Now Has Come Salvation – Rev 12:10-12

And I heard a great voice in heaven saying, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, because the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, the one accusing them before our God day and night. And they have overcome him by the reason of the blood of the Lamb and by the reason of the word of their testimony, and they have not loved their lives unto death. Because of this, rejoice you heavens and those dwelling in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you having great fury, knowing that he has a short time.”

As we’ve been going through Revelation 12, I’ve been saying that it revolves around the middle of the week unto the end of the week. This casting down of Satan causes the cry to go out: “Woe!” Back in Revelation 8:13, there was an “eagle” that cried out three woes, for the last three trumpets were woes. I do believe there to be some connection.

This loud voice in heaven that calls these things out goes back to 7:10 and 11:15 where the great multitude gives a similar praise. “Salvation belongs to our God… and to the Lamb.” “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” Here is the struggle: when seeing the progression of Revelation, we can understand that these praises are given at the return of Christ, but why do we have this praise given in chapter 12? If the sixth seal and the seventh trumpet are the return of Christ, then it makes sense that we would see such praises. However, here in chapter 12 we’re at the midway point of the Tribulation.

This “now”, therefore, cannot refer to the coming of Jesus, for there is still a period of 3 ½ years that Satan attacks the woman (verses 13-14). Most likely this now pertains closer to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8, or even more plausible Matthew 24:33 or Luke 21:28. Jesus is telling His disciples that when you see the abomination of desolation, which Daniel spoke of, and when you see these false Christs (which Revelation 13 gives us two ‘beasts’), you know that the time is near. Luke, of course, doesn’t express the abomination of desolation, but does mention the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies, which is also heavily present in the book of Revelation for the middle of the week.

What is this “now”, or as Jesus put it, “near”? There are a couple things to consider. First, the accuser has been cast down. Therefore, we no longer have that temptation of the devil, nor the voice in the back of our minds that would accuse or despise our brethren. What that might be experientially, we can only guess at currently. Without the accuser, and the demonic influence over mankind, tempting and taunting, this particular era will be unparalleled. Yet, we also see that this is the time when there are some who have overcome. This overcoming is something incredibly significant. As the author of Hebrews puts it, applying to Jesus, by death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – the devil – and free those who were held in slavery by their fear of death (Heb 2:14-15). What is this saying? They who “love not their lives unto death”, thus overcoming the fear of death, have overcome the devil and all temptation.

Peter also writes on this when he says that “he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). He then goes on to explain that “judgment must begin with the household of God”. What is this judgment? Is it they who are wicked that are being judged? Nay, but the very righteous who don’t deserve the judgment. This begs the question already raised by Jeremiah (25:29): If God shall judge they who do not deserve it, then why would the heathen nations expect to not receive that judgment?

The “our brethren” of verse 10 cannot be the angels, though Rev 19:10 might appear to suggest it. It also cannot be the martyred, for they no longer face accusation. Rather, these are they who are still living, and the invisible cloud speaking. Somehow there are these people who are still upon the earth, yet have been “caught up” to heaven, much like Ephesians 2:6 already declares believers to be.

Notice that Zechariah 3:1 is being quoted in Rev 12:10. Just as in Zech 3 the context is that Joshua is given the priestly garments, and is exalted to higher place in God, the Body that overcomes shall also receive this honor.

In verse 11 we have the explanation of the man-child in verses 4-5. When these saints overcome, they come into such fullness to, with Michael, cast down the red dragon and be freed from accusation. This man-child is not Jesus directly, but indirectly. For, we are the “Body of Christ”. These men and women shall at this time relive the glorious display of Christ Jesus unto the world. What was known of Jesus in the Gospels, that this man seemed to be more than human and larger than life, shall be true of the overcomers.

Just as Jesus was able to claim victory over Satan and the world before His crucifixion (John 14:30, 16:33), so we see some saints overcoming before the Second Advent. We can also appeal to 1 John 5:4-5. What is it about the blood of the Lamb and their testimony, not loving their lives unto death, that has the victory? It is the reiteration of the cross (Col 2:15, Eph 3:10). Though they yet live, they endure the cross as reality in their lives. The tremendous thing is that this is not impossible for us currently. What makes this so different than current application is the casting down of Satan. While there can be victory, and therefore the casting down of strongholds and uprooting of principalities and powers over our cities, areas, and nations, Satan still presides “in the air” seeking whom he can devour.

Compare the last clause of Revelation 12:11 with John 12:25, Mark 8:35, Matthew 10:39, 16:25, and Luke 9:24, 17:33.

They who are in heaven are they who have overcome, along with the angelic hosts and the invisible cloud – they who have already passed unto glory. They rejoice because Satan has been overcome, and therefore cast down. See Isaiah 44:23, 49:13, Psalm 96:11.

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War in Heaven – Rev 12:7-9

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels warred against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels warred, and he did not have strength, nor was a place found for them any more in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown out, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, deceiving the whole world; he was cast down into the earth, and his angels with him were thrown down.

It seems like the best way to interpret this passage is by concluding it comes before verse 6. It seems as though we have in Revelation 12:1 that the woman is in heaven, and again in verse 3 that the dragon is in heaven, but when we come to verses 5-6, we’re left with both of these signs appearing to be on the earth. Thus, it is my conclusion that we are seeing the overview in the first six verses, and then from verses 7-17 more details are being added.

The obscure Greek is from Hebraicism (see Hosea 9:13, Psalm 25:14, 1 Chronicles 9:25, Ecclesiastes 3:15). “War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels had to fight with the dragon, and the dragon…” We see this concept of war in heaven in Daniel 10:13 and 20. Though Luke 10:18 and Ezekiel 28:17 attest to Satan already being cast down to the earth, we find in Job 1:6 that Satan still has residence in the heavenly places (see Ephesians 2:1-3 and Zechariah 3:1 as well).

Michael is seen in the book of Daniel alone. In the Old Testament we see Gabriel and Michael, Michael being found only in Daniel 10 and 12. It appears that Daniel 12:1 is somewhat of a parallel to our passage. In Daniel 12:1, Michael stands up. After Michael stands up, there is a time of unequaled tribulation. Here in our text we see Michael warring against the dragon, and the result is that the dragon is cast to the earth to pursue the woman and make war with her “other” offspring.

Satan was not victorious. “A place was not found for them” recalls Daniel 2:35 and Zechariah 10:10. The dragon is called the “ancient serpent”, thus connecting this dragon back to Genesis 3:1. He is also called “the devil and Satan”. In connection to Genesis 3:1, we find in the curse on the serpent a strangely worded promise. In Genesis 3:15 we read about enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Then, when we would expect war between the two seeds, God says that the seed of the woman will crush Satan’s head.

There is general consensus that the serpent’s head was crushed by Jesus on the cross. However, it is necessary to note Romans 16:20, where Paul tells us that God will crush Satan’s head under our feet. Apparently there is corporeity in this promise. While it is true that Jesus was the one to have victory over the principalities and powers and to openly shame them through the cross, it is not true to then say that this is the finality of Satan’s demise. There still waits a time for the Body of Christ to crush the head of that serpent, and that time is when we shall overcome and Michael shall stand up.

