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THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK
The Seven Personages
“And there appeared a ’GREAT WONDER’ in Heaven; a Woman CLOTHED WITH THE SUN, and the MOON UNDER HER FEET, and upon her head a CROWN OF TWELVE STARS: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.”
In the “Middle of the Week” two “Wonders” will appear in Heaven, for John is back again in Heaven. The Revised Version calls them “SIGNS,” that is, they are “SYMBOLS” of something, and must be thus interpreted. The first will be a “SUN CLOTHED WOMAN.” Who does this “Sun Clothed Woman” represent? Some would have us believe that this “Woman” is the Virgin Mary, others that she represents the Church. Those who say she represents the
Church claim that she represents the visible or outward Church, and her “Child” represents the “True Church” or those who are to be “caught out” at the Rapture. If this be true, and the “Child” is not caught out until the “Middle of the Week,” then the Church will have to go half way through the “Tribulation.” The fact is, the “Woman” is neither the Virgin Mary or the Church. She is ISRAEL. We have only to be reminded of “Joseph’s Dream,” where he says--“Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the ’SUN’ and the ’MOON’ and the ’ELEVEN STARS’ made Obeisance to me” (Genesis 37:9), to see the Jewish character of this “Woman.” Joseph was the “Twelfth” star.
Israel is again and again compared to a woman, and a married woman, in the Old Testament. Isaiah 54:1. And in the period of her rejection she is spoken of as a WIDOW (Isaiah 47:7-9. Luke 18:1-8), and a DIVORCED Woman (Isaiah 50:1), and an ADULTEROUS WIFE (Jeremiah 3:1-25, Hosea 2:1-23) but the Church is a VIRGIN, and an ESPOUSED Virgin at that. 2 Corinthians 11:2. Ephesians 5:25-27. The “Sun Clothed Woman” is described as being “WITH CHILD,” and “TRAVAILING TO BRING FORTH.” When was the Church in such a condition? To be found in such a condition would unfit her to be the Bride of Christ. Nowhere in the scriptures is it intimated that the Church is ever to be a Mother. But it is so prophesied of Israel. Speaking of the sevenfold privilege of Israel, Paul says--“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, whose are the fathers, and of whom AS CONCERNING THE FLESH CHRIST CAME.” Romans 9:4-5. Here we see that Christ was to come from ISRAEL. Then we know that the “PROMISED SEED” was to come through ISRAEL, and the Prophet Isaiah looked forward to the time when Israel could say--“UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN.” Isaiah 9:6-7. Before the promised heir could be born Israel had to pass through many sore afflictions and judgments. These were her “TRAVAIL TIME.” There can be no question but what the “Sun Clothed Woman” represents ISRAEL.
2. THE DRAGON .
“And there appeared another ’WONDER’ in Heaven; and behold a ’GREAT RED DRAGON,’ having SEVEN HEADS and TEN HORNS, and SEVEN CROWNS upon his heads. And his tail drew the THIRD PART OF THE STARS OF HEAVEN, and did cast them to the earth: and the DRAGON stood before the WOMAN which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her CHILD as soon as it was born.”
The second “WONDER” that will appear in Heaven will be a “GREAT RED DRAGON.” We are not left in doubt as to who is meant, for in verse 9 he is called that “OLD SERPENT, THE DEVIL,” and “SATAN.” His color is RED, the color of blood, for he was a murderer from the beginning. John 8:44.
He has “SEVEN HEADS” and “TEN HORNS,” and upon his heads are “SEVEN CROWNS.” These are the emblems of the universality of his earthly dominion, and typify the sevenfold perfection of his power: for he is the
PRINCE OF THE “POWERS OF THE AIR.”
“PRINCE OF THIS WORLD.”
(Ephesians 6:12. John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11.)
