17 December, 2007

Please Explain Revelation Chapter 12

Dear John:
I am writing you to ask for information concerning Revelation chapter twelve. I am particularly interested in verse seventeen.

Dear Fredrick: 
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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