To search this out a bit more deeply, let us continue to press this idea of “seeds”. We saw in Revelation 12:5 that the woman gave birth to a man-child. We wrestled with who this man-child might be. The conclusion that seems to fit best is that this man-child is they who overcome. In the book of Genesis we have the two seeds expressed quite intentionally throughout all of the children mentioned. There is Cain, and then there is Abel. Cain slays Abel, and therefore God grants the woman Seth. We see in Genesis 6 that the daughters of Cain intermarry with the sons of God. What does this mean? Some have tried to claim that the term ‘sons of God’ is only used in reference to the angels in the Old Testament, and therefore we should expect this to be true here. The context betrays us, though, because from Genesis 3:15 we know quite well that these are the two seeds of the woman being mixed.

God claimed they shall have enmity one for another. Yet, here we see they intermarry. With that intermarriage, there comes grievous sin. This is the same mystery that is happening with the harlot, by the way. Somehow the harlot is the Antichrist Babylon, but at the same time it is Jerusalem and the unfaithful people of God. The two have married together, and thus created such immorality that God is repentant that he even made man. But, there is a Noah. And in the last days there will be they who overcome, who God will preserve just like Noah while the rest of the world is in chaos. With Noah’s sons we see two get blessed and one gets cursed.

When we follow the story of Genesis, we come to the table of nations in chapter 10, which leads straight into the tower of Babel in chapter 11. All nations come together to build this tower. Does this sound familiar? Just like all nations came together for the purpose of disobedience unto God, so too shall we see at the end of the age that all nations shall give their allegiance to this Antichrist figure. God’s response in Genesis was to call one man out of all nations and to make him a nation. Here we have Babylon as Satan’s seed, and Abraham’s descendants as God’s seed.

Thus we see here again God’s intention for the woman’s seed to be corporeity. Yet, we need to understand Paul’s words. Abraham’s offspring are not only according to the flesh. They who have the faith of Abraham are his offspring. He is the father of us all. Therefore, when we read of his two sons (Ishmael and Isaac) it comes as a surprise that the blessed seed would not be the only one to come from Abraham. How is there Ishmael and Isaac? How did Isaac have Jacob and Esau? We see Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, and ultimately Israel is the stature unto which we are all called. It is an eternal and heavenly dwelling where we overcome the seduction of this world to be brought back into the presence of God lost in the Garden.

These are the two seeds. There are they who go the way of Babylon, and they who follow the culture of heaven. We all have that choice to make, because even Abraham had two sons. The one was the son of promise, but the other was the seed of the serpent. So it is today. Yet, though these two seeds are at war with one another, notice that it isn’t the two seeds mentioned in Genesis 3:15. God says that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. What we see here in Revelation 12:7-9 is that the seed of the woman is beginning to come into the fullness of that calling. There are a corporate people who are living as Jesus lived, and are dying like Jesus died, and thus enacting the cross all over again to defeat the powers of darkness.

While there is a specific moment in time when Michael shall stand up and cast the serpent down, that moment is brought about through the overcoming saints. The war in heaven is not something isolated that we have nothing to do with. We, too, are called to engage the principalities and powers in Ephesians 3:10 and 6:12. It is that casting down of the powers once and for all that strips away the veil that covers the nations (Isa 25:7). That veil is the very thing that keeps the pagans in blindness and unrighteousness. It is that deception brought on by the principalities and powers that causes for there to be two seeds that come from Abraham instead of one.

The law in Paul’s mind was more than the torah. While it consisted of the torah, it is important to note that Paul sees these regulations as something that put you in bondage. Yet, the psalmist saw these things as a delight. You don’t delight in bondage, but in freedom. Jesus tells us that the law shall not pass away until heaven and earth pass away. So, why would Paul then come along and call it bondage? What he is getting at is that behind the law is an entire system of religion that tells you how to be righteous before God. It is righteousness through works that is bondage, and not the law itself. For, the law itself testifies to righteousness through faith.

For those who continue in the law, which is to say, in righteousness by works, they are still under the power of the principalities. We must come out from that. We must be enabled by the Spirit of God to come out from that false mindset of works righteousness. It is what the whole world lives by. “If God exists, I don’t think he would throw me into hell. I mean, I’m a good person, after all…” Or, as my uncle has said, “If you do 70% good and only 30% bad, hopefully your good will outweigh your bad and you’ll make it to heaven.” This is not the righteousness of God. Righteousness is through faith, and through faith alone. Works are only accompanied by faith, and without faith are absolutely dead.

The Woman in the Wilderness – Rev 12:1-6

It is not well known among believers today that there are actually many prophecies in the Old Testament concerning a last days expulsion of Israel and return to the land. Inevitably every time that these prophecies come up, there is also the promise of “knowing the Lord your God”. When did that take place? The promises of such national knowledge of the Lord that even the nations will marvel doesn’t really fit any age in history. Therefore, we take it to mean something future. So, let us examine some of these Scriptures that would help us to understand what I’m saying. Where is it explicitly said that Israel shall undergo a sifting through the wilderness?

We left off last time noting Jeremiah 30:6-7. Verse 7 reads, “How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of Jacob’s Trouble, but he will be saved out of it.” What I find interesting is reading the previous chapter of Jeremiah. He writes a letter to the exiles telling them to build houses, marry, plant gardens, and generally live life as you would live if you were in the Land. Why? The Lord says, “When seventy years are completed, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.”

Jeremiah rejoices at this. He prophesies in Jeremiah 30:3, “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers to possess.” Yet, in the very next verse we read the beginning to the statement, “Cries of fear are heard – terror and not peace.” Jeremiah even asks the question, “Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every strong man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor, and every face turned deathly pale?” Jeremiah prophesies of the return, and rejoices at that return. But then his focus turns, and he asks, “What is this that I see?” Jesus even said of this time, “Then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never equaled again.”

This was the word spoken to Daniel the prophet concerning when Michael shall stand up and cast Satan out of heaven: “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.” In Luke 21:22-24, Jesus warns of this time that, “There will be great distress in the land,” and, “they will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.” Yet, we shouldn’t leave Jeremiah 30 so quickly. We read of Israel in verse 12, “Your wound is incurable; your injury beyond healing.” Then, as if that wasn’t harsh enough, God begins to express terrifying judgment. Yet, when we reach verse 16, we begin to read a different story: “But all who devour you will be devoured” (think of the dragon in Rev 12:3), “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds…”

Her wound is beyond cure, it is true, but God will heal her. How? The only way possible: death and resurrection. We see in Ezekiel 20:33-35, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will rule over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with fury poured out. I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered – with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with fury poured out. I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you.”

It is said in Amos 9:8-10, “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth – yet I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob, declares the Lord. For I will give the command, and I will sift the house of Israel through all nations as grain is sifted in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, ‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us’.”

God says that He will sift the people Israel through all nations. Yet, I challenge you to look up the context in your Bible. You’ll find immediately after these verses are verses of restoration in the land and the rebuilding of David’s fallen tabernacle. When does this sifting take place? It cannot take place separate from Israel once again receiving a king who will rule over them like David – and to rule over them forever.

The point of Israel’s flight is made obvious in Deuteronomy 8:2: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” The point is to humble Israel. They will be provided for in the midst of the desert the whole time. It isn’t that God sends them out to see how they fare. God provides for them, both supernaturally and naturally through the Church. It is in this manner that He has decided to meet with them “face to face”.

“They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out” (Isaiah 48:21). As it was at the beginning, so it shall be at the end. God led Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness for 40 years; at the end He shall take Israel out of the world system and sift them through the wilderness for 42 months. The Church will be Moses to them, both in bringing the word of the Lord and in leading them through the wilderness safely. God Himself will be made manifest to them through that Church.

Yet, even with this, the prophecy is still, “So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, and uttering lies our hearts conceived” (Isaiah 59:9-13).

