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.

What does Revelation 2: 18-29 mean to me?

It is amazing how patient and longsuffering our Lord is!
He accommodates us to the point of giving us time to realize our wayward ways and giving us room to make mistakes, yet, still calls us back into His arms of love and care. Even to this evil person who was manipulating His children and causing them to sin heinously, God was giving time and grace. But, she is the one who refused to heed His Lordship and precepts. Such sin will pile up and compound, leaving us disillusioned and empty; then, if we still refuse to repent, all we will have is chastisement, and then, judgment. God is not calling us to repent to smite us, but to better us; He wants the best for us just as a good parent wants the best for his or her child. He does not want us to sin, because it destroys us and causes others to do so, too. It is like watching people you love do something really stupid like use drugs; you know it will harm them, but they refuse your counsel and treatment programs, and thus, end up destroying their lives, the lives of their children and friends, and then dying as a result. We do not say, I told you so; rather, we weep for them, as God weeps for us when we mess up. Try not to be the person for whom others and God weep; rather, take responsibility and initiative and be the person who builds his or her church and life on His Word and authority.

Questions to ponder:

1. In this church, if a Christian refused to participate in a guild (that also practiced cultism, sin, and godlessness) he was cut off from any social or economic participation in the city, and not even allowed to buy and sell food or support himself and his family. What would you have done, and why?

2. What does it mean that Jesus is the One who is to be in charge of your church? How does your leadership honor this fact? How should they honor Christ as Lord over the Church?

3. How do you feel that Jesus is looking at the way you are leading and governing His church? What gets in the way of good self-examination or accountability to see if you are doing it His way, the world’s way, or your way?

4. What happens when a church decides to weaken His Word for what they believe would be tolerated and received better so as to attract more people? (There is nothing wrong with using methods and programs to attract people, this is good. The wrong comes when we compromise His Word and Truth.) How does this defy Him as LORD?

5. What does it take for a church’s leadership, perhaps your church, to realize that Jesus holds us responsible to take the faith He gives us and personally grow it, and further, to lead with faithfulness and in truth, His Truth?

6. What would your church look like if the leadership took more responsibility and initiative to build the church and their lives on His Word and authority?

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

Exegetical look into Revelation 2: 24-29

This church had the same problem as did Pergamos with compromising as well as rationalizing their actions as OK. They sought both sin and Christ, not caring or realizing that the two cannot co-exist. We are called to overcome; and when we do, because we are capable of overcoming with His empowerment, we will be blessed and powerfully used for Christ’s glory.

· Her teaching…Satan’s so-called deep secrets possibly refers to an early Gnostic teaching, that says that for us to defeat evil, we have to physically fight with Satan and steal back a secret word of knowledge that unlocks a higher level of being. And, also to defeat evil, we have to experience evil deeply. This is a very twisted mindset (Acts 15:28-29)!

· I will not impose any other burden on you. We do not need to add works to our faith for salvation; rather, we are called to be faithful in response to what He has done for us.

· Hold on…I will give authority is a quote from various Psalms that teaches the promise God gives us, the promise of a Messiah Who was fulfilled in Christ, and that He is in control. This also refers to putting on God’s armor so we can fight temptations and flee from evil; we evade the lusts of our heart and world by running from it, not toward it (Eph. 6:11-18; James. 3:15, 17; 4:4, 7-10)!

· Until I come refers to God’s impeding judgment to this church, not necessarily to His “second coming.” This is used to argue a position that Christ has already come, the “Full Preterist” view. However, it more likely means you will not bear the judgment, as “when I come” refers to the judgment of chastisement, not final judgment. This is also a commendation to those who remained faithful and were not drawn to the lure of Jezebel.

· I will give authority over the nations, a quote from Psalm 2:8-9, refers that we partake in His authority and rule as His representatives and holders of His promise. This also means that Jesus is Sovereign and greater than any nation, government, power, or authority (Matt. 25:21-23; Luke 19:17; 1 Cor. 15:41; Col. 1).

· Morning star referred to the planet Venus, and was a depiction in Judaism meaning the advent of dawn or a new day or age. This is also a name for Jesus‘ first coming, messiahship, and, in this passage, His radiance and glory. It also alludes to the kingship of Israel and refers to His Second Coming. The pagans believed that people’s lives were ruled by the stars. This testifies that Jesus is the Ruler, not the stars. Jesus is giving Himself to us (Num. 24:17; Psalm 84:11; Mal. 4:2; 2 Peter 1:12-21; Rev. 2:28; 22:16; 22:16)!

· He will rule them refers to being a caring shepherd, and at the same time, God’s strength, authority, and right to rule (Rev. 12:5; 19:15).

