As the visions of Revelation continue, John is shown amazing signs of that which was and is to come. What he sees in Revelation 12 has often been misinterpreted by those with an agenda. It seems that whenever possible, there is a desire to ignore Israel and the part she plays in God’s end-times drama. The Replacement Theology mindset has determined that because of Israel’s disobedience to God over the years, and for her part in the death and crucifixion of Jesus, she is no longer relevant in God’s plans of redemption. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The major purpose of the Tribulation is to redeem and restore Israel. Without the conversion and transformation of Israel’s remnant, how else does Jesus come back to rule and reign over the earth from Jerusalem with David as prince over the twelve tribes?
The genesis of this is Revelation 12:1:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
This is the symbolic representation of the nation of Israel from which her twelve tribes arose. Nothing has ever been easy for God’s Chosen People, but she was destined for something special. Revelation 12;2 tells us:
She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.
In the process of this birth, Satan arose in revolt against all of heaven as seen in Revelation 12:3-4:
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.
Because of what God intended through this birth, of which Satan was well aware because of the prophecy against him in Genesis 3:15, he had to attempt to thwart this birth:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Satan knew that the offspring of this woman was destined to cause his destruction. In some manner, he persuaded 1/3 of the angels in heaven to follow him in rebellion, but God prevented him from achieving his two objectives of eliminating Israel and her sacred offspring. Revelation 12:5-6 notes:
She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Don’t get confused with the timing. Remember that the unfolding of Bible prophecy is like looking through different ends of a telescope. Each end gives a different perspective as to whether what is seen is near or far. The prophets given visions often couldn’t distinguish nearer term events from those farther into the future. These verses depict the birth of Jesus with the protection that God gives Him, and they relate how during the Tribulation God protects Jewish believers in Israel. There’s quite a time gap between those events.
Only after the birth of Jesus does this next event occur as reported in Revelation 12:7-9:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
When Jesus came and walked the earth, He gave notice to Satan and his demonic hordes at various times that God was ready to reclaim the world and sinful man back to Himself. Two instances of this were:
- At the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus ascended that mountain – the very one, i.e. Mount Hermon, that the rebellious sons of God had descended when they came to corrupt mankind in the Genesis 6 narrative. When He appeared in glory, that was a significant sign to Satan.
- When Jesus declared to Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail. They were standing at the foot of Mount Hermon on a rock that was previously the pagan temple of Banias (who we know better by the Greek name of Panias, or Pan). This statement told Satan that trouble was coming his way.
These scenes clearly illustrated that Jesus was here to do battle. He was announcing this intent and giving the demonic realm a heads-up that the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was soon to be fulfilled.
This led to Satan causing the death of Jesus through his human instruments and thinking that by killing Him, he had won. This was a great deception on God’s part against the demonic forces. Rather than thwarting God’s plans, Satan played right into His hands. It was actually Jesus’ death and resurrection that paved the way for mankind’s redemption. How Satan must have cursed when this realization dawned on him!
The next part of this dramatic prophecy is what occurs at the midpoint of the Tribulation. Satan possesses Antichrist, who desecrates the temple. Many Jews wake up at that point to the truth of Jesus as Messiah. It is then that Jesus’ Words from Matthew 24:15-16 ring true:
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
And so comes Revelation 12:13-14:
And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.
Those in Israel, heeding what Jesus has warned, flee to the mountain redoubt of Petra in Jordan. When speaking of this, Jesus told people to pray that this necessity to escape there didn’t occur on a Sabbath or in winter. The reason for this is that all transportation in Israel grinds to a halt on the Sabbath. Rainy winter weather is another problem with overflowing rivers and difficult travel conditions in the cold.
It’s this very situation that causes God to intervene in order to help His children get to Petra. During the Exodus in their flight from Egypt, it appears the God supernaturally assisted the Israelites, as noted in Exodus 19:4:
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
In that circumstance, given the logistics of such a large contingent of people, the distance necessary to travel, and the approaching Egyptian army, it may very well be that God translated them from one location to another – just as He subsequently did with Philip after baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch. This situation bears a remarkable resemblance to those prior events. The same language is used as for the Exodus journey, i.e. on the wings of an eagle. Does God supernaturally transport the believing Jews to Petra to enable them to escape Satan’s wicked intent?
Recall that this happens at the Tribulation midpoint. God shelters these believers in Israel and provides for them for the 3 ½ years of the remaining Tribulation (time, and times, and half a time). This period is elsewhere called the Great Tribulation.
Because Satan cannot kill this cohort of God’s newly minted Christ-followers in Israel, we see in Revelation 12:17 how he responds:
Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
This is a time of great persecution for remaining believers in Israel who don’t make it to Petra, and certainly for unbelieving Israel. Many, many will die at the hands of the satanically inspired Antichrist. Persecution as has never before been known will also come upon the new believers worldwide. The martyrs dying for their faith in these perilous years are of untold numbers.
Satan will rage during the Tribulation. He will inspire great destruction upon the earth and all who live in it. Coupled with the Judgments that God pours out, what a miserable time to be alive! Yet, it is these very circumstances that cause large numbers of people to claim Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Do you want a great revival? It is during these dark days of the most awful seven years in world history that the greatest light of Christ will shine. How terrible and wonderful at the same time.
We who have been removed from the earth through the Rapture before all this occurs – when these seven years conclude – will have many more brothers and sisters with whom we will rejoice. What a celebration that will be!