And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (NIV)
In the last post, we saw that things that are happening on the earth have counterparts in heaven. It seems to me that while we are learning the meaning of love and sin here on earth the angels are learning the same thing in heaven through their active participation in God’s earthly plan. Anyway, we see here that at the time of the fulfillment of the above passage the angel Michael, who watches over the nation of Israel (see Daniel 10:21), wars with Satan and his angels and they are cast out of heaven down to the earth.
We are going to see that Satan and his angels are cast out at the mid-point of Daniel’s seventieth week, and so I find it interesting that Jesus said this…
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (NIV)
I understand from these facts that Jesus saw it before it happened on earth. Just an interesting thought.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (NIV)
We have seen in a previous post that the Lord comes from heaven to assume his authority as King at the mid-point of Daniel’s seventieth week, at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, at the end of the Two Witnesses’ ministry. We see here that his arrival coincides with Satan’s being cast out of heaven. After the resurrection Jesus said…
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me… (NIV)
Jesus had received all authority at the resurrection, but he went back to heaven and did not assume his authority. But, at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, he returns from heaven and Satan is cast down. (Again, remember that this is at the mid-point of the seven-year period; which starts the Great Tribulation.)
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. (NIV)
Notice in this twelfth chapter of Revelation that at one point the Dragon is poised to kill the infant Jesus and then here, almost in the same breath, the Dragon is pursuing the woman yet in our future. The prophecies are like that. Time hasn’t any real meaning in the prophecies. The sequence of events holds true, but a given prophecy might just hop over a two thousand year period without so much as a by your leave.
In a later post, I will explain the meaning of the Woman’s escape here. For now, I would like you to notice how long she will be protected. A ‘time, times and half a time’. That is the same 3 ½ years that we have seen before, the same 1260 days, the same 42 months, and is the time of God’s Wrath, the Fiery Furnace, the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and the Bible also calls this ‘one hour’.
Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (NIV)
A river when used in a symbolic context represents an invading army. Here we see that Satan, through his Beast-man, tries to capture and kill the Woman with an army, but this passage says that the earth helped the Woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the army, that is, a very great earthquake will kill this army that tries to capture and kill the Woman (more on this later.)
Notice very carefully verse 17. After Satan tries to kill the Woman and fails he becomes very angry and he goes off to make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Very interesting. To understand this we need to step back and look at what has been going on around this passage.
A lot of very big things happen at the mid-point of the ‘week.’ A new Temple has been built in Jerusalem and the Antichrist goes there to proclaim himself the Christ by entering into the Temple. He is killed (it appears). The Two Witnesses are killed, there in Jerusalem. There is an army that has surrounded the city. The Woman is there too. We know that because Satan tries to get her with his army. The ‘dead’ Antichrist comes back to life in the person of the Beast-man. The Beast-man/Satan tries to kill the Woman and the earth swallows up his army that is there and she escapes. And then we see the start of the Great Tribulation. Wow! Is that a lot of stuff!
I would like you to notice exactly who the Dragon goes off to war with. Who are they that obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus? It is NOT the Church! The Church is Raptured right at that time. The Woman cannot be the Church either because she is still on the earth. The Woman represents a very devoted segment of Israelites and the rest of her offspring are also devoted, but a little less so. What is going to happen here is that the Two Witnesses are Christians who have been telling the Israelites that Jesus is the Christ and that the Antichrist is the Devil’s man. They are killed and then everything plays out including the Rapture which is seen here…
But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.
13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (NIV)
This is the Rapture and did you notice the earthquake? This Rapture happens just like the Two Witnesses have been saying and every single true Christian is taken, but what do you think the remaining devout Israelites think when they see it! They become believers in Jesus Christ as the Messiah! That is why the Scriptures here in [Revelation 12] say that Satan goes off to war against those that obey the commandments and hold the testimony of Jesus. They didn’t believe in Jesus and then they did.