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Revelation Chapter 12
By Duncan McKenzie, Ph.D.
Duncan McKenzie Study Archive | The Covenant Judgments of Revelation | The Antichrist Chronicles: vol. II | J.S. Russell's Position on the Millennium, the Neglected Third Way of Preterism | A New Preterist Perspective | Was All The Prophecy in the Bible Fulfilled by A.D.70? | Revelation: The Book of Fulfillment of the Covenant Curses of Leviticus and Deuteronomy | Babylon in Not Jerusalem | Premillennial Preterism | The Serious Error of the Literal Hermeneutic in the Interpretation of the Book of Revelation | A Preterist Book on the Antichrist is Coming | Revelation Chapter 12
The book of Revelation is also known as the Apocalypse. This title is taken from Revelation 1:1 where we are told that the book is a revelation (Greek, apokalupsis) of Jesus. The Greek word "apokalupsis" means unveiling. A common understanding is that what is being unveiled in Revelation is the future. While it is true that the book of Revelation was for the most part unveiling future things that were about to happen (near to when the book was written Rev. 1:3), I donít think this is the primary unveiling. The primary unveiling in the book of Revelation is an unveiling of the spiritual realm. That is, it is unveiling the invisible realm of the spirit, making it visible by way of signs and symbols.
In Revelation chapter 12 it was an aspect of the past, not the future, that was being unveiled to the seven churches. This is an important point to consider because some would maintain that Revelation is only talking about events that were to happen just prior to AD 70. While for the most part this is true, we have an exception to this rule in this chapter. The vision in Revelation 12 goes back to the resurrection of Jesus (around AD 30).
1. Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
2. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
3. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.
4. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
5. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. All Bible citations are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
In Revelation chapter 12 a "great sign" appears in heaven. David Chilton commenting on the importance of this sign wrote the following:
St John alerts us from the outset that we must give careful attention to the subject of this vision, for the symbol of the Woman here is a great sign. "Literalists" would have it that the use of this term implies that most of Revelation is to be taken literally. But this is to miss the point. St. John is not saying that this passage, in contrast to the rest of the book, is a "sign," for he has already told us that the entire book is composed of "signs" (1:1). The point here is that this is a great sign, an important symbol, central to the interpretation of the prophecy as a whole. St. John is telling his readers to think carefully about the Biblical meaning of the sign. The Days of Vengeance, 1987, pg. 297.
Revelation chapter 12 presents us with three main characters; the woman, the male Child and the dragon. We also have three scenes; the birth of the Child (vv. 1-6), the casting of the dragon out of heaven (vv. 7-12), and the dragon making war with the woman and the rest of her children (vv. 13-17).
The male Child who is to "rule all the nations with a rod of iron" is Jesus, the Messiah (Rev. 19:15). The reference to the Messiah ruling over the nations is taken from the second Psalm.
7. declaring the ordinance of the Lord: the Lord said to me, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee.
8. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.
9. Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces as a potterís vessel. (Septuagint)
Where God (the Father) says, "today I have begotten Thee" (Ps. 2:7) He is talking about when He raised Jesus from the dead, the resurrection. This is discussed in Acts chapter 13.
33. that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ĎYOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.í
34. "And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken this way; ĎI WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY AND SURE BLESSING OF DAVID.í NASB
In Revelation 12 we are being shown this "birthing" of the Messiah. The male Child, after being born, is caught up to Godís throne. Once again what is being shown here is not Jesus being born on earth, but His being "born" when God the Father raised Him from the dead (Acts 13:33). Thus, as soon as the male Child is delivered He is caught up to Godís throne. Jesus referred to the birthing analogy in talking about His death and resurrection in John 16:20-22. Notice how the dragon (Satan Rev. 12:9) was expecting to devour the male Child. Satan thought he would be destroying Jesus at the cross. Instead the Child is caught up to the throne of God. Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God the Father at the resurrection (Acts 2:31-36). Satan, instead of devouring the Child as he had planned, ends up being cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:9).
