Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
The Woman and The Dragon
by Pastor Gene Breed
IntroductionThis chapter of the Book of the Revelation gives to us the view of the struggle between the church and the forces of evil. There are basically but two characters presented to us to bring forth this account. And the issue we see is that which concerns itself with the first two chapters of the Book of Hebrews, and that is, under whom shall the universe be subjected in order to be ruled for the glory of God? Shall it be of the angelic or the human race? "For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak." (Heb 2:5). Adam had been given this privilege, having been made in God's image, and commanded to have dominion over God's created order. But he lost that position due to a transgression brought about by a great angel, who, himself refused to bow to serve one made of the dust of the earth! "But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb 1:13,14). Due to both of these transgressions, sin now reigns in both the entire human, and in a portion of the angelic realms! Adam, God's representative, had become a sinner, and this "anointed cherub" had become the Devil! But there was one thing that gave the fallen angelic realm an advantage over the poor human transgressors, and that was the law! For by it the accountability for sin is strengthened! "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." (1Cor 15:56). It was by the usage of the law that Satan was enabled to enter into his continuous work as "the accuser of our brethren" (Rev 12:10), before the throne of God! He, like "his ministers" in pulpits throughout the ages, preach a legalistic morality; an acceptance by works. For he, then, nor his ministers, now, know nothing of the glorious gospel of Christ which sets forth Christ's righteousness alone as man's acceptance before God! For this gospel was kept hidden from the beginning of the world until the finished work of atonement at the cross! ("Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began," - Rom 16:25)! Satan liked the law's unbending and unmerciful condemnation! He liked that it said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ez. 18:20). Let's take a look at Satan in regards to an Old Testament high priest as set forth in Zechariah chapter three. "And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel." (Zech 3:1-3). Here we clearly see that with the law to condemn, and the only atonement then provided being that of goats and bulls blood, (which could "never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect". "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." - Heb 10:1,4), Satan was having a very successful time while he remained the prince of the air! But all he knew was the law! - And that, not in it's fullness! He had no knowledge of the grace to be set forth in the gospel. "..and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (Mt 23:23). And if we look in Zechariah 3:4, we see the only remedy to be made in order to rid the church of this persistent accuser. "And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." Satan was to be cast out from the presence of the church by the same means that the church was raised to her position of glory, which was the cross! "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Heb 2:14,15). And had Satan known of the defeat he would suffer by the death of Jesus Christ, he never would have participated in it! "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Cor 2:7,8). Satan was allowed to take "the lawful captive" ("Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?" - Isa 49:24). For the wages of sin is death! And Satan, at that time, had the power of death! But Jesus Christ was not a lawful captive, for he was "separate from sinners" (Heb 7:26). Therefore we read in the twenty fifth verse of Isaiah chapter forty nine, "But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children." Thus, Jesus being taken captive would be the means of destroying Satan's kingdom for his violation, and at the same time, paying the price for the deliverance of His church! Let us now begin to examine what we find in this chapter.
I. The Woman Is The Church (vs 1-2)We all well know that Christ's church is referred to as his Bride (Eph 5:25). But how can we be assured that this woman is here representative of the church?A. Light As A Garment (v.1)
First, we see that she is adorned with "gospel clothing". Every piece of her clothing is that which is related to the giving of light. Here in this verse we see the church as "the light of the world" (Mt 5:14). But in Revelation 21:23 we find that the light of the church is the Lamb! "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." (Jn 12:46). Her body is clothed by the sun. Her feet stand upon the moon. And that which adorns her hair are twelve stars. She reminds us of David's praise in Psalm 104. He praises God's greatness for clothing His own self "with honour and majesty". He continues by stating, "who coverest thyself with light as with a garment". And as her Husband, so Christ's bride is thus adorned! Her nakedness before God is covered by the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the "Sun of righteousness" (Mal 4:2). So that outward witness which all others see, is actually Christ living in her! (Gal 2:20).But Christ being her positional righteousness is not all that is to be the identification of the true church! She also has a >practical righteousness, symbolized by her feet (suggesting her daily walk), being planted upon the moon. For even though the moon originates no light, it's only function and concern is in the reflection of the light of the sun! That our "new man" (regenerate being) is "created in righteousness" (Eph 4:24), is clearly taught as having been done by the sovereign grace of God alone. But because we have that righteousness imputed to us, we then will put away sinful deeds, such as the example given of lying, and replacing it with the speaking of truth (Eph 4:25)."If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:" (1 Jn 1:6). Those who claim salvation and heaven, but have no evidence of it by personal godliness are lying both to themselves and to all others!The final evidence of her adornment is that she has a "crown of twelve stars" upon her head. As the clothing sets forth her witness, and the moon her walk, this crown reveals to us her worship. The stars are the gift of all gospel ministers given to her by her Husband at his ascension (Eph 4:9-13; John 5:35; Rev 1:20). And she chooses to adorn her hair, which is her glory (1Cor 11:15), by the matters set forth in the gospel. That is, she presents her greatest glory to the Lord upon gospel terms. She approaches him in matters of glory, not as a Cain, requiring God to accept whatever he is pleased to offer, but as a righteous Abel, who presents to God only that which He has prescribed for acceptance by Him. B. She Being With Child (v.2)
