Revelation 13 The Beast from the Sea’s Activities

Revelation 13:5-10

Image above: The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883) Wikimedia Commons

I. Satan is permitted to do his evil, but he is restrained by God.

vs. 5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 

“Authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.” NASB — “Was given” is passive voice. This indicates an implied divine agency. Satan gives the beast his authority. However, it is God himself who permits this. Satan would do much more than he is able to do but for God’s sovereign control over all things. The problem of evil is insurmountable from human understanding. We can try to circumvent it by shaving off God’s sovereignty and making it look like he is not in control of all things. I would rather be without understanding and have God sovereign than to view Satan’s actions as uncontrollable. This is where humility and prayer come in.

Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern_1860_176
Image depicting Jesus Christ sending Satan away during his temptation by Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 Wikipedia public domain

The Beast is allowed to speak his blasphemies for 42 months — the time of the Church’s testimony and the time between Christ’s Ascension and Second Coming. Note that John uses the accusative of time to indicate duration. False governments oppose God’s Church, but they do not wipe it out. And they cannot do it except God permit it.


II. Satan is our implacable foe who spews out slander and lies.

vs. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling (tabernacle), that is, those who dwell in heaven. 

Tabernacle (2009 model by Gabriel Fink CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia commons

The Beast’s blasphemiesblasphēmia = slander. The word for “dwelling place” is skēnē — “tabernacle.” It is a reference to heaven and not to the heavenly tabernacle which was the prototype of the earthly one. The verb form of the noun is used in the next phrase — skenō. Godless governments hate God, heaven, and all who dwell there. No wonder we are so persecuted. We are citizens of that realm they hate so much.

III. God Fulfills His purposes through the war Satan wages on the saints.

vs. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation…

The original painting is by Briton Rivière in the Manchester Art Gallery. Image published by Thomas Agnew and Sons, 1892 (Daniel in the Lions Den).

“War on the saints” — Here again, as in the 5th verse, we encounter the past tense passive voice of didomi — to give. It refers to God’s permission to do something. God permits civil governments to oppose his people. God has given authority to civil government to rule over all people. When such government is good, God’s people prosper. When it is evil, God’s people suffer. By and large, an evil civil government will oppose God’s people. Maybe the evil government is used by God to keep the Church pure. God’s people will ultimately prosper in spite of the activities of an evil civil government. Romans 8:28 functions in this sphere as well as in an individual’s life.


IV. Satan lures the earth-dwellers to worship the image of the beast from the sea (godless government).

vs. 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Worshiping the Golden Calf wikimedia commons Bible card published 1901 by the Providence Lithograph Company

Those who worship the Beast and those who refuse — The “earth-dwellers” are those who are opposed to God and his people. They find no other ambition and desire except to live here on earth.

The concept for “dwelling” is the same as that expressed in verse 7 in regard to the saints, but the words are different — vs. 7 = skēnē ; vs. 8 = katoikeō = [kata “down” + oikeō “dwell in a house”] has the idea of “settling down” in it. These folk who settle down in this world system are unsaved. They are not of the elect. They one desire is a home on this earth.

Psalm 135 makes a telling observation about idolators —

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.

“Before the foundation of the world” — This phrase should be attached to the words “the Lamb who was slain. . .” and not attached to the word “written… .” The emphasis is upon redemption before the world was even made. It demonstrates that the plan of salvation was not an afterthought with God. It was in his plan all along. ‘Written’ is in the perfect tense. They were written in the past and continue in the book in the present. See NIV Rev. 13:8


V. God sustains us in our warfare with godless humans and Satan as we live true to Him.

vs. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

This phrase can either refer to what precedes or to what follows. It is a solemn call to the hearer in the public worship service to whom the epistle is being read to listen if he has spiritual senses with which to perceive it. It is a characteristic phrase used in the synoptic gospels (see Mark 4:9 and Rev. 2:7). The call here in Revelation is in the singular, whereas our Lord’s call is in the plural. It is also in the present tense stressing the fact that the message is timeless. I feel the solemn call goes with what follows because it fits in with the formula since it starts with the same words ‘if anyone…

vs. 10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Image uploaded to Pinterest by Bonnie Caldwell