After the birth of the male Child other children are born. These other children, those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12:17) are those who had been made spiritually alive to God by way of Jesusí death and resurrection. In Romans chapter 8 we are told how Jesus was "the first-born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). Revelation chapter 12 is unveiling this truth to us in picture form, showing us the first-born (Rev. 12:5), and then the many brethren (Rev. 12:17)
In Ephesians Paul talks of how we as Christians have been made alive together with Jesus.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Thus the rest of the womanís children are those who had been made spiritually alive to God by way of Jesusí death and resurrection.
The woman represents heavenly Jerusalem symbolized as the mother of Godís New Covenant people. This picture is taken from the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah chapter 66 Jerusalem (also referred to as Zion) is pictured as a woman giving birth.
7. Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, she delivered a male child.
8. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.
9. "Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the LORD. "Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God.
10. Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
Isaiah sees Jerusalem pictured as a woman giving birth to a male child. Just as in Revelation 12 there is first the birth of a male child and then a number of other children. In terms of these other children Isaiah asks the rhetorical question, "Shall a nation be born at once?" The answer is Yes! Again, the other children represent those who were born again to God as a result of Jesusí victory on the cross. This concept of a "holy nation" is used by Peter in referring to those who have come to faith in Jesus (1 Peter 2:9).
9. But you are a CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GODíS OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. NASB
Isaiah speaks of most of Jerusalemís pain or travail coming after the birth of the male child. This may correspond to Satan being thrown out of heaven and then going off to persecute the woman and her offspring (Rev 12:17). The travail of Godís people would be worse after Jesusí resurrection (the birth of the male Child)) because Satan would be cast down to the earth (Rev. 12:12).
The writer of Hebrews uses the Jerusalem motif in referring to believers in Hebrews chapter 12. He refers to the heavenly Jerusalem, relating it to the New Covenant.
22. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,
23. to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are registered in heaven, to
God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24. to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.
In Galatians 4:24-26, Paul speaks about the heavenly Jerusalem saying that she represents the New Covenant and that she is the "mother" of all believers. Paul, talking about Abraham having a child by a slave woman (Hagar) and a child by a free woman (Sarah), says the following:
24. (these) things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar-
25. for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children-
26. but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. emphasis mine
So the woman represents heavenly Jerusalem pictured as the "mother" of the New Covenant people. The male Child represents the Messiah as the first born of this Covenant. The rest of the children represent those who had been born again by way of the New Covenant.
That the woman is both the mother of the Messiah (the Child who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron v. 5) and believers in Jesus (those who have the testimony of Jesus v. 17) speaks of the continuity of Godís Covenant. Those who are believers in Jesus have been grafted into the tree of Israel (Romans 11). We are Abrahamís offspring (Galatians 3:7&29). The true Jew is one who has been circumcised in his heart by the Spirit of God (Romans 2:28&29). When Simeon blessed the Child Jesus he prophesied "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel" (Luke 2:34). The fall would involve those Jews who rejected Jesus; the rise would involve those Gentiles who believed on Him.
The woman being associated with the sun, moon and 12 stars alludes back to Josephís dream in Genesis 37. These symbols stood for Josephís family who was to become the nation of Israel. The sun representing Jacob (Josephís father), the moon representing Rachel (Josephís mother). The 11 stars represented Josephís brothers. They, together with Joseph, would become the 12 tribes of Israel. Once again the fact that the woman is clothed with symbols that represent Israel shows the continuity of the New Covenant with the Old Covenant. Those under the New Covenant have become part of the true Israel, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).
We are told in Revelation 12:9 that the great red dragon is "that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan". Calling Satan "that serpent of old" here alludes back to the Garden of Eden. In the Garden God had told the serpent about the struggle that would happen between he and the woman.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
This prophecy, the protevangelium (the first proclamation of the Gospel) was looking ahead to Christís death on the cross. Physically the cross was a serious bruising for Jesus. Ultimately, however, it was not catastrophic as Jesus was resurrected from the dead. For the serpent, Satan, the cross was a deathblow (a blow to the head). He was completely defeated at Calvary (Matt. 28:18). In Revelation 12 we see the woman, the serpent, the seed and the enmity!