Exegetical look into Revelation 2: 18-23

· Thyatira, which is now modern Akhisar, then hosted a major Apollo cult. (Apollo was a son of Zeus and eventually took Zeus’ place as the supreme Roman god.) This was a city known for its rich economy, prosperity, and its trade guilds, including a rich Bronze Guild, hence Jesus’ play on words. These guilds were similar to unions today, but with a cult-like theme. Thus, this city valued wealth above all things. The Christians were being pressured to join a guild, which was a tight-knit group, a “commune” almost, that worshiped pagan idols and participated in the pagan festivals. If a Christian refused to participate in a guild, he was cut off from any social or economic participation in the city, and not even allowed to buy and sell food or support himself and his family—a shadow of one of the roles of the anti-Christ (Rev. 13:17). Such isolation would make it a great temptation to indulge or compromise and allow false teachers to come in and mislead people, which is just what had happened. They had a small, inconsequential Jewish community. Lydia, who was a dealer in purple cloth, was from Thyatira (Acts 16:14).

· Like blazing fire refers to God’s Sovereignty, strength, and ability and right to judge, and indicated that if they did not repent, they would be judged. (See Rev. 1:14 study and Isaiah 63:1-4; Dan. 10:6 Rev. 14:19).

· Burnished bronze is a refined alloy of bronze, copper, and zinc.

· Your love and faith…service and perseverance. God honors such things, but we always have to be aware of our weaknesses and things that may cause us to compromise or slip in our faith. In contrast, the Church of Ephesus did not tolerate false teaching, but they were not loving toward God and one another, while this church tolerated false teaching, yet exercised love and faithfulness.

· You are now doing more than you did at first. For the most part, many people in this church were fearful and serving the Lord. There may have been a splinter group of people engaged in these sins, but no discipline or censor was taking place.

· I have this against you. They were tolerating paganism and even participating in it, thus compromising their faith to external social pressures and internal false teachings. This led to credibility problems with non-Christians and gave God a bad reputation (1 Cor. 2:10; 2 Cor. 5:20).

· Jezebel refers to an influential person who was teaching and causing people to sin by “seducing” them in order to cause them to compromise their faith and indulge in fornication. This person was mimicking the appalling character of Jezebel in the O.T. who was the most wicked woman depicted in the Bible. Jezebel personifies evil, greed, manipulation, and opposition to God without fear of Him or consequences. She was a harlot to God, as in betraying Him with occult practices and monstrous evil. She also led the false prophets who fought against God’s ways while saying they were God’s representatives and falsely claiming His authority, as she led the people into idolatry and sin (1 Kings 16:29; 31;19:1-2 to 21:24; 2 Kings 9:22; 30-37; Neh. 6:14; Ezek. 13:17-19).

· Prophetess. This was a female who declared or interpreted oracles from dreams or visions, either from God or from self delusions.

· Bed of suffering, as opposed to a bed of fornication. Sickness can be caused by sin as a form of punishment (1 Cor. 11:29-30).

· Commit adultery means betraying God, as to say, Jesus is my Savior, but I do not need to trust in Him, and I do not need to obey His precepts and morals. I am saved by Christ alone, by faith alone. However, I will not it allow to touch my daily life. I can do as I see fit (Judges 17:6; James 2: 14-26). This is called antinomianism in theology, meaning anti-law. It is an unbiblical belief that denies the righteousness of God and sees our grace as allowing total freedom in all that we do or can do, and using it as a license to sin. Thus, we do not need to be obedient to God, His precepts, civil law, or any moral standards, nor do we need to bear fruit. God says this is evil as it portrays evil as being good (Rom. 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; Jude 4).

· Suffer intensely/tribulations. Some commentators mistake this phrase’s meaning, as it says “they will suffer,” as pertaining to the great tribulation. The two are unrelated because the word meanings and context do not correspond.

· Unless they repent. God gives us ample provision and time to turn from our evil and wayward ways to His True Word, His best Way (Jer. 23:22-23).

· Strike her children. “Children” refers to her followers, not literal kin, as Jezebel was a spiritual mother to spiritual corruption (Psalm 7:9; Pr 24:12; Isa. 57:3-8; Jer. 11:20; 17:10).

· I am he who searches hearts and minds refers to God’s omnipotence and omniscience. Hearts denotes the center of our rational thoughts; minds, in the Greek, literally means “kidneys,” and denotes our will and trust in Him.

· Repay each of you refers to judgment that is based on how we lead our lives with responsibility (Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; Rev 18:6; 20:12-13; 22:12).

Busyness to God does not always denote faithfulness to God!