Captivity and Killing — This is a confirmation of the sure purpose of God which is at work during this entire period of the testimony and persecution of the Church. The Christian destined for captivity will go there and the Christian destined to be killed will be killed. Why does the Lord say the obvious? Is this, Whatever will be, will be’ kind of fatalism? No, but the Lord is assuring the suffering church that evil is also within the confines of his will.

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.


North Korean refugee John Choi* shares how he grew up believing Christians were evil and dangerous. “We watched the government’s propaganda alongside public executions. It told us that Christians wanted to kidnap children and that the cross was a symbol of the devil.

“Even in nursery school, we had to bow to the pictures of the first leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung and his son, Kim Jong-Il. The first man I saw executed was a Christian. They said he had smuggled Christian things into the country and had enticed people into the church. The whole village was told to come and watch. The children were allowed to sit at the front to get a good view. It enforced this belief that Christians were dangerous.”

Despite these lies and toxic culture, God broke through to this new believer … this new member of our family. Praise God that he found faith in the one, true God. * Not his real name. (see Open Doors USA, below.)


The saints’ perseverance — Christians move forward and trust the God who works in such a plan as has been outlined above. It is not blind fatalism. It is trust in a God who works for our good in the midst of seeming chaos. Who covers us with His protection until His plan is accomplished for our lives. Then, he takes us home to heaven to live with Him forever.

Next time the Beast from the Land!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Open Doors USA. (2020). Accessed 21 October 2020 from https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/urgent-north-korean-christian-arrested-and-in-grave-danger-pray-for-release/

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© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 13: The Second Member of the Trifecta of Evil — The Beast from the Sea

Revelation 13:2-4

Image above is a French tapestry of “The worship of the Image of the Beast” by Jean de Bandol; licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikikedia Commons.

vs 2: And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 

“Verses 1-2 are a creative reworking of Dan. 7:4-7.” (see Beale, p. 267, below)

Triumph_of_Aemilius_Paulus_(1789)

A “triumph” was granted to a victorious Roman General to display the fruit of his victory and the glory of Roman Empire. Picture in public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

I. Satan energizes this present evil world system in its domination of  mankind.

The activity of the dragon (Satan) against the newly formed people of God [the seven churches of Asia Minor in the first Century] now picks up that activity as it will be carried out by the Empire through the second and third members of the “unholy [Trifecta]”: the emperor himself and the “chief priest” of the cult of the emperor. (See Fee, p. 177, below)

In Daniel 7:4-6 there are four beasts described. They are the world powers of Daniel’s vision. John’s Beast is a composite of three of the four of Daniel’s vision. The Roman empire was a conglomeration of all of the empires which had ruled the world previously. Its Empire ended, but the power of it was passed on the succeeding nations. (see Beale, below.)

The_Scripture_history_of_idolatry,_showing_the_connexion_between_the_traditions_of_pagan_mythology_and_the_Bible_(1838)_(14597409667)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Image worshiped by all except the three Hebrew youths. Along with Daniel, they were  the only ones who could adequately advise the king. They had wisdom from God. Wikimedia commons image.

Some view this Beast as both government and an individual. I think that it is best to view it as government. It is not just the final manifestation of the end times that John has in view. It is the evil, world system in general that is present in every age. The traditional view is represented by John Calvin, who identifies the four beasts as the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires respectively.

In our day, people look to government to meet needs that God alone can meet. As one has noted before — whatever a person considers of ultimate concern is to him God. I John 2:15-17 rightly commands us — 

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [ESV]

World (kosmos in Greek), is defined by Thayer as “worldly affairs; the aggregate of things earthly; the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which, although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.” (see Thayer below).