The third of the stars that the dragon sweeps away probably represent a third of the angels that had rebelled with Satan against God. In Revelation 12:9 we are told that Satanís angels are thrown down with him. Also favoring this interpretation, in Revelation 1:20, stars are used to represent angels ("the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches" Rev. 1:20). The dragon has seven heads and ten horns. I am not going into detail here about what this is referring to. Suffice it to say that it was Satan working through the Roman Empire in his war with the woman and her children.
6. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
The woman and the rest of her children (Rev. 12:17) flee into the wilderness where they are protected for 1260 days. Using a 360 day year, 1260 days equals 3Ĺ years. In Revelation 12:14 the same topic is discussed but the time period of 3Ĺ is put a little differently. In Revelation 12:14 we are told that the woman goes into the wilderness where she is nourished for "a time and times and half a time from the presence of the serpent". Again this refers to a time period of 3Ĺ; "time" equaling one, "times" equaling two, and "half a time" equaling a half. Added together they yield 3Ĺ. The use of "a time and times and half a time" may be to let the reader know that the 1260 days do not refer to a literal 3Ĺ years.
This time period of 3Ĺ alludes back to the 70 weeks of Daniel chapter 9. This is a very difficult section of the book of Daniel. The Old Testament scholar Edward Young commented that this passage was "one of the most difficult in all the O.T." (A Commentary on Daniel, pg. 191). I will only be briefly touching on the subject here.
In chapter 9 of the book of Daniel is the following discussion of the 70 weeks of Daniel.
Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
The 70 weeks (literally "sevens, seventy") are usually taken to mean 70 weeks of years. With each week equaling 7 years the total would be 490 years. This time period is divided up for Daniel into 7 weeks followed by 62 weeks and then 1 week (7+62+1=70).
In Daniel 9:26&27 it is written.
26. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering, and on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate. Even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.
In Daniel 9:26 it says that the Messiah would be cut off (Jesus being crucified) after the sixty-two weeks. That happened during the last week of the seventy weeks. After that the people of the prince to come (the Romans) would destroy the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple). Jesus was crucified around AD 30. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple happened in AD 70 by the Romans under Titus.
Daniel 9:27 is a restating of verse 26 in a little different form. It says that he (the Messiah) would confirm (literally "cause to prevail") a covenant with many for one week (Danielís 70th week). This would be during the last 7 (or week) of the 70 weeks. Halfway into this week (3 Ĺ), he (the Messiah) would bring an end to sacrifice and offering. This happened at the cross when Jesus, (after 3Ĺ years of earthly ministry, half the week) was cut off. Even though the Jews still offered sacrifices, God no longer recognized them. Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God, had made sacrifice obsolete. This left half a week (3Ĺ) of the seventy after Jesusí death on the cross that still needed to be fulfilled. This is why the book of Revelation is constantly making reference to the numerical value of 3Ĺ; "42 months" (=3Ĺ years), "1260 days" (=3Ĺ years), "3Ĺ days", "a time and times and half a time" (=3Ĺ).
In Daniel 9:27 after the sacrifice is ended in the middle of the week the next thing spoken of is the coming of the "one who makes desolate." He would pour out the consummation of judgment on the desolate. This is the same idea that is talked of in the previous verse (Daniel 9:26), that the people of the prince to come would destroy the city and sanctuary (which were left desolate after rejecting the Messiah).
In Matthew 23:37&38 Jesus spoke of the desolate condition of Jerusalem and the Temple (Jerusalemís house) after rejecting Him.
37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem who kills the prophets and stone those who are sent to her! How
often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under
her wings, and you were unwilling.
38. Behold your house is being left to you desolate! NASB emphasis mine
This coming of the one who was to pour out judgment on the desolate was accomplished by the general Titus and the Romans in AD 70. According to this interpretation the last half of Danielís 70th week (3Ĺ) was symbolic of the time between the cross, (around AD 30 when sacrifices were no longer valid) and the end of the Jewish age in AD 70, when the consummation was poured out on the desolate, (i.e. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans).
Notice that this interpretation is validated by the fact that Revelation chapter 12 puts the starting point of "a time and times and half a time" (the last half of Danielís 70th week) at Jesusí resurrection (the birth of the male Child, Rev. 12:13&14). In Daniel 12:7 a glorious man in linen (probably a pre-incarnate Christ) says that the ending point of a time, times and half a time would be when the power of the holy people was shattered (AD 70).
7. Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
What the Man clothed in linen was saying was that the last 3Ĺ of Danielís 70th week (the time, times and half a time) would be completed when the power of the holy people was completely shattered. Again, this happened in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
I make this somewhat complex digression to give background to the meaning of "1260 days" and "a time and times and half a time" that we find in Revelation 12:6 and 12:14 respectively. They are alternately used to describe the same period of time that the woman is protected in the wilderness from the serpent after the birth of the male Child ("1260 days" in Rev. 12:6, and "a time and times and half a time" in Rev. 12:14). This time period of 3Ĺ refers to the last half of Danielís 70th week. This last half of the 70th week was the only part of Danielís 70 weeks that was left to be fulfilled after Jesusí death and resurrection. In Revelation chapter 12 it refers to the period of time between Jesusí resurrection, when the woman gives birth to the male Child (Rev. 12:5), and the end of the Jewish Age in 70 AD, when the power of the holy people (the Jews) was completely shattered (the ending point of time, times and half a time, Daniel 12:7).
7. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
8. but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
9. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
11. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
12. "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."
To recap, the woman, (heavenly Jerusalem, represented as the "mother" of the New Covenant people), gives birth to the male Child (the Messiah, Jesus). Jesus being the first born of the New Covenant. This "birthing" happened at the resurrection when God raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 13:33). Thus the male Child after being born is caught up to Godís throne. Now there is war in heaven and Satan is cast out. He is cast out at this time because of what happened just prior to the resurrection, at the cross. It was at the cross that Satan was judged and defeated. Jesus, a few days before His death, spoke of this casting of Satan out of heaven.
"Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out,
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
In John 16:5-11 Jesus again makes the point that Satan is about to be judged at the cross. He tells His disciples that He is going back to the Father and would send the Holy Spirit. He tells how the Spirit would convict the world "of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." (John 16:8)
9. of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10. of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see Me no more;
11. of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. emphasis mine
When Satan is cast out of heaven (Rev.12: 7&8) God does not have to get involved. He has already defeated Satan at the cross through Jesus. God has his angels execute the sentence and toss Satan and his angels out!
With the throwing out of Satan heaven is told to rejoice. The earth however is in for a difficult time. We are told that the Devil has great wrath knowing he only has a "short time" (Rev. 12:12). This short time (until the end of a time and times, and half a time Rev. 12:14) is until Satan is bound and cast into the abyss at the Second Coming of Jesus at AD 70 (Rev. 19&20).
Saying that the Devil was cast out of heaven at the time of Jesusí death and resurrection creates problems for many of the theoretical positions on prophecy. If Satan was cast out at the cross, how could it be said that he only had a short time left?
Liberal theorists try to get around this problem by saying that John was writing his own ideas in the book of Revelation. He thought that Jesusí Second Coming was very near (as did the rest of the New Testament writers) and he was wrong. This solution creates a problem because it undermines the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. To the Liberals this is no problem because they donít believe in Scriptureís inerrancy or authority.
Some theorists who do believe in the inerrancy of Scripture try to get around the time problem by saying that Satan was indeed cast out at the cross. The short time, they would say, is relative to eternity. Thus it has been almost 2,000 years since the cross but in terms of eternity this is a short time. This solution runs into the problem of taking any meaning out of the time statements in the Bible.
Futurists try to get around the problem of Satanís short time by contending that his casting out happens in the future right before the Second Coming. Thus his short time is the 1260 days of Revelation 12:6 (that will happen in the future). The problem with this is that to fit Satan having a short time here into their theoretical framework futurists put the casting out of Satan in the future. This would mean that Satan is currently still in heaven, still accusing us "day and night before God" (Rev. 12:10). To teach this should almost be heresy.