The next evidence revealed to us is a phrase in verse two. It gives us to see that this woman is the one destined by God to be the agent for the bringing forth of His children into existence. For as Eve is said to be "the mother of all living" (Gen 3:20), to bring in the first Adam's race, even so, only the true church, the last Adam's bride, is referred to as, "Jerusalem which is above", and is said to be, "the mother of us all" (Gal 4:26). That is, she is the mother of all regenerate souls making up the body of Christ. Nicodemus confused the spiritual with the natural birth. But whatever his inability to discern between the two, it was plain even to him that for a birth there had to be a mother's womb! (Jn 3:4). So we understand that spiritual procreation is committed to the revelation of the righteousness of God, "from faith to faith" (Rom 1:17). As Haldane has well said, "The righteousness which is received by faith is revealed to faith".And of course, there are no few references that could be brought forth regarding the phrase, "travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered", in order to identify this woman as Christ's church! For from the writings of the prophet Isaiah (66:7-13), even to Jesus' own teachings in John (16:20-24), we find clear references to this matter. Nor should we pass from this thought without being reminded that Christ himself is said to be brought forth from the midst of her. Here are a few references. "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;" (Deut 18:15). "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear." (Acts 7:37). "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." (Rev 1:13). C. She Is The Center of Attention (v.4b)
Next we realize as we read this passage that this woman is the object of all attention. The dragon's location is determined according to her given position. For whether he is "in heaven", or "cast unto the earth", his activity is always in relation to the woman! Our Lord clearly sets this forth in John chapter ten. He teaches us in verse ten of the character of the thief, that is, the devil. And in verse one he directs us to the place where the thief does his work. And that place is, "the sheepfold"!The child said to be, "caught up unto God, and to his throne", is set forth as "her child". The wilderness is provided for her to have a "place prepared" therein. And we notice in verse fourteen that it is called, "her place". Those with whom the dragon makes war are those of "her seed". And the flood of false religious doctrine that issues from the dragon's mouth is, "after the woman". The earth itself, symbolic of all those of Adam's race never raised by grace to be seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; those who always "mind earthly things", are there to protect her from this flood of errors! "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." (Deut 32:8). For not only hath he predetermined the "bounds of their habitation", but also "hath determined the times before appointed" (Acts 17:26). God has not only established where all men should live, but also when, and that for the well being of his church! "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." (1Cor 3:21-23). And if that doesn't convince us of God's great love for this woman, take one look at what took place at calvary! "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:32). Even the activities of the entire human race, which we call "history" are required to "work together" for her good! (Rom 8:28). Be assured, dear reader, the church is truly set forth by God as, "the apple of his eye" (Deut 32:10). D. Her Reigning Child (v.5)
Another evidence to set forth for revealing this woman to be the church is, that only "her child" alone, was "caught up unto God, and to his throne", in order "to rule all nations with a rod of iron"! (Rev 12:5). And where is Christ at this moment? The scripture tells us he "is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him" (1Pet 3:22). We also read that "when he had himself purged our sins, (he) sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" (Heb 1:3). Let the religionists of our day make no mistake about it, Jesus of Nazareth sits as very God on the sovereign throne of glory, and has been there ever since he "purged our sins", ruling and reigning over all peoples and all matters in every realm of existence! Those who attempt to remove the "king" from the "kingdom" are left with nothing but "-dom"! And it is just plain "dumb" to refuse to allow Christ's present reign !Jesus himself set forth the time of the beginning of his reign, stating it would bring forth both the world's judgment, and Satan's being cast out of his seat of authority. In John 12:31-33 he shows that those things happened at his cross! Therefore the "war in heaven" where the great red dragon was cast out, reveals the spiritual warfare that took place in the hour of "the power of darkness" (Lk 22:53), when hell waged war against the dying Lamb of God at Calvary! For it was at "his cross" where he "spoiled principalities and powers", making "a show of them openly, triumphing over them in (himself)" (Col 2:14,15). (This will also open up for us the time of the binding of Satan in chapter twenty of the Revelation.)And it is at this time when the Lord proclaims he has "all power" given him both "in heaven and in earth" (Mt 28:18). Therefore he sets forth the white horse of gospel evangelism "conquering, and to conquer" (Rev 6:2), as he commands the church to go "into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:15). For no longer shall the nations be subject to the devil's bondage through fear of death (Heb 2:15). Now shall it be recorded concerning "Galilee of the Gentiles", that "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." (Mt 4:15,16). E. Her Seed (v.17)
