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A quick overview of these two chapters shows that they deal with the rise of the apostate church that would oppose the Truth and its believers.

The apostate church was able to operate with the blessing of the Emperor Constantine who embraced Christianity for his own political ends.  Thus, Imperial Rome became the state sponsor of the so-called Christian church.

Constantine endorsed the Council of Nicaea’s declaration of the doctrine of the Trinity (325 AD), and commanded that it must be believed by all Christians. Those who did not were deemed heretics and subject to abuse. This abuse continued for many centuries resulting in horrible conditions and death for true believers.

The Lord Jesus will finally destroy this false system of worship when He returns.

  What are we to make of the kaleidoscope of scenes that pass before our eyes as we read the Book of Revelation? Bible readers of each generation have read this last message of Jesus – and each have seen in their times various godless forces competing for power and dominance. Most, probably all, claim to be serving their particular “vision” of what God is – or in most recent generations, that Man himself is “monarch” of all that exists.

            They “imagine” how their God is going to reward them; this is particularly the case with the Muslims today – as it was in past centuries with Crusaders and the Rome dominated brand of Christianity which gained a bad name as people saw R C Priests with opposing armies blessing and praying to the same God for success in their fighting.

            In our reading today we have a “woman” in contrast to the dragon and the beasts. God miraculously protects her as both the “serpent”(12 v.15) and the “dragon” (v.17) pursue her and “make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

            Those who are faithful to God are tested to prove their faithfulness. Often that “war” has taken a more subtle and dangerous form as true believers are tempted to water down God’s commandments and the testimony of Jesus andcompromise their commitment to truth: this is very much the case today.

            In the 13th chapter we read of an awesome beast  coming on the scene “uttering haughty and blasphemous words” [v.5] and then another beast “deceives those who dwell on the earth” [v.14] to support the first beast which is then revealed as bearing the number 666 and everyone is expected to bear “the number of his name” [v.17] But , ignoring the chapter break, we next read, “Then I looked, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb” [14 v.1] and then the “eternal  Gospel” is proclaimed “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation …” [v.6] This vision is parallel with Isaiah ch, 2 particularly v.3

            We long to see the Lamb stand on Mt. Zion, but until then we must resist the dragon and the beasts in whatever godless form they take in seeking to undermine our lives from maintaining a whole hearted commitment “to the testimony of Jesus.”

   By Bro D.Caudery

12 v.7-11 – The battle is won, not by might nor power but by ‘the blood of the lamb’ marking the way in which we were redeemed. We cannot buy our salvation [1 Peter 1:18-19] nor can we win it by our own strength [Romans 5:6]. It is a gift through faith. [Romans 5:1]

13 v.9 – The call to listen with open ears echoes Jesus’ repeated use of the idea in the gospels [Matthew 11:15 13:9,43 Mark 4:9,23 7:16 Luke 8:8 14:35] and in earlier chapters in Revelation [Revelation 2:7,11,17,29 3:6,13,22 13:9] And contrasts with Israel who were ‘dull of hearing’ because they had closed their ears. [Zechariah 7:11]

12:17 the woman … her seed Gen 3:15

So here we are – right back in the garden of Eden – seeing the long planned salvation through the seed of the woman

13:16 in their foreheads Eze 9:4

Ezekiel sees men who have the seal of God in their foreheads. The beast seeks to cause men to change their allegiance. So that instead of thinking about God and His purpose all were to worship and think about the beast.

12:3 great … dragon Eze 29:3
12:3 having … ten horns Dan 7:7
12:4 drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth Dan 8:10

The way in which Ezekiel – speaking about Egypt and Daniel 7 – speaking about the Roman Empire and Daniel 8 – speaking of the Greeks are drawn together shows that this chapter is speaking of a force which manifests characteristics of all these nations.

The use of Daniel in this chapter highlights the value of understanding what Daniel is speaking about before trying to sort out what Revelation is talking about.

