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THE TWO BEASTS OF REVELATION Part 1
Lesson 17

Review

From the earlier lessons we have learned how Jesus will awaken the earth to hear the everlasting gospel.  We have studied the purpose of the seven trumpets, their chronological structure and effects.  We have considered the effectiveness of the Two Witnesses as represented in the work of the Bible and Holy Spirit during this time period.

It is interesting to know that in Old Testament times, a person accused of murder could not be put to death by one witness. Notice the importance and responsibility of being a witness: “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.  The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.” Deuteronomy 17:6,7

During the time-period of the trumpets, the gospel goes as a “testimony” to every nation and person.  Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 Who gives this life or death testimony?  God’s Two Witnesses – the Bible and the Holy Spirit!

Isn’t it interesting that in Revelation’s story, no one will be condemned for rejecting the testimony of one witness for there will be two!

The unpardonable sin

According to the Bible, there are two types of sin!  The first type is accidental or sin that occurs without willful intention.  Hitting your finger with a hammer and saying a bad word could be described as an accidental sin.  Sometimes we say things that are untrue (or not altogether true) without intending to do so.  John was aware of both types of sin when he wrote, “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life.  I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death.  I am not saying that he should pray about that.  All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” 1 John 5:16,17

The second type of sin is deadly and comes from persistent wrongdoing!  Paul wrote, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”  Hebrews 10:26,27

Jesus told the Pharisees, “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”  Matthew 12:31,32

The unpardonable sin is committed when a person persistently refuses to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  According to Webster, the word blasphemy means, “taking the prerogatives of God.”  The work of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth, but if we refuse to be led into the knowledge of truth, we reject the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Israel refused to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and their hearts and minds became as hard as stone.  Such hardness led them to kill Jesus and then to justify their deed!  Revelation says the condition of the world will become like Sodom and Egypt in Revelation 11:8 This implies the world will ultimately commit the unpardon-able sin!  Those being led of the Spirit will receive the gospel.  Those refusing the Spirit will receive the mark of the beast.

Satan’s plans revealed

Thus far in our study, Revelation’s story (chapters 4-11) tells us what Jesus is presently doing or will soon do.  As we begin chapter 12, John stops the progression and tells us about Satan.  God wants His people to be aware of this wicked foe.  We need to anticipate his actions and his plans for the last days!

The story of chapter 12

  1. John sees a pregnant woman about to give birth. {V2}
  2. An enormous red dragon having seven heads and ten horns appears. {V3}
  3. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. {V4}
  4. The dragon stood in front of the woman and attempted to devour the baby boy when he was born. {V4}
  5. The woman gives birth to a baby boy who will rule all nations with an iron scepter. This son was snatched up to God and to his throne. {V5}
  6. The woman runs to the desert for 1,260 days for protection. {V6}
  7. There is war in heaven; Michael and his angels fight the dragon and his angels. Satan is ultimately cast out. {V7-9}
  8. When the dragon saw that he was hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman for a time, times and half a time (same time period as the 1,260 days above). {V13, 14}
  9. The dragon spewed water like a river out of his mouth but the earth opened its mouth and helped the woman. {V15, 16}
  10. The dragon was then enraged at the woman and went off (disappeared) to make war against the rest of her offspring (the remnant people) who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. {V17}

 

Chapter 12 interpreted

Some background information about this story must be presented at this point.  However, the conclusions presented here may be regarded as tentative since all the details of the story must be included before reaching a comprehensive result.

The language of this story is clearly symbolic.  The great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns is identified in verse 12:9 as the angel king, Satan.  The Bible clearly interprets the symbol.  John says that war broke out in heaven between Michael and his angels and Satan and his angels.  John saw two kings at war!  One king is called “Michael”, the other “Satan.”