As such Jesus did not dispute his claim when in the Wilderness Temptation he offered Him the “Kingdoms of this World” and the glory of them. Luke 4:5-7. His “Seven Heads,” “Ten Horns,” and “Crowns,” associate him with the “BEAST OUT OF THE SEA” of the first verse of the next chapter, the only difference being that the Dragon’s “Crowns” are on his “Heads,” while those of the Beast are on his “Horns,” and therefore differ in number. These features, common to both, reveal the fact that there is some relation between the “Dragon” and the “Beast,” and that the “Beast” is an earthly embodiment or incarnation of the “DRAGON,” for the “Beast” does not appear on the earth until after the “Dragon” is cast out of Heaven. Though the “Antichrist” exists from the beginning of the Week, he does not become “THE BEAST” until in the “Middle of the Week.” Satan is cast out of Heaven and incarnates himself in him. Then the “Antichrist” breaks his “Covenant” with Israel, desecrates the Temple, and becomes the “Satanic Person” that rules during the last half of the Week.
The “STARS OF HEAVEN” attached to his “tail” reveal the fact that Satan will take with him in his expulsion from Heaven, a third of the Angels, for the Angels are spoken of as “Stars” in the Old Testament. Job 38:7. These “Angels” will be cast with him into the earth. They will not be visible but they will secretly sow the seeds of rebellion, and ultimately they will be cast with Satan into the “Lake of Fire” which will be prepared for them. Matthew 25:41. While we are not told that Satan’s “Angels” are cast bound with him into the “Bottomless Pit,” yet the inference is that they are, for during the Millennium they do not appear to be present on the earth.
John tells us that the “Dragon” stood before the “Sun Clothed Woman” ready to “devour her child” as soon as it was born. It is intensely interesting reading to trace in the Scriptures the story of Satan’s efforts to prevent the birth of the “Man-Child” CHRIST, and then after His birth to destroy Him before He could reach the Cross and purchase man’s redemption. As soon as Satan had accomplished the Fall of Adam and Eve, he found himself under the curse of God, and was told that the “SEED” of the Woman should bruise his head. Genesis 3:14-15. This aroused the enmity of Satan and he determined to prevent the birth of the promised “Seed,” or, if that were not possible, to destroy the “Seed” after birth. So as soon as Abel was born, from whom the promised “Seed” was to come, Satan schemed for his destruction, and finally got his ’brother Cain to kill him. Then the “Sons of God” (Angels) doubtless at Satan’s instigation, married
the “Daughters of Men” (Cainites), and their “sin,” and the character of their offspring moved God to destroy mankind from off the earth. This was what Satan planned for, and would have been a victory for Satan and a defeat for God, so God decided to spare the race, and begin over again with a representative man, Noah. But it was not long before Noah planted a vineyard and drank himself drunk with the wine therefrom, the result the curse of Canaan the Son of Ham. Genesis 9:18-27. Then the people began to multiply and Satan filled their heart with pride and presumption and they rose and built the “Tower of Babel,” the result the “Confusion of Tongues” and the unity of the race broken up. Genesis 11:1-9. Then the Lord called Abraham and the fight narrowed down to his seed. Abraham was 75 years old, and had no children, and Sarah his wife was 65 years of age and barren. Genesis 16:1. Doubtless Satan laughed at the situation because of Sarah’s barrenness, in which probably he had a hand, but to show Satan that He could work a miracle if necessary, to produce the promised “seed,” God waited until Sarah was “past age,” until she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17), and then He caused her to conceive and bear the promised “seed.” Genesis 18:9-15; Genesis 21:1-3. When Isaac was about 12 years of age Satan moved God to test Abraham by commanding him to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice upon Mount Moriah. It was similar to the test of Job. Job 1:6-12; Job 2:3-6. The plan for Isaac’s destruction failed, for when God saw that Abraham was willing and ready to slay his son, He intervened and spared his life. When Isaac grew up and married Rebekah, Satan, to prevent her having offspring, caused her to be barren, but Isaac prayed and God heard his prayer (Genesis 25:20-21), and twins were born. Then Satan, when they had grown up, stirred up enmity between them hoping that the tragedy of Cain and Abel would be repeated, and Jacob, through whom Christ was to come, would be slain. When the time came for Moses to be born, Satan put it into the heart of Pharaoh to order that all male Hebrew children should be destroyed at birth, his purpose being to destroy the male line of descent altogether. But his plan was frustrated by a baby’s tear. Exodus 2:5-10. And so it went on, until at the death of King Jehoshaphat his son Jehoram slew all his brethren with the sword (2. Chron. 21:13), thus reducing the “seed royal” down to one life. But Jehoram had children. Then the Arabians slew all his children but one, Ahaziah the youngest. 2. Chron. 21:17 (margin). 2. Chron. 22:1. But Ahaziah had children. These in turn were slain by Athaliah his mother, doubtless at the instigation of Satan. She thought she had slain them all, but God interposed and rescued the infant son at the hands of his aunt, who hid him in the Temple (2. Cor. 22:10-12), and for 6 years all the hopes of God’s people as to the promised “seed” rested on that infant’s life. During the Captivity Satan tried to destroy the whole Hebrew nation at the hands of Haman, but a very little thing, a king’s sleepless night, frustrated that plan. Esther 3:8-15; Esther 6:1-11. But the story is too long.
