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Prophecy I

Revelation 12:1-6

 

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” (Revelation 12:1,2)

 

Comment:   This short prophecy is six verses long. It consists of three characters: A pregnant woman standing on the moon, a great red dragon, and a male child who does not remain on Earth. If I could give this prophecy a title, it would be, “Lucifer’s Hatred for Jesus.” Even though this prophecy begins at the time of Christ’s birth, the conflict between Christ and Satan predates the creation of Earth. For thousands of years, the Godhead did everything possible to resolve Lucifer’s disaffection in Heaven, but Lucifer and his followers would not cooperate. Finally, Lucifer led a third of the angels into open rebellion and Jesus kicked them out of Heaven. Because Jesus and His angels triumphed over Lucifer and his angels, Satan’s desire for revenge has been insatiable ever since. He loathes Jesus and this hatred explains, in part, whey the devil was prepared and determined to kill Jesus “the moment He was born.”

 

This prophecy has a cosmic setting. God used objects from the sky such as the sun, moon, and stars to frame this story because the elements in this story go beyond events that have transpired on Earth. This story covers thousands of years and involves millions of angels and human beings. John saw a pregnant woman clothed with the sun, which was also wearing a crown of twelve stars and was standing on the moon. The book of Revelation does not treat the sun, moon, and stars as symbols in this passage. This statement is true because there are no relevant texts defining the sun, moon, and stars as symbols. God used a cosmic setting for this troy because He wants us to understand the feelings, the actions, and the loathing that Lucifer has for Christ. Who else but God could explain something so huge in eight sentences?

 

The woman standing on the moon is not Virgin Mary. This woman has been persecuted from the beginning. This woman has existed ever since sin began and she was chased into the desert for 1,260 years. The woman represents the people of God, His church, and a group of people who are the bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:7) Her position, “standing on the moon,” indicates that she is not of this world. (John 18:36, 1 John 2:15-17) God’s church is not a specific denomination nor does it have building of brink and mortar. God’s church consists of honest-hearted people from all ages and they are found in every religious system. This woman is in love with God and God loves her (His people). She is pregnant with His Son. She (the church) loves God with all her (their) heart, mind, and soul and (their) neighbor as herself (themselves). Matthew 22:36-40; Ephesians 5:23-27) Jesus came form a long line of people who loved God – people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. This may sound strange, but the Great Tribulation will prove that there are far more people in God’s church today than all Christian denominations combined!

 

Jesus used a woman to symbolize His affection for His people the very day that sin began. Jesus told Lucifer, Adam and Eve, “And I will put enmity [hatred, conflict] between you [Lucifer] and the woman [My people], and between your offspring and hers; he [a male child coming through her] will crush your head [someday], and you [Lucifer] will strike his heel [so that He will die].” Genesis 3:15, insertions mine)

 

The pregnant woman wears a stephanos (a winner’s crown) with twelve stars in it. The twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel. (Revelation 7:5-8) Her brilliant shining garment represents the wedding garment (Matthew 22:11,12) that is the righteousness of Christ. (Romans 1:17) This garment is freely given to every repentant sinner. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

 

“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail [pun: tale] swept a third of the stars [angels] out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter [indicating His reign on the throne cannot be broken], And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:3-5, italics and insertions mine)   

 

Comment:   We know that the red dragon is the devil. (Revelation 12:9) We know that Lucifer tried to kill Jesus “the moment He was born.” (Matthew 2:16) We know that Jesus was taken to Heaven after His death on the cross. (Acts 1:11) We know that Jesus sits on God’s throne. (Acts 7:55,56; Colossians 3:1) We know that Jesus will eventually rule all nations with an iron scepter. (An iron scepter means that His rule cannot be broken. Revelation 19:15) When the devil saw that he could not kill baby Jesus, when the devil saw that he could not keep Jesus in the tomb, and when the devil saw that Jesus had returned to Heaven and was out of reach, he directed his hatred for God at the woman. 

 

“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.” (Revelation 12:6)

 

Comment:   It is ironic that the devil used “the visible Church” to persecute “the invisible church.” This concept is difficult to explain, but it must be understood. When Jesus established His church, you could say that a new religious system was established even though the woman already existed. The new religious system was a visible church. It became an organized body of believers. The visible church was defined by creeds and doctrine, and human beings directed it as they sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 16:19; Acts 15) The visible church had members, buildings, and programs. On the other hand, the woman consists of born again individuals, those who supremely love God and their neighbors and uphold God’s advancing truth. These individuals follow the leading of the Holy Spirit – wherever He leads. The woman only exists in God’s sight. Individuals who make up the woman may worship in a visible church, but the woman and the visible church are two distinct entities and this confuses a lot of people. Mon looks on the outer appearance, but God reads the heart. Individuals who have a pure heart, regardless of their religious persuasion, are members of the woman, God’s invisible church. God’s people may be members of a visible church, but membership in a visible church does not mean anything to God.