The angel kings

Two interesting points can be made here.  First, Michael is the name angel’s used for Jesus before He came to earth as a man.  (The name Jesus was not applied to the Son of God until he was born of woman.)  The name Michael means, “One who is like God.”  The name Michael is mentioned in the Bible four times.  From Jude 9, we learn that Michael is an archangel.  (In this text, Michael and Satan have a dispute over the resurrection of Moses.)  The term “archangel” indicates ruler ship over angels much like archbishop means ruler ship over the bishops.  In Daniel 10:13, Michael is identified as “one of the chief princes.”  In this verse, Michael comes to help Gabriel because Satan is causing a major problem.  So, while Gabriel is working with King Cyrus to accomplish an important task, Michael subdues Satan the “prince of this world” so the task can be accomplished.

Perhaps the clearest text demonstrating that Michael is Jesus is found in Daniel 12:1.  This verse indicates that, “When Michael arises (“stands up”KJV). There will be a time of trouble that has never been.”  We know that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father as our high priest.  The context of Daniel 12:1 favorably compares with the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15-19 which describes the close of mercy.  So, when Jesus stands up, the ministry of intercession is ended.  The time of trouble that has never been commences at this time.  This time of trouble is the outpouring of the full wrath of God upon those having the mark of the beast!

Some people don’t accept the idea that Michael is another name for Jesus.  Usually, support for this is given in Jude 9 where Michael says to the devil, “The Lord rebuke you.”  The idea is that if Michael were Jesus, he would not refer to “the Lord” as though he was another person.  But this is not uncommon practice!  Zechariah 3:2 says “The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan!’  The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!   Here Jesus clearly uses the same language.  Jesus asserts His authority over the devil from time to time by reminding the devil who He really is.  For example, when Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He quoted from the Old Testament saying, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”  Jesus clearly knew who He was and so did the devil.  In this conversation between Jesus and Satan, Satan was reminded again that he was dealing with God.

Each time the term Michael is used in the Bible, a controversy with Satan is under way!  The real beauty of knowing that Michael is Jesus is that the Son of God identified himself as one of the angels before coming to earth in the same way he now identifies himself as the son of man!  He is Michael, the archangel, to the angels and to us; he is Jesus the incomparable Son of Man!

Personal opinion

It is my opinion that Michael closely identified with the angels before the fall of Lucifer; thus, they really didn’t understand exactly who He was.  Christ’s identity in heaven as an angel, albeit an archangel or “one of the chief princes”, was perhaps one of the reasons Lucifer became jealous of Christ.  Lucifer, the highest of the created angels, came to think that he was equal to or better than Michael.  Such thinking led Lucifer to controversy and eventually expulsion from heaven.

If this opinion is true, the phrase, “the Revelation of Jesus” really comes into sharp focus. The book of Revelation is actually the conclusion of a long process: the revelation of who Jesus really is!  This is not only true in heaven but to human beings on earth!  Everyone will know WHO JESUS REALLY IS when the 7th seal is opened!  Then Michael/Jesus destroys Lucifer/devil when the Creator destroys the world.

Back to the angel kings

The second point found in Revelations 12:4,7-9 is that Michael and Satan are clearly recognized as “angel kings.”  The Bible says “Satan and his angels fought against Michael and his angels.”  Knowing that Lucifer is an angel king in Revelation 12 is very important because the fifth trumpet marks the appearing of an “angel king” from the Abyss.  See Revelation 9:11.  In the Hebrew and in the Greek, the angel king’s name from the Abyss means destroyer!  The angel king from the Abyss that shall appear on earth is none less than an apparition of the devil.  The irony of this is significant.  Michael came to earth as a man to save the world while Satan appears upon the earth to destroy the world!

The women

The woman in chapter 12 symbolizes the body of Christ and/or his children.  In Old Testament times, God’s people were likened to or symbolized by women.  For example, see Ezekiel 23.  In Revelation, the people of God are compared to a bride! “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”  Revelation 19:7

The baby boy that was born and snatched up to God and to his throne in this chapter is Jesus.  Satan attempted to destroy baby Jesus at birth, but was unable.  John says the baby boy will rule all nations with a rod of iron.  An iron scepter indicates a ruler ship that will never end – a rule that cannot be broken!  Notice what John says of Jesus at the second coming.  “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treats the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.”  Revelation 19:14,15

The woman is chased

It is clear from the story that after Satan and his angels were cast from heaven, he chased the woman in order to destroy her.  If he could not overcome Jesus, he would destroy the people of Jesus.  John says, “The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.  The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to a 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.”  Revelation 12: 6,14

These verses reveal two important things.  First, the two time periods of the 1,260 days and, a time, times and half a time are identical and thus interchangeable.  This is important for Daniel saw the persecution of the saints for a time, times and half a time.  Daniel 7:25 John and Daniel saw the same time-period.