At last the promised “SEED” was born. Then Satan, failing to prevent His birth, determined to destroy Him before He could reach the Cross. To that end he prompted Herod, through jealousy and fear, to slay all the male children at Bethlehem under 2 years of age, but Joseph warned of God in a dream, had fled with the infant Christ to Egypt. When Christ entered on His ministry Satan met Him in the Wilderness and suggested that He throw Himself from the Pinnacle of the Temple. Foiled in that Satan sought Christ’s life by getting His own townspeople to attempt to cast Him over a precipice. Luke 4:29. The two storms on the Sea of Galilee were but attempts of Satan to destroy Christ. You cannot rebuke a thing, you can only rebuke a person, and when Christ rebuked the winds and the sea, He rebuked the person (Satan) who had caused their disturbance. Matthew 8:24-27.
Then Satan renewed the fight through Priests and Pharisees until he succeeded at last in getting one of Christ’s own disciples, Judas, to sell his Master. Then amid the shades of Gethsemane, through physical exhaustion, he sought to kill Christ. And when he at last succeeded in having Christ crucified, through the agency of Pilate, he thought he had conquered, but to be doubly sure he took good care to have the place of burial sealed and guarded. But when Christ rose from the dead Satan’s rage knew no bounds. In all probability Satan and his angels contested the Ascension of Christ, for only thus can we account for the necessity of His going up 10 days before Pentecost, that He might have ample time, convoyed by “Twelve Legions of Angels,” for any “Battle of the Clouds” that Satan might attempt. The history of the Christian Church is but one long story of the “Irrepressible Conflict” between Satan and God’s people. Paul writing to the Thessalonians said--“We would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again, but SATAN hindered us.” 1. Thess. 2:18. And now as the time draws nigh for Christ to receive “The Kingdom,” which means that He will come back to the earth, and that Satan’s power and dominion over the earth shall cease, and Satan be bound for 1000 years, Satan filled with wrath will oppose His return with his armies and there will be “WAR IN HEAVEN.”
3. THE MAN - CHILD .
“And she brought forth a ’MAN-CHILD,’ who was to rule all nations with a ’ROD OF IRON’: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His Throne.”
As the result of her “travail” the “Sun Clothed Woman” brought forth a “MAN-CHILD” who was to rule the nations with a “ROD OF IRON.” There can be no question as to who is meant by the “Man-Child.” He is CHRIST. The Second Psalm settles that--“Ask of me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a ’ROD OF IRON’: Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” The “Man-Child” cannot be the Church, as some claim, because the “Man-Child” is caught up to the FATHER’S THRONE, where He is now seated, while the Church, which is not as yet caught up, is to be caught up to CHRIST IN THE AIR. 1. Thess. 4:17.
Those who claim that Christ and the Church together constitute the “Man-Child,” because in the Message to the Church at Thyatira, the promise to the “Overcomers” is, that they shall rule the Nations with a “ROD OF IRON,” forget that this promise is not to the Church as a whole, but only to the “Overcomers” of the “Thyatiran Church Period,” A. D. 606-1520. In other words the “Overcomers” of the “Thyatiran Church Period” shall hold some prominent “Ruling Power” with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom.