One of the strongest evidences that this woman is a symbol to represent the church is found in verse seventeen. Here we are given a spiritual definition of her offspring, thereby revealing them to be, not the sons of the first Adam, but to be the spiritually born sons of the last Adam, Jesus Christ. For they are set forth as those who keep God's commandments, and as those who have the gospel revealed to them. And seeing that her seed are of a spiritual nature, so must she be. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." (Job 14:4). Also, God established that all seed was found within the parent, and "after his kind"! (Gen 1:11).
II. The Dragon Is The Devil (v.9)There is, of course, no need to spend time in the identification of the great dragon. For we are specifically given a threefold identity of him. He is none less than "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan"! And we are also given to understand exactly how he occupies himself. He is the one "which deceiveth the whole world". This one phrase given to us is certainly not without great importance. For since the time when Satan used the serpent for the fall of man, the entire world has been blanketed with darkness. There has only been an elect few who have known the God of truth! The Apostle Paul lays out "the purpose of God according to election" in the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans. He instructs us that, to the Israelites alone pertain "the adoption"! That is, God chose out of them those who were to be his spiritual sons. He called from them those who became "the fathers" of the church. And it was of their physical stock that the Incarnation was brought forth (Rom 9:4,5). Listen to God's word concerning this. "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." (Deut 14:2).As has been previously shown, the Gentile world was referred to as, "the people which sat in darkness" (Mt 4:16). And the Apostle proceeds further with the Roman letter to remind the Gentile christians that they are branches of a wild olive tree grafted in among the natural tree of Israel, which had some of it's branches broken off due to unbelief. In fact, his statement to them is, "thou bearest not the root, but the root thee" (Rom 11:18). Thus we are given to see that until after the resurrection the evangelistic thrust of the church was that they should not go but "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". (Mt 10:6). The reason being that God was pleased to allow Satan to deceive the whole world, except his one chosen nation. This is the reason that Satan could have the title of "the prince of this world". (Jn 12:3). But when the King of this prince gave himself as the Lamb of God to be the atonement for all the elect of all time, the prince had fulfilled his usefulness in the world wide deception, and was therefore chained up from that opportunity at Calvary! He is still the church's "adversary", who, "as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour". (1Pet 5:8). His imprisonment was not total! He still "walks about" ! But he is restrained from doing anything that does not work together for the church's good. He must obtain permission in order to devour. We may readily see this with a careful reading of Revelation 20:3,7,8. He is shut up only to prevent him from doing what he did prior to the going forth of the gospel into the world - deceiving the nations! And when he is "loosed out of his prison", he shall immediately return to doing that with which he is obsessed - deceiving the nations! By this we clearly see that Satan's liberty or restriction is in immediate relation to gospel evangelism! Notice this in Revelation 11:7. "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them." It is only after the church gets completely through with her testimony, at any given time, and in any given place, that Satan may bring forth his agents to remove all the seed scattered by the way side! "And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side." (Matt 13:4,19). When only the nation of Israel was dealt with, by the "giving of the law" (Rom 9:4), Satan was the prince of this world! However when the King came and assumed all authority in heaven (from whence he cast out Satan), and in earth, Satan was imprisoned to allow the gospel to go into those regions of the world, formerly deceived by him. And now, to his great frustration, he may only work close to the gospel in order to glean those souls he receives permission to deceive! This is shown to us very clearly in the scriptures. For we read in 1 Corinthians 5:4,5 that when the church is "gathered together...with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ", Satan is very close by, in order to have those in rebellion delivered to him! And do not forget he is the second sower in the parable of the wheat and tares! The first sower is Christ, "the Son of man", sowing, not gospel seed as in other parables, but actually sowing, "the children of the kingdom". Then Satan follows close along behind the Son of man sowing "the children of the wicked one" (Matt 13:38). It is not that he has power equaled to God's in the creation of life! But remember, his power upon souls is deception! This power is defined for us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 as "blind(ing) the minds of them which believe not"! And when that sinner hears the gospel and refuses to believe it as set forth in his presence, Satan is then permitted to blind his mind so that the light of Christ's glorious gospel should never again shine unto him for conversion! Also remember that we have an individual presented to us who is said to be one of the tares, and therefore, one of "the children of the wicked one". His name is Cain. In 1 John 3:12 he is listed as just that! Did Satan create Cain? No! God alone had power to give Cain life in his mother's womb! What then is meant in Satan's sowing tares? It means that Cain's anger gave place for Satan to bring forth the murder of Abel, when once God's will was despised in his heart! "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." (1Jn 3:15). We must be very careful how we hear the gospel!