At what point in Israel’s history has this come to pass? It can’t be at the time of Nehemiah, because even the prophets at that time were saying, “Return to me, and I’ll return to you” (Zech 1:3, Mal 3:7). Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones, says that this vision is about a time when Israel will proclaim, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off”. “I said I would scatter them and blot out their memory from mankind, but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy, lest the adversary misunderstand and say, ‘Our hand has triumphed; the Lord has not done all this’” (Deut 32:26-27). This is God’s doing, and Israel needs to acknowledge that.

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to posses. You will not live there long, but will certainly be destroyed. The Lord will scatter you among the people, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you… The Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed them by oath.” Deut 4:26-27, 31

“Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst.” Though they taste of the stings of death, they shall come out of that death resurrected and asking, “Where, O death is thy sting?”

“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped” (Zech 14:2). “How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, even the animals and birds have perished” (Jer 12:4). “Though they dig down to the depths of sheol, from there my hand will take them. Though the climb up to the heavens, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from me at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them” (Amos 9:2-3).

The Lord does not mince His words. Not only are these words harsh, apocalyptic, and exaggerated, but they come from the mouth of God. This is the same who said, “You will give an account for every idol word that you speak.” If God takes our words that seriously, and even is called “the Word”, how much more sobriety ought we to have when reading such texts as this? Apocalypse is not a message that anyone desires to bear. God is after something, though. When we cross-reference Daniel 12:7 with Leviticus 26:19, we read, “I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

“I will make them jealous by those who are no people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. The Lord will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free” (Deut 32:21-36). Israel will even corporately confess, “In the course of my life he broke my strength” (Psalm 102:23).

“Those who survive the sword shall find favor in the desert” (Jer 31:2). “Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return” (Zech 10:9). Jesus asked the question, “Who is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?” Because this is found in Matthew 24:45, and the larger context of Matthew 24 and 25 are about the end times, I must assume that this question is pertaining to Israel. Who is this servant that will provide food to Israel at the proper time? Isn’t that an interesting question?

God has chosen the wilderness as His place of refuge for His people. Throughout all of the Scripture, the wilderness is a place of safety. Notice that David finds solace from Saul there. John the Baptist lives in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey. Moses was on the backside of the desert for 40 years before the burning bush experience. Elijah flees from Jezebel 40 days into the wilderness to arrive at Mount Horeb (also known as Sinai). Jesus is baptized and immediately is led by the Spirit into the wilderness.

There is a lot of rich symbolism in the wilderness. It is a place of testing, a place of refuge, a place of destruction, and a place of building. God works some of His greatest miracles in the lives of those that flee into the wilderness. For Israel to be called out into the wilderness places is a call out of the system that Egypt represents, and out of Babylon – that Satanic kingdom that rules the world – to again find her God. The wilderness is a frightening place, but it is the place where God restores order. It is from that restoration of order that Israel will be brought to a place where they are able to accept their Messiah when He finally returns.

Some final Scriptures before finishing up, we can examine Psalm 78:19, Mark 8:4, 1 Timothy 2:2, Numbers 35:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:11, Revelation 11:1-3, Matthew 24:15-16, and Luke 21:20-22. In this we see the destruction of Jerusalem, the finding of provision in the wilderness, and the taking care of Israel who has fled to the church acting like a “city of refuge” unto her.

The Pregnant Woman – Rev 12:1-6

We can compare this first sign with Genesis 37:9 to find that it is Israel. There is also similarity here with Song of Solomon 6:10. For Israel dwelling in heaven, we can look to Lamentation 2:1. Notice the progression from the end of Revelation 11 to chapter 12. The last verse saw the temple open in heaven, and now we’re seeing two signs in heaven. The vision is now progressing to a cosmic setting. No longer is it about God venting wrath upon Israel, nor the Antichrist rule in Jerusalem. We see here the heavenly realities and conflict.

This woman is pregnant, which we see in verse 5 that she gives birth to a man-child. I want to spend some time on this debating who the man-child is. From there we’ll examine verse 6 and what the Old Testament says about Israel being taken into the wilderness to a place prepared by God.

We do see in the Old Testament other times where a woman is in travail. That woman is called Zion. For example, in Isaiah 66:7-8, we read of Zion being in travail and when she gives birth it is the birth of Israel. Now, it is critical to understand this. When Isaiah was prophesying, he was not prophesying from exile. Isaiah was living in the land. Though he prophesied of an exile and return, we need to remember that his return that he expected was much larger than what we see in Nehemiah or Ezra – and certainly more significant than 1948.

The birth of the nation of Israel is more than just her establishment in the land. With that comes the marriage of Israel back unto her God (Isa 62:4-5) and the redemption of Israel (Isa 62:11-12). This is about her “beholding him whom they pierced”, and thus repenting and wailing before the Lord as seen in Zechariah 12:10-14.

Yet, this isn’t Zion that we’re seeing. This is Israel. While I think there is profound significance within the similarity between Isaiah 66:7-8 and Revelation 12:2 and 5, I think it is more critical to notice the parallel with Micah 5:3. In Micah 5, there is the birth of the Messiah, and then in verse three there is a mysterious break in the story. We see the Messiah, and then we see that Israel shall be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth, and then the rest of his brothers will return to join the Israelites. What is being said here?

In Micah 5:3, we have Jesus coming as Messiah, and then we have Israel being cast off for a time. This is what Paul is speaking of in Romans 11. For a season the natural branches are cast off until the fullness of Gentiles comes in, and then all Israel shall be saved. It is the exact same progression of Micah 5:3. This symbolism of the woman in travail is also found in Jeremiah 4:31, 13:21, 22:23, Isaiah 13:8, 21:3, and Hosea 13:13 under a different context. It appears that John wants us to think upon the redemption of Israel in this passage.

The woman to give birth is Israel, but from the Old Testament parallels we see the significance of this birth enacting redemption in a single day (Isa 66:7-8). Whenever that birth occurs salvation has come. The question is who is being born. Once that question is answered, the question becomes whether all of Israel is saved at that moment.

From the rest of the chapter we cannot conclude that this is the second coming of Jesus. Of course, when we read 12:5 we cannot conclude that anyway. We also cannot conclude that this is the very end when Israel is saved at the coming of Jesus. The reason for this is that we see quite explicitly a time after this birth. So, if it is the first coming of Jesus, why is there suddenly a massive break in the dialogue? If this man-child is someone (or thing) other than Jesus, then who could it possibly be?

If this man-child is Jesus, then we have the question of why the huge gap, and why is John breaking from his own pattern of having the timeline progress succinctly? There is no other place in Revelation where it could even possibly be considered that John is speaking outside of the Tribulation, nor is there a place where he has some sort of gap of hundreds – let alone thousands – of years. It is true that some events take a few years before completion, but that doesn’t say anything t why there is now a gap of 2000 years. What is more likely is that this man-child is not Jesus.

Who is it, then? What is important to note is the context of the whole chapter. We see the woman, we see the dragon, and then we see this man-child. Later in the chapter we see the dragon, we see war in heaven, there is the overcoming of the saints in verse 11, the woman is pursued by the dragon, and then the last mention is the woman’s “other offspring”. Most likely this man-child has something to do with one of these other characters mentioned. Obviously, the man-child is not the woman’s “other offspring” in verse 17. Similarly, we wouldn’t expect that Michael is this man-child. That leaves only one option: the overcomers.