“And the ’WOMAN’ fled into the ’Wilderness,’ where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
Here is where many interpreters of this chapter have been led astray. They have supposed that the “Woman” flees into the Wilderness immediately after the birth of her child, and because the time of her flight is in the “Middle of the Week” (for the 1260 days of her preservation in the Wilderness corresponds with the “last half” of the “Week”), they cannot see how her “Child” can be Christ, for Christ was born and “caught up” to His Father’s Throne centuries ago, while this event is still future. But they overlook the fact that between the 5th and 6th verses of this chapter the present CHURCH PERIOD comes in. Between these verses the “GAP” between the “Sixty-ninth” and the “Seventieth” Week of Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” is found. The 5th verse describes the “BIRTH” of Christ, and His “ASCENSION,” and then John jumps over the “GAP,” and describes in the 6th verse the “Flight” of the Woman ISRAEL into the Wilderness to escape from the Antichrist. The reason for this is that John is not dealing here with the Church, and having introduced the “Woman” and her “Child” to account for the “Dragon’s” wrath against her because he did not succeed in destroying her “Child” (Christ) when He was born, John jumps over the “GAP,” that he may again take up God’s dealing with ISRAEL. The “Flight” of the “Woman” is mentioned here by anticipation, for she does not flee until after the “War in Heaven.”
Here is evidence that the “Sun Clothed Woman” is not the “Virgin Mary,” for she does not flee into Egypt, as Joseph and the Virgin did (Matthew 2:12-15), but into the WILDERNESS. Neither does she flee “with her child,” for it was taken away from her and caught up to the “Throne of God.” Neither does she flee for her child’s protection, but for her own safety.
From this passage we learn that Christ’s Millennial rule will be AUTOCRATIC, for He shall rule over the Nations with a “ROD OF IRON.” This does not signify that His rule will be tyrannical. It simply means that His WILL shall be supreme. We cannot imagine Christ’s rule to be other than a rule of love. Politics will have no place in the government, the masses will not be oppressed by those in power, equal rights will be accorded to everyone, and every man shall sit under his own vine and figtree.
4. THE ARCHANGEL .
“And there was ’WAR IN HEAVEN’: MICHAEL and his angels fought against the DRAGON: and the DRAGON fought and his angels, and prevailed not: neither was their place found any more in Heaven. And the GREAT DRAGON was cast out, that old SERPENT, called the DEVIL, and SATAN, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the Kingdom of God, and the power of His Christ: for the ACCUSER OF OUR BRETHREN IS CAST DOWN, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him (the Dragon) by the BLOOD OF THE LAMB, and by the WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY; and they loved not their lives unto the death (Martyr’s Death). Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the INHABITERS OF THE EARTH AND OF THE SEA! for the DEVIL is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a SHORT TIME.” (3
The “WAR IN HEAVEN” is started by the attempt to expel the DRAGON and his angels From the Heavenlies. That the DRAGON (Satan) and his angels were not cast out of Heaven at the time of his “Rebellion” (which antedates the present earth), and confined in some “prison house,” is clear, for he was at liberty to visit the Garden of Eden and tempt Adam and Eve, and he had access to God in Heaven in the days of Job, 2000 years before Christ (Job 1:1; Job 2:8), and he was free to visit the earth in Christ’s day and tempt Him in the Wilderness, and later to sift Peter. His origin is more or less shrouded in mystery, but one thing is certain, he is a “created being,” and that of the most exalted type. He was before his rebellion “The Anointed Cherub That Covereth.” That is, he was the guardian or protector of the “Throne of God.” He was perfect in all his ways from the day that he was created until iniquity was found in him. In him was the “fulness of wisdom,” and the “perfection of beauty,” but it was his “beauty” that caused the pride (1. Tim. 3:6) that was his downfall. He was clothed in a garment that was covered with the most rare and precious gems, the sardius, topaz, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, emerald, carbuncle, all woven in with gold. He dwelt in Eden, the Garden of God. This probably refers not to the earthly Eden, but to the “Paradise of God” on high, for Satan dwelt on the “Holy Mount of God.” All this we learn from Ezekiel 28:11-19, where the Prophet has a “foreview” of the Antichrist under the title of the “King of Tyrus,” and as Antichrist when he becomes the “Beast” is to be an incarnation of Satan, the Prophet here describes Satan’s original glory from which he fell, for there has never as yet been such a King of Tyrus as here described. The cause of Satan’s rebellion, or fall, is given in Isaiah 14:12-20. He is there called “LUCIFER, SON OF THE MORNING.” This was his glorious title when he was created, and this world of ours was made, at which time--“The ’Morning Stars’ (probably other glorious created ruling beings like himself), sang together, and all the ’Sons of God’ (angels) shouted for joy.” Job 38:7.
