See Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3
Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5
Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7
Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9
In Rev 12:1-6 we see what has actually happened on earth being depicted as a great celestial battle. “A great and wondrous sign” appeared, a miraculous signpost conveying the idea that men should look upon the woman and clearly see the hand of the God of the Bible in history. Who is the woman? The nation/people of Israel. Do you remember the dream (Gen 37:9-10) of the man who would become the Jewish patriarch who would father the twelve sons and establish the twelve tribes of Israel? How the son, the moon and eleven stars would bow down before him? Jacob correctly saw the sun symbolizing himself, the moon symbolizing Joseph’s mother Rachel and the eleven stars symbolizing his brothers. Joseph’s dream, of course, came true. We already have a powerful symbol of the woman as the nation Israel. But the description of the woman continues: the “woman” gives birth “to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” That is a reference to Psalm 2:9, which prophecies Messiah (see Rev 19:15). And, again, if the woman is the mother of Messiah, who is she but Israel? Christ will one day return as King of kings to rule with that rod, but after His Resurrection He was caught up by God in the Ascension; hence the reference “her Child was snatched up by God and to His throne.” And we saw Messiah “standing in the center” of that throne in Rev 5:6.
What we find in this celestial drama is that Satan (the red dragon) possesses an irrational hatred of Israel and particularly of the Messiah Son she would bear. I say “irrational” because, for example, God allowed the satanically-originated Holocaust in order to bring the world to the place where the nations would officially recognize the state of Israel. Satan slaughtered Jews, but it was that very act of demonic hate that God sovereignly used to bring about the prophesied miracle of the state of Israel being born out of dead and dried bones (Eze 37). Christ can be symbolized with red because of His own blood that He shed for us; this dragon is red only because of the bloodshed he has caused. The dragon has seven heads and ten crowns; the seven heads is a reference to the plural “heads” of Leviathan (Ps 74:13) with the number “seven” referring to the seven successive world empires the dragon has controlled: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome – and Antichrist’s future empire (Rev 17:9-10). The ten crowns – likely all worn on the seventh head – represent the ten kingdoms Antichrist will dominate.
Rev 12:7-12 describes an incredible supernatural battle between Satan and the third of the angels who followed him into becoming demons and Michael and the angels who remained with God. Satan is thrown out of heaven so he cannot slander and accuse believers before God anymore (see Job 1:6-11; 2:1-6; Zech 3:1-2). Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven (Luke 10:17-18). And Jesus also saw Satan driven out in John 12:31-32. I submit that this battle occurred during Jesus’ earthly ministry; and that Satan’s power to go before the throne of God was broken by Christ at that point. Which is why Rom 8:33 can say, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” John places this event here to tell us that during the second half of the Tribulation, Satan “recognizing that he has but a short time” will try to attack Jews as he never has before.
Rev 12:6 is really incredible. Jesus in Matt 24:15-16 prophetically warned the generation of Jews living in Judea and Jerusalem at the time that Antichrist would go into the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem (see Daniel 9:27; 12:11; Matt 24:15) and declare himself “God” to flee immediately. And one day, all-too soon, that event will happen in the middle of the Tribulation as the beast declares himself God. But we’re told in Rev 12:6 that there will be “a place prepared for her by God” to flee. God has actually already prepared this place at Petra. And these Jews will be divinely protected by God for 1,260 days (or forty-two months or three and a half years or a time, times and half a time). And so we look at Rev 12:13-17 and see how the action plays out. Jesus told Jews to bug out of Judea when the Antichrist commits the abomination that shall cause desolation. When Antichrist declares himself God in the Temple mid-way through the Tribulation, Jews in Judea will know EXACTLY where to flee: about 150 miles south of Jerusalem at the other end of the Dead Sea to a place called “Petra.” Petra is a giant network of caves carved out by the Nabataeans and completed by the Romans over centuries in the Mountains of Edom at Mount Seir in modern day Jordan. Many caves hold 30-40 people; one holds 300. The Romans built an amphitheater that holds 5,000 people. There is room for 250,000 people. And it is only accessible by way of a narrow corridor 12’ wide. When the Jews flee into Petra, God will sovereignly cause an earthquake that will devour the pursuing army of Antichrist and simultaneously miraculously shelter the Jews (see Daniel 11:41, which prophesies that Edom would be off limits to the beast). Isaiah prophesied of this Petra event in Isa 26:20. And as we speak, the Jordanians are fixing the place up, having installed a modern water and sanitation system!
How do Christians overcome the devil (Rev 12:11)? Three ways: 1) by the Blood of the Lamb which renders Satan powerless; 2) by the words of our testimony because the gospel is the salvation-power of God (Rom 1:16) and when we’re not ashamed of the gospel, we have that power; and 3) by not loving our own lives and being willing to follow Christ even to death.
Revelation 13 gives us a more complete introduction to the two coming beasts and describes how they will operate. Like many dictators (e.g. Hitler), they will initially be heralded as saviors. They will promise a Utopia but unleash hell on earth. Mankind frankly ought to know better, but as Georg Hegel observed, “History teaches us that man learns nothing from history.” But the Bible tells us all about Antichrist: he is called “the king of Babylon” (Isa 14:4), the little horn (Dan 7:8; 8:9), the man of lawlessness and the man doomed to destruction (2 Thess 2:3), Antichrist (1 John 2:18) and the beast (Rev 13:1). We find in Daniel (e.g. Dan 11:32) that whereas Daniel was given the wisdom to reveal mysteries, Antichrist will have the ability to so entangle the truth into knots that no one will be able to resist his distortions. Regardless of how Antichrist sees himself or how he deceives the world into seeing him, God sees him as a ruthless, unfeeling dictator and monster.
The first beast – the political Antichrist – arises out of the sea (Rev 13:1) – which in both Revelation (Rev 17:15) and elsewhere in Scripture depict the violent and erratic political turmoil of the Gentile nations (Isaiah 57:20; Jer 49:23; Jude 13). The seven heads ties him to Satan (see p. 1), to his eschatological role in the last days, and to his counterfeiting of God. But in addition we’re told in Rev 17:9-11 that the “seven heads” are “seven kings” with Antichrist being an eighth king who rules over these seven kings. Horns always symbolize political power. Why ten horns? Ten kingdoms that he has power over. Consider this view, because we know that Antichrist will rule the entire world (Rev 13:3,8):
“The forces that are intent on creating a one world government want to divide the world to ten interdependent and mutually interacting regions. One of the agencies promoting a one world government is the Club of Rome, a collection of the mega rich and intellectual elite that established a think tank in Rome in April 1969. The Rockefeller family is part of this group… On September 17, 1973 the COR issued a report… that expressed a vision for the world. In the COR report the world is divided into ten political/economic regions which are called “kingdoms.” In his summary of the report by Mesaroviv and Pestel Peccei stated,
‘Their world model, based on new developments of the multilevel hierarchical systems theory, divides the world into ten interdependent and mutually interacting regions of political, economic or environmental coherence … .’”
Rev 13:2 presents Antichrist in terms of a leopard, a bear and a lion. This takes us to Daniel 7 and the description of the four successive empires that would rule the world (Greece=leopard; Medo-Persia=bear; lion=Babylon). Like Greece, he will be lightening fast in his maneuverings; like Medo-Persia he will display raw power in his conquests; and like Babylon he will represent boastful arrogance. The Antichrist will have the mightiest features that made these previous empires so deadly. Satan will give him his power and his influence over mankind.
“One of the heads of the beast seemed to have a fatal head wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.” This is an imitation by the Great Imitator; the beast’s suffering a fatal wound is a parody of Christ’s Passion and his seeming to return to life is a parody of Christ’s Resurrection. But Satan can only “seem” to copy what Christ already factually accomplished.
Rev 13:5-8 is a section filled with what scholars refer to as “divine passives,” denoting God’s divine control over all things, very much including the forces of evil. Hence “the beast was given…” is one of three places in the paragraph that the divine passive indicates that God sovereignly allows the beast to blaspheme, to conquer the saints and to control the nations and cause them to worship him. God is sovereign over everything that happens – even during the “godless” Tribulation when Antichrist and Satan rage as human history has never seen. Which ought to tell us that God is surely in control over our situations NOW! God limits Antichrist temporally (to only 3 ½ years) and spatially (to earth).
Rev 13:8 refers to those who worship the beast as “all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the lamb.” The book of life is a divine register of all true believers (e.g. Ex 32:32-33; Psa 69:28; Dan 7:9-10, 12:1). If your name is found in this book you are a citizen of heaven no matter WHAT the forces of evil do. There IS no true power in evil, for God is NEVER not in complete control. Satan will only be able to give the beast his authority because the sovereign God allows him to do so. And here it belongs to the Lamb, because it was the Lamb who won victory over the dragon for the saints (Rev 12:11). And God’s redemptive plan was established “from the creation of the world.” Thus John warns us in Rev 13:9-10 that, for instance, “If it is God’s will that anyone be taken captive, then he must go into captivity,” etc. More than any other time in history, the ethical requirement for these Tribulation saints will be clear: to meekly accept their imprisonment and martyrdom and place their trust entirely in God while refusing to take action against the forces of evil – but instead to merely continue to proclaim the gospel message.
Satan’s final rebellion will be waged in a war of total annihilation. Satan’s goal is to either dethrone God or destroy God’s creation in the attempt. And to this end Satan parodies the Trinity, the dragon (himself), the beast from the sea (Antichrist) and the beast from the earth or the false prophet. When the first beast “rises from the dead,” the second one will exploit the event to forge a new world religion worshiping the Antichrist and behind him the dragon as its focus (Rev 13:3-4, 12). And the beast will blaspheme God by taking God’s divine names for himself (Rev 13:5-6), by taking worship that belongs to God to himself (13:7-8) and persecuting God’s saints (13:7). He will abrogate for himself divine status and pretend that his actions are answerable to no one (hence the title “man of lawlessness”). I submit that we are already seeing morality being supplanted by rhetoric and demagoguery as we never have before; but under Antichrist it will be categorically worse as he “justifies” absolutely everything he does.
The second beast arises from the land. He is labeled as a false prophet (Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The first beast has the political and military power to conquer; this one has the religious power to deceive the world into worshiping the first beast. In pseudo-Trinitarian terms, as the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14), so the false prophet glorifies Antichrist. The dragon gave his authority to the Antichrist and the Antichrist gives his authority to the false prophet. Note that his two horns are uncrowned (cf. the first beast). Just as in Dan 8:3 Medo-Persia was viewed as a ram with two horns representing the empire in its opposition to God, so also the horns of this imposter with his two horns “like the Lamb.”
If you like socialism – the government takeover of the private sector economy – you will absolutely LOVE the government of these two beasts. The Bible warned us of the coming of global totalitarian government (Dan 7:23; Rev 13:7-8); and we’re going to get it. The European Union and the United Nations are two powerful current examples of this trend that is coming to take over. Globalists in every level of government from every nation are seeking to unite the world. Connecting the world economically and monetarily – which they have already largely accomplished – is crucial to their goal. It is frankly incredible how the socialists and secularists have been so successful at establishing all the necessary powers and capabilities which will fall into the Antichrist’s hand like a ripe apple falling from a tree. Big government has never honored God; it seeks to replace Him as Savior of the people.
Revelation is clear that the mark of the beast will be an act of worship of the first (political) beast. You will find that worshipers of big government LOVE religion – provided that said “religion” validates the worship of big government. Here the false prophet exploits his religious influence over the world to obtain a political act on the behalf of the political beast; he institutes an economic system that only allows those who have publicly announced their worship of the Antichrist – and received his mark on their right hands or foreheads – to be participants. I have no doubt “the mark of the beast” will be technological: a microchip, an RFID, or a bar code. If you have the mark, socialism will work for you: you will not only have money in your account and the ability to buy and sell, but you will likely have the goods and wealth of those who refuse to take the mark “redistributed” to you. If you refuse to take the mark, you will have NO money and NO means of buying or selling ANYTHING. Money will be tracked to the point in which bartering is impossible; because those who purchase too many groceries or too much gasoline will trigger an audit and be caught if they barter goods with one who has not taken the mark. What socialists dream today will happen: government will control all money and the entire economy. And it will result in literal hell on earth as Antichrist exploits the system to assume dictatorial power.
Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15
Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18