Now, it has been suggested by Travis Bennett that the man-child is the 144,000 of chapter 7. This would imply that when the woman – Israel – gives birth to the 144,000 (signifying their coming unto Christ as a firstfruits of Israel’s national redemption), the dragon then pursues the woman. That would tell us that the sealing of the 144,000 is just before halfway through the Tribulation. We discussed in chapter 7 that this is most likely to take place some time toward the beginning of the tribulation. The first four trumpets must take place after the sealing of the 144,000, and so the question isn’t about when they are sealed, but when the trumpets are.

We saw quite convincingly that the trumpets must begin before the middle of the week. If the fifth trumpet lines up with the Antichrist marching on Jerusalem, then the first four trumpets must take place before that. The language of being “caught up to heaven” isn’t anything too difficult to wrestle. Paul mentions that we who are in Christ are currently seated with Christ in heavenly places – a promise given to they in Laodicea who overcome. So, what difficulty is it to imagine that the promise given to Thyatira couldn’t come to pass before the return of Christ? It is the overcomer, which in Revelation deals more specifically with they who have overcome the ultimate temptation of not loving our lives even unto the death, that obtains these promises, and not necessarily the person who is in Christ when He returns.

All of the promises given in Revelation 2-3 to the overcomers are millennial promises, but those promises are activated presently in spiritual form. Currently we are spiritually resurrected, as Paul declared in Romans 6, but we expect that we shall be physically resurrected, as Paul alludes to in Romans 8:21. So, if the ideology of being caught up and ruling with an iron scepter is expressed to people other than Jesus in other places of the New Testament (especially within Revelation), then we should have no quibble about this man-child being someone other than Jesus. The question, then, comes down to whether or not it is more likely that this man-child is the 144,000 firstfruits of Israel, or the overcomers mentioned in verse 11.

It has been debated as well whether the woman could mean the 144,000, and therefore this man-child is even more confusing. They use the contrast between the harlot on the beast being the leaders of Israel who devour the flock and the woman here who is preserved. But if you take that approach, then how do you have “her other offspring” being the church in verse 17? It absolutely has to be natural Israel.

I’m more prone to believe that this man-child is the overcoming body of believers. We can see the parallel between this “catching up” so that Satan cannot harm the man-child and the church in Philadelphia who was to be preserved from this final hour of trial. In that, God would then be using these saints as the prepared place in the wilderness for Israel to flee to in order to find solace. The rest of her offspring would then be they who still have yet to overcome – but also still have time to. The question at Jesus’ return will be the question of overcoming. They who overcome shall inherit the promises of chapters 2-3. They who don’t overcome shall stand before Jesus and be separated like sheep and goats – some to everlasting life and others to condemnation.

This would also make sense in the overall message of Revelation. They who prostitute themselves, though they are God’s people, shall receive chastisement and/or judgment. So, while Israel is being persecuted, they who are wavering in their conviction of Christ shall also be persecuted. The “catching up” is simply a way to explain Hebrews 12:22-24, Colossians 3:1, or Ephesians 2:6. The overcomers are a corporate reiteration of Jesus – He laid down His own life as a ransom for many, and so too these overcomers shall lay down their own lives for the sake of ultimate purposes and ransoming many. They shall save many lives, both physically and spiritually.

These who overcome are like the hands and feet of Jesus. They are the servants mentioned in Psalm 102:13-14 that “take pity on her stones”. They see Israel as God’s chosen people, and therefore have a heart for her like the heart of the Father. They understand her significance, and in that day will be able to comfort, O comfort, God’s people. This idea of a “man-child” comes from Isaiah 66:7-8, as we saw, but also Jeremiah 30:6. If you read Jeremiah 30, it will not take you long before you realize the context. The prophet sees the return from exile after 70 years, but then sees terror and not peace. Thus, the return from exile was not the fulfillment that Jeremiah was seeking. This verse in Jeremiah comes just before “the time of Jacob’s Trouble”, which is most likely being expressed in Revelation 12:6. We have our culprit. The man-child leads directly into the time of Jacob’s Trouble in both passages.

Revelation 12 Overview

In this overview, I want to keep it exactly what it says: an overview. While we have before sought to understand generally the various figures in each section, in this section we’re not going to be so concerned with this. Specifically, it is the debate of who this “man-child” is that we shall not be examining. The bulk majority of commentators take this son of the woman to be Jesus, and that is not without good reason. However, others have taken it to mean something completely different, and we’ll examine those arguments in a future post.

Thus, the content of Revelation 12 is rather straightforward. The woman is Israel, and not the church. We know this without any shadow of a doubt. John is pulling the description from Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9. Similarly, it was not the church that Jesus was born from, but Israel. To add on top of that, when we reach the last verse, the dragon goes off to fight against the woman’s other offspring, which are quite blatantly Christians. Christians are not offspring of the church; they are offspring of Israel.

All of this debate hinges upon a couple presuppositions. First, there is the dispensationalist who will distinguish between Israel and the church in a manner that the church is a new phenomenon. It did not exist before the coming of Pentecost. Second, there are the supercessionists (replacement theology) who would tell us that the church has replaced Israel, and therefore Israel is no longer Israel. We are the true spiritual Israel. In both of these positions, it is implicit that we make distinction between the church and Israel. The words of Paul that we are now part of the commonwealth of Israel is either misinterpreted or ignored.

The woman represents Israel, and I don’t personally make a distinction between Israel and the church. The church is that remnant that has always existed within Israel – the 7000 that did not bow the knee to Baal. However, here in Revelation 12, the woman is quite obviously ethnic Israel. I say quite obviously because there is indeed a distinction made between they who have the testimony of Jesus and this woman. Therefore, I must conclude that the woman is Israel. The dragon is defined for us in verse 9. It is Satan. Therefore, the dragon pursuing the woman is something to do with a calamity that will befall Israel – not necessarily the place (although this is true), but more specifically the people.

Now, as far as timeline and figuring out how the whole chapter works together, it depends on how you translate the man-child. If we see this as Jesus, then the timeline would quite obviously go back to the birth and ascension of Jesus. However, when I read this chapter, it seems to have eschatological implication. Satan being cast out of heaven so that he may no longer accuse the brethren is something that has not yet happened. We can look at Job and see that Satan came before God to accuse the man. Zechariah 3:1-2 also speak of Satan’s accusations. Strangely, we don’t see the language of Satan being the accuser directly in the New Testament. 1 Peter 5:8, Satan’s temptations for Jesus, and even the Lord’s words concerning Satan desiring to sift Simon Peter like wheat seem to imply, but not demand, the two Old Testament verses of Satan’s accusation.

Forthright, the reason that I interpret this chapter as future is extravagantly hanging upon the chasing of the woman through the wilderness. This chasing of the woman through the wilderness for 1,260 days, or as said in verse 14, a time, times, and half a time doesn’t show up anywhere around the death and ascension of Christ. Thus, if we are to conclude that this chapter is about Christ’s victory over the principalities, as explained in Colossians 2:15, then we ought to see some sort of three year exile into the wilderness where national, ethnic Israel is taken care of. That didn’t happen in the time of Jesus, and it certainly did not take place during the destruction of Jerusalem.

It is important to note something that many interpretations miss. The Greek in verse 6 tells us that the woman flees to the wilderness where there is a place prepared for her, and they will take care of her for 1,260 days. It is not that she will be taken care of, but that they will take care of her. Who is the “they” being mentioned here? The Greek is explicit, and the King James Version is the only English translation that I know of to translate this correctly. It appears that verses 13-17 are a reiteration of what we see in verse 6. The earth itself swallows the flood out of the dragons mouth, and the result is that the dragon then persecutes the Christians.