13:1 beast rise up out of the sea Dan 7:3
13:1 ten horns Dan 7:7
13:2 the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard Dan 7:6
13:2 a bear Dan 7:5
13:2 of a lion Dan 7:4
13:5 a mouth speaking great things Dan 7:8
13:5 to continue (for a time period) Dan 8:13
13:7 to make war with the saints and overcome Dan 7:21
13:7 tongues and nations Dan 3:4
13:8  worship him Dan 3:6

 

12:4 The destruction of the “third part” is a recurring feature in Revelation found here and Rev (8:9,10,11,12, 9:15,18). Ezekiel speaks of judgements upon Israel in third parts twice in Eze 5:2,12

13:17 In saying that the time would come when men would not be able to “buy” unless they have the mark of the beast we see a contrast and warning. Jesus called the brethren in Laodicea to “buy”(Rev 3:18) from him.

A quick overview of these two chapters shows that they deal with the rise of the apostate church that would oppose the Truth and its believers.

The apostate church was able to operate with the blessing of the Emperor Constantine who embraced Christianity for his own political ends.  Thus, Imperial Rome became the state sponsor of the so-called Christian church.

Constantine endorsed the Council of Nicaea’s declaration of the doctrine of the Trinity (325 AD), and commanded that it must be believed by all Christians. Those who did not were deemed heretics and subject to abuse. This abuse continued for many centuries resulting in horrible conditions and death for true believers.

The Lord Jesus will finally destroy this false system of worship when He returns.

12:7  Whilst it may seem obvious that there is a physical battle going on it clearly speaks of a conflict between two ideologies.

13:5  Whilst we have identified the ‘mouth speaking great things’ with Dan 7:8 we must also be aware of a New Testament link with Jude 1:16. Thus we see that what Revelation has to say had immediate relevance as well as a longer term fulfilment.

12:1 Remember that Revelation is a book of symbols. The symbols of this verse are:

heaven  This represents a political heaven and not a celestial one.

-woman  This is a generic term for a female.  It could represent the bride of Christ (the true ecclesia),  but here it symbolizes a break-away religious system.  Her attire will explain more.

-the sun represents governing authority.  Many pagan gods, such as the Egyptian Ra (the sun god), were considered rulers.

-moon under her feet Anything under the feet is in subjection to what is above. The moon is subject to the sun for light.  And so, symbolically, the moon is reliant on the sun (government) for support.  In this case, the moon represents the apostate church (under the aegis of the woman) which would need government support to advance.

-crown symbolizes victory.  The woman, who we now see as symbolizing a religious system, has gained victory (domination) over all other religious claimants.

-twelve stars represents twelve princes (rulers) who would facilitate the apostate system to succeed.  Twelve is a representative number for a totality.  Can you think of other twelves, or multiples, in scripture, that can show you this kind of completeness.

Put together the pieces from above.  Where have you seen a statue or picture of such an image?

12:2,5 The child represents Constantine.

12:3 the dragon was a symbol of military Rome.

12:6 The woman here is the true ecclesia (The Bride of Christ) who was subject to persecution from the amalgamation of Constantine (Imperial Rome) with the apostate ecclesia that would become ecclesiastical Rome.  And so, the woman had to flee.  She would exist for 1260 years.

Michael  means one who is like the Son of God.  In this case, it represents Constantine who acted as if he were the Son of God.  He fought against pagan Rome in the name of ecclesiastical Rome.  He won (12:9).

12:10-12 Constantine and the Roman Church celebrate their victory in the name of Christ. The inhabitants of the earth are warned that the Roman Church will conquer those who do not believe as they do.

12:13-17 Now begins the persecution of the true ecclesia (woman) who, nevertheless will be sustained, as an entity, for 1260 days. If reckoned from Constantine in 312 AD, this would bring the time up to 1572 AD, the date of The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre.

Chapter 13 will be discussed in December

While some of Revelation is quite clear, I’m not fully confident in any of the various interpretations. When Christ returns the faithful will fully understand (1Cor 13:12).

Rev 12:1 – Heaven refers to political heavens. A woman clothed with the sun, etc. is not literal. We have a similar description in Genesis (Gen 37:9-11) and it is suggested the sun is Jacob, the moon Leah, the stars leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel so the woman would be the ideal Israel at this stage. The woman finds her true beginning with Eve and the serpent (i.e. sin) is standing before her ready to devour her seed upon birth (Gen 3:15-16;Isa 7:14;Matt 1:21-23).

Rev 12:2 – Israel suffered waiting for the redeemer to be delivered (Rom 8:22).

