Revelation 12 (The woman is not the church)
I want to make it clear that the order of events written in the book of Revelation provides no reason to lump every tribulation (thlipsis) into a single ‘Great Tribulation’ that’s coming. Revelation 12 demonstrates the non-chronologic nature of the book as chapter 11 has already reached the apex of events in that (Rev 11:15) “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ” is the end of the story. Revelation 12:1 goes back in time and symbolically describes Judah as a woman who is pregnant, v5 with one who will rule all nations, clearly Jesus (It should be noted that Judah gives birth to Jesus). This gives one a solid event in time (the birth of Jesus), which is described after describing the seventh trumpet, a future event in chapter 11.
Then in Rev 12:3-4 Satan is described as a dragon who sweeps a third of the stars (angels) out of heaven, which might be really out of sequence as this may allude to his original rebellion sometime in the distant past; some however believe it to be a future event which still makes it out of sequence. In Rev12:5 we come back to the women (Judah) ready to give birth to the Lord and note that the serpent (Satan) is waiting to destroy him (the man child aka Jesus),but he is snatched up to heaven.
I was always taught that the woman is the church, but the church didn’t give birth to Jesus, Jesus brought the church into the world. In verse 6 we see the women having fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1260 days, which is also known as a time a times and half a time. This period commences at some undefined point after the ascension of Jesus, but since it ends in 1948, all we have to do is count backwards in years. These 1260 days is frequently referred to as the tribulation period, but 3.5 years is too little to be a past event and the Jews can’t flee to the wilderness now because they are home, never to be displaced again. The Jews were, however, largely driven out of Judea by the forces of Islam for 1260 years.
The story of the women picks up again in v14 when she is metaphorically given the wings of an eagle to fly into that place in the desert (the world outside the holy land) where she’ll be taken care of for a time a times and half a time, or 1260 days .Perhaps for emphasis, this fact is repeated.
Judah is left in the desert and the Devil tries to destroy her but fails (history is witness that this happened), so he vents his rage on her offspring the ones having the testimony of Jesus; and, of course, this is clearly meaning churches. The churches were largely driven out of the epicenter and surrounding countries.
Chapter 12 makes the point that Revelation is not chronological so the order provides no reason to believe that the numberless multitude are assembled after the seventh seal, but most likely throughout the centuries as Rev 6:9 covering the fifth seal implies: “I saw under the alter the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.” This exactly describes the fate of the Christians thrown to the lions in the arenas of first century Rome. This is unequivocally a great tribulation. Rev 6:10 goes on to say “They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. Again I’ll point out that this began in the first century and has continued to this day. There is nothing here to indicate that this is talking about some separate group of martyrs.
It is interesting that the Holy days God gave Israel recognized two harvests. The holy days and temple rituals were all prophetic in nature, so this tells me that there are two harvests of God’s saints; one from the Old Covenant (The small spring harvest), and one from the New Covenant, the much larger fall harvest. This corresponds nicely to the 144,000 and the numberless multitude fulfilling Isa 54:1 “More are the children of the desolate women than she who has a husband, says the Lord;” The desolate women being the gentiles, and she with a husband being Judah, (Jer31:32) “I was a husband to them,” husband: (H1166) to be master, hence(as denominative from H1167) to marry. Note that in Matt 27:52, that holy people were raised to life, they appeared to many people but disappeared. I don’t think that God had them die all over again. I’m convinced that there were 144,000 of them including the prophets and patriarchs of old,
Judah has returned to the holy land, so the time out side in the desert is now over. The Diaspora occurred over centuries, not 3.5 years; in fact the last 1260 years is only the last half of a time of increasing dispersion of the Jews and by a time characterized by the holy land being ruled by a religious/political system that was and is anti Jew and anti Christian. This religious/political system, which is Islam, completely denied Jewish access to the holy site, and did and is denying a large percentage of the world’s people access to the door to salvation which is Jesus the Christ.