This leads me to believe that the Christians are being referenced as the “they”, and could possibly be symbolized as the earth that swallows the flood. It appears that there is some sort of end time schema that Israel will be persecuted, most likely at the time of the abomination of desolation (both from previous context and future context in the book), and that the Body of Christ will be the prepared agent of God to care for Israel during her time of sifting.

Ezekiel 20:33-35 also prophesies of a time when Israel would be met in the wilderness that they might come to know the Lord their God. Over and over again this is the pattern in the prophets. Israel has been rebellious, so God shall grant to her enemies that they might oppress or exile Israel. We see this with the Assyrians concerning the northern tribes. We see this with Babylon concerning Judah. We see this with Rome in 70 AD. It is continual. These are the dealings of God. Yet, every time that the prophets prophesy of this kind of destruction or sifting into the wilderness places, the result is always that Israel will come to know the Lord their God, and that He shall establish them back in the land, and that He will rule over them and put David as their shepherd. These sorts of phrases go hand-in-hand often in the prophets.

Thus, we are to conclude that this kind of sifting that is prophesied in the Old Testament has not yet been fulfilled. Israel has not come to know the Lord their God in that manner. The prophecies of Jeremiah when you read the sweep of chapters 29-32 have not come to pass. Ezekiel 36-37 has not yet come to pass. Amos 9 has not yet come to pass. We therefore await a future time. This is key when reading Revelation 12. This chapter does not take place in an isolated context. It is within the context of the rest of the book, which is in the context of what all of the prophets have written and declared.

The main thrust of this chapter is to expound the mystery that God has granted the church to be the safe-haven for Israel during her last days’ trauma. It is incredibly difficult, then, to find compassion for interpretations that would altogether neglect Israel in Revelation 12, or would claim the church to be gone. Something drastic takes place at this specific time to allow the Body to overcome in a manner that Satan is cast down (and thus the Antichrist is revealed in chapter 13), the woman is sifted (and thus the end is drawing nigh, as Jesus has declared), and the end of the age is upon us. It doesn’t get more clear when we see the symbolism for what it is. If the woman is Israel, and the “they” in verse 6 is related to the persecution of the church in verse 17, then it follows logically that the church must be the agent that takes in Israel, and thus the dragon gets enraged at the Body of Christ who would help the woman.

The Seventh Trumpet – Rev 11:15-19

And the seventh angel sounded his trumpet. And great voices were in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become of our Lord’s and of His Christ, and he will reign to the ages of the ages.” And the twenty four elders sitting before God on their thrones fell upon their faces and worshiped God saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the one being and who was that you have taken your great power and begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and your wrath came and the time for the dead to be judged and to give reward to your servants the prophets and to the saints and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who are destroying the earth.” And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of the covenant was seen in his temple, and there were flashes of lightning and thunderings and thunder and an earthquake and great hail.

This is the return of the Lord. As we see in 1 Corinthians 15:52, the return of Jesus takes place at the last trump. We saw similar language in 8:5, 11:19, and 16:18, all seeming to point to the same event. Because this is the return of Jesus, the language makes sense. Now the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of the Lord and His Christ. Now he will reign forever and ever. Now he has begun to reign. The nations were angry, but now His wrath has come – just like we saw in 6:12-17 was the return of Jesus and “the wrath of the Lamb”. Now has come the time for judging the dead and the rewarding the prophets and saints. It all makes sense under the ideology that this is somehow the return of Jesus.

For such a small passage, it is absolutely full of quotations. In the first statement of verse 15, we can compare Isaiah 27:13, Matthew 24:31, 1 Thessalonians 4:16. It is quite often that the coming of the Lord is considered to be with trumpets. In Isaiah 27, the context is absolutely the Day of the Lord. For “the kingdom of this world”, see Matthew 4:8. “Our Lord and of His Christ” is an Old Testament expression from Psalm 2:2.

The Kingdom of Christ and God is one. In Ephesians 5:5, we read of “the Kingdom of Christ and God”. In 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, the Son resigns His mediatorial Kingdom to the Father, that God might be “all in all”. But later, Christ too was conceived as “all in all” (Ephesians 1:23, Col 3:11). The Kingdom is for everlasting (Daniel 2:44, 7:14, 17, Psalm 10:16, Exodus 15:18, Luke 1:33).

Notice in verse 17 that it is “who was and is”, and no longer “is to come”. Christ has come. We can compare this verse to Psalm 93:1-2. In verse 18 there is a progression. We find this to be our chronology: 1) angry nations, 2) wrath, 3) judging the dead, 4) rewarding those worthy, and 5) destroying they who destroy the earth. We see this in chapters 19-22. Of course, this has duality. We see in the coming of Jesus this very thing, and then again in the larger picture of chapters 19-22.

With the coming of Jesus, we see that the nations rage (19:19). We see secondly that Jesus executes the wrath against them (19:20-21). Then, we see the dead are judged – or at least the nations are judged – from Joel 3:1-3 and Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus shall reward those who are worthy, as we read in Revelation 22:12, which is at Christ’s coming. Lastly, the destruction of those who destroy the earth occurs. This would be the finality of the judgment seen in Matthew 25, which is a parable based upon Daniel 12:2. It could be pressed, but I wouldn’t press too hard, that 20:9-10 would be the destroying of they who destroy the earth.

In regards to the larger picture, we see that the nations rage in 19:10 and 20:8-9. We see that wrath comes upon those raging nations in 19:21 and 20:9. Then, immediately following destruction of that army in 20:9 is the Great White Throne. It is upon this throne that everyone is judged, and thus rewarded or condemned.

For the individual phrases, we fine “nations enraged” comes from Psalm 2:1 and 5. “Time for the dead to be judged” implies Revelation 20:11-15, but Matthew 25:31 also speaks of judging at the return of Jesus before the 1000 years. “To give reward” i.e. Revelation 22:12. Compare Psalm 115:11, 13, 118:4, 135:20. “Destroy those destroyers of the earth” could be compared to Revelation 19:2. It may come from Jeremiah 51:25.

The final verse reports of the heavenly temple being made manifest in a manner that all can behold it. The trumpets start with the offering of prayer upon the altar of incense (8:3). The second woe opens with the answer to that prayer (9:13). Now, at the final trump, with the end of the age, the Holy of Holies is opened and the Ark of the Covenant is seen. The ark is God’s throne, as established in Revelation 4. Jeremiah 3:16-18 tells us that Zion shall be God’s dwelling place, and Jerusalem His throne. This signifies the uniting of the earthly and heavenly. Zion is no longer twofold, and Jerusalem no longer contrasted by New Jerusalem. They are one. Compare the end of the verse to the sixth seal and the seventh bowl of wrath.

The Great City – Rev 11:7-14

And when they shall have completed their testimony, the beast coming out of the abyss will make war with them and overcome them and will kill them. And the their bodies will be upon the street of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also the their Lord was crucified. And the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations gaze upon their bodies for three and a half days, and their bodies they will not allow to be put into a tomb. And those dwelling on the earth rejoice over them and make merry, will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets have tormented those dwelling upon the earth.

Who is this beast that kills the two prophets? The answer to that should be rather obvious, but just in case it is not, we can compare Rev 9:11, 13:1-2, 17:3, 8, and 13:7. This is the Antichrist, and a favorite way of expressing this man by our author. These clauses in verse 7 are an independent translation of Daniel 7:1-2, 21, and 25.