It is well to note that the one here called “LUCIFER,” is in verse four (Isaiah 14:4), also called the “King of Babylon.” As there never has been a King of Babylon like the one here described, the description must be that of a future King of Babylon. And as “Antichrist” is to have for his Capital City Babylon rebuilt, this is probably a “foreview” by the Prophet of Antichrist as indwelt by “LUCIFER” (Satan) in that day when he shall be King of Babylon, and also King of Tyrus.
The common notion is that Satan and his angels are imprisoned in Hell. This is not true. The angels described in 2. Pet. 2:4, and Judges 1:6, as having left their “first estate,” and being “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness,” are not Satan’s angels. They are a special class of angels, spoken of as “Sons of God,” whose sin of marrying the “Daughters of Men” caused the Flood. Genesis 6:1-8. They are the “Spirits in Prison” of whom Peter speaks in 1. Pet. 3:18-20. They are now confined in “Tartarus” awaiting the “Great White Throne” Judgment. Judges 1:6. As this Book of Revelation that we are now studying is a prophecy of “Things To Come” that were future in the Apostle John’s day, and it declares that Satan was still in the Heavenlies at that time, A. D. 96, as he has not been cast out since he must still be there.
He is a great “Celestial Potentate.” He is the “PRINCE OF THE POWERS OF THE AIR” (Ephesians 2:2), and the “GOD OF THIS WORLD.” 2. Cor. 4:4. He is the “God” not of the earth, for that belongs to its Maker--GOD. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” He is the “God” of the “WORLD SYSTEMS” of the habitable earth. These “World Systems” embrace business, society, politics, and religion. He is the Ruler of the “Powers of Darkness” of the “Spirit World” (Ephesians 6:11-12), and his position is so exalted that even Michael the Archangel dare not insult him. Judges 1:9. So mighty is he that man cannot successfully resist him without Divine help.
Satan is a King, and has a KINGDOM. Of it Christ said--“If Satan cast out Satan he is divided against himself; how then shall his ’KINGDOM’ stand”? (Matthew 12:24-30.) Speaking of the “Evil Powers” Paul wrote--“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against ’Principalities,’ against ’Powers,’ against the ’Rulers of Darkness Of This World’ (Age), against ’Spiritual Wickedness’ in HIGH PLACES” (the Heavenlies). Ephesians 6:12. From this we see that Satan’s Kingdom consists of “Principalities,” “Powers,” “Age Rulers of Darkness,” and “Wicked Spirits” in the Heavenlies. These “Principalities” are ruled by “Princes” who control the nations of the earth as in the days of Daniel the Prophet, when a Heavenly Messenger was sent to Daniel, but was hindered “three weeks” from reaching him by the “Prince of the Kingdom of Persia,” Satan’s ruling “Prince of Persia,” until Michael the Archangel came to his rescue. Daniel 10:10-14.
The opposing “Commanders in Chief” of the “War in Heaven” will be MICHAEL and the DRAGON (Satan). We are first introduced to Michael in the Book of Daniel, and his appearance here is a confirmation that this part of the Book of Revelation is Jewish, and a continuation or supplement to the Book of Daniel. Michael is called in the Book of Daniel “one of the CHIEF PRINCES” (Daniel 10:13), “YOUR PRINCE” (Daniel 10:21), and the “GREAT PRINCE WHICH STANDETH FOR THY PEOPLE.” Daniel 12:1. That is, Michael has been chosen from among the “Chief Princes” that stand before God, to be the protector of Daniel’s People, the Jews. In Judges 1:9 he is called the “ARCHANGEL,” and as there is but one “Archangel” spoken of in the Bible, Michael must be he. He also has something to do with the resurrection of the dead, for he is associated with the “Resurrection” mentioned in Daniel 12:1-2, and he contested with the Devil the resurrection of Moses (Judges 1:9), and the “Voice” of the Archangel that will be heard when the “Dead in Christ” shall rise (1. Thess. 4:16), will be the “voice” of MICHAEL.