If these time periods are the same, we can apply the day/year principle used in Daniel 7 (See lesson 9) to Revelation 12.  Historically, this time period is known as the “dark ages” and it represents the 1,260 years of Papal rule which began in 538 A.D. when the Pope was given civil authority over portions of Europe and ended in 1798 when Napoleon took the Pope captive.  John’s view of the woman’s plight and Daniel’s view of the persecuting little horn harmoniously combine!  However, don’t think the war against the saints is over!  Both Daniel and John saw a second conflict.  John clearly tells us the dragon prepares for final war against the remnant of God.

Secondly, we learn from these verses that the candle of truth was not extinguished even though the women had to flee from the determined reach of the devil.  Jesus cared for the woman in the wilderness during her time of torment.  This point brings out a very important truth about the plan of salvation.  Even though Satan has tormented and persecuted the people of God through evil and wicked people for a long time, JUSTICE IS COMING.  PAYDAY SOMEDAY!  Every person will meet his or her Maker – face to face – someday.  Every deed, action and thought will be revealed – someday.  Every wrong will be dealt with – someday.

The war in heaven

When did the war in heaven described in Revelation 12:4, 7-9, take place?  The war between Michael and Satan began before the world was created and ended during the time Jesus lived upon earth!  From Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 we learn that Satan was in heaven before the world was created.  According to Revelation 12:4, his tail (perhaps tale would be appropriate too) swept a third of the angels out of heaven.  He was cast out with the angels loyal to hum.  Evidently, Satan’s followers felt his arguments were justified for they joined him in rebellion.

Even though they were cast out of heaven, Satan and his angels were allowed to live.  This point distresses a large number of people!  But consider the alternative.  If God had immediately destroyed Satan and his followers on the grounds of disagreement or rebellion, what would the faithful angels in heaven have thought?  They would have thought, “If you disagree with God, you’re as good as dead!”  They would have had clear evidence that God is not love and that He does not grant the power of choice.  The argument of Lucifer would have been justified!  Lucifer had accused God of always wanting things His way.  Lucifer said that there were other ways, better ways of doing things.  So, in His infinite wisdom, Jesus allowed Satan to live so that everyone might see what righteousness and evil are all about.

For some time, Satan and his angels could attend certain functions or meetings in heaven as representatives of a new government.  One such meeting is described in Job 1. As the consequences of sin began to appear over time, the universe of God’s creation began to understand what “the knowledge of good and evil” really is.  When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the entire universe became spectators of a great drama that would last 7,000 years.  Earth became the theater of the universe.

When Jesus came to earth as a baby, the heavenly host saw the full malignity of sin exercised against their beloved commander.  Satan lost no time attempting the destruction of Jesus!  The holy angels were livid with indignation.  The real nature of sin was fully exposes for what it is.  And when the universe observed the death of Jesus on Calvary, whatever interest they had in Satan’s claims against God was fully terminated.  They saw Satan for what he really was; a self-centered liar, a murderer and a thief.

The war against Satan and his angels described in Revelation 12:7-9 was concluded on resurrection Sunday.  Remember Jesus ascended to the Father that morning before meeting with His disciples that evening.  See John 20:17,19.  While Jesus was in heaven that day, the war between Michael and Satan which lasted some 4,000 years was concluded.  Satan could never again enter heaven.