As for the identity of the great city, we merely need to ask where the Lord was crucified. While it is true that Nineveh is called the Great City in Jonah 1:2, the context of our particular passage is quite impossible to avoid. Though this city is being called Sodom and Egypt, it is indeed Jerusalem. We shall see with a little more depth, and hopefully clarity, when we reach chapter 17 that this “great city” and “great prostitute” is both Jerusalem and Babylon at the same time. There is a duality to this, and that shouldn’t be neglected. However, for they who desire to claim Rome to be Babylon, they miss entirely the poetry and force of what John is expressing.

We find that in almost every situation within the book of Revelations the wording “the great city” is in reference to Babylon: 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2, 17:18, 18:10, 16, 18, 19, and 21. It comes from Genesis 10:12. We read in Genesis 10 of “the table of nations”. The man Nimrod was mighty against the Lord. The word ‘before’ in the old English context would actually mean against, and the Hebrew agrees with this translation. Nimrod was not a mighty warrior on behalf of the Lord, but against the Lord. He was the man who founded Nineveh, and even built up the area of Shinar – which is where the tower of Babel was erected and was later called Babylon.

While the obvious translation of this “great city” according to all other usages within Revelations would point to Babylon, which many would then submit is to be translated as Rome, our immediate context would suggest otherwise. The temple was in Jerusalem, and not in Rome. The Lord was crucified outside of Jerusalem, and not in Rome. To help us, or depending on the bias to cause us difficulty, we find 1 Peter 5:13 expressing that Jerusalem was called Babylon. Peter might have traveled outside of Jerusalem, this is true, but the evidence seems to be overwhelming from the book of Acts and that Paul calls him the “apostle to the Jews” that Peter was located within Jerusalem. This is why he is writing to those who have been scattered throughout the world – the Diaspora.

We see in Isaiah 1:9-10, 3:9, Ezekiel 16:46, 48, 49, 1 Kings 9:15, and 10:14 that Israel is likened unto Sodom and Egypt in the prophets. In regards to 1 Kings, we see that Israel has become the “new Egypt” by enslaving the nations. Jeremiah 23:14 also speaks of the sins of the prophets of Jerusalem being like Sodom and Gomorrah.

In verse 9, either these are some from every nation that are present in Jerusalem, or they are figurative representative as in the 10 kings somehow representing the whole world. The context is still within Jerusalem, however there is possibility that this event will be celebrated throughout the world. As for the refusal of burial, we can compare Psalm 79:3, and 1 Kings 13:22.

With verse 10 we can compare Esther 9:19, 22, and Nehemiah 8:10, 12. The giving of gifts in these compared verses are of the righteous who have been delivered and vindicated. However, the same ideology – and indeed the same wording – is used here. Notice that the word claims these men to be “tormentors”. Could anything be further from the truth? These two men are the very representatives of heaven. What they say is the word from heaven, and the way they act is in keeping with that of heavenly protocol. They are meek. They cry. They hurt when they inflict hurt. They seek reconciliation and repentance. They are human. In all ways, they are by no means tormentors without conscience. In fact, the very reason that God would choose these two men is because of their unwillingness to compromise. They don’t relent because they seek for heaven to be manifest upon the earth – not because they delight in dissention and rebuke.

And after the three and a half days the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. They heard a great voice out of heaven saying, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand names of men were killed, and the rest became terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

Verse 11 is reminiscent of Ezekiel 37:10. The τας refers back to 11:9. This breath of life seems to be the ruach chaim, however, it has much more significance (Genesis 6:17 has the term). Nephesh also seems to fall short, because we aren’t simply talking about life, but resurrection. Much more likely is Ezekiel 37:5, 10. Also see 2 Kings 13:21.

‘Fear fell upon’ is a Lucan phrase. See Luke 1:12, Acts 19:17. Also, Exodus 15:16, Psalm 55:5.

We see verse 12 has a ring of 2 Kings 2:11 to it: “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up in a whirlwind.” The obvious differences would be that these two witnesses are taken up in a cloud, like Jesus in Acts 1:9, and they are resurrected, and not taken into heaven without death. Another possibility is the literal sight of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 in the case of these two witnesses – that the dead shall rise first.

In regard to this earthquake, we can see in Ezekiel 38:19-20 that there shall be an earthquake to precede the coming of Jesus. Yet, the puzzle is why people are glorifying God… If this is before the coming of Jesus, then why are the very people who rejoiced at the death of these two witnesses now glorifying God? Wouldn’t they be cursing Him for allowing these “tormentors” to live again? In Ezekiel 38, the earthquake does not have this effect. Yet, it is an earthquake before the return of Christ in Ezekiel 39.

It is possible that those who give glory to God are Jews that served the Antichrist, now turning from their sin to embrace righteousness. It could also be that somehow these are Jews and/or Christians who are able to somehow be preserved in Jerusalem for this 3 ½ year period of time. Some have scoffed at the idea that this could possibly be the conversion of Jewish people unto the “God of heaven”, however Ezra 5:12 speaks of provoking the God of heaven. This would imply the need for repentance and conversion to the God of heaven.

In all, the details within this segment are quite extraordinary and difficult to nail down. Yet, they are also quite self-explanatory once the allusions and quotes are understood and searched out. Like all these passages in Revelations, we must go back to the original text that is being referenced and seek to understand the original context. If that doesn’t help us, then we seek to understand the immediate context around. Overall the chapter isn’t too difficult to comprehend, but the details are giving nuances that are quite compelling and staggering.

The Two Witnesses – Rev 11:3-6

And I will grant to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone should desire to harm them, fire goes out of their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone should desire to harm them, thus it is necessary for him to be killed. These have the power to shut the sky, that no rain shall fall in the days of their prophecy, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague as often as they might desire.

These two witnesses are based off of two Scriptures: Deuteronomy 19:15 and Matthew 18:16. Why are there two? It is incredibly obvious once you realize that in the Law you could not put anyone to death without the testimony of two witnesses. Then, Jesus told His disciples that when two or more are gathered in His name that He is in their midst; whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Here we see these two witnesses as witnesses against the Antichrist and all that follow him, and we find them being that duo to bind and loose as the Lord has decreed. This, of course, does nothing to eliminate these Scriptures of their original context, but only to display the context of Revelation 11.

The presence of the article (“THE two witnesses”) tells us that these two figures were well known. When John speaks of these two men, he is not speaking of some mystery men that will show up on stage, and you or I or someone we know might be “called” to perform this task. Everyone knew who “the two witnesses” are. Tertullian (2nd century) claimed them to be Enoch and Elijah. Verses 5-6 seem to indicate Moses and Elijah (see Matthew 17:3, signifying the Law and the Prophets). What is typically neglected in the debate is Deuteronomy 19:15.

What can be known is that these two men are specific to the time of trampling, and they are not present here any time before it. Some take these to be the Body of Christ as a whole. This cannot be for a couple reasons. First, the Body of Christ is present before the appearing of these two witnesses, and the Body is to be prophetic in nature both past, present, and future. Second, these two men are specific to Jerusalem, as we saw in our last post. This would require that the Body of Christ is specific to Jerusalem, which simply has never, is not, and will never be true. Third, these two men are caught up to heaven before the rapture of the church with the coming of Jesus. They are two literal men, with a literal purpose that only they can fulfill.

This puzzle of who they are is expanded in verse 4. We have an allusion – almost a quotation – from Zechariah 4:2, 3, and 14. In Zechariah, we have the candlestick with seven branches (Zech 4:2, 10). We can also compare this to Revelation 1:20, 4:5, and 5:6. These are the eyes of the Lord that roam throughout the earth (Zech 4:10). In Zech 4:3, 12, and 14, these two olive trees are Joshua and Zerubbabel. Here in Revelation 11:4, the one candlestick is two, and is treated as synonymous with the olive trees. Most likely the “candlestick” is not what John is thinking, but rather the two golden pipes from which the oil flows.