Revelation chapter 13 seems to cover some of the same time span as chapter 12, an overlay of sorts, going back in time to a representation of all the Empires that have controlled the holy land: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and that which became the Ottoman Empire in its various forms. This seven headed beast (Rev 13:3) has the lion, bear and leopard characteristics of the pre Roman beasts of Daniel 7:4-6 lacking any characteristic of the 4th beast except for having ten horns which must arise partly out of the three ex Roman provinces. In Dan 7:8 only three of the 4th beast’s horns are subdued by the boast full little horn (Dan 7:24), so the ten horns in Rev 13:1 are not likely the same entities as the Dan 7 beast, just similar in number. To be clear, the 4th and the 5th beast, each have ten horns. Incidentally, another proof that the little horn’s portion of what was the Roman Empire, is not European (i.e. Germany, Italy) is that in the interlinear, both Dan 7:8 and 7:24 actually say three Eastern horns out of the ten are subdued. The point of reference from the bibles perspective is Jerusalem, so the three horns are in Muslim territory.
Some have suggested that the horns of Rev 13:1 are a breakdown of the modern nations that were part of the first three beasts of Daniel, and of course are ruled by Islamic governments; these may be: Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, Iran (Persia), Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Egypt and Iraq may not be included, since this list is derived from Ezek 38, from the modernization of the biblical names of those who come against Israel when the Lord steps in to defend it.
Most of the modernizations of the biblical names are identified by Josephus; here’s a quote from THE COMING WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST
“Persia includes modern Iran (97% Moslem), and possibly Iraq (96% Moslem) and Afghanistan (99% Moslem). The land called Put is essentially Libya (96% Moslem), and ancient Ethiopia includes today's Ethiopia (45% Moslem) and Sudan (70% Moslem). In Ezekiel's day Gomer was identified with Asia Minor (Turkey – 97% Moslem). Beth-togarmah (i. e., the house of the son of Gomer) would include eastern Turkey, the republic of Armenia and the Moslem republic of Azerbaijan. Other peoples may also be included in the attack that Ezek 38:7-8 say the above participate in. Since the Bible says, "you will go up . . . you and all your troops, and many peoples with you (v. 9). What a great confederacy of attackers this will be!”
There is no absolute proof that this list is totally correct, but the Ezek 38 list and this statement in Zech 12 make it quite probable, and make it clear that those who attack Israel are not European: Zech12:2 “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. V3 On that day (general time period), when all the nations of the earth (H776 erets earth in whole or in particular, land, in the bible the target metaphor applies) are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Does this mean remove it? The Muslims have tried a number of times, and ended up injuring themselves.
The nations that surround Israel make up the seven headed beast. To be clear, I’ll point out again that when the bible says land, it’s virtually always referring to the holy land and there after surrounding countries. These nations who were agents of punnishment will be the ones who attack Israel: Obadiah 1:15 “For the day of Jehovah is near on all the nations; as you have done (to the Jewish people), it shall be done to you. Your reward shall return upon your head.” Obadiah 1:16 For as you have drunk upon My holy mountain (who did this?), so all the nations shall drink forever. Yes, they shall drink, and they shall swallow, and they shall be as though they had not been. V17 But upon Mount Zion shall be those who escaped; and it shall be holy. And the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions. V 1:18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame. And the house of Esau shall be for stubble. And they shall kindle in them and burn them up. And no survivor shall be to the house of Esau; for Jehovah has spoken it.”
The people who drove the Jews from their land will again come to fight: Joel 3:2 “I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” The Palestinian Israeli conflict is the result of ownership of the land being usurped by the surrounding nations.
The Saudis and other Arabs claim to be descended from Ishmael which Gen 37:25-28 call Midianites and are recorded in scripture to have been a military power, and nomadic as the story of Joseph being sold into slavery points out. The line of Esah is recorded to have mixed with Ishmael, Gen 28:9 “Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.” If some of the Arabs are of Ishmael, then Oba 1:18 applies to them. I’ve previously alluded to this, but I think it’s time to state it as a point.
· This will be point six: it is not Europe that is prophesied to attacks Jerusalem before Jesus returns.
The beasts are a regional political power over a population, so in Rev 13:3 when one of the heads receives what appears to be a fatal wound, this is not a single personality, but the political entity the beast represents. The last entity to control the holy land was the Ottoman Empire, discounting the British who were a transitional authority with no designs on annexation.