Rev 12:3 – We have a red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev 12:9-10) and similar beasts (Rev 13:1;Rev 17:3). The red dragon is the accuser of the brethren, is universally hostile to God’s people (esp. the son of this woman) and gives power to the beast (Rev 13:2) which would be human institutions opposed to that which is good (Eph 6:12).

Rev 12:4 – The stars cast down to heaven have an echo in Daniel (Dan 8:3,9,10) which suggests persecutions of the people of God would be from roots following Alexander the Great’s empire. The dragon is the sum of human sinfulness and operates through human powers (i.e. the beast).

Rev 12:5 – The child is elevated to the highest position he could attain. Christ will rule all nations with a rod of iron (Psa 2:6-12;110:1-2;Isa 11:1,4;Gen 49:10;Num 24:17,19;Psa 45:6-7;Matt 2:1-2;Heb 1:8;Rev 2:27-28;Rev 19:15-16;Rev 22:16.)

Rev 12:6 – At various times the woman is in the wilderness.  Herod attempted to kill the young child (Jer 31:15;Matt 2:13-19). 1260 days may refer to Christ’s ministry along with John the Baptist’s literal and spiritual wilderness preparation with Israel (Isa 40:3;Matt 3:1-3). The woman has a coming apostacy (Rev 12:14).

Rev 12:7-9 – This is language used of the proud king of Babylon’s fall (Isa 14:12) and demonstrates how Christ’s crucifixion brought the power of sin to an end. Christ healed fleshly infirmities, and through his crucifixion and resurrection defeated sin, personified by the devil, so believers might have hope (Luke 10:17-18;John 12:31-33;Gen 3:15;Heb 2:14,17;Heb 4:15;1John 3:8).

Rev 12:10-12 – Despite Christ’s victory over sin, which gives believers hope of eternal life, sin is still a force to be reckoned with (Rom 8:1,33-39).

Rev 12:13 – Ideal Israel had given birth to Christ and true Christianity but there would be major challenges that lie ahead.

Rev 12:14 – The woman would become apostate (Zech 5:7-11). Shinar is short for Babylon (Gen 11:2;Isa 11:11;Dan 1:2).

Rev 12:17 – The dragon (sin and the sinful institutions controlled by the dragon) goes after those who who obey God’s commandments and hold on to the testimony of Jesus Christ. The dragon (personification of sin) of chapters 12 through 20 is the same.

The above sketch was mostly gleaned from Apocalypse For Everyman  by A.D. Norris, pps 206-225.

The accuser

It becomes abundantly clear who the “accuser of our brethren” is in Rev 12:10, because every other use of this word in scripture is in relation to the Jewish leaders accusing Jesus or his followers. In fact, so precise is this relationship that there is no other use of that word in any other context than this**. Now, the “accuser” in this chapter is the dragon, or the devil or satan, as described in v7-9 who is “cast out of heaven”. Jesus used the same names to describe the Jewish leaders, for example:

 

“you are of your father, the devil” (John 8:44)

“serpents, brood of vipers!” (Matt 22:33)

 

I think from this key discovery we can gain a clear understanding of what the chapter is about. It is telling us in pictorial form about the destruction of the Jewish system of worship, which happened in AD70 when Jerusalem was destroyed. With that system out of the way, followers of Jesus would be able to worship in spirit and truth without the constant accusation of those who used the law of Moses as a means for their own ends.

 

I think if you follow this train of thought you will quickly work out who the other players are in the chapter.

 

**Please check this up yourself using a Strongs concordance (Greek word 2723) or a bible search program or Greek lexicon. Romans 2:15 is a possible exception though it’s still in the context of the Jewish law.

WORSHIP GOD.

The Bible tells us over and over that we must worship the Lord our God and worship him only. It also tells us that we must not worship idols, people or anything else that might be set up in opposition to the one true living God.

As Christians then, we need to concentrate our attention on the Lord our God and on his Son, Jesus Christ. We need to make sure that they take the Number One place in our lives and that all our worship is reserved only for them. We need to make sure that our worship is true and not just a matter of lip service because the time may come when the whole world will be carried away with the worship of a false god, which Revelation calls the Beast. We read that “All the inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” And, “He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.” And later, “… and cause all who refuse to worship the image to be killed.”

Let us resolve now to make sure our worship of God is true and strong so that we recognise false worship when it comes and can stand firm in our faith.

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