Now, in comparing these two to Joshua and Zerubbabel, what is John attempting to tell us? Joshua was crowned as both priest and king in Zechariah 6:11-13. Zerubbabel was of the lineage of Jehoiachin. In Jeremiah 22:28, this man is decreed as a broken pot, and in verse 30 it is declared that “none of his offspring… will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.” Then, in the very next chapter, God begins to express how He will send “the branch” – directly what Joshua is called in Zechariah 6:12 – who is to be the messianic shepherd of His people. Now, it is important to note that Joshua is called one symbolic of men to come, and the branch is distinguished from him in Zechariah 3:8-10.

In Zechariah 4:7 the “destroying mountain” (see Jeremiah 51:25) is said to be destroyed at the hand of Zerubbabel. Here is a key to understanding this enigma. Joshua and Zerubbabel are both somehow messianic patterns. In Haggai 2:23, the Lord declares that the messiah shall come from Zerubbabel, even though Jeremiah had declared none of the offspring of Jehoichin would rule in Judah. Here we see the mercy of God, but we also see a pattern. Joshua was the high priest and wore a crown like the king, and was even called the branch. Zerubbabel was of a cursed lineage, and yet was decreed as the signet ring of God.

Both of these men are in some way types of Christ. However, here in Revelation 11:4, they aren’t being used in this manner. The reason that John is expressing these two olive trees goes back to their immediate functions in their day and age. They were the ones who called for reform. They were the ones who should deliver the people of God from their bondage and iniquity – calling them back unto righteousness. They were the ones leading the charge of building the temple. While all of these are messianic expectancies, neither Joshua nor Zerubbabel were the messiah. And here is our pattern. Moses declared that we should search for a prophet like himself (Deut 18:15). At the end of Deuteronomy (34:10), it is said that there had been no prophet like Moses to rise up. In John 1:21 the Pharisees ask if John the Baptist is “the prophet”.

Malachi had prophesied that before the Day of the Lord God would send Elijah. Here we see these two witnesses being likened to Moses and Elijah in verse 6. What we see in Moses and Elijah is that both of them are a type of Christ, but are not Christ. They are not antichrist, obviously, but merely are not the fulfillment of the messianic expectancy. Thus, we expect that these two men are somehow types and foreshadowing of Christ, and most assuredly they are making way for His appearing, but they are not Jesus.

Revelation 11:5 does cause some difficulty. In 2 Samuel 22:19, fire comes from the Lord’s mouth. Interestingly, these two witnesses have a similar trait to the horses mentioned in 9:17. We can compare 2 Kings 1:10, 12, where Elijah calls down fire upon the fifty men, and Jeremiah 5:14 where God’s word is like a fire and the people like wood who are consumed by that word.

With our final verse, we compare 1 Kings 17:1, Luke 4:25, James 5:17, Exodus 7:17, and 1 Samuel 4:8. The commanding of elements and nature is not something given to everyone. We do not have this ability granted to us for our own whims. God exclusively gave this to Moses and Elijah in their days as witness against the false gods being worshiped. For this we see Exodus 12:12, and in comparison to Elijah we see that Baal was the god over the storms and rain. For Elijah to stop up the heavens would be a direct challenge to the deity of Baal.

Behind these false gods – which are nothing but wood or metal – is a demonic power. Paul would call them the “principalities”. These are the forces that demand worship, and not the carved image itself. During the rule of the Antichrist, it is necessary to note that he establishes a false god at the temple. That false god, as we see in Revelation 13:14-15, is in the image of the beast. Which beast exactly is being spoken of, the wording would tell us that this is a monument unto himself – much like Absolom build an image to himself. The worship, however, we see in 13:4 is ultimately unto the dragon (Satan) and not the beast.

Thus, in these two men having the power over the elements of nature, we are seeing that they are battling against the spiritual forces of darkness. While the whole world is going off to worship this beast, the entirety of that system and homage is being brought into question through the exercising of these miracles. These two men are not merely plaguing the earth. They are plaguing the kingdom of darkness at its heart – the spiritual reality that hides itself in the darkness. These two men blow the whistle upon the false worship and the false signs and wonders by bringing forth the word of God and commanding the very elements that the beast and dragon claim to have power over.

So, when we are dealing with these two witnesses, we are dealing with more than just two men who speak some sort of message in Jerusalem. We’re dealing with the very issue of the Gospel itself. This is the very declaration of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the manifesting of the wisdom of God unto the principalities and powers, so that no man, woman, or child who is in Jerusalem is without excuse. God is utterly just when He brings destruction, devastation, and death unto they who follow the beast.

The Temple – Rev 11:1-2

And to me was given a measuring rod like a staff, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those worshiping in it. And leave out the court that is within the temple and do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample upon the holy city for forty two months.”

We have come unto Revelation 11, and the previous post explored the overall theme of the chapter. It has been established that this timeline given of 42 months and 1,260 days would put us somewhere around the abomination of desolation – halfway through the week (Dan 9:27). The first verse is somewhat reminiscent of Ezekiel 40:3-42:20 and Zechariah 2:1-2. Why exactly the temple is being measured is unclear. In both Ezekiel and Zechariah, the measuring has to do with the restoring of the temple, and not the mere preservation. However, Zechariah 2 does have the context of the cry later expressed in Revelation 18:4, “Come out from her!”. We can compare Zechariah 2:7, “Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!” This does keep our contrast being made in the rest of Revelation 11. (It would make sense that John is not thinking of Zechariah 2 alone, but Zechariah 1-5 all being expressed throughout the book of Revelations.)

The temple of God is the literal temple. This is the only mention of the literal temple in Revelations. Exegetically, I can see no reason to suppose it is the ‘spiritual temple’ (3:12) or the ‘heavenly temple’ (7:15, 11:19, 14:15, 17, 15:5, 6, 8, 16:1, 17). There is a contrast being made in this chapter between this temple that is “trampled by the Gentiles” and the heavenly temple that shall open at the coming of Christ in verse 19. The chapter begins with the earthly temple, and ends with the heavenly temple. The reason for this is that at the seventh trumpet, the heavenly temple is the earthly temple, and the earthly temple is the heavenly temple. The two have become one, and no longer is the earthly being patterned after the heavenly reality.

If we believe this temple to somehow be the ‘spiritual temple’, and all we see here is the trampling of the Christians, this not only destroys the contrast being made, but also leads us to ask some quite perplexing questions. For example, why would John need to measure the Body of Christ? And what exactly does that even mean? How could he measure the Body of Christ? What specifically does God mean when He says to measure the temple, the altar, and to count the worshipers, if the worshipers are the temple and the altar? What does it mean that only the outer court is given to the Gentiles? Are there a specific people who are the “outer court” in the Body of Christ?

That this is a literal temple cannot be denied, but it does also cause us some complication. For they who claim a future fulfillment of this prophecy (as I do, and as I believe that John did), this brings about a tremendous premonition. Here we have a direct prophecy of a third temple in Jerusalem that will be trampled down for a third time by the Gentiles. Solomon’s temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Herod’s temple was destroyed by Titus. Now this temple will also be destroyed by some Antichrist ruler. It might very well be that at the end of Isaiah, the prophet wrote concerning this very moment, “For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary” (Isa 63:18).

