Sun, Aug 06, 2000

A War Breaks Out on Earth: Rev. 12:13-17

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

A WAR BREAKS OUT ON EARTH

REVELATION 12:13-17

In our last study we saw a war break out in heaven between Michael and the angelic hosts of heaven, against Satan and his demonic forces. It is during this battle that Satan and his demonic hosts will be cast out of heaven to the earth. No longer will he be able to accuse the brethren before our loving Father. But with Satan being cast to the earth we see the repercussions that will ensue because of it. Revelation 12:12 tells us, "...Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."

This period of time is known as the Great Tribulation Period, or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. It speaks of the last 3½ years of the 7 year tribulation period. And so this war that began in heaven between Michael and his angels against Satan and his forces will continue on the earth, but now Satan will fight against the nation of Israel and all those who refuse to worship him. It is a time that is unparalleled in human history, and of this time Jesus said, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." Matthew 24:21-22.

The phrase "...for the elect’s sake..." is speaking of Israel, and that is what Revelation chapter 12 is all about, the nation of Israel. Notice what the Lord says to Jeremiah regarding the nation of Israel returning to the land, which occurred on May 14, 1948. And once they are in the land, the time of Jacob’s trouble will come upon them, the seventieth week of Daniel. That is what is next on God’s agenda after the rapture of the church or the calling of the church home to be with the Lord.

We read in Jeremiah chapter 30, beginning in verse 1, "The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, ‘Thus speaks the LORD God of Israel, saying: "Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah," says the LORD. "And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it."’ Now these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah. For thus says the LORD: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them...

...You shall be My people, and I will be your God." Behold, the whirlwind of the LORDgoes forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind; it will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will consider it." Jeremiah 30:1-9, 22-24.

This last 7 year period of time, is also known as the seventieth week of Daniel, which will come to pass in the latter days. And some of the results will be that Israel will return to their God and Jesus will sit on the throne of David, ruling and reigning from Jerusalem. But before that happens, a war breaks out on earth!

REVELATION 12

VERSE 13

No longer can Satan persecute the Male Child, Jesus Christ, for the victory over Satan was completed on Calvary. But that does not stop him from going after the woman who gave birth to the Male Child, the nation of Israel!

But some continue to try and make this the church. Leon Morris, in his commentary on the book of Revelation makes this mistake as he looks at the woman of verses 1-6 differently than the woman in verses 13-17, which the text does not imply or support. He says "Here the woman is undoubtedly Israel who gives birth to the Messiah, but later in the chapter she is the church who is persecuted for her faith."

A very wrong conclusion. This woman is still the nation of Israel and not the church. One big reason is that the church was removed or raptured from the earth unto our Lord back in Revelation chapter 4, before the seventieth week of Daniel begins, which is Jewish territory. That is not to say that those who get saved during the tribulation period will not be persecuted, for they will, and many will be martyred for their faith in Christ. But the focus of this chapter is the nation of Israel!

VERSE 14

We now see the dragon rise up and persecute the nation of Israel. But does this event happen? When does it begin? Jesus tells us very clearly that the beginning of this persecution will occur when the Antichrist goes into the rebuilt temple of God and demands to be worshiped as God. This event occurs in the middle of the 7 year tribulation period, or the 3½ year mark, and leads us to the Great Tribulation!

Jesus said that when you see this blasphemy take place by the Antichrist, "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to takeanything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. Butwoe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! Andpray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath." Matthew 24:16-20.

Jesus is specifically speaking to the nation of Israel. We can travel as far as we want on the Sabbath, but for the Jew, I believe he can only travel 1/4 of a mile. Everything shuts down on the Sabbath in Jerusalem. No work is to be done. And Jesus is telling them to flee when they see this event, and prayerfully this won’t occur on the Sabbath for your own sakes. In fact, the persecution is going to be so intense, don’t even go home to pack your bags, just flee into the mountains, the wilderness!

John tells us that those who flee to the mountains will be given wings as an eagle and transported there. Now some say that this is speaking of an airplane and they will be rescued by these transport plans and taken into the wilderness. Now that could happen, but I don’t believe John is speaking of a literal airplane here, and I will show you why. I think the Scriptures speak otherwise.

Let’s look at this example of being carried on the wings of eagles and I think it will help you to understand what this is all about. In Exodus 19:4 we read "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself." This was not speaking of a literal eagles wings, but how God carried them from their bondage in Egypt, through the Red Sea. It speaks of God’s loving care and protection. When a young eagle is learning to fly, the mother eagle stirs up the nest and lets those young move out of the safety of that nest, and the mother eagle flies under them with her wings spread out to catch them, and to help them to learn to fly.

We also see this in Deuteronomy 32:9-12, where we read, "For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land and in thewasteland, a howling wilderness; he encircled him, He instructed him, he kept him as theapple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, spreading out itswings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, So the LORD alone led him, and therewas no foreign god with him."

I believe that is what God is speaking of here in Revelation 12:14. That He will be flying under their feet as a mother eagle would do, protecting them and watching over them. He will bring them to a place of safety, helping their faith to grow.

God does that with each of us. He stirs up the nest, stretches us, get’s us out of the safety of the nest, and teaches us, in a sense, how to fly. Before I moved up to Manitowoc, I lived comfortably in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. And I was very comfortable. I had a great church that I was actively involved in. I was an Assistant Pastor, had a mid-week home Bible study, loved my pastor and the people. I had a great job. I had a beautiful home. The school system was great. I was very cozy. My wife and I even talked about how comfortable we were, and that we loved the way things were going. And then God stirred the nest, stretched me and my family and He was teaching us to fly by bringing us to Manitowoc. Now I am not going to say that I am comfortable anymore, but I do love it up here. And I now that God will stir the nest, not necessarily moving us, but helping us to grow as we encounter different things in our life. And folks, God won’t allow us to get comfortable, to be in a perpetual nest where we will become fat and flightless. He wants us to grow, He wants to teach us to fly, and He will keep working with us, teaching us as we walk with Him!

Now many believe that this wilderness area or mountains, where Israel is protected for those 3½ years, is the area known as Petra. Petra is located approximately 180 miles south of Amman, 75 miles north of Aqaba and 120 miles southeast of Jerusalem. This city is located in the area of Jordan today. Now why do we believe this is the area? One reason is found in Daniel 11:41, which is speaking of the Antichrist moving out to conquer the land, "He [the Antichrist] shall also enter the Glorious Land [Israel], and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon." Also, in Isaiah 16:1-4 we read "Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela to the wilderness, to the mount of the daughter of Zion. For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest; so shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon. Take counsel, execute judgment; make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day; hide the outcasts, do not betray him who escapes. Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab; be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler. For the extortioner is at an end, devastation ceases, the oppressors are consumed out of the land."

Now Edom, Moab and Ammon form the boundaries of modern day Jordan. And interesting enough, the chief ruler of Jordan lives in the capitol of Jordan, Ammon. Jordan’s king was king Hussein, who wanted the Jewish immigration to Israel to stop and for Israel to give back the mountains of Jerusalem back to them! Now, since his recent death, his son is now king and we shall see where he stands with regards to Israel, either for them or against them. But, no matter what, his land will become a place of refuge for the nation of Israel as they flee from the Antichrist. Also, we should note that the highest mountains in Jordan are located in the area of Petra.

Now PETRA is the Greek word meaning "rock." In the Hebrew it is translated SELA, and is also known as Mount Seir or "Hairy" for it is where Esau and his descendants came to live.

When you look at this city, you can easily understand where it got its name, Rock. For it is very rocky and barren. Petra is situated in the valley which is surrounded by almost impassable mountain cliffs, with only a narrow gorge or entrance to get through, which is one of the most fantastic rock formations on the earth and is called El Ciq. Thus, this area could be defended easily for this narrow opening is only some 10 to 12 feet wide and it zig-zags back and forth. The entire Petra complex, including the Ciq, is about 20 miles square.

In Malachi 1:2-5 we read of this area being destroyed, even though many times it has been rebuilt. Today we see the ancient cites of Ammon and Aqaba have been rebuilt and enlarged but Petra remains a ghost town. But this Ghost town is able to hold some 1.5 million people in its cliffs, and thus, it is waiting for the nation of Israel to flee there!

And my last remark on why I think Israel will flee to the area of Petra is found in Psalm 60:1-3, 9-12, where we read of God’s deliverance of the nation of Israel from its enemies to a place of refuge. We read, "O God, You have cast us off; you have broken us down; you have been displeased; Oh, restore us again! You have made the earth tremble; you have broken it; heal its breaches, for it is shaking. You have shown Your people hard things; you havemade us drink the wine of confusion....Who will bring me to the strong city? Who will leadme to Edom? Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go outwith our armies? Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through Godwe will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies." Psalm 60:1-3, 9-12.

God is the one who will give them eagles wings to bring them to the place of protection and safety, for man’s help will be futile. But don’t think that this will stop the Antichrist from coming against them. For he will mount up his forces and attack them as we shall see in verses 15 and 16.

VERSES 15-16

As Israel begins to flee from Jerusalem, because they refuse to worship the Antichrist, he assembles his armies to go after them and to overtake them. The water that flows from the mouth of the serpent refers to his army and not a literal flood. Isaiah illustrates this for us in chapter 59, where we read regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ, "So shall they fear thename of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ says the LORD." Isaiah 59:19-20.

The Lord is saying to all those who turn from their idolatry, and return to the Lord God, that even as the enemies of God come in like a flood, that God will protect them by His Spirit! Also, Psalm 124 speaks of God’s protection against their enemies. And this Psalm could apply to various times in Israel’s history where God has raised up a standard against Israel’s enemies. But it could also be looking into the future when God will deliver the nation from the Antichrist as He protects them for 3½ years.

Psalm 124, beginning in verse 1 we read, "‘If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,’ let Israel now say– ‘If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when menrose up against us, Then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.’ Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 124:1-8.

You see, if God was not on their side, the Antichrist and his army would have swallowed them up like the waters of a raging river. But their help is found in the LORD, just as ours is!

Thus, as Israel is fleeing to the wilderness, with the armies of the Antichrist in hot pursuit, the earth opens up and swallows these flood waters, this army, up, destroying the enemy. This event should remind us of the time when Israel was fleeing from Egypt, and as their backs were up against the wall, with the Egyptians coming from one direction, the Red Sea in the other, and it looked hopeless, with mountains on either side of them. But God opened the Red Sea up so that the Israelites could pass through on dry ground, but the enemy was still coming upon them.

And in the Song of Moses, we see how God’s Mighty hand saved them from this army. We read"Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces. And in the greatness of Your excellence you haveoverthrown those who rose against You; you sent forth Your wrath; it consumed them likestubble. And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together; the floodsstood upright like a heap; the depths congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘Iwill pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my desire shall be satisfied on them. Iwill draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with Your wind, the seacovered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like You, O LORD, amongthe gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Youstretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You in Your mercy have ledforth the people whom You have redeemed; you have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation." Exodus 15:6-13.

But don’t think this will stop the Antichrist and his attack on the Jews, because, as we shall see in verse 17, not all will leave the city or be able to make it to this place of protection.

VERSE 17

If he can’t destroy one group of people, then he will go after the ones he can, those who remain in Jerusalem. Understand that he is going after believers here. Those who have come to the faith in Jesus Christ during the tribulation period. Now I think John is speaking of the Jewish converts, but it is not limited to just the Jews. The Antichrist will go after all those who refuse to worship him, but again I think this is primarily Jewish territory.

Zechariah gives us some insightful but painful statistics of what will transpire in the Great Tribulation. He says in chapter 13, starting in verse 8, "‘And it shall come to pass in all the land,’ says the LORD, ‘That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined,and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I willsay, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God." Zechariah 13:8-9.

We see that during this time two-thirds of the nation of Israel will be destroyed by the Antichrist. Today there are over 4 million Jews living in Israel and that number is growing daily. That would mean that over 2.6 million Jews would be destroyed and 1.4 million would survive, most in the safety of the city of Petra.

We too are persecuted for keeping "...the commandments of God and hav[ing] the testimony of Jesus Christ." Revelation 12:17. We are to be on guard, to be watchful, to pay attention to the things that are happening around us. We are not to fall into a false sense of security, when they are saying peace and safety! Peter tells us "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by yourbrotherhood in the world." I Peter 5:8-9.

Peter is telling us how we can overcome the enemy, and his solution is by keeping our faith in God and resting totally upon Him. The enemy is always looking for an opening to attack us, to weaken us, and to cause our testimony to be made useless. To make us infective as Christians. To put out the light we have!

I think we open ourselves up to danger when we play the Lone Ranger. We don’t need to go to church. We don’t need to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We can do it on our own. We don’t need anyone else to help us, we have the Lord. And that is true, and yet the Lord has given us the body of Christ to work together, to strengthen the body, to keep it healthy. The Lone Ranger needed Tonto, and we as Christians need each other to keep us on the right path, to encourage us. It is as Paul said, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Dayapproaching." We do need each other, may we not forget that, because the enemy will use the times we are alone to defeat us, to discourage us. Don’t let him!

Now Peter could be talking about, alluding to the horrors that Nero had perpetrated upon the Christians in the Roman Coliseum, where lions mauled and devoured them. Satan’s desire is the same in a spiritual sense. He can’t take away our salvation, but he can defeat our witness to those around us. As I said, he will try to put out the light of God that is in us.

Also, Peter is encouraging us by telling us that what is happening to them is happening to their brothers and sisters in the Lord around the world. Don’t become discouraged. Encourage one another knowing that you are making an impact for the kingdom of God. And many times that is why you are being attacked. If you were not doing anything, you are no threat to Satan. But if your light is shining brightly, he will try to extinguish it so others will not be drawn to it, they will not see Jesus through you.

Again, our defense against his attack is Christ. We are to stand against Satan and his schemes. Our offensive weapons are the WORD OF GOD and PRAYER! The defensive weapons we have for our protection is THE COMPLETE ARMOR OF GOD which Paul speaks of in Ephesians chapter 6. He tells us, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, againstspiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor ofGod, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."Ephesians 6:10-13. DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!

We have seen in our study of Revelation chapter 12 the introduction of some of the key players in the Great Tribulation Period. Israel, Satan, Christ, Michael and the godly remnant. But as we move into chapter 13 we are going to be introduced to two more key players of this time, the beast out of the sea, and the beast out of the earth. And as you will see, these players are not on God’s side, but are representatives of Satan. Remember to stand strong in the Lord and the power of His might! As Paul said, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of theworld, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godheadbodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."Colossians 2:8-10. Be complete, be in Christ!

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