III. The Uneven MatchUpon first sight of these two characters, it would obviously appear that this is a very uneven match for a warfare. Can't you just hear the announcer? "In this corner, from the pits of hell, the great red dragon, seeking whom he may devour!" "And in this corner, - a pregnant woman?!?" Well, if that were really the case, it certainly would be the most uneven match, ever! But if you look carefully you will see that this is not the case! The warfare takes place between "Michael and his angels" and, "the dragon...and his angels". (Rev 12:7). This is clearly set forth for us in Hebrews 2:14, quoted earlier! When this information clears away any false views of the woman and the dragon being the combatants, we then begin to realize that the woman's activities include only one thing - obedient trust to God! She is only said to have "brought forth a man child", and to have "fled into the wilderness". Even when the dragon does take action against her in persecution (v.13), she is said to, "fly into the wilderness into her place". In this we see that the church's protection against Satan, comes not from herself, as the Body, but from her Husband, the Head! For this is what God prophesied in Genesis 3:15! But the verse that so aptly shows this is James 4:7. There we read of God's instruction for the church's dealings with this mighty adversary. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Isn't it wonderful that as the church "flees" to be where her Head has a prepared a place, this will cause the dragon to "flee" from her? Therefore, we see that trustful obedience to God is the best protection against the forces of darkness! Dear soul, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps 91:1). As the church contains herself in the provisions of Calvary, the presence of God Almighty is nearby for her accompaniment and protection! But "whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God". (Jas 3:4). We must therefore, not only come out from among the world and be a separate people, but we must also patiently abide our crosses in order that worldliness may come out from within us! For we not only read that, "he is faithful and just...to cleanse us" (1Jn 1:9), but also that we have a responsibility as Christians to "cleanse ourselves" (2Cor 7:1). Let us note in our reference to Psalm 91, that speaks of our dwelling in the "secret place", that further on we read as a result of our faithful obedience, the promise is added, "the dragon shalt thou trample under feet"! (v.13). The Apostle Paul echoes this promise to us in the twentieth verse of the sixteenth chapter of the Roman letter. There he writes, "And the God of peace shall bruise (or, "tread), Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."