This would align with what we see in Daniel, though. There will be 2,300 evening and mornings between the time that the sacrifices begin and the sanctuary is restored (Dan 8:13-14). The context is explicit in Daniel. The prophet is not talking about the time that the desolation occurs until the restoration, but from the moment of the sacrificing to the restoration. This would imply that Israel will possess the temple for only long enough to build the altar and begin sacrificing for about 3 years before it will be trampled upon and they will be scattered again through the nations. That fits perfectly with the futurist view that the last seven years will consist of Israel rebuilding the temple, and then halfway through this time that temple is desolated.

With this explained, we see what I’ve said from all along: the focus is upon Jerusalem. This second verse would actually give us credence to believing that Luke 21:24 is speaking of a future time, and not merely 70 A.D. Once again, it is incredibly simple to see the connections, and I don’t balk at the preterist for seeing those connections. My contention is in their assumption that the connections mean a historical interpretation. Because Jesus was ‘obviously’ talking about 70 A.D. the author of Revelations must also be writing about 70 A.D. The problem is that it isn’t obvious, and from what I can tell through the general scope of Scripture we are looking for a future fulfillment.

The holy city is thus Jerusalem, even though that wording is ‘only’ used for the New Jerusalem (21:2, 10). This term is not used to call Jerusalem holy, for at this time we will find in Revelation 17 that she is being called a prostitute, but to once again remind the reader of the parallel between heaven and earth. At Sinai there was smoke and fire, and in the Tabernacle we find the altar of incense and menorah. At Sinai there was an altar; outside of the Tabernacle there was the altar. In the wilderness the Israelites were fed by manna; in the Tabernacle they had showbread. The Tabernacle was a traveling Sinai. Later these things were adopted to Jerusalem, where the earthly city was considered to be the city of God. Many times in the Psalms and prophets we’re not sure if they are singing of the earthly city or the heavenly reality called “Zion”, or if they are somehow the same.

The trampling comes from Luke 21:24, which comes from Daniel 8:9-13. We can also see Isaiah 63:18, where we asserted that the short three years is that “little time” that they possess the sanctuary, and Psalm 79:1, which most likely speaks of the Babylonian siege. The 42 months appears both here and in 13:5. When speaking about the wicked, we read of the 42 months, but the righteous are spoken of with specificity: 1,260 days. However, 12:14 is a literal translation of Daniel 7:25, 12:7. Here the author wants to make no mistake about what he is saying. These are all the same measurement of time, but he wants you to know the context comes directly from Daniel, and not from Jesus alone.

This is crucial, because many have translated Daniel as being Antiochus Epiphanes. This is impossible considering that Jesus claimed this to be a future event, and now John is also claiming the same. It also causes us to reconsider the whole of Daniel in light of what John is saying. If John fully expected the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies to be future to him, then it doesn’t matter if he is writing before or after 70 A.D. It is still future. Titus never came to an end supernaturally, as Daniel explicitly predicts. Neither did Vespasian, nor Domitian, nor Nero come to a supernatural death “without human hands”. If we take seriously the details, none of it adds up.

This puts us at both excitement and awkwardness. It is exciting because we can thus conclude certain events will take place in the future, and as such, we take hope that Jesus shall return unto us. Yet, it places upon us an onus far too large to possibly lift. How can we predict the future without the Spirit of God revealing it unto us? Though the details are given quite explicitly, there are still some very rough patches that need to be worked through. Not only that, but we find many who desire to take these things and use them to promote propaganda and heresy. Yes, the blood moon is mentioned in Revelation 6, but that doesn’t necessitate that we should be searching for blood moons. If we’re looking for blood moons, our head is in the sand and we don’t even know it.

To get back to the 42 months, I wanted to end with a peculiar similarity. In Luke 4:25 and James 5:17, we read that Elijah caused drought to last for 3 ½ years. This is rather startling considering that when we pick up in the two witnesses we will find one of them to “be Elijah”. This man’s life is somehow a pattern for the end times, more than we can even currently know. This is what Malachi prophesies as well. Before the coming of the Lord – specifically, the Day of the Lord – Elijah must come (Mal 4:5). Jesus’ first appearing doesn’t fully express the Day of the Lord as sought by the prophets. Thus, we expect another “Elijah” to come – just like John the Baptist came in those shoes.

Revelation 11 Overview

With our general overview, we desire to answer only a few questions. First, where in our timeline are we? Second, what does some of the symbolism mean? Third, what is the general concept behind the chapter?

To the first question we have an answer given quite explicitly. We see in verse 2 that the outer court is handed over to the Gentiles for 42 months, and then in the following verses of the two witnesses we see that they prophesy for 1,260 days. When we come to the end of the chapter we find an earthquake and people worshiping God – the exact effects of the seventh trumpet listed in verses 15-19. Whether the last section of the sixth woe (verses 12-14) is the return of Christ or not will be debated at a future post. However, the most likely interpretation would be that this is indeed chronology leading up to the seventh trumpet and not a part of the seventh trumpet.

So, what we see is that just prior to the return of Jesus with the seventh trumpet (maybe a few days at most) is the finality of this scene regarding the two witnesses and the beast who slays them. Thus, it is most trustworthy to interpret that chapter 11 takes us from somewhere around the halfway mark unto the very end. This is after the abomination of desolation, because the outer court is already in the hands of the Gentiles, and thus after the exact midpoint of the last seven years.

For the symbolism, we really only need to define two symbols: the two witnesses and the beast who slays them. The two witnesses absolutely must be two people. They cannot be symbolic of the Church and/or Israel. The reason for this is simple: they get caught up before the rapture of the church. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, the rapture takes place at the last trump, and their death and resurrection occur just prior to that final trump. They are specific to Jerusalem, and not worldwide, based on simple context. Most likely the title comes from Deuteronomy 19:15, that these are the two witnesses that shall testify against the beast and his followers so that in all things God is just for His judgment.

The identity of these two individuals is highly speculative. Some have interjected Moses and Elijah, others Enoch and Elijah. The reason behind these interjections are simple. Enoch and Elijah never died, and it is appointed once for man to die. However, I would point out that we need to read the context of Hebrews 9:27, because the context is about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and not about whether you absolutely must die. The context is clearly not saying that all of humanity is forced to undergo physical death, but is in relation to the Day of Atonement, and how God is judging the nation of Israel on that day. That is the day that either all of the sin of Israel is forgiven or God will condemn the whole nation.

So, we conclude that this idea of Enoch and Elijah is not satisfactory. We then turn to the other notion: Elijah and Moses. This comes from the types of plagues that these men perform. They have the authority to shut off the heavens, like Elijah. They also have the authority to turn the rivers and waters to blood, like Moses. Thus, we assume them to be Elijah and Moses, however the question is raised: “Are they Elijah and Moses or are they two men in the power and likeness of Elijah and Moses?” This question comes from John the Baptist being likened to Elijah by Jesus (Mat 17:12-13). With this it is fairly easy to assume that we are looking at two like Elijah and Moses, and not Elijah and Moses returned.

Finally, what is the general concept behind the chapter? The chapter as a whole is looking at Jerusalem during the time of the Antichrist, and most likely the seven bowls of wrath in chapter 16 is the overlay of what we see here. We see the powers of darkness facing off against the powers of light. We see the ministers of God opposing the ministers of Satan. We see both literal description of what shall happen as well as pattern. While it appears that the darkness is winning, both in that they have laid claim to Jerusalem and that the beast will eventually kill the two witnesses, the victory is not so lengthily celebrated. Ultimately, love wins. So it is with all the saints.