“One of the realities of humans as religious beings is that they tend to become like the deities they worship.” (See Fee, p. 178, below.)

As governments in our day become more and more uncivil and brutal, those who look to them for their every need will become like them.

Richard M. Weaver wrote — “Most of the world lies under the control of haters of mankind.”


Leviathan

DORÉ, Gustave (1832-1883) The Destruction of Leviathan (Is. 27:1) image in the public domain.

1 In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. [ESV]

II. All human government allied with the Dragon has been dealt a fatal blow by Christ on the cross.

vs. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 

(1) Some believe that this is just a general way of saying that whenever an evil government is seeming done away with, another will rise to take its place.
(2) Others see in this a reference to the sacking of Rome in AD 410 and the fall of the empire in AD 475. Afterwards, a conglomeration of nations will arise out of the empire which will culminate in the government of the end times.
(3) I see in this a reference to the fatal blow Jesus dealt Satan’s kingdom on the cross. The present evil world system is “passing away” (I John 2:14-16) from that fatal blow. It still hangs on; but it will be destroyed! One cannot help but see parallels here between Christ’s death and the “death blow’ of the beast.

Satans Conterfeits of Christ

Note both are said to have been “slain” — the same Greek word is applied to the “slain Lamb” in Rev. 5:6 — sphazō. Here is deliberate deception. The beast obviously attempts to pass himself off as a religious entity worthy of the worship of the masses because of his ”miraculously healed wound.” The word “wound” is plēgē in Greek. Its English counterpart is “plague.” Plēgē is used in Revelation of divine Judgment. This lends credence to the view that the wound was divinely inflicted by the Lord on the Cross. “The whole earth marveled at the beast” — “Marveled” — the past passive of thaumazō — is nothing less than worship.

Blake sea beast 1805

William Blake: The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea, 1805 . Wikimedia commons image in the public domain.

Men worship evil, human governments because of Satan’s energizing of this world’s system. He causes men to stand in awe of governments that provide for the elderly, promote science, and “shelter its citizens from the cradle to the grave.” Evil governments often become cultic. Such is the danger of civil religion connected to a government. There is a danger that the church will get caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment and fail to fulfill its prophetic ministry to the government. “The church is to be the conscience of the nation.” We are not in society to confirm the course of the civil government even when that course is wrong. “My country right or wrong” is a terribly flawed maxim. We are here to provide moral leadership. Such a ministry is not popular. But, God has not called us to a popular ministry. He has called us to a faithful one.


III. Adulation of government and its services is idolatry of the worse kind.

vs. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

“Who is like the Beast?” — The function of civil government is always to keep the peace so its citizens can prosper! It is not here to receive our worship (see Romans 13) . The phrase, “Who is like the beast,” may be a parody of Michael’s name — ‘who is like God’. Also, Psalm 35:10 may be in view. The Beast — this evil world system — is accorded divine honors and prerogatives. Men tend to worship what gives them a sense of security. God sees to it that human government doesn’t completely insulate our lives. He brings calamity and heartache upon us as individuals and as a society to keep us ever looking away to the need for something transcendent.

Next time, the Beast from the land.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Fee, G. (2010). Revelation (New Covenant Commentary). Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. Kindle edition.

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Thayer, J. H. (1889). Greek Lexicon. Accessed 18 October 2020 from https://biblehub.com/greek/2889.htm

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© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 13: The Satanic Trifecta Revealed!

Revelation 13:1-8

Image above: The Revelation of St John: 12. The Sea Monster and the Beast with the Lamb’s Horn. A woodcut by Albrecht Dürer. Wikipedia; public domain. 

Chapter 13 spells out in no uncertain terms that Christians are marked people as we worship and serve Jesus as Lord and not the Caesars of our day.