Satan being cast out of heaven to the earth around the time of the cross also creates problems for those who would propose that the millennium was the period between AD 30 and AD 70, as most full preterists do. Revelation 12 shows Satan being cast from heaven to the earth at the resurrection, not into the abyss. He still had a "short time" (Rev. 12:12) until he was bound and cast into the abyss for the millennium (Rev. 20:1-3). This short time was the "time and times and half a time" that the woman and her children were protected on earth from his presence (Rev. 12:14&17). It was at the end of this time (when the power of the Jews was shattered in AD 70, Daniel 12:6&7) that the Second Coming happened, Satan was bound and the millennial reign began (Rev. 19 and 20).
With Satan being cast out at the cross now in heaven instead of an accuser accusing us before God, we have a great high priest in Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16). Going from having an accuser before the throne to a great high priest on the throne is a very nice turn of events indeed!
In Revelation 12:10 we are told:
Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
Jesus, right after His resurrection, told his disciples that He now possessed all authority in both heaven and earth. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18). A loud voice in heaven now declares this fact. With Satan being cast out of heaven the salvation and authority of Jesus and His kingdom have come. The full reign of the kingdom is not yet however. This was the "already but not yet" of the kingdom. The full reign of the kingdom would come at Jesusí Second Coming in AD 70 (the kingdom coming with power, Mark 9:1, Matt. 16:27), when Satan was bound and thrown into the abyss (Revelation chapters 19 & 20).
In Revelation 12:11 we are told the threefold way that the saints overcame the accuser. The first is the blood of the Lamb. This of course speaks to the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God on the cross (John 1:29). This is the ultimate way in which Satan has been defeated. The second way is the word of their testimony. The sharing of how God through Jesus had transformed their lives. The third way is not loving their lives even unto death. Just as Jesusí death on the cross was ultimately a victory over Satan, so too would be the death of those who were to die for the cause of Christ.
13. Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.
14. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
15. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.
16. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
17. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The dragon, Satan, is thrown down to earth after the resurrection and goes off to persecute the woman and the rest of her offspring (Rev. 12:13&17). Satan being loose on the earth during the period between AD 30 and AD 70 is consistent with what the rest of the New Testament teaches. Paul called Satan the god of that age (2 Cor. 4:4). Peter said the devil was walking about "like a roaring lion" (1 Peter 5:8). John said the whole world was under "the sway of the wicked one" during that time (30-70 AD) 1 John 5:19. The New Testament does not support the idea that Satan was bound in the abyss during the period of AD 30 to AD 70.
In Revelation 12:14 we are told that two wings of the great eagle are given to the woman. She flies into the wilderness where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time from the presence of the serpent. This is returning to the subject of verse 6 where the woman escapes from the serpent into the wilderness. The eagleís wings look back to Godís deliverance of His Old Covenant people from Egypt and their subsequent journey in the wilderness. Exodus 19:3-6.
3. And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying ĎThus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel:
4. ĎYou have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagleís wings, and brought you to Myself.
5. ĎNow therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people, for all the earth is Mine;
6. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.í These are the words you shall speak to the children of Israel.í
Passover is the commemoration of Godís deliverance of His people from the slavery of Egypt. Jesus, the Lamb of God, fulfilled this setting us free from Satanís kingdom. Just as Godís people under the Old Covenant experienced a wilderness period between being delivered from Egypt and entering the Promised Land, so to would Godís people under the New Covenant. That is, there would be a wilderness time of trial and testing between the time of the Cross (when we were delivered from Satanís kingdom) and the time of the kingdom coming with power (the Second Coming) in AD 70 (Mark 9:1; Matthew 16:27&28). The Second Coming being analogous to the time when the Old Covenant people entered the Promised Land.
This wilderness time period is given as "1260" days in Revelation 12:6 and "a time and times and half a time" in Revelation 12:14. As I have stated, the ending of "a time, times and half a time" is given in the book of Daniel as when the power of the holy people had been completely shattered. (Daniel 12:7). This happened in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Once again notice that Satan is loose on the earth up until AD 70 (the end of "a time and times and half a time" Rev. 12:14).
The wilderness period of Godís New Covenant people (the time between the resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem) was actually about 40 years (AD 30 to AD 70). This being equal to Israelís time in the wilderness.
In Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 the author talks of a parallel between the Jews experience in the wilderness and what his readers were experiencing. 