The Ottoman Empire was a form of the last beast, and they, like pharaoh, were forced to let his people go. The unity of the Ottoman Empire was destroyed after WW1, which may account for the fatal wound, but the various parts that made up the empire don’t need a single national government. The people of the land (Middle East) will follow the political and religious directives of the only thing that unites them as a single unit: Islam; they belong to the Ummah which is the Muslim community that recognizes no borders, but sees all Muslims as being rightfully under the single representative of Allah. Their divisions and sects would disappear if a leader should be recognized as this single representative.
The Shiite Muslims are currently waiting for their counterfeit for Messiah, the one they call the perfect human being aka. The ‘twelfth imam’, who is to appear and establish a worldwide khilafah. The religious sect that controls Iran believes that the destruction of Israel in an apocalyptic event, will make this happen; and if they or their entire population dies, they will become glorified martyrs in heaven. All this easily fits in with what Rev V13:3-4 describes: “the whole world (G1093 ge:land, from the bible perspective, the Middle East) was astonished and followed the beast.” As they see it, with Allah on their side, no one can make war against them, and they will be as they were when Mohammed’s armies were an unstoppable juggernaut.
The beasts, a recap and additional observations
The Statue and beasts in Daniel are the agents of the punishment of Israel starting with Babylon, and this over the duration of seven days of years where every day represents a year for a total of 2520 days as can be seen by the equation 605 + 1948 -33= 2520 (33 being the lifetime of Jesus). The Beasts remain intact until Israel's punishment period is over after which time the last one receives a fatal wound. This last beast, described in both Daniel and Revelation is different in that it can be an empire or a coalition; the parts don’t stick together as the clay does not stick to the iron. Dan 2:41-43 makes this reference in the original language about the iron being mixed with the clay: “and they (the people being represented) shall be mixed with the seed of men.” A contrast is draw between ‘they’ and the ‘seed of men’; they are not the same entities perhaps predicting the immigration of people from the territorial and ethnic confines of the nation or nations comprising this final beast, thus taking their counterfeit religion with them to all the world.
There may be various nations making up the last beast, primarily from the ethnic descent, and historic territory of Daniel 11’s King of the North and King of the south, but they are held together by a common creed and mission, to destroy Judah.
In Rev 12:14 the women (Judah) is taken into the desert to be taken care of for 1260 years, which is the last half of her punishment time. In chapter 13:5 we see the final beast that inflicts that punishment given authority to blaspheme God and v7 given authority to make war against the saints and to conquer them. Both the Jews and Christians are called saints; the Jewish people are referred as such in Dan 8:12 in its discussion of this same last beast. This authority is given for the exact same time linking Rev 13:5, Rev 12:14 and Dan 7:25 together as a common point in time. The idea that Satan would wait until the last few years to create a counter religion to fight against the gospel message Jesus left to his followers is not believable. A counter religion would also be called an anti Christian religion, or shall we just say Antichrist. Rev 5:3 predicts that this beast wars against the saints, and prevails. This has indeed happened as the forces of Islam did conquer and virtually drove the Christian church out of the land of its birth.
The events in Revelation are not chronological as Rev13:5 (the beast was given authority) precedes verse 4, which is clearly after receiving power and a time when the beast is worshipped as a military juggernaut, which the Muslim armies were for centuries until something happened described in verse 3 as one of the heads receiving what seems to be a fatal wound (although the wound may have taken a century or more to be inflicted). Illustrating this is the fact that no greater enemy existed for the West then those Muslim forces until the rise of the communist Soviet Union; and no more prevalent exhortation was heard in European churches for all those centuries then the beseeching of God to “save us from the armies of Islam.” The relatively short time the tables have been turned has resulted in a largely bitter population that vilifies the West as a personification of Satan, but the scale is far from balanced, that would also take many centuries.
This doesn’t excuse exploitation or colonialism, but the hate filled accusations against the West smacks of the pot calling the kettle black. No, the scales are far from balanced, but unlike in Islam, a Christian has no right to seek vengeance: Rom 12:19, Heb 10:30 “vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay;” so balancing scales is none of our concern that will be Jesus’ prerogative.
After many centuries of having the authority and prevailing against the saints, internal corruption and WW1 drained the life out of the Muslim rulers, then in the form of the Ottoman Empire. The weakened condition of the Muslim Ummah (during the time of the apparent fatal wound) has allowed God’s sure prediction of the return of his chosen people to the holy land as a fulfillment of his purposes and a sign to all who might believe his word is truth. The window of opportunity was small however, and no sooner had the fledgling Jewish state been established when the parts of the wounded beast began to congeal into a coalition to destroy their former vassal.
