THE HOLY WAR Holocaust II
Holocaust, Just the word strikes terror in the hearts of millions as they recall the television documentary by that name. Paraded before their eyes was a destruction of people unparalleled in the annals of human history. Adolf Hitler, demonically inspired with a fanatical hatred, swept across Europe in his quest to destroy world Jewry. When the dust of World War II had settled, the horrors were revealed — almost six million Jewish people had been systematically exterminated. Some say it’s all a hoax, but records do not lie! In Israel is a memorial, Yad Vashem, which documents the destruction of European Jewry between 1933-1945. The pictures leave a penetrating impact upon the minds and hearts of individuals who pass through. Joyful people enter, unaware of the horrors they are about to view, only to leave in sober silence transformed by what their eyes have seen but their minds find difficult to believe. Yet it is all believable, for pictures do not lie!
Through the centuries Satan has tried to destroy the Jew. Why? He knows that God must fulfill His unconditional eternal promises made to them in the Abrahamic Covenant. He knows by destroying the Jew, God’s program will be thwarted and not brought to fruition. Therefore, he intensifies his persecution during the Tribulation knowing he has but a short time (v. 12) to accomplish his purposes.
Israel is yet to face the worst persecution of her long history known as Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7). Revelation 12 is a key chapter, placed in the middle of the book. It reveals Satan’s last attempt to destroy Israel and the believing remnant during the Great Tribulation. Brace yourself as the curtain rises to reveal the conflict of the ages.
Persons In Conflict
God draws back the clouds of Heaven to reveal unto John, in figurative language, the participants of this holy war.
Who is this woman “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (v. 1)? Some would have us believe that the woman is the Virgin Mary. This cannot be, since the woman is referred to as a “wonder” (Lit. sign), not to be taken literally, but a symbolic representation of Israel. Others state erroneously that the woman represents the Church. The same imagery is presented in a dream of Joseph, where the sun, moon and stars are mentioned, representing Jacob, Rachel and the tribes of Israel (Gen. 7:9-11). The sun, moon and stars are illuminating planets which give light to the world through God’s Word and the child (v. 2), Jesus the Messiah (v. 5). The woman cannot be the Church since Israel gave birth to the Messiah, not the Church.
The Red Dragon (vv. 3-4, 9)
The red dragon is another “wonder” (sign) used to symbolize Satan (v. 9), A portrait of his work is presented by the various names ascribed to him.
Red dragon (v. 3), presents him as a cruel monster and bloody murderer (Jn. 8:44), who tried to destroy the Messiah at His birth (v. 4). Old serpent (v. 9), refers to his beguiling work in causing Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden. Devil (v. 9), speaks of him as a slanderer or accuser. Satan (v. 9), describes him as an adversary opposing all that God stands for. Accuser of our brethren (v. 10), speaks of his current work before the throne of God in which he tries to bring reproach on the believer.
“. .. Seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads” relates Satan to the Antichrist, whom he will indweil (Rev. 13:1; 17:3), in a last attempt to rule the world during the Tribulation. The “seven heads” of the dragon also speak of the fullness of wisdom (Ezek. 28:12) which he possessed at his creation.
Satan desired to usurp authority over God and take His throne (Isa. 14:12-17). A great war ensued between Michael and Lucifer (v. 7) resulting in “the third part of the s of heaven” (angels) and the “dragon” (Satan) being cast out of Heaven to the earth (v. 4). These fallen angels are the demonic spirits who carry out Satan’s work. Not all of the fallen angels are loose today; some are chained in darkness until the day of judgment (Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4). Although Satan’s work is limited to the atmosphere of earth, he still has access to God’s throne where he accuses the believer (v, 10) [Job 1, 2].
The Male Child (v. 5)
The child is Jesus the Messiah, and in one big sweep John covers His life. After His birth, ministry, death and resurrection, Christ ascended back to Heaven and is seated on the right hand of God (v. 5; cp. Rev. 4-5). He is the One who will return to “rule all nations with a rod of iron” (v. 5; Ps. 2:9; Rev. 2:27; 19:15) during the Millennial Kingdom.