The Link Between Chapters 11-13 — The visions of all three chapters are linked by reference to the persecution of the church. In chapter 11, the church is faithfully witnessing during tribulation between the First and Second Advents while the godless masses carry out persecution against her members. In chapter 12, the dragon who persecutes the woman and her seed, is seen to be the cause behind all of the persecution of the church. At the end of chapter 12, the dragon takes his stand on the sea shore to watch as his cohorts begin to do his bidding, as seen in chapter 13.

“This chapter forms part of the theme of the persecution of God’s people that John began to develop in ch. 12. Turning from the inner dynamics of the struggle, ch. 13 shifts to the actual earthly instruments of this assault—the two dragon-energized beasts.” (see Johnson, A. F. p. 701, below.) 

Revelation 11-13 context

From the Chart above one can see Chapter 13 uses a marked hand to indicate forces attempting to influence work. I do not believe these are to be taken as literal marks (e.g. microchips under the skin or a bar code on the arm, etc. as popular prophecy books claim).

In the courts of England in the past they used to brand mark a person’s thumb on the underside with a letter to indicate his crime. This way no one would do business with a criminal after he was released. He would turn his palm up to shake hands and all would know instantly what he had done. I will speak more about the “666 image” later. Perhaps it is better to see the mark as invisible but detectable by one’s outward loyalties. Such is the mark of baptism upon a believer!

The Identification of the Two Beasts of Charter 13 — The two wild beasts are the Dragon’s minions. They perform his bidding, receive his authority, and provide him with followers from humanity. They also persecute those who will not follow the dragon his program.

These three — 1. the Dragon; 2. the Beast from the Sea; 3. the Beast from the Land — form the satanic trifecta of evil. They cannot form a genuine Trinity because they do not share the same substance like the Godhead does. But, they are attempting to pass themselves off as an ersatz “Trinity.” Together, they are bent on the destruction of God’s plans and opposition to God.


vs. 1 [And the Dragon stood on the shore of the sea.] And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.

I. When governments do not recognize King Jesus as Lord of Lords, they become like wild beasts in their treatment of non-conforming people.

Daniel's_vision_of_the_four_beasts_from_the_sea_and_the_Ancient_of_Days_-_Silos_Apocalypse_(1109),_f.240_-_BL_Add_MS_11695

Daniel’s vision of the four beasts from the sea and the Ancient of Days – Silos Apocalypse (1109) Wikimedia Commons public domain image

“Beast,” in Greek, is thērion — meaning “wild beast.” This is a designationStatue of Gold in Daniel for evil, demonic forces behind human governments. It is taken from the book of Daniel (7:4-6) . In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he envisioned his  government as a golden statue.

In God’s estimation, human governments under the influence of demonic forces are wild beasts. Government is
supposed to support right and punish wrong, but often it does the opposite. Satan’s two earthly instruments are viewed by God as wild beasts ready to devour mankind.


Romans 13 states clearly —

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (ESV)

Roman Governor Arrives for Annual visit

Think of the annual visit of a Roman governor to his province (pictured above). He would be given a procession from the harbor in Ephesus to the Praetorium—the Roman governor’s residence—high above the theater that seated 25,000 persons. (The high vantage point said to Ephesians, “Beware! Rome’s eye is on you!”)

The imperial cult was not merely a matter of stone temples, lifeless statues, and voiceless inscriptions passively waiting to be noticed. Priests and celebrants regularly brought these sites and their ideology to life, following a calendar of imperial celebrations, including the monthly commemoration of the reigning emperor’s birthday. As the procession passed by, householders would sacrifice on small altars outside their homes [note the altar in the picture above]. The whole city thus had opportunity to join in the celebration. (see DeSilva, pg. 42, below).