IV. The Time of War In Heaven (vs 5-11)Because of the strong delusion that has been brought to today's religious arena by such promoters of prophetic error as the Scofield "Bible", it is necessary that we see the real Bible's instruction to us as to the time that the "war in heaven" took place! For you see, dear soul, the kingdom that was established by our King's victory at Calvary is ripped out of our hands, and put far from us into some future millennial age through the promotion of such error! This one deception, so widely received in religious realms has done as much to rob the church of her strength, and Christ of his glory as any other single thing we know! We must give an honest reading to the scriptures! We must not come to them with preconceived notions, and trim them to fit those notions! We must approach the Bible in prayerful, honest hearts and minds to search for the truth!A. The Ascension (v.5)
First then, let us see that in verse five of our chapter, we are clearly shown that the war takes place at the time of Christ's ascension to his throne! Colossions 2:14,15 reveals that it was at "his cross" that the Lord, "having spoiled principalities and powers...made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it". In Ephesians 4:8 we read that, "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men". The Apostle quotes that statement from Psalm 68:18. And in the verse just prior to it, we have something of the glorious scene described to us. For there we read, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place." My, what a glorious event it must have been to have seen Jesus Christ, being received into the gates of glory, accompanied by his mighty angels who had fought with him in the war in heaven, putting down the revolt against God which had taken place in the garden with Adam! B. International Evangelism (v.6)
Secondly, we read in verse six that the warfare in heaven took place when the church is sent out of the one nation where she had always resided, and flees into "the wilderness", a term that all in Israel knew to refer to the Gentile nations! The writings of the Prophet Ezekiel gives us understanding of God's usage of this term. In chapter twenty of his writings we find the phrase, "the wilderness of the people" (v.35). And in the preceding verse we find the words, "the people" used with the phrase, "out of the countries". So here we see that "the wilderness" is "the countries" of the world. Also in the fourth chapter of Micah, verses eight through thirteen, we are given a view that aids our understanding. It reveals that at the time of the kingdom, the church shall be "as a woman in travail". And at that time, she shall "go forth out of the city". In other words, this woman leaves Jerusalem! She shall leave her previous place and begin her evangelistic progress into the world, here-to-fore only occupied by the Gentiles! Micah is moved to use the words, "thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon;"! And we know that in Jesus' interpretation of the parable of the sower, he states that the "field" is the "world". (Mt 13:38). But listen to Micah's next words after the travailing woman is said to be sent out into the world: "there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies". Here again we have the redemption of God's church associated with the church's evangelistic thrust into the world! C. Satan Cast Out (vs 7-9)
Thirdly, we read in verses seven through nine of our chapter that the warfare in heaven ends with Satan removed from his previous privileges of authority in the spiritual realm. The meaning behind the word, "place" is "spiritual opportunity"! Therefore he lost his opportunity in the spiritual realm to glorify God! In John 12:31-33 we are given a clear statement from the mouth of our Lord Jesus that his being cast out happened at the time of Christ's crucifixion. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." Of course, this reveals again that the binding of Satan, as given in Revelation twenty takes place at Calvary! It is seen that the "1000 years" is the church age, and the first resurrection is spiritual regeneration, as shown in John 5:25,26, and the second death is eternal damnation! D. Salvation Accomplished (vs 10,11)
Next we read in verses 10 and 11 of our chapter that the warfare in heaven resulting in Satan's being cast out took place at the time of the bringing in of salvation. The old covenant was incapable of satisfaction being provided to the offended holiness of God, as it rested upon an insufficient sacrifice! It is impossible that bull's and goat's blood should take away sin! (Heb 10:4). It is only the blood of the Lamb of God that can take away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29; Rev 1:5; Acts 20:28). We were told in Revelation 12:11 that the church overcame Satan "by the blood of the Lamb"! Therefore, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." (Rom 8:33). And when once the justification of God's elect was fully accomplished, Satan's condemning mouth was stopped! The "accuser of our brethren" was "cast down, which accused them before our God day and night" (Rev 12:10). He can continue no longer! For, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,.." Let us make no mistake about it, dear soul, the slain Lamb defeated the roaring lion! Enter not into the blasphemies of millennialists who proclaim Christ's cross work to have, as yet, been a failure in the defeat of Satan. We also read in these verses that at that time the church received "strength". And at the time of our Lord's ascension he stated, "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:..." (Acts 1:8). She had existed under the shadows of the law, which could never render them free from the "remembrance again of sins every year", due to the insufficiency of their sacrifices. And they were "through fear of death" under the subjection to bondage all their lifetime! (Heb 10:1-3; 2:15). Their highest priest, purified by all the washings and bloods of that age could not enter into the holiest part of the temple but once a year. However, since the accomplishment of the atonement, every believer priest may enter into the holiest place for prayer and worship before the same great God, due to the "blood of Jesus" (Heb 10:19). Under the law's sacrifices, their highest priest drew near with great fear. But now, under the precious blood of Christ, every believer may "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb 10:22). The Apostle Paul remarks that after knowing God by the atonement of the Lamb, the old covenant is but a system of "weak and beggarly elements". (Gal 4:9). It was "when we were without strength", that the remedy was provided, as "Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom 5:6).
