheless vital Christian doctrines[3], and I don’t deny that I believe some future event will result in the personal presence of Jesus within God’s new creation.  This is taught throughout the New Testament outside the Gospels.  But this event won’t in any way resemble the Left Behind account. 

Understanding what will happen requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether. 

The New Testament, building on ancient biblical prophecy, envisages that the creator God will remake heaven and earth entirely, affirming the goodness of the old Creation but overcoming its mortality and corruptibility (e.g., Romans 8:18-27; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22).  When that happens, Jesus will appear within the resulting new world (e.g., Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2). 

Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless.  This is all that Paul intends to say in Thessalonians, but here he borrows imagery—from biblical and political sources—to enhance his message.  Little did he know how his rich metaphors would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

First, Paul echoes the story of Moses coming down the mountain with the Torah.  The trumpet sounds, a loud voice is heard, and after a long wait Moses comes to see what’s been going on in his absence.

Second, he echoes Daniel 7, in which “the people of the saints of the Most High” (that is, the “one like a son of man”) are vindicated over their pagan enemy by being raised up to sit with God in glory.  This metaphor, applied to Jesus in the Gospels, is now applied to Christians who are suffering persecution. 

Third, Paul conjures up images of an emperor visiting a colony or province.  The citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world. 

Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere. 

Paul’s misunderstood metaphors present a challenge for us: How can we reuse biblical imagery, including Paul’s, so as to clarify the truth, not distort it?  And how can we do so, as he did, in such a way as to subvert the political imagery of the dominant and dehumanizing empires of our world?  We might begin by asking, What view of the world is sustained, even legitimized, by the Left Behind ideology?  How might it be confronted and subverted by genuinely biblical thinking?  For a start, is not the Left Behind mentality in thrall to a dualistic view of reality that allows people to pollute God’s world on the grounds that it’s all going to be destroyed soon?  Wouldn’t this be overturned if we recaptured Paul’s wholistic vision of God’s whole creation?              
           

 http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm 

[1] Tim F. Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Cambridge, UK: Tyndale House Publishing, 1996).  Eight other titles have followed, all runaway bestsellers.

[2] See my Jesus and the Victory of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1996); the discussions in Jesus and the Restoration of Israel: A Critical Assessment of N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, ed. Carey C. Newman (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999); and Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), chapters 13 and 14.

[3] Douglas Farrow, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).

What does Revelation 12:7-12 mean to us now?

 

This dragon, Satan, and his agents thereof seek to destroy and manipulate us. He wants others to be seduced to put their trust in him so their eyes are not on God or His ways. He wants his arrogance and pride to be contagious and be fuel for us, and for future Christians. When we seek what we want and forget God, or think we have a chance to do it better or on our own, he wins. There is nothing Satan desires more than for us Christians to run our lives our way, which are really his ways. He wants your church to be run by the will of people, governed by the trends of the day, and swayed by public opinion, where God’s Word is kept out of reach or in the dark by overt or just neglected ways. 

Take heart! The battle has been won, Satan score is zero; for God, the score is countless. The devil may have his anger and his bag of tricks, but He can’t have those who are in Christ. We are given the Blood of the Lamb; we have the backing and His authority to win over Satan’s ways and ideas. We can rejoice and live our Christian life fear-free because the devil can’t get what we do not give him. So, don’t give him anything—not your thoughts, plans, or agendas; let all of you be impressed in Christ and immersed in His Way. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Why did war break out in Heaven? What do you think could be the motivations of the dragon and his evil minions? Why do you suppose that Satan thought he had or still has a chance? How do arrogance and pride versus the Way of God come into play here?
  1. What are some of the things that are taken away from us when we are seduced by evil ways? How does Satan’s influence still prevail in the world? How do his ways “snake” into you and your church?
  1. Satan can do only what God allows for His purpose. So, why does God use him? How do you feel about it? How can this strengthen you, knowing that no harm can come when you are in Christ, and if it does, it is for our benefit?
  1. What happens to you and your church when you seek what you want and forget God or think you have a chance to do it better or on your own? How does Satan win us over?
  1. Why does Satan desire that we Christians run our lives our way? Have you ever considered that when we run our church by our will, by the ideas of people separate from biblical precepts, by trends of the day and swayed by opinion, we may be leading as Satan does? What can be done to make sure we do not manipulate our will and rationalize it as God’s will when we make decisions?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 12:7-12

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as not in chronology with the previous and coming verses. Some see this as a literal war in heaven while others as a metaphor for something else. Some see this about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Others in this camp see this as the woman’s flight into the wilderness. Some see Michael and Jesus as indistinguishable, which is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, while others take what this passage says and believe they are representations or separate beings. The angels also receive varying meanings; some see them as the Apostles, others as demons, or a story to teach what is truth and what is false. Some see this as Satan’s fall and the conclusion to his power and influence on Christians, while others see that Satan is still active. Most see Satan as unable to go before God and accuse us because he has been thrown out of heaven. At the very least, most believe Satan is limited to what he can do because of the Cross. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as the battle of angels and demons in heaven as portrayed in Daniel 12. Some see this as the beginning of the great tribulation, or in the middle, while others see this as just pertaining to spiritual warfare. Others see this as Satan being cast out of heaven while others see it as the war over the attempt to stop salvation and the work of Christ. Some see this as a template of how Satan operates and seeks to battle Christians and/or the defeat of Satan. Others in this camp see Satan nurtured by the blood of the Lamb and our victory over Christ. Others see this as a story to keep our faith in times of persecution from Satan or from men. A short time indicates that this passage is about Satan being bound during the millennial kingdom before he is let out for the final time. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as a retelling of the spiritual conflict of the previous passage in verses 12:1-6. Some see this as a play, depicting spiritually the events of how Christ prevailed with the cross and with His resurrection and atonement, while others see it mainly as the focus of the defeat of Satan. Most see all of this together and the state of the new age of the Covenant we have with Christ. Satan’s role here is seen as the accuser who seeks to bring condemnation, which Christ stopped and thus neutered his role to trick us before God and activity, but still has the power to influence us. Apparently, Satan may have had the role to bring condemnation to humans before God, but the work of Christ stopped that. Now, only our rejection of Christ brings condemnation. In the meantime, Satan will do all he can to bring it on to believers as much as he can and as long as he can; however, we do not need to fear this with Christ in us. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as metaphor of the struggle of the Church and its conflict with heathenism outwardly and apostasy inwardly, and the victory of the Church. They set the dates as during the Emperor Julian in 361 to 363; the casting out of the dragon was the expulsion of pagan Rome being replaced with Christianity, and the Church’s growth and spread. Yet, the troubles don’t stop for the Church; the struggles continue both inwardly and outwardly, but the Church will prevail!