II. When Christians refuse to render homage to State as god, we are treated badly by our neighbors for non-conformity.

The problem is not giving respect to our government officials. We owe them that according to Romans 13 and Jesus’ words to His disciples. We as believers are caught in a quandary sometimes. Jesus has an answer—Mark 12:15-17 —

Hadrian_Denarius12 Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Our quandary comes when “our Caesar” usurps what belongs to God and requires us to obey it. We cannot render unto Caesar the things that belong to God!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Statue of Jesus Christ as King in Świebodzin, Poland CC BY-SA 3.0

III. Our obedience to and honoring of God has priority over our yielding to man’s wishes.

The Imagery of the Sea — In Rev. 11:7, the beast is said to arise “out of the abyss” (also in 17:8) . This indicates that the sea, here in 13:1, is a symbol for the abyss, in 11:7. “The ancient [Israelites] de-mythologized the sea-monster myths to depict the victory of the Lord of Israel over the demonic forces of evil that in various manifestations had sought to destroy the people of God.” (see Alan F. Johnson, 1987 ed. p. 524, below.)

The seven churches would have recognized the beast from the sea as the Roman Governor. We will speak later about the beast from the land (religion of Asia Minor).

Note Isaiah 57 about Israel and the wicked nations around her —

18 I have seen [Israel’s] ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19 creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord, “and I will heal him.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” (ESV; emphasis mine) 

I leave you with two quotations —

“He who marries the spirit of the times will soon find himself a widower.” — G. K. Chesterton

“What, then, is it for a man to serve his own generation? I note, first, that it is not to be a slave to it. It is not to drop into the habits, customs, and ideas of the generation in which we live. What is it, [then]? It is to maintain true religion. — ( see Spurgeon, below)

We move on to more in the 13th Chapter next time.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

DeSilva, David. (2009). Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation, Rev. Ed. in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). “His Own Funeral Sermon.” A Sermon (No. 2243)
Delivered October 19th, 1890. Accessed 10 October 2020 from https://archive.spurgeon.org/sermons/2243.php

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© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 12: Facing a Fierce Foe but not Backing Down!

Revelation 12:13-17

Image above: Guido Reni – Massacre of the Innocents public domain Wikipedia.


We have seen in the past two posts that main point of this chapter is —

We as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ are in a cosmic Spiritual Battle in which Satan and his allies are seeking to destroy us. 

Let’s see in this post how fierce the conflict can become.

I. The church is the new Israel of God which is the target of Satanic attack.

vs. 13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.

Satan cannot get back at God directly. He does attempt to do so indirectly, however, through man. He takes his anger out upon the children of God. The specialized use of the Greek past tense stresses entering into an activity — “began to… .” The Greek word diōkō means “to put to flight,” “to pursue,” or “to persecute.” Since the devil cannot sling dirt in God’s presence any longer, he does so by pursuing His people and persecuting them.


II. God always provides for His people’s needs in times of persecution.

vs. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Isaiah 40 gives us this promise —

28
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (ESV; emphasis mine.)

Beale points out that this verse takes us back to 12:6 and explains it further — 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

This section brings to mind the promises given by the Lord to Israel in Exodus 19:4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself; and Deut. 32:10-12.

This is direct Divine intervention for the purpose of deliverance. For the time designation see the note on vs. 6. Both of the verbs are passive in voice — indicating an implied Divine agent.

The church is once again portrayed as latter-day Israel taking over the role of the old Israel, and with the spiritual wilderness (erémos) representing God’s protective presence substituted for the physical wilderness of Sinai. (See Beale, p. 260, below.)  

Wolf in Sheep clothing

Wolf in sheep’s clothing, /u/Departedart, Digital, 2019


III. One of Satan’s chief means of defaming God is to corrupt His church by error.

vs. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.

The water brings to mind the Exodus. The water was a barrier to their escape. The word for “swept away by the stream” is potamophorétos. It was used in an A.D. 110 papyrus (a letter written on paper) meaning “to become river borne.” The thought may be that the godly are wrestling with a flood of deception.