V. The Woman's Flight (vs 5-6, 13-14)It is of interest that we see the woman's flight into the wilderness is brought up on two occasions, and in two different manners.A. The Flight And the Ascension (vs 5-6)
First, there is the flight in connection to the ascension of the Lord Jesus to his kingdom's throne. She is said to have "fled" to "a place prepared of God". As we have stated in the previous pages, here we have the church becoming international at the time of her Lord having cast Satan out of spiritual authority, and having taken all power and authority in heaven and earth unto himself (Mt. 28:18). And once his cross produced both these results, we find the church being sent forth on her world wide evangelistic journey. We must notice the word, "therefore' in Matthew 28:19. It tells us that due to Jesus receiving all authority, the church may go into the realm previously dominated by the dragon's darkness! And at the actual ascension scene, when "her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne", we hear him saying to the church, "ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:9)! Jesus had told her that he was going to the cross to "prepare a place" for her (Jn 14:2). And after he had done so, he would "come again, and receive you unto myself (Jn 14:3). The cross work of Jesus had prepared her a place for her witness unto the world. And he had "come again" in the Person of the Holy Ghost, who was but "another Comforter" (Jn 14:16). And according to Jesus' statement in John 14:18, he considered the coming of the Holy Ghost as his own coming to his bride. For that verse states, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." B. The Flight And Persecution (vs 13-14)
In the previous entrance into the wilderness, the woman flees. But on this occasion she flies! The difference in her actions is explained by the one word "persecuted"! Satan, new in this earth bound region, having been cast out of the spiritual authority he so long enjoyed, goes about his revenge against the church true to character. For "the thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy"! But, much to his frustration, this only makes her progression into the world that he once dominated, speed up! For where once she flees; now she flies! Take notice of the following verses to see this to be the case. "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles." (Acts 8:1). "Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only." (Acts 11:19). Jesus had instructed them that, "when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another:" (Mt. 10:23a). And this is exactly what they did!Satan, however, wises up to this and ceases to persecute from without, and begins to deceive from within. He can either be "roaring lion" to devour (1Pet 5:8), or "angel of light" to deceive (2Cor 11:14). We may see him crowing his heads (Rev 12:3), in order to usurp Christ's authority as Head of the church, as "angel of light". Or, we may see him crowning his horns (Rev 13:1), to glorify his power as "roaring lion".
VI. A Great Eagle (v.14)One of the thoughts given in the scriptures concerning the flight of the eagle is it's swiftness. In Deuteronomy 28:49, we find the phrase, "as swift as the eagle flieth", used to describe how quickly the Lord would bring the judgment of another nation against Israel for her sin. And we have in Revelation 12:12 the reason given for the devil's "great wrath" being "that he hath but a short time". Unlike the era of law, which lingered for thousands of years and, basically only affected the people of one nation, the gospel has comparatively moved with lightening speed around the globe! For whereas, under the law, the transversing of sea and land only made one proselyte, or convert (Mt 23:15), under the gospel's power, (due to it's sufficient sacrifice of the Lamb's blood, with the accompaniment of the Holy Ghost), Peter could preach one sermon and "three thousand souls" were added to the church as a result! In Romans 9:28 we read, "because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth". We read in Psalm 147:15, "his word runneth very swiftly". Again, when Job would speak of how fast his days upon earth were passing away, he compared them to, "the eagle that hasteth to the prey". (Job 9:26) In Job 39:27-30 we have the Lord showing forth his sovereignty over all things as the only explanation he gave Job for all the afflictions which he had undergone. And in this passage he speaks of the eagle mounting up at his command to seek his prey. And in the last verse we read, "Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she." This is used by the same Lord speaking to his disciples as he answers their question, "and what shall be the sign of thy coming? (Mt 24:3). Then in verses 27 and 28, our Lord combines the characteristic speed of the eagle, with it's feeding habits in order to answer this question. In these two verses he states that the coming of the Son of man in the gospel age shall be, not only as swift as the eagle, but shall even be "as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west;". Then he refers to the eagle's feeding habits to identify those of the church's. "For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." (Mt 24:28). Because the young eagles must have the warm blood of the fresh kill, they have the abilities given to them to both, "behold afar off", and to fly swiftly to consume it! In this manner the church may be identified as those gathered together around the slain body of her Lord Jesus! For we read, "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (Jn 6:53,54). As the gospel moves from it's place of origin in the eastern part of our world, and travels ever westward, how shall we recognize it as the true church? It is made up of those who have their spiritual eyesight focused upon the Lamb of God; of those who need him fresh every day for their sustaining; of those who have the ability to swiftly fly to that new region where he chooses to set forth his blood as the fountain for the sinners cleansing. For it is they who wait attentively upon the Lord who shall "mount up with wings as eagles" (Isa 40:31). And it is by this that they shall "renew their strength", which we earlier discussed as having been given them at Calvary!