War ends on resurrection Sunday

There are three important reasons for this conclusion:

  1. First, just before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that he came into the world to glorify the Father through death.  Jesus said, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour…Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the Prince of this world will be driven out.’”  John 12:27-31 Jesus knew that his death would forever deprive Satan from access to heaven.
  1. The second evidence showing this war was concluded at Calvary is found in the actual context of Revelation 12.  “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 hurried down.’”  Revelation 12:10 This verse clearly associates the salvation of man and the casting out of Satan as simultaneous events.  Even more, this verse clearly points out that Satan, “the accuser of our brothers, has been hurled down.”  If the war between Michael and Satan was concluded before the world was created, Satan could not be the accuser of the human race (angels call us brothers – Revelation 19:10) for no one existed before the earth was created!
  1. The last reason supporting this conclusion is that the chronological structure of the story in Revelation 12 supports it!  Revelation says, “When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to a male child.” Revelation 12:13 From the story we have a chronological sequence of three events:  the birth of Jesus, the casting down of Satan, the pursuit of the woman into the wilderness.  Consequently, the final eviction of Satan from heaven has to follow the birth of Jesus and be prior to the persecution that began in 538 A.D.

1260 Years of Papal Rule

    Birth             538               1500                     1776     1798          1844       Today

 

 

 

Attempts        Chases         Spews water           America                                Makes war   

To kill Jesus   woman         out of his                Established                           on remnant

                        To desert     mouth

 

 

The Sequence of Revelation 12

What about the heads and horns?

The seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns are part of the red dragon-like beast in the beginning of this story.  Even though the heads, horns, and crowns are not mentioned again in chapter 12, their purpose and function becomes very important as the story progresses.  We will see their function in the next two lessons.

Important chronological sequence

Revelation 12 presents a broad four-part sequence by the dragon-like beast that needs our attention.

  1. First, the dragon intended to devour the offspring of the woman as soon as her child was born.
  2. The dragon pursued the woman for a specified time-period.
  3. The dragon spewed water out of its mouth to sweep the woman away.
  4. The dragon becomes enraged at the woman and prepares for war against the last of her offspring.

We’ve already studied the first two steps of this sequence.  But notice the third element.  John sees the dragon-beast spew water from his mouth to sweep the woman away.  What does this mean?  Water is used as a symbol in this prophecy.  We read in Revelation 17:15 “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages,” Knowing this is symbolic and knowing the meaning of the symbol, we can interpret what John saw.  Satan spewed peoples, multitudes, nations and languages out of his mouth to sweep the woman away.  In other words, Satan flooded the wilderness church with people to corrupt Truth.  How and when was this done?

Satan attempts to drown the true church

Generally speaking, the 16th century marked the dawn of a new age – the Renaissance.  Scientific thought and investigation gained attention.  Truth and light about the laws of nature, medicine, geography, physics and theology began to inch forward.  Knowledge is power and power controls the masses.  As truth about various subjects began to develop, the iron grip of the Roman Church upon medieval life began to slip.  People throughout Europe were anxious for more freedom (see any parallel today?)  Church control over society had reached a deplorable level and many longed for liberty of conscience and freedom of speech.

To hold the power struggle in check, Roman clerics and their political pawns resorted to torture and persecution to hold back the tide of change.  Under the guise of righteousness and in the name of God, the Church of Rome had millions put to death!  God raised up mighty men of valor to lead the people toward more truth.  One such man was Martin Luther.  It has been said that he “broke the power of a hundred Roman popes” with the simple truth that salvation comes by faith!

The call for reformation grew like wildfire across Europe.  But like many well-meaning movements the pendulum swung too far. Pursuit of truth and freedom destabilized Europe, and the chaos that followed brought even greater ruin.  The pursuit of freedom became corrupted with the pursuit of power.

As truth prospered, the Church lost power and the Holy Roman Empire began to collapse.  A fearful struggle commenced throughout Europe that would last two centuries.  For the most part, the men and women fighting for political control were no better than their predecessors.  (In our day we often see the same process in small countries.  One terrible dictator is overthrown only to be succeeded by another just as bad.)  After two centuries of anarchy, Europe in general, and France in particular, reached a point of self-destruction.  A reign of terror occurred in France (1793-1796) and by historical standards, is considered to be the world’s bloodiest revolution.

Notice how Satan tried to overpower the reformation with people.  In very simple terms, the reformation started with a noble goal – the pursuit of freedom and truth.  This pursuit destabilized religious and political powers.  People seeking control took advantage of the movement and the call for spiritual reformation became lost in a mad rush for power.  Just as tiny leaks breaks open an earthen dam, the quest for freedom broke the bonds of church and government alike.  Anarchy reigned throughout Europe.  Eventually, France, the leading nation in Europe at the end of the 18th century, convulsed in a horrible revolution.  At the end of the holocaust, France, in legislative assembly declared, “there is no God”, and crowds celebrated by burning all the precious Bibles (many were hand-written) that could be found.

Notice the thoroughness of Satan’s work.  He infiltrated the Reformation movement with evil people and then led the masses of Europe too not only reject the teachings of the Papacy but to reject the Bible as well!  Europe today is still strangely indifferent to spiritual matters.  In France and England, only 3% of the population regularly attends church!

John tells us, “But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.”  Revelation 12:16 Jesus opened up a vast piece of real estate to help the wilderness church.  This verse describes the emergence of a new world – a continent called North America.  This new place became a haven for those seeking truth and religious freedom.  Since it was largely uninhabited, those seeking political power were not attracted, for without people, there is no political power.

Millions of Europeans followed the pilgrims to this great country in search of a land where freedom of worship was an inalienable right. It is for this very reason that America has a constitution built on noble and righteous principles.  Our forefathers were concerned more with truth and righteousness than personal power!

The Declaration of Independence in 1776 occurred right on time.  According to revelation 12:16, “the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth.”  The third section of the four-part sequence of Revelation 12 is clearly seen.  Twenty-two years later, in February, 1798, the 1,260 year time period allotted to the Papacy ended as Napoleon inflicted a deadly wound upon the Papacy by putting the Pope in prison.  The Christian Church, like the Jewish Church 1800 years earlier, was brought down.

But Satan isn’t finished

The last part of the four-step sequence in Revelation 12 ends by saying that Satan is really angry!  “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.”  Revelation 12:17 Why is Satan so enraged?  Notice his string of failures in this chapter:  He failed to snuff out baby Jesus.  He failed to destroy the truth through 1,260 years of persecution and he failed to overcome the truth with a flood of people.

But there is something that really enrages the dragon.  It is something greater than his failures.  The Bible says, “The dragon was enraged.” What is it?  The devil is enraged about 1844!  Satan knows that 1844 marks the beginning of the appointed time of the end.  He knows that Jesus is concluding the plan of salvation in heaven.  He knows that he is going to lose.  He knows that his remaining time is short.  John said, “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.” Revelation 12:12 So the devil is enraged knowing that the end of time has come.  His work and existence are about over. He lost every battle with Michael.  Filled with rage, Satan prepares for the final war upon the children of God.

Two chronological points

Two points need to be made:  Remember, John tells a four-part sequence in Revelation 12 that progresses chronologically from the birth of Jesus to the time of the remnant.  In other words, the story begins with the birth of Jesus and ends with the dragon preparing for unrestrained warfare on the last people or remnant of God!  The remnant is identified as obeying God’s commandments and holding to the testimony of Jesus!  The gates of hell are about to swing open to the remnant.

Secondly, we see that revelation 13 clearly describes the warfare that Satan is about to conduct on the remnant!  It will be global.  It will intense and it will affect every man, woman and child on earth.  You will be amazed at the forth-coming achievements of Satan!

The purpose of Chapter 12 is quite simple.  It chronologically prepares the stage for the war described in Chapter 13.  This war affects the remnant and the remnant need to know what Satan is about to do!

Quiz

  1. What is the unpardonable sin?
  1. Who is Michael?
  1. What does the idea, “the dragon chased the woman to the wilderness for 1,260 days” mean?
  1. What does the idea, “and the dragon spewed water out of his mouth to sweep the woman away” mean?
  1. What is the purpose of Chapter 12?

Memory verse:  “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.  Revelation 12:12

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