When the “Dragon” is cast out of the “Heavenlies” there will be great rejoicing in Heaven because the “Accuser” of Christ’s “Brethren” (the Jews) is cast down, but there will be “woe” for the “inhabitants of the earth,” for the “Dragon” will be filled with “great wrath” because he knows that he will have but a “short time” (3½ years) to vent his wrath on the inhabitants of the earth before he is chained and cast into the Bottomless Pit.
While Satan has been the “Accuser of the Brethren” in all Ages, the context shows that reference is here made to the “Jewish Remnant” (the brethren of Christ), who during the first 3½ years of the “Tribulation Period” pass through great persecution, and die as “martyrs.” They are referred to in Revelation 6:9-11 as the “souls of them that were slain for the Word of God,” and we are here told (Revelation 12:11) that they overcame by the “Blood of the Lamb,” and the “Word of their Testimony,” and died as “martyrs,” for they “loved not their lives unto the death.” As they overcame by the “Blood Of The Lamb,” then the “TIME” of their overcoming must be subsequent to the shedding of Christ’s blood on Calvary, that is, Satan according to this account, could not have been cast out of the “Heavenlies” prior to the Crucifixion of Christ. When Jesus said--“I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18), He was not referring to some past fall of Satan, but it was a prophetic utterance, by way of anticipation, of his future fall, when he shall be hurled headfirst out of Heaven by Michael the Archangel. As further evidence as to the time of Satan’s casting out, Daniel the Prophet tells us that it will be at the “Time of Trouble” that is to come upon Daniel’s People, the Jews, and that “Time of Trouble” is the “GREAT TRIBULATION.” At that time Michael shall “stand up” to deliver Daniel’s People, and the result will be “WAR IN HEAVEN” and Daniel’s People shall be delivered, not from the “Great Tribulation,” but out of it.
When the Dragon and all the Principalities and Powers of evil that now occupy the “Middle Heaven” of the Heavenlies, that is, the Heaven between the atmosphere of our earth, and the “Third Heaven” where God dwells, are cast out and down, then the Heavens will be CLEAN, for they are not now clean in God’s sight. Job 15:15. And as all these “Evil Powers” will doubtless be imprisoned during the Millennium, with Satan, the Heavens will be CLEAN during that period, and this will account for the universal rule of righteousness and peace of those days.
“THE PERSECUTION OF THE “SUN CLOTHED WOMAN .”
“And when the ’Dragon’ saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the ’Woman’ which brought forth the ’MAN-CHILD.’ 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’ (3e face of the ’Serpent’ (The Dragon). 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. 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.”
When the Dragon is cast out of Heaven into the Earth, knowing that his defeat has been brought about by the elevation of the “MAN-CHILD” to the place of power, he will concentrate his hatred
and malice on the “Sun-Clothed Woman” (Israel), who gave the “Man-Child” birth. To the “Woman” will be given the “WINGS OF A GREAT EAGLE” that she may fly into the “Wilderness,” into “HER PLACE” where she shall be nourished for a “TIME, TIMES and HALF A TIME,” or 3½ years. This takes us back to the flight of Israel from Egypt, of which God said--“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on ’EAGLE’S WINGS,’ and brought you unto myself.” Exodus 19:4. As the “Woman” and the “Dragon” are symbols, so are the “Eagle’s Wings.” They speak of the rapid and safe flight of the “Woman” (ISRAEL) into the “Wilderness” where she shall be safely kept and nourished for 3½ years until the Dragon is bound.
The Prophet Isaiah speaks of this time when he says--“Come, my people (ISRAEL).enter thou into thy CHAMBERS, and SHUT THY DOORS ABOUT THEE: HIDE THYSELF AS IT WERE FOR A LITTLE WHILE (3½ years) UNTIL THE INDIGNATION (The Great Tribulation) IS OVERPAST. . . . In THAT DAY (the Day of the casting out of the Dragon) the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword shall punish ’LEVIATHAN’ (the “Dragon” or “Serpent”) the piercing SERPENT, even ’LEVIATHAN’ the crooked SERPENT, and He shall slay ’THE DRAGON’ that is in the sea.” Isaiah 26:20; Isaiah 27:1. This may mean the “BEAST” that comes up out of the sea, the “ANTICHRIST.” Revelation 13:1-2.