Through the centuries Satan has used every tactic possible to sabotage the lineage of Christ, for he knows that Christ will ultimately crush him (Gen. 3:15). He has tried to: cut off Christ’s lineage by having Cain kill Abel (Gen. 4); pollute the godly line of Seth (Gen, 6); produce a psuedo son of promise (Gen. 16); destroy Israel in Egypt (Ex. 1), and through Haman’s plot in Persia (Est. 3:8-15); to devour Christ as soon as He was born (Rev. 12:4) through Herod’s decree to kill all children through two years of age (Mt. 2:16). When this failed, he tried to kill Christ in Nazareth (Lk. 4:28-29); on the Sea of Galilee (Mt. 8:23-27); and after his betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:47-56).
But through the cross, Christ defeated and destroyed the works of Satan (Heb. 2; 14).
Michael the Archangel (vv. 7-8)
Michael has a special ministry to oversee and protect the nation of Israel, He contended with the devil over Moses’ body (Jude 9); he fought with “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” (Dan. 10:13), speaking of Satan or a demonic spirit who directed the Persian leaders; and he will protect Israel during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 12:7). At the middle of the Tribulation there is a fierce conflict in Heaven between Michael and Satan. Michael casts Satan out of Heaven onto the earth where he is confined, never to have access again (v. 9). Heaven rejoices over their victory, but an enraged Satan takes revenge by pouring out his wrath on earth during the Great Tribulation (v. 12).
Persecution Is Coming
Unable to destroy Christ, Satan turns to vent his wrath against Israel (v. 13). Knowing his time is short, he seizes one last attempt to destroy God’s program. John tells us that Satan sends a flood to destroy Israel (v. 15). How is the flood to be interpreted, literal or figuratively? Some believe it is literal, like the time God delivered Israel through the Red Sea. He will do it again by swallowing up the flood (v. 16). Others believe the language is figurative. Satan does try to destroy Israel through a severe persecution from the Antichrist. Two thirds of Israel are killed (Zech. 13:8), but a remnant escape his persecution (Mt. 24:16-22).
Not being able to completely destroy Israel, he tries to destroy “the remnant of her seed” (v. 17). The remnant is 144,000 sealed from the 12 tribes of Israel and those saved through their witness (Rev. 7:4-8), for they “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (v. 17).
Preserved In The Conflict
A remnant of Israelites sees the Antichrist come into Jerusalem and they flee into the Judean mountains like they were instructed (Mt. 24:16). This is a desolate area where God protects and nourishes them for “1,260 days” (w. 6, 14), the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation.
God assisted the fleeing Jews by providing “two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness” (v. 14). Some believe this is referring to an airplane, but the distance is so short and the area too rocky for a landing. The term “eagles’ wings” was used to express Israel’s flight from Egypt (Ex. 19:4). It refers to the swiftness and strength which God provided in bearing them to safety.
Where is this place of safely? Scripture does not name it, but gives some indication of its location. Many believe it will be in the area of Edom, Moab or Ammon, since these countries escape the wrathful destruction of the Antichrist during the Tribulation (Dan. 11:41). It could be Petra (Heb. Sela), in Edom, since this area is a mountainous stronghold just southeast of Jerusalem, present-day Jordan. Christ does come to Edom after His Second Coming to take vengeance upon them, and possibly deliver the Jewish remnant who believe in the Messiah (Isa. 63:1-6).
Power To Conquer
The Tribulation believer is victorious over Satan through three sources. First, he is victorious “by the blood of the Lamb” (v. 11). Christ has destroyed the works of Satan and made reconciliation for the sins of man through His shed blood (Heb. 2:14-17). He is the believer’s advocate before the throne of God defending him against the accusations of Satan (1 Jn. 2:1-2). Second, he is victorious “by the word of their testimony” (v. 11). They did not take the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16-18), and were able to defeat Satan by standing firm in Christ through sharing their faith with others. Third, “they loved not their lives unto the death” (v. 11). Fear of death from the Antichrist did not dampen their devotion to Christ; they would rather become martyrs than deny their faith. Many were martyred for their faith (Rev. 6:9; 15:2; 20:4), but a remnant does survive with a glowing testimony.
My friend, we are in a battle and the conflict rages! Satan is stepping up his onslaughts against Israel and the Church in the latter days. Like the Tribulation saints, we must stand fast (1 Cor. 15:58) in the Lord; resisting Satan as never before (Jas. 4: 7); not giving him place in our lives (Eph. 4; 27); for he seeks to devour us (1 Pet. 5:8-9). Like the prophets of old, we must stand with Israel in her hour of need, presenting Jesus the Messiah as the only hope to escape the wrath which is to befall her. Like Paul, we need to lift our voices and say, But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).