The Woman, Child, Dragon, . . . Page 5 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
We don’t have to wait long to find out the form Satan’s rage will take. It is directed against Israel and the saints of God. He cannot touch the child, so he attacks the woman who brought Him into the world. This is the last wave of anti-Semitism that will roll over the world, and it is the worst, because Satan is cast down to the earth and knows that his time is short. The dragon can injure the child by injuring the mother; that is to say, to injure the Church is to injure Jesus Christ. The words of the risen Christ to Paul on the Damascus road were: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). Paul’s persecution had been directed against the Church; but the Risen Christ makes it clear that persecution of His Church is persecution of Himself. When we deprive the Church of the help we might have given it, we deprive Jesus of the help we might have given Him; and when we serve the Church, we serve Jesus himself.
The Jew has always been a target for Satan’s bitter attacks. There is no nation in history whose people have been hated and persecuted as much as the Jews. When God called Abraham He let it be known that he would be the object of cursing (Genesis 12:3). But why would this be so? For no other reason than this; Abraham was chosen by God. When a man answers the call of God and casts his lot on the side of righteousness, he can expect to be hated by the enemies of God. (Read John 17:14-16; 1 John 3:1-2). Israel was chosen by God to be the storehouse for His Word and the nation through whom God’s Son, the world’s Redeemer, would come. Little wonder that Satan hates the Jew. After his final defeat in Heaven his wrath against the Jew will be great, for he knows that he has only three-and-one-half years remaining before he is bound and cast into the abyss.
14 And to the woman were given two 6wings 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.
Verse 14 resumes the narrative where it was interrupted at verse six. What is now added to the statement of verse six is that God provides an airlift for Israel’s escape from the dragon. Those who are protected are the Jews who are loyal to God. The eagle’s wings suggest the miraculous swiftness with which God will help them to escape. After Israel’s exodus from Egypt God reminded the people, saying, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bear you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto Myself” (Exodus 19:4). (See also Deuteronomy 32:11-12). This expression is probably a metaphor for the divine provision afforded to God’s people once again when another flight from her enemy becomes necessary. This prophesied flight is doubtless the one which Christ referred to in Matthew 24:15-21. Perhaps it is employed here to suggest that Israel will once again be delivered from oppression.
The period of time that these believing Jews are protected is referred to as “a time, and times, and half a time.” This period is further described as “a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (12:6), or “forty and two months” (11:2; 13:5). The phrase “time, and times, and half a time” equals three-and-one-half years (Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:7).
“Into the wilderness, into her place.” Scripture does not say that the rock-hewn city of Petra will be that place. It could be, but we just simply do not know. This “wilderness” has been identified as various places—Petra is not the only place. Some say that it is the wilderness of the peoples of the world; that is, that there will be another worldwide scattering of Israel. Since Christ said, “. . . Flee into the mountain’s (Matthew 24:16), we believe it to be a literal wilderness, possibly that same one in which Israel spent 40 years under Moses. This time it will be forty-two months, and that is the meaning of “a time, and times, and half a time.” The important thing is not the place but the fact that God will protect them by His grace.
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 of the flood.
Here we have the serpent’s last attempt to destroy the woman and her child. He cast out of his mouth a 4flood of water in an attempt to drown the woman, but mother earth helped her. Israel is an earthly people with earthly promises; the earth came to the
rescue, opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast forth out of his mouth. While the possibility of a literal flood cannot be disproved, the term is more likely a metaphor for enemies of Israel (Psalm 144:7-8; Daniel 11:40) whose efforts God will thwart. The words “as a flood” indicate symbolic language. Possibly this is a flood of evil propaganda, with lies and deceit coming from his mouth. This propaganda against the Jew will spread throughout the world. There might be some organized effort on the part of the Antichrist to locate the Jews for the purpose of destroying them. As the water of life proceeds from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:2), so the water of death proceeds from the mouth of the Antichrist. This figure of a flood is used elsewhere in scripture to represent overwhelming powers of destruction against the people of God (see Psalm 124). But we have the assuring promise that “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19).
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
By divine intervention God raises up a standard (battle flag) against the enemy of His people. There was a flood in Noah’s day which threatened to destroy the royal seed, but God designed an ark and Shem was preserved, and in him the Jewish race. Pharaoh would have destroyed that race, but God preserved the baby Moses in an ark. Later God used that same Moses to lead His people across the Red Sea to freedom and preservation. Pharaoh in mad pursuit of Israel was swallowed up by the sea. And there is reason to think that it is by some great and sudden rending of the earth that these pursuing hosts are stopped in their tracks, if not buried in mass in the convulsion. At least, the object of their bloody expedition is thwarted. They failed to reach the woman in her place of refuge. The very ground yawns to stop them in their hellish madness.
Israel’s plight will be desperate, but even so, God will raise up among the Gentiles those who will render help. They will shield and shelter the Jews at great personal risk and will be numbered among the sheep at the judgment of the living nations when the Lord returns (Matthew 25:31-46). But Israel’s chief hiding place will be in what is called “the wilderness” (v. 14). The greatest flight will be from Jerusalem and the land of Israel, the focal point of the beast’s hatred, and God will repeat His former miracles and furnish for His beloved refugees a table in the wilderness.
Baffled at every turn, Satan turns against a small remnant of faithful Jews in an effort to exterminate them.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
If the woman represents faithful Jews, then the phrase “the remnant of her seed” could refer to all believers—the entire church. If the woman represents all believers (both Jew and Gentile), then “the remnant of her seed” could refer to all who come to Christ through the testimony of God’s people or to those specifically chosen for martyrdom; but even more likely, the reference is to a believing remnant of Jewish people who come to faith in Messiah Jesus during the tribulation. Because Satan could not bring down the group (the Jewish believers or the church at large), he waged war against individuals.
There will be an attack upon the large body of Jews and also upon the remnant that are left behind by those who fled. This remnant may be the witnessing ones of the 144,000 mentioned in chapter 7. But they are destined to survive the attacks upon them, having been sealed for this very purpose (7:2-4). God’s people are completely sustained and empowered by the Spirit in their battle with the dragon. Because they are not afraid to die (12:11), God can use them to do His work.
At this time, Satan will know that he has lost forever his opportunity to destroy the Church and he has lost Israel as well, and he is very, very angry. The miracle-working God of yesteryear, who delivered His ancient people on many occasions, has frustrated the plan of Satan again. Satan knows it and he is furious. (He was informed that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”) Satan will turn his frustrated rage against every follower of the Lamb he can find—Jew or Gentile. His drastic, all-out drive to mar and scar the Church will fail, and it will be presented to Jesus without spot or wrinkle . . . a perfect church.