VII. Water As A Flood (vs 15,16)It is worthy of our attention to note that the great red dragon is said to use two parts of his body in his rebellion against God. In verse four he uses his tail, prior to being cast out of heaven, in order to draw to himself a portion of the stars, or angels of God. And then, in verse fifteen he is said to use his mouth in order to carry away the woman by a flood.A. The Mouth of the Serpent (v.15)
In Isaiah 9:15 we read, "And the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail". And since our Lord proclaimed Satan to be a liar from the beginning, and the father of all lies (Jn 8:44), we may be assured that whatever the particular lie was, this was the method used to effect the revolt in heaven! For an insight into the thoughts of his heart, one must only read Isaiah 14:12-14 in order to see that because he made his physical appearance in time long before the Incarnate Son, he felt himself to be the only proper candidate for representing God in his rule over all! And remember that here at the place of the rebellion that he leads in heaven, his crowns are upon his heads (Rev 12:3)! He is in the midst of crowning himself as God, so he glorifies his headship! But how sad that this glorious angel and all his followers, both angelic and human, shall never learn the true principle of the kingdom of God. That principle is, "whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:" (Mt 20:27). And they will never accomplish their exalted place, because it requires a cross upon which all self glory must die! However, in the case of the "water as a flood", we find it comes directly out of the serpent's mouth. Reading verses five and six of Revelation chapter thirteen, we see a beast who is given power by the dragon, and he uses his mouth "in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven". Thus, here again, to destroy the effect of the gospel may have as the woman proceeds into the wilderness, he floods the world with false religions and their lies. But this too is in the will of God as punishment for those who "received not the love of the truth". "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believe not the truth,..." (2Thes 2:10-12). Did you notice that even though the perversions of the gospel are said to come directly from the serpent's mouth, it is God sending judgment on all who embrace those perversions, and believe not his Son?And what effect does this flood of falsehood have upon God's true church? According to God's word we learn that heresies only make manifest those which are approved of God among the assembly! ("For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." 1Cor 11:19) In the five verses of Psalm 93 we find that when, "the floods have lifted up their voice", God's "testimonies are very sure", because, "The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea." Dear soul, the God of the Bible is the only sovereign Being in existence! All things, however evil, are made to serve him! "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Prov 16:4).As the flood waters of Noah's day only raised the church up to heaven, and cast down the wicked in a watery grave, so the Lord shall make all of Satan's attacks to serve the church for it's good, bringing judgment on all else! "When (not, "if") thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when (not, "if") thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." (Isa 43:2). - and why not? "...for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; THOU ART MINE." (Isa 43:1). B. The Mouth of The Earth (v.16)
I know of no clearer verse than Revelation 12:16 to show the absolute sovereignty of God over all things! Here, while Satan is doing an evil thing, meaning nought but an evil effect against God's church, God brings help to her by having those earth dwellers, who have no ear to hear the true gospel, to "swallow up the flood" of perversion. Thus, the true church is protected; the harlot church is damned by this flood of lies taken in, which is the judgment of God upon her for refusal in receiving the love of the truth! (See 2 Thes 2:10,11) And Satan shall be damned because he did not mean to help God damn the wicked, not strengthen the elect of God, but meant it only for evil! God sent Assyria against Israel in order to correct her for her wrong doing. Then he punished Assyria for afflicting his people. And how is he just for punishing a nation (or Satan) for their part in improving his people's godliness? Because neither Assyria, nor Satan came against the people of God for the glory of God! They did so purely to exalt their own glory at the expense of the Lord's people! (Read Isaiah 10:5-15). Judas is not to be praised for helping to bring about the salvation of the church! Even though his betrayal was a necessary action in order to bring about the crucifixion of Jesus. Judas did what he did motivated purely by greed, and not at all with the salvation of the Lord's people in mind! So he is at this moment burning justly in hell, while God used what he did for the accomplishment of his eternal purposes. And THAT, dear soul, is absolute sovereignty! God allows his church's enemies to do their worst. Then he turns those actions into his people's good! No wonder Satan is getting more angry with the continuous approach of eternal justice! For how would you feel if every single action you took against your enemies was turned into their good?The concept of the earth having a "mouth", is not new to the