Psalm 144 relates this possibility

7
Stretch out your hand from on high;
rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
from the hand of foreigners,
8
whose mouths speak lies
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

Psalm 32:6-7 sounds this same promise of protection.

6
Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. (ESV; emphasis mine)


IV. Our Lord God of Armies (Yahweh Sabaoth) has all resources at His disposal to aid His people.

vs. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.

A_Covenanters'_Conventicle,_from_a_children's_history_book

A conventicle in progress, from H. E. Marshall’s
Scotland’s Story (1906) public domain image from wikipedia.

The river runs under ground and does not destroy the woman. This speaks of the many ways the Lord will deliver his people during tribulation.

In the “killing times” in Scotland, an old Covenanter preacher had been delivering a sermon out in the rural countryside. All fled at the sound of horses and soldiers. The preacher ran into a cottage. The family hid him in a cupboard. Unknown to anyone a spider dropped down and began to weave a web over the cupboard door. Then the soldiers broke in and turned almost everything upside down. When they came to the cupboard, the captain said, “Don’t bother with that. The door hasn’t been opened in ages. There’s a spider web across the door.”


V. Obedience to Christ and Faithfulness to His Word brings the most suffering and the greatest success. 

vs. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

The church itself will not be destroyed. This is symbolized by the invulnerability of the woman. However, Satan will attack individual members of the church and seek to destroy them. This is symbolized by the “making war against the rest of her offspring.” The phrase “make war against” is identical to that used in two other places — 11:7 where the beast attacks the two witnesses and in 13:7 where the beast attacks the saints. “Could this possibly correlate the three groups and indicate their common identity under three different figures’?” (see Johnson, A. F., below.) Satan hates those who obey God’s word and who possess the testimony of Jesus.


In China, reporting Christian activities to police pays money

In parts of China, Christianity continues to be suppressed and stifled — especially with the next generation. We have recent reports that in China’s Gushi County—home to almost 2 million people—citizens have been encouraged to report “illegal” religious activities in exchange for monetary rewards. Reportedly, a reward of 500 yuan (around $73) was promised for photos, video or recordings of religious events. The information about the reward came to light when a summer camp hosted by a church in the county was interrupted and raided by government officials who accused the church of holding “illegal” activities. During the raid, plainclothes police confiscated personal and church property and took the pastor and his wife to the police station. A church member told China Aid that the officials suggested they acted on information from a third party, saying they had received “report from folks.” [Open Doors, USA website]

Still the house churches grow!


[vs. 12:18 or 13:1?] And he [or I] stood on the sand of the sea.

“And he stood on the sand of the sea.” This refers to the Dragon. The Textus Receptus or TR (the Greek manuscript from which the KJV was translated) reads “and I stood on the sand of the sea,” referring to John. The oldest manuscripts have the 3rd person singular and not the 1st person singular.

This verse is included in the KJV as a part of 13:1. It is obvious that it should be 12:18. It forms a link between the two chapters. The Dragon watches as his proteges, the Beast from the sea and the Beast from the earth rise to do
his bidding. These three figures are the “Satanic Trifecta.”


We do not know when persecution might come our way. Death is the last enemy we face in our earthly life. As we testify of God’s to wondrous grace in Christ, we never know who might be listening in the corner while we speak to someone who appears unresponsive.

Sangster-318Rev. William Edwin Sangster (1900-1959), very famous preacher, had been on a speaking engagement one evening and decided to give his wife a call. He usually did before leaving for home on a long journey. He connected to the long distance operator and gave her the number. (This was way before cell phones.) As he was waiting to be connected to his wife, he sang the words to a favorite hymn —

My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.
(Richard Baxter, “Lord, it Belongs not to My Care,” 1681)

The operator had been listening in to make sure the connection was made. When he finished singing that last verse, she asked him to repeat the words. She said, “You’ll never know how much those words meant to me tonight!”


Application for Chapter 12

Chart for Application of Reve 12

Next time Chapter 13!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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