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Saturday, 14 October 2017 09:30

85. The water source matters: Who are the true followers of God? * Revelation 12:12-17 - PART 2 of 2

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12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.

13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the male child.

14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.

16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

17 And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.




*** What did the dragon do? ***: It’s time now to look more closely at the verses in this section. Over the past three studies, we saw how Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne of God meant that Satan became a defeated enemy. The dragon realized he could no longer attack Jesus directly, so he turned his attention to God’s people. Once again, the word ‘dragon’ is used in this section as a symbol for Satan (Revelation 12:9), and the expression ‘woman who had brought forth the male child’ is used as a symbol for the Church (see studies #78 and #80 for details). Satan began persecuting the woman (Revelation 12:13).

*** What did the woman do? ***: There are two verses that talk about what the woman did after giving birth. These verses are very important. They help us understand God’s protection, and our freedom to accept or not His help. Let’s look at these verses:

Revelation 12:6: “Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (NAS)

Revelation 12:14: “But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.” (NAS)

After giving birth, the woman fled to the wilderness. What we cannot miss here, is that the ‘wilderness’ was not a random place where she ran away to. Revelation 12:6 tells us that the woman went to “a place prepared by God”. Just like He had guided the ancient Israel to the wilderness, and nourished them there, He guided the woman through her difficult time. He provided everything for His people. Look at how Deuteronomy 8:14-16 describes how miraculous was God’s care for Israel: “Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and thirsty land, where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that he might humble you, and that he might test you, to do you good in the end”. Look at the elements that God protected them from: serpents, scorpions, and lack of water. All of these are present in Revelation, as we’ve seen in our previous studies. And also pay close attention to why He did it, on the last part of the text: “that he might humble you, and that he might test you, to do you good in the end”. Many times in the Bible, God directs His beloved people to the wilderness, so they can keep and grow their connection with the Heavenly Father. Here are a few examples of how God guided people to and through the wilderness: David (1 Samuel 23:14), Elijah (1 Kings 17:3-4), John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 3:1-3), and Jesus (Luke 4:1,2; Matthew 4:11).

*** Wings of an eagle ***: The way the Church was protected during her journey to the wilderness is nothing short of a miracle. Revelation 12:14 tells us the woman received wings of a great eagle which allowed her to fly to the place where God had prepared for her. Having wings like eagles in a moment where human strength would just not be enough to keep going, reminds us of the verses in Isaiah 40:29-31: “He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” As the verse says, the key is to “wait upon the Lord”. Just as God carried Israel out of Egypt on His wings (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11-12), he had also prepared a way to protect the Church and carry her to safety on His wings.

*** Nourished for a time, and times, and half a time ***: This prophetic period of time keeps showing up in Revelation. We have discussed this many times. Please see studies #16, #20, #68, #71, #72, and #80). This is the time the two witnesses would be prophesying in sackcloth and the gentiles would be treading over the holy city (Revelation 11:2,3, see also Daniel 7:25). This period covers literal 1260 years during the Dark Ages, where Christians suffered greatly, and had practically no access to scripture. Still, God kept His message alive, and He still had faithful followers throughout all those years. Being in the “wilderness” is more about God’s care than it is about the wilderness itself. The focus is on the divine nourishing, not on the dangers all around.

*** The serpent’s weapon ***: As we saw in part 1 of this study, the serpents weapon is water. The symbol for Satan in this verse is ‘serpent’, which reminds of the form he took when he deceived Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-4). The water is coming out of his mouth. Just as Jesus’ Truth comes out of His mouth as a two-edged sword to free people from sin (Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; Hebrews 4:12), Satan’s lies flow out of his mouth to deceive people and bind them to death. Jesus is offering His everlasting water, so we would never thirst again. The water that flows from Jesus, meaning His Truth, doesn’t change and lasts forever. God’s message is like a river that flows in the life of the Christian and that takes them to Eternal life (John 4:14; John 7:37-39; Revelation 21:6-7). On the other hand, the river that flows from the serpent’s mouth leads to eternal death. Satan wants to flood the church with poisonous teachings. We can see how clear it says in Revelation 12:15 that Satan wants to cause the Church “to be carried away by the flood.” He wants to wash her out with his lies. He wants to harm and deceive people.

*** What did the earth do? ***: We saw in our last study that when Satan wasn’t cast out of Heaven, he went on to persecute the people of the earth and of the sea. We studied in detail that the people of the earth represent those who have rejected God’s message. These people had already been deceived by the enemy. The sudden participation of the earth in this section can raise a very important question in our minds. If God was already protecting the woman, did she really need outside help? God was indeed protecting the woman. The earth, however, offered help, and then the woman was faced with 2 choices: to accept a visible and quick fix help from the earth or to accept God’s unconventional ways of protection. The woman accepted the earth's help, and so the earth absorbed all the serpent’s poisonous water, apparently saving the Church that way. The Church began to suffer from Second-hand poisoning. By choosing to leave God’s protection, a good portion of the Church began to receive its nourishment from the earth, which had been poisoned by the water that came from the serpent’s mouth. False teachings were incorporated into the Church in a very inconspicuous and gradual way. The majority of the Church was compromised. So much so that Revelation 12:17 says that Satan stopped persecuting the woman exclusively and went on to persecute "the remnant of her offspring”, those who remained faithful to God. The imagery of evildoers being swallowed by the earth is seen in the Bible when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against Moses (Numbers 16:32; Numbers 26:10; Deuteronomy 11:6; Psalms 116:17). It is also seen when the earth swallowed the Egyptians who were pursuing the Israelites as they were fleeing to the wilderness (Exodus 15:12). In those cases, the rebellious people were swallowed. In Revelation, even though the Earth is opening its mouth to swallow, it is actually absorbing lies, not people. In both scenarios, where the earth is swallowing evil people or evil teachings, God is still under control of the situation. He allowed the swallowing to happen, given that the people involved in each of those stories had chosen to move away from God’s original plan. God was still working to save His Church.

*** What did the faithful remnant do? ***: If we read Revelation 12:17 too quickly, we may miss something very important. The dragon was angry at the woman, and yet, he stopped persecuting her and went after her remnant. We see here a division in the ‘woman’ symbol. A split separating the part of the Church who had accepted nourishment from the contaminated earth, and the part of the Church who had remained faithful. The expression “the remnant of her offspring” in this verse is, in some versions, translated as ‘the rest of her children’ and ‘the remnant of her seed’. The word remnant comes from the Greek word loipos, which means “the rest, the remaining”. But we can ask ourselves, what makes the remnant so different from the woman that prompts the dragon to leave the woman alone and go after them instead? The answer comes at the end of Revelation 12:17: they are the ones “who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This is the key to understand what kind of poison the serpent used on the water coming out of his mouth. He wanted to trick people into breaking God’s commandments and abandoning the teachings of Jesus. By breaking God’s commandments (Exodus 20), people break the mirror that tells them they need a Savior. The commandments cannot save anyone, but it can show them they need One. If people don’t recognize their need for Jesus, they will reject Christ’s death at the cross as the payment for our transgression. His death will mean nothing to them. This way, Satan’s direct attack on the people would be an indirect attack on God’s plan. The testimony of Jesus points to the Savior Himself. The testimony of Jesus is at the same time from Jesus to us and about Jesus.

*** Overview ***: When Satan saw that he had been defeated at the end of the war in Heaven (Revelation 12:7,13), he started his direct attack on the people. His attack was not only on God’s people but also on the people who had rejected God’s Truth as well. The weapon is the same: false teachings that flow out of his mouth to deceive people and keep them from recognizing their need for a Savior, who is Jesus Christ. God always has a plan to protect His faithful followers. It may seem like a strange plan sometimes, it may take believers to the wilderness and harsh environments. But God always provides the care that they need. It is up to us to trust Him, and accept His help. The serpent is trying to keep Gods people from keeping God’s Commandments and to keep them away from Jesus’ teachings. But it is by faith in Jesus that we are saved by His grace. We cannot move away from Biblical truth and exchange it with humanity traditions because it is more convenient. The false teachings coming from the serpent sound very good, and may even bring a superficial sense of comfort and safety. But we must not be deceived by his flood of lies, which are intended to destroy us. We must stand firm on the source of the Everlasting Water, the true fountain of Eternal Life: Jesus.

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