scriptures. We find in the sixth chapter of Hebrews and verse seven, these words, "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:" This portion of scripture also deals with the reprobate and God's elect. But this time they are dealt with concerning the watering of the earth by the rain of the gospel. In verse four we are speaking of "those who were once enlightened". And in the last three verses of chapter five, and the first three of chapter six, we see clearly the subject to be the responsibility of spiritual growth when one receives "the word of righteousness" (v.13).Yet we can see that the same principle is here presented as in our Revelation chapter, from the symbolism of the earth "drinking", and "swallowing" a revelation from a spiritual source. In the Hebrews account, that source is God revealing his glorious gospel. But here in the Revelation, it is Satan revealing his perverted "gospel" of lies! In Hebrews there is both the bringing forth of herbs, as a "blessing from God", and the bearing of "thorns and briers", "whose end is to be burned". While in our Revelation account, there is only the swallowing of the lies of Satan, by those symbolized by the earth. It is to them that the warning of God comes in verse twelve. For those who dwell in the heavens; that is, those who "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:6), are told to "rejoice" at the casting down of Satan to the earth. And it is those "inhabiters of the earth", who have the "woe" pronounced upon them! For having no ears to hear and believe the truth (Rev 13:8,9), they swallow the lies of Satan unto their damnation. And while this presented the carnal with their damnation, it "helped the woman".
VIII. War With The Remnant (v.17)As we have seen the serpent pollute the earth with a flood of lies out of his mouth, and now we see him involved in warfare with the saints of God, so we have the exact same situation in the next chapter of this book. For in verses five through seven of chapter thirteen of the Revelation, we also see the mouth of Satan's agent spewing out his blasphemies against God, and a war mentioned in verse seven. But there is a twice repeated phrase in that portion which we must use as a guide for our thoughts concerning these matters.We first notice the phrases, "and there was given unto him a mouth", and, "power was given unto him to continue", in verse five. And we also read, "And it was given unto him to make war", in verse seven! These phrases bring our hearts and minds into a proper respect of Christ our Lord that is generally missing in the reading of the writings of today's sensationalism involving "prophesy". For we are made to see by these words that all the devil can accomplish against the truth, or the people of God, must be by the permission of him that sits upon the throne! It reminds us of the conversation recorded between Pilate, who represented the dragon, and the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 19:10 Pilate says to Jesus, "Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?" And the answer of our dear, sovereign Lord comes back into the face of the dragon's representative, setting the record straight, then, and for all time! He replies, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:...". Be assured, dear soul, that no one has complete and unlimited power except the Lord Jesus Christ! (Mt 28:18). And be further assured that whatever power Satan may exercise, must be qualified by two unchangeable laws. First, all he does must work together for the church's good (Rom 8:28)! And secondly, it must be for the glory of God (1Cor 10:31)! "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Rom 13:1). Therefore, when we read that "the dragon was wroth.. and went to make war", let us be quickly reminded that he could do no such thing without it being for the above two things. We must realize that whenever the forces of darkness are more dominant than are the forces of light, the Lord is, even then, in control and having his will accomplished! "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isa 45:7). "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isa 54:16,17). "..shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6). The strength of the church in this age shall never return until she rids herself of one too many gods! For most think that Satan is the god over evil, and God just handles the nice little sweet things! Dear soul, Jesus Christ is sovereign, eternal, almighty God! He rules over Satan and hell with equal power as over the saints and heaven! Satan is God's servant! He is but a created being, like a snake or a monkey! God alone is Creator! His Being alone is uncreated. He is before and above all things. He has never created anything or anyone whom he cannot control, nor gain glory from! We must become re acquainted with the true and sovereign Lord!
Gene Breed is the Pastor and founder of Grace Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Georgia which holds to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith and the doctrines of grace. His Church also financially supports Truth Tapes Library (www.truthtapes.com) and his weekly preached messages from this pulpit have always been recorded and made available on cassette tape to anyone who has a desire to hear the word. It has also been Pastor Breed's privilege to preach annually in Sovereign Grace Bible Conferences in St.Louis, Mo., Rocky Mount, NC., Pine Bluff, Ar., and West Milton, Pennsylvania.