Hebrews 3:14 to 4:1
14. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end;
15. while it is said, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME"
16. For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?
17. And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
18. And to whom did He sware that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?
19. And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.
4:1. Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any of you should seem to have come short of it. NASB
The author of Hebrews goes on to elaborate on this in Hebrews 4:9-11.
9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
10. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
11. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. NASB
What I am proposing is that Godís New Covenant people, after being delivered from Satanís kingdom by Jesusí death on the cross, underwent a wilderness period of 40 years until Jesusí Second Coming in 70 AD. The Second Coming inaugurating the Sabbath Day of rest that the writer of Hebrews was referring to in Hebrews chapters 3 & 4.
The Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18 is also found in the wilderness (Rev. 17:3). She is not protected there and ends up being judged and executed in the holocaust of AD 70. She represented the people of the Old Covenant who rejected Jesus and went after other gods. By rejecting their Messiah they were being unfaithful to God. In Old Testament terms this was called "playing the harlot" (Isaiah 1:21, Ezekiel chapters 16 and 23, the book of Hosea, etc.). The Great Harlot was burned up in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the Second Coming in AD 70 (Revelation chapters 17, 18, & 19).
In verses 15-17 of Revelation chapter 12 we are told how the Dragon "spewed" out a flood to sweep the woman away but the earth swallowed it up. The Greek word for earth, "ge", is probably better translated "Land" (i.e. the Land of Israel) in most of Revelation. So instead of the earth swallowing up the flood it probably should read that the Land swallowed it.
The Land coming to the aid of the woman is the opposite of what God said the Promised Land would do to those who defiled it. In talking to the children of Israel, God told them if they did not follow His statutes, the Land would "spew" them out (Leviticus 18:24-30 NASB). In Revelation chapter 12 it is Satan who is spewing and the Land is swallowing it. That is, the Land is coming to the aid of those who are true to the Lord.
The picture of a flood here is that of a river sweeping over its banks and carrying things away. This is a good analogy of a foreign people sweeping over their borders into the Land of Israel and carrying away people and spoils. In Isaiah 8:5-8 the analogy of a flood is used this way to describe the King of Assyria and his forces invading Israel.
In Daniel 9:26 a flood is used as an analogy of the invading Romans and their allies that would destroy Jerusalem in AD 70.
9:26 And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and til the end of the war desolations are determined.
If the flood out of the Dragonís mouth is related to the flood of Daniel 9:26, then it would relate to the events surrounding the Romans sweeping through the Land of Israel during the Jewish War. This happened in the years just preceding AD 70 when the Land (and its residents) soaked up most of the wrath of the Romans. The Christians during this time left Jerusalem and escaped out of harms way to Pella (approximately 20 miles south of the Sea of Galilee).
We are left in verse 17 with the dragon going off to make war with the rest of the womanís offspring, those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus." Having failed to get the womanís first born (Jesus) and being cast out of heaven the dragon goes off to war against the rest of her children (those made spiritually alive to God by way of the New Covenant). Satan has already been defeated, that is why he is so angry. It is just a short time (until the end of a time and times and half a time, AD 70) before he is bound and cast into the abyss (Revelation chapter 20). In spite of this Satan still tries to win. The saints will overcome him but for some it will be at the cost of their lives.
1. I am not going into detail about the date of Revelation here, I will be advocating a pre-AD 70 date. That is, that the book was written under Nero, the sixth king (Rev. 17:10). Kenneth Gentry has written an excellent book on the subject, (Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation: An Exegetical and Historical Argument for a Pre-AD 70 Composition, 1989. - Back
2. I am not going into detail here as to the date of the book of Hebrews. John Robinson authored a book called "Re-dating the New Testament", 1976. His main hypothesis was that because no book in the New Testament speaks of the destruction of the Temple as a finished event, the New Testament was probably written before AD 70. I would think this would be especially true of a book written to Jews (like Hebrews). The destruction of the sacrificial system would be an important subject to discuss in terms of it supporting the Christian contention that Jesus' death made that system obsolete. - Back
Duncan McKenzie, Ph.D.
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Date: 19 Apr 2006
Date: 03 Dec 2009
Date: 02 Feb 2010
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