17 December, 2007
Please Explain Revelation Chapter 12
I am writing you to ask for information concerning Revelation chapter
twelve. I am particularly interested in verse seventeen.
Chapter 12 of Revelation describes the efforts of Satan to destroy
Christ and his church and thus to thwart the will of God. The
overall theme of Revelation is the mortal conflict of the young church
with the pagan Roman Empire who set about to destroy her. The
book was written in ca. 96 A.D. when the Roman Emperor Domition was
raging against the church. The brethren were suffering and
asking "How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and
avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 6:8). The book
provided them a series of visions of how the great enemy of the church
will be judged and destroyed. It explained who was behind Rome's hatred
of the church. It showed the Christians that God is with them and will
give them the ultimate victory.
In the first six verses of chapter 12 we can see Satan's attempt to
destroy the infant Jesus. To do this he used Herod the Great. Of
course, the effort failed. Verses 7-12 speak of the bloody persecution
heaped upon the infant church. They overcame him because of the blood
of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, their message they boldly
preached and their willingness to die for their faith. With
these three weapons they overcame the fierce persecutions of Rome.
Verses 13-17 describe the relentless pursuit of the church and her
children (members), by Satan over the generations following. A time,
times and half a time is 31/2 years, is the same as the 1260 days
mentioned in the book. In sacred literature, the number seven was the
number of wholeness, completeness or perfection. If Satan had
successfully pursued them for "seven" years he would have
succeeded in destroying the church. But his pursuit lasted only 31/2
years (half of seven) and thus he failed.
The great dragon symbolizes Satan (12: 9). The woman in12:13-17 is the
church. The river of water sent forth by Satan was the torrent of
persecution executed by Rome. The great wings provided by God for her
deliverance speaks of his providential protection of his
church. The wilderness speaks of a far and unknown place
where his people would be sheltered from their oppressors. It is
reminiscent of the Hebrews being delivered from Egyptian bondage and
then safely kept and provided for in the wilderness for 40
years. The seed of the woman whom Satan hates and seeks to
destroy are Christians, then and now, "who keep the commandments of God
and hold the testimony of Jesus" (12:17).
Some one once observed that the best refutation is a proper explanation
of the verses used by the teachers of error.
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