All but one of the heads of the beast in Rev 13 are past empires, at this point in the narration, only one head is active, and it seems to be all but dead, but it revives; verse 11 refers to another beast, but Daniel makes it clear that the fifth beast is the last one, or the seventh when including the two empires preceding Babylon, Egypt and Assyria, that were of the same geography, but were tools of punishment for Israel prior to the final seven day sentence (2520 yrs), and before the prophetic statue of Daniel.
By the pattern thus far established, a ‘beast’ is a people. This Beast in Rev13:11 is not one of the beasts represented in the statue in Daniel 2, or the beasts of Daniel 7, it doesn’t have the identifying feature of controlling the land Aretz Israel. It comes on the scene after Israel's punishment is over. It could be composed of a past fragment of a former beast having broken off the larger entity. Iran was part of the Medo-Persian Empire, but it was not the King of the North (Seleucid Empire), which is the continuing manifestation of the Beast as Dan 11 points out. Persia was ruled by the Seleucid Empire but breaking free formed its own empire in 248 BC which remained until 641 AD when the Muslims came.
This beast in Rev 13:11 appears holy like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon. This fragment of the former beast never annexed the holy land. Annexing Judah is a required characteristic of the sections of the statue and the beasts of Daniel. It was the Medo-Persian Empire that once controlled Judah of which the Persia (Iran) of today is only an off shoot. So far, I think Iran qualifies for the Rev 13:11 roll.
Rev13:12 states that the beast exercises the same authority of the previous beast, and makes the people of the earth (the land i.e. Middle Eastern nations) worship that previous beast. This nation (beast) doesn’t control Judah, but perhaps lends its power to the cause and purpose of the one who was the last to do so. From the way things are shaping up, Iran would fulfill this role. It was part of or occupied by the earlier beasts but was not the King of the North or South. Its president drips words of love for mankind while condemning Israel, and calling for its annihilation, conforming to the description: Rev 13:11“appears like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon.” Iran has become the champion of Islam’s mission of destroying the people of God (the Jews), and the gospel of Jesus. Iran is making treaties with its Muslim neighbors to stand together militarily if any one of them is attacked, particularly by Israel. Iran is the champion of Muslim unity and points to the glorious past, in effect promoting a worship of the former Ummah’s glory i.e. worship of the former beast.
The Muslims lost their political cohesion after the Ottoman Empire disintegrated, which occurred largely during the 19th century up to WW1.The decline of Islamic national prestige has left a population whose pride is for what is past more than for what is present. The more liberal Ottoman Empire that relaxed Jewish oppression is an object of pride, but of course not the larger object of nostalgia, that is reserved for the earlier golden age of Islamic society where sharia (Islamic) law prevailed.
Having lost the glory of the past, Islamic fundamentalist revival has swept the Muslim nations, and has been laying the foundations of the fulfillment of Ezek 38-39 (Which names the attackers of Judah that when modernized are primarily the Muslim nations surrounding Israel)and Zech 12 (Jesus comes and fights for Israel personally when the surrounding nations attack). Here is an excerpt from The Rise and Decline of the Ummah (Imam Zaid Shakir 2004):
“In order to elaborate this general view, we will first present a chronological sketch of the rise and decline of the Muslim Ummah. In fact, an understanding of our present situation demands that the past glory and grandeur of the Muslim Ummah should he realized by young Muslims. They should know that there was a time when the armies of the Arabs starting from Gibraltar had reached north-east into the heart of France. At another time the Turkish armies, after trampling all of Eastern Europe, were knocking at the gates of Vienna. Perhaps in this way we can recreate in the hearts of our young men a desire to revive the past majesty and glory of the Muslim civilization.”
There you have it from a Muslim. It’s interesting how bible prophecy can stray when one forgets that the perspective of the bible is Jerusalem centered; everyone needs to keep their eyes on the land that the bible concerns itself with; the Middle East. If we’re focused on Europe, we might miss the fulfillment of bible prophecy occurring right before our eyes. We know where the target is, that’s where our attention needs to be. I don’t see anything that really hasn’t been fulfilled in between where we are now and the coming of Jesus to fight for Israel.
Luke21:28 “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.