 

This visible/invisible principle is explained in Romans 9. Go over this carefully: “For not all who are descended from Israel [Jacob] are Israel [belong to Jacob in God’s sight]. Nor because they are his [biological] descendants are they all Abraham’s children [in terms of salvation, biological heritage is meaningless]. On the contrary, {God rejected Abraham’s plea that Ishmael, his first born son, should be heir to the covenant. Genesis 17:15-22 God said, ‘No,’] ‘It is through Isaac [the miracle baby] that your offspring will be reckoned.’ In other words, it is not the natural children [biological offspring] who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise [those who have experienced the miracle of spiritual birth] who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” (Romans 9:6-8)

 

After the first century A.D., the visible church and the invisible church drifted apart. By the fifth century A.D., the visible church in Rome had taken control of doctrine and leadership, and those who loved truth and followed the Spirit were actually regarded as her enemies. The devil took control of the visible church and used it to persecute the invisible church. This warfare will be repeated. During the Great Tribulation a very visible Babylon will make war against everyone keeping God’s commandments and holding to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)

 

The woman fled to the desert for survival. The desert represents a desolate hiding place and the 1,260 days defines her period of persecution. The time, times, and half a time mentioned in Daniel 7:25, Revelation 12:14 and the 1,260 days of Revelation 12:6 are the same time period. (A.D. 538-1798) This can be confusing, I know, but the prophecy in Revelation 12 spans many centuries. Beginning in A.D. 538 and finishing in A.D. 1798, this prophecy covers 1,260 years. The Jubilee Calendar is in operation during this period, therefore the 1,260 days must be translated as 1,260 years (Rule Four of Apocalyptic Prophecy).

 

Keeping the Identity of the Dragon on Track

 

Many prophetic expositors violate valid rules of interpretation in Revelation 12 because they want to make the enormous red dragon into something other than the devil. History does affirm that the devil worked through the little horn in Daniel 7 (the Roman Catholic Church to persecute the saints for 1,260 years, but the enormous red dragon in Revelation 12 is not the papacy. If, in our rush to understand apocalyptic prophecy, we ignore or manipulate the specifications that God has given, we will never be able to arrive at the intended meaning of prophecy. Follow the logic: The enormous red dragon tried to kill Jesus at birth through Herod. Then, the great red dragon used the Roman Catholic Church to chase the woman into the desert for 1,260 years. The devil is a determined demon. He is not Herod nor is he the Roman Catholic Church. This brings me to a second point, which is also very important.

 

 The leopard-like beast is not the devil even though the devil will control the beast! (Revelation 13:2) When studying the behavior of people or organizations, it is difficult to determine the extent of control the devil has because generally speaking, adults have the ability to exercise their power of choice. Therefore, we have to ask, “Does the devil really influence people, and by extension, organizations, to do things they would otherwise not do?” Consider these verses:

 

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8,9, italics mine)

 

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, italics mine)

 

The Bible does indicate that the devil and his demons can and must be resisted or they may take control of us. We know that demon possession is possible because Jesus cast demons out of many people. See Matthew 8:28-33)

 

Summary:   We have examined Lucifer’s hatred for Jesus in this first prophecy. This loathing has not changed. If it were possible, Lucifer would kill Jesus right now. Jesus has demonstrated God’s love for mankind in ways that transcend human comprehension.   Jesus did not have to go to the cross, but infinite love caused Him to be willing to give up His eternal life so that we might have it. Could you imagine killing the very person who would volunteer to die in our place? Lucifer’s hatred for Jesus shows the malevolent and hideous nature of sin. We have also learned that the devil uses demon possessed people and organizations to carry out his evil desires. Lucifer, once the greatest and highest created being, has become a senseless beast, a raving destroyer. His human instruments have been diverse – from the Pharisees, the Caesars, and the Church of Rome, to rules like Herod, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hussein. After chasing the woman for 1,260 years, he has one final chance to destroy her. He is waiting for the leopard-like beast to rise.          


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