This is the time that Christ refers to in Matthew 24:15-22. “When ye therefore shall see the ’ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the Prophet (Daniel 9:27), stand in the Holy Place (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: for then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the ELECT’S SAKE (the elect of Israel) those days shall be shortened.” The flight that Matthew here speaks about is not the same flight that Luke speaks about. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem COMPASSED WITH ARMIES, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains: and let them which are in the midst of it depart out: and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and JERUSALEM SHALL BE TRODDEN DOWN OF THE GENTILES, UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED.” Luke 21:20-24.
A careful comparison of these two passages will reveal their difference. Luke refers to the “Destruction of Jerusalem” by Titus, A. D. 70, at which time Jerusalem was compassed by the Roman Army, and the sufferings of the inhabitants of the city were so great that mothers cooked and ate their own children. This is past. And verse 24 has been fulfilled for the Jews have been “led away captive into ALL NATIONS,” where they still remain, and Jerusalem has since then been “TRODDEN DOWN OF THE GENTILES,” and will continue to be until the “TIMES OF THE GENTILES” shall be fulfilled. But the “flight” that Matthew speaks about is still future. He locates it at the time of the “Great Tribulation,” which he says is to be preceded by the setting up of the “ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,” spoken of by Daniel the Prophet. The gods, or idols of the heathen, are spoken of as “ABOMINATIONS.” Milcom, or Molech, was the “abomination” of the Ammonites; Chemosh, the “abomination” of Moab. 1. Kings 11:5-7. This interprets the “ABOMINATION” spoken of by Daniel, as nothing other than an “IDOL” or “FALSE GOD.” In the “Middle of the Week,” a “DESOLATOR” (Antichrist) will appear and cause the sacrifices and oblations to cease, and set up in the “Holy Place” of the Temple an “IDOL,” and that “Idol” will be an “IMAGE OF THE BEAST.” Revelation 13:14-15.
Let us now return to the “Flight of the Woman” and see if we can locate “her place,” the “chamber” to which she is to flee, and “shut to the door,” and “hide herself for a little while,” and be nourished by God for a “Time, and Times, and Half a Time,” or 3½ years.
THE CITIES OF REFUGE.
The “Cities of Refuge” of Old Testament times are a type of this “Wilderness Refuge” of the Children of Israel.
The “Cities of Refuge” were designated cities, 3 on each side the river Jordan, where the “Man-Slayer” could flee for safety from the “Avenger of Blood.” If it was proved after trial that he had slain a man “wilfully,” he was turned over to the “Avenger of Blood,” but if he did it unwittingly, his life was spared, but he had to remain in the city until the death of the High Priest. If there were no “Man-Slayer” there would be no “Avenger of Blood,” and therefore no need for a “City of Refuge.”
Now if I find in the New Testament that a certain class of people are called upon to flee to a “Place of Refuge” for the protection of their lives, then I must believe that they flee because an “Avenger of Blood” is after them, and that they flee because they are guilty of “Manslaughter.”
Such a class of people I find in the Jewish Race. They were the cause of the death of Christ, and though He was crucified by the Roman authorities they assumed the guilt for they cried--“His blood be on Us, and on Our Children.” Matthew 27:25. At first sight it looks like “wilful” murder, yet from the prayer of Jesus on the Cross--“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” it is clear that Jesus’ death was not so much a premeditated murder as it was a
murder committed in a blind religious frenzy. Paul says--“had they known they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” 1. Cor. 2:8.
It is clear then that the Jewish race is only guilty of “Man-slaughter.” As the “Man-Slayer” of Jesus they have been for over 1800 years running for a “City of Refuge” and have not as yet reached it. The “Avenger of Blood” has been on their track and has hounded them from nation to nation, and the epithet of
“The Wandering Jew”
has followed them down the centuries, and the prophecy of Moses is being fulfilled that they should find no rest for the sole of their foot. Deuteronomy 28:64-67.
If the Jews are the “Man-Slayer” who is the “Avenger of Blood”? Antichrist.
And now as to the “City of Refuge” that God will provide for Israel when the “Avenger of Blood” (Antichrist), who shall then be indwelt by the Dragon, is on her track.
When the Lord God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt they journeyed from the Red Sea, tarrying for a while at Mt. Sinai to receive the Law and build the Tabernacle, until they came, one year, after leaving Egypt, to Kadesh Barnea. There they sent up spies to spy out the land of Canaan, but refused to go up and take possession of the land, and were compelled to wander in the Wilderness south of the Dead Sea. There God took care of them and fed them for 40 years. Now it is in the same Wilderness that God is going to provide for them a place of “Refuge” in the day when the “Avenger of Blood” shall seek to destroy them.
Speaking of the Antichrist, the Prophet Daniel says--
“He shall enter also into the Glorious Land (Palestine) and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom and Moab and the chief of the Children of Ammon.” Daniel 11:41.
Now Edom takes in the Wilderness where Israel wandered for 40 years. And it is here in Edom that the “City of Refuge” that God has provided for Israel is located, and is known today as Petra. It was a great commercial centre in the days of King Solomon. In A. D. 105 the Romans conquered the country and called the province Arabia Petra. When the power of Rome waned Petra gradually fell into the hands of the Arabs and became completely lost to the civilized world in the seventh century, and remained so until it was rediscovered by Burckhardt in 1812.
It is located in the mountains like as in the crater of a volcano. It has but one entrance, and that is through a narrow, winding defile or canyon from 12 to 40 feet wide, the sides of which are precipitous and at times so close together as to almost shut out the blue sky above and make you think you are passing through a subterranean passageway. The height of the sides varies from 200 to 1000 feet, and the length of the canyon is about two miles. No other city in the world has such a wonderful gateway. The sides of the canyon are lined with wonderful monuments and temples carved out of the rocky sandstone of the sides. Once inside the rocky inclosure of the city we find the ruins of magnificent buildings, tombs and monuments. The cliffs
that surround the city are carved and honeycombed with excavations to a height of 300 feet above the floor of the valley, and the excavations cut as they are out of different colored strata of the rock, such as red, purple, blue, black, white and yellow, lend a beauty to their appearance that is indescribable and overpowering to the beholder.
When the time comes for the “Man-Slayer” (Israel), to escape from the hands of the “Avenger of Blood” (Antichrist), the rocky fastness of the ancient city of Petra will be her “City of Refuge.” We read that when the “Woman” (Israel) shall flee into the Wilderness that the “Serpent” (Antichrist, indwelt by Satan) shall cast a flood of water out of his mouth after her to destroy her, but that the earth shall open her mouth and swallow the flood. That is, Antichrist will send his army after the fleeing Israelites, and it will probably be swallowed up in a “Sand storm” of the desert, and Israel shall safely reach her place of refuge, where she shall be safe, not until the death of the High Priest, but until the return of “The High Priest” (Jesus) from Heaven, who as “King-Priest” of the Armies of Heaven will deliver her and allow her to leave her place of refuge. During the period of Israel’s ’hiding” in the Wilderness God will “nourish” her as He did during her 40 years’ wandering in the same Wilderness in the days of Moses.
5. THE JEWISH REMNANT .
“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.”
Baffled in his attempt to destroy the “Woman,” the Dragon, in his rage will make war against the “REMNANT OF HER SEED,” that is, against those Israelites left in Palestine or among the nations that keep the “commandments of God,” and have the “testimony of Jesus Christ.” To this end he will give to the “BEAST” (Antichrist) his “Power,” and his “Seat,” and “Great Authority.” Revelation 13:2.
Here again we have indirect evidence that the “Woman” is not the Church but ISRAEL. When the Church is caught out no REMNANT is left behind, all that are “IN CHRIST” are taken away; but when the “Woman” (ISRAEL) flees into the wilderness a “REMNANT” is left behind. This “Remnant” is composed of two classes’. First, those who “keep the Commandments of God,” that is, Orthodox Jews who observe the Old Testament Law, and second, those who “accept the testimony of Jesus Christ,” that is, accept Jesus as their promised Messiah. The latter class will be converted by the preaching of the “Gospel of the Kingdom” by the “Two Witnesses.” Those will be trying times for those Israelites who will not commit idolatry by bowing the knee to the “Image of the Beast,” for it will be a remorseless war of persecution that Antichrist will wage against them, and thousands will die a martyr’s death.
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Larkin, Clarence. "Commentary on Revelation 12". A Study of the Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany