Rev 12:14                             God, Our Protector                                    1/29/2006      ßà   

  • Christ Fights For Us (Rev 12:1-17, Mal 4:2)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       The Timing of the Woman in the Wilderness (Rev 12:6,14, Mat 24:22)

 

 

 

 

 

  • Two Wings of a Great Eagle (Rev 12:14, Ex 19:4, Deut 32:11-12, Isa 40:31, John 15:19)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Wilderness (Rev 12:14, John 3:8)

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Woman (Rev 12:14, Rom 9:22-23, Gal 4:21-26)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       God Will Keep and Protect His People (Rev 12:15-16, John 7:38, 4:14, Isa 54:15-17)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 12:1 (2X). Last week we have seen that Satan was cast out of heaven at the time the Lord Jesus ascended His throne, on Ascension Day, in the year AD 33. Today we are listening to sermon number 3 from this chapter, Rev 12. And the overall impression from this chapter is that Christ fights for us.

  • Christ Fights For Us (Rev 12:1-17, Mal 4:2)

We have seen that particularly in the text of last week’s sermon, verses 7 through 12, and we shall see it again today in verses 13 through 17. The woman is attacked by the dragon. Instead of fighting back she flees into the wilderness, for God is her Defender and her Protector. Christ fights for us against the mighty Devil. We are no match for him, for the Devil is way too powerful for us. That is why the title of this sermon is God, Our Protector (2X). Let us read this in Rev 12, beginning in verse 1,

Re 12:1  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:

Re 12:2  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Re 12:3-4  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.

Re 12:5  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.

Re 12:6  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.

Re 12:7  And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Re 12:8  And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Re 12:9  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.

Re 12:10  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our 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.

Re 12:11-12  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the 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.

Re 12:13-14  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, from the face of the serpent.

Re 12:15-16  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.

Re 12:17  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.

The text for the sermon today is Rev 12:14, which speaks particularly to God’s protection for the woman, who represents the church of the living God. And in this chapter, when I am speaking of the woman as the church, it is hereby understood that this church is the worldwide collection of truly saved, born again individuals; the ones for whom Christ died. This is based on the words of verse 1, where the woman is described as being clothed with the sun, and where we understood that Christ is that Sun, since “Christ is the Sun of righteousness who on the Last Day shall arise with healing in His wings”.

#1.       The Timing of the Woman in the Wilderness (Rev 12:6,14, Mat 24:22)

We have already seen in verse 6 that the woman fled into the wilderness. God simply repeats that statement in verse 14. This is not the 2nd time she flees into the wilderness. Verses 6 and 14 deal with the same event of the woman fleeing into the wilderness. Let us compare these two verses:

Re 12:6  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.

Re 12:14  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.

The first thing we see is the timing of her stay in the wilderness. It is clear that the “time, and times, and half a time” from verse 14 represent a symbolic 3½ years, which is identical to the symbolic “one thousand two hundred and threescore days” from verse 6. Both these time symbols represent the entire NT period of time. We have seen that from studying “The Seventy Sevens” from Dan 9:27.

Let us now look at these 3½ years from a different perspective. We know that the entire history of the world is divided, as it were, into two halves, because of the coming of Christ. The cross of Christ is the hinge that divides the OT from the NT time. The cross of Christ is the focal point in all the history of the world, according to the Bible. If seven is the symbolic number that indicates the complete perfection of all that God does in time, and therefore the number seven is also symbolizing the complete period of the history of the world, both before and after Christ, then it follows that 3½ years may symbolize the entire OT time and another 3½ years symbolizes the entire NT time all the way to the Last Day of this earth. This is how the 3½ years are used by God in Dan 9:27 and here in Rev 12:14. Moreover, this number also indicates that the period of time that the church is in the wilderness is short, for “the dragon knoweth that he has but a short time”. Moreover, this small number also indicates that the period of time that the church is in the wilderness is cut short, for Jesus said in Mat 24:22, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”. And so, what we see here in Rev 12:6 and 14 is that the church has to suffer attacks of the dragon for the entire NT period of time. In this entire period God has a place prepared for her in the wilderness for her own safety. And what is that wilderness representing? Clearly we have here in this chapter an allegory. Verses 7-12 are not part of that allegory, for there is nothing in verses 7-12 to indicate symbolism, except that Michael is another name for Christ. But verses 1-6 are clearly an allegory, and verse 13-17 are the continuation of that allegory. There is no one who takes this woman for a real woman, and no one believes that the wings which the woman receives are real wings, and no one believes that the stream of water which the dragon spits out is a real stream. Therefore we should not interpret this wilderness as a real wilderness. We must adhere to the principle that we may not single out one element in an allegorical representation of things and take it in the literal sense. Therefore, what is that wilderness representing? Clearly the woman, representing the body of believers throughout OT and NT history, is still on earth, for in verse 17 she still brings forth other children. She is attacked by the dragon. She cannot outrun the dragon. Therefore God gives her:

·       Two Wings of a Great Eagle (Rev 12:14, Ex 19:4, Deut 32:11-12, Isa 40:31, John 15:19)

Re 12:14  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.

God delights in those who worship Him with eyes of faith, and God delights to protect them with His wings. Let me quote some verses where we see God doing that for the love that He has for His people. God says in Ex 19:4, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” What God referred to here is how He delivered them out of their slavery in Egypt, and how He brought them into the wilderness unto Mount Horeb, where God gave the law to Moses. God says in Deut 32:11-12, “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.” Here also we see that God is represented by a great eagle. And as an eagle fiercely protects her young, so the Lord fiercely protects His children and He avenges them on all those who have hurt them. God says in Isa 40:31, “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.” Here is the same metaphor as in Rev 12:14 where people are given wings, and “they shall mount up with wings as eagles”. And so, it is not strange that the woman was given wings of a great eagle. It means that God Himself provides the church with means to escape the fury of the Devil. Most definitely God provides this wilderness in order that she might escape the wrath and persecution of the Devil. In the literal sense of the word the wilderness is a place in the world, but not of the world. It is a place in the midst of the world, yet separated from the world. We are “in the world, yet not of the world”. The Lord Jesus said in John 15:19, ”If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” What does this mean? It means that we who were chosen by the Lord Jesus out of the world unto salvation, although we are still living in the midst of this world, we are not of this world. We do not belong here. But for the sake of being witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ we must reside in this world, constantly reminding ourselves that we are citizens of Jerusalem that is above, in heaven. As individuals we live right in the midst of the world, and we live the life of the world, even though we are spiritually separated from the life of the world of sin, and we live from the principle that we are children of the Kingdom of God. As individuals physically we are in the world, but spiritually we are not of this world. But now let us consider the condition of the outwardly visible church, the congregation of a local church that is still relatively faithful to the Bible. Consider the local church in:

#2.       The Wilderness (Rev 12:14, John 3:8)

The local church is a separate institution in the world. She has her own King. Take for example our local church. No earthly king has any dominion over us. Only Christ is King in our church. From this it follows that the church has its own laws. There may be laws from worldly rulers concerning these buildings, and the material property surrounding us, but that is irrelevant to our real existence. The church in this world, in regard to her real existence and life, acknowledges no sovereignty or power other than that of Christ. No king or president can formulate our creed. We do it ourselves, and in doing it we try to be faithful to Christ, our King. No world-power can regulate our worship, or compose our hymns, or can dictate how we must pray, or what we must pray for, or what we may preach. No world-power can tell us how and why and when we can exercise church discipline on any of our members. The church as an institute is a separate institution. We have our own King, our own laws, our own life. We do not mingle in the world’s politics. The church has no armies. The church does not fight the battles of this world. But the church does instruct her members to be obedient to the worldly powers, and even in case of war we must be subject to the authorities and be obedient. But the church herself, as an institute and as the mother of her spiritual children, does not take part of the battles of this world. She lives in separation. Even as the children of Israel in the desert lived in separation from the world-power in Egypt, and even as they received their own laws from their own King in that wilderness, so also the church of the NT is in the wilderness with regard to the world and its power and its life. The church does not do business. She owns no property for its own sake. She has no factories. She has no army or navy. The church fights her own battles and does her own work differently than the world does. The church as an institution is separate from the life of the world. In fact the local church is for the woman, the Bride of Christ, a God-prepared place in the wilderness of this world. Only in this sense can we see that this condition actually started in the NT time, immediately following the exaltation of Christ. In OT times the church and state were intertwined in the theocracy. Israel was the people of God. Israel was the visible church. Israel was the state. They were not identical, but they were inseparably intertwined. For that reason the people of God could have an earthly king, could fight the battles of Jehovah with bow and sword, could have an earthly country of their own, could have possessions and do business as a people of God. But when the NT dispensation arrived all this was changed. The church does no more live in a certain land, but is spread all over the world and among all nations. One and the same church, with the same King, with essentially the same faith, with the same life, now exists among all the nations of the earth. I am not considering those churches that have slid into another gospel, since they no longer can be considered the church that Christ established. But at the same time, the church is now in the wilderness of this world, although it is separate from that world.

But there is more. Since the church is separate from the world powers, it is also very plain that this is exactly her safety in the present NT dispensation. The church is no threat to the world powers. In fact the church produces very upright citizens who generally serve the state more obediently than in the absence of the guidance of a church. The world-power is and remains on the earth, earthy. If the church did not live as a separate institution, living her own life, acknowledging her own King, regulating her own affairs, making her own laws, establishing her own forms of belief, and controlling her own worship, the church would cease to exist, and the apostate church would unite with the worldly powers and rise up against Christ and against His Kingdom. Essentially this is what we can expect near the end of time. This is what Rev 17 and 18 are about. When the church seeks to have dominion over the powers of the world, and over the affairs of the world, as the church of Rome has done so for many centuries, or when the worldly powers creep into the church and exercise authority over the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, it would mean the destruction of the church as the mother of faithful subjects of the Kingdom of Christ. The faithful church is in the wilderness of this world, and she is separated from the power of the world, and must needs be in that wilderness for her own safety. This is the place in the wilderness reserved by God for the woman, the Bride of Christ, and there she is fed in a miraculous way by people in the church whom God appointed to be her teachers in the Word, and there she is hid from the face of the serpent. And notice how the name “dragon” changed from verse 13 to verse 14, where he is now called “serpent”. It pictures his mode of attack: sneaky and with deadly venom. This is how Satan operates now in the NT era, especially in the FTP, and with great success. There in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ the woman finds a refuge. But at the same time there is only one way to escape from the face of the serpent, and that is through the air. When someone becomes saved he is snatched away from the power of the serpent symbolically through the air. God says in John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” God saves a person by making that person “Born Again” through the operation of God the Holy Spirit, represented by the wind in John 3:8, and whisks that person out of the kingdom of Satan, and into the Kingdom of His dear Son. And therefore it is in perfect harmony with the symbolism of Rev 12:14 that the woman received wings, and that she flees away from the face of the serpent into the wilderness, to the church where God wants her to flee to. We have looked at the timing of the woman in the wilderness, and two wings of the great eagle, and the wilderness, but now I would like to say a few words about the woman.

  • The Woman (Rev 12:14, Rom 9:22-23, Gal 4:21-26)

There is very little difference between the woman in the 1st part of this chapter and the woman in verses 13-17. In the 1st passage she was still travailing to bring forth the man child, and therefore she represented the OT church. There she was the symbol of the people of God, of the church, as the mother of Christ. Not that she actually represents Mary, the mother of Jesus, for Mary is only one individual of the entire OT body of believers that is represented as the mother of Christ. It is the entire OT body of believers that brought forth the Christ child. But in verses 13-17 she has already brought forth the Christ, and He has gone to heaven and cast Satan out of heaven. Therefore in the NT dispensation she can be looked upon as the mother of the NT believers, who are in verse 17 called “the Remnant of her Seed”. But the woman in the 1st part of this chapter is still the same woman in the last part of this chapter. This means that the Word of God teaches us the essential unity of the church throughout time. It is the same woman all the time, representing the same church. Therefore it will not harmonize with Scripture to maintain that there was an essential difference between the church of the OT days and that of the NT days. But why does the Devil persecute the woman after she has brought forth the Lord Jesus Christ? The Devil is not a raging mad fool who only wants revenge. The Devil is a very intelligent being who does not waste his time satisfying his emotions. The Devil’s actions are full of purpose and very systematic. Since he knows that his time is short, he does not waste any time. The very fact that the Devil turns against the woman to persecute her already is an indication that she is still of great importance to the Kingdom of God, and to the fulfillment of God’s plans. The Devil’s great and only purpose is to prevent the establishment of the Kingdom of God, and maintain his own sovereignty on this earth. It is again for that same purpose that he now attacks the woman. This woman is the body of believers who appeared as the mother of the Savior, the King of the Kingdom of God. Christ is the great Seed of the woman. He is the Son of Mary, out of the house of David, of the tribe of Judah, out of the loins of Abraham, in the line of Shem and Seth, and finally born from Eve as the spiritual mother of the holy seed. But there is more. The woman, the body of believers, the elect of God, is not only the mother of Christ, but she is also the mother of us all. She is the mother of the true spiritual children of God. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 4:21 (2X). In God’s terminology there are two cities called Jerusalem. One of these two cities contains “vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory”, and the other city contains “Vessels of wrath fitted to destruction”. You may recognize the wording from Rom 9:22-23. People are either vessels of mercy, or they are vessels of wrath. There are only two groups of people in God’s sight. There is no in between group. The vessels of mercy are people who will be with God in glory for an eternity, and the people who are vessels of wrath are those who go to Hell for an eternity. Let us now read about the two cities called Jerusalem:

Ga 4:21-23  Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?           For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.            But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Ga 4:24-25  Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.      For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

Ga 4:26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Clearly, God tells us here that “Jerusalem which now is”, refers to the city mostly inhabited by the Jews of those days who still adhere to the ceremonial law, because they refuse to believe that Messiah has come already and has fulfilled for us all the requirements of the ceremonial law forever. This sign of unbelief is a sign that they are “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction”, for they are still in bondage to Sin and Satan. And clearly, when God speaks in verse 26 about “Jerusalem which is above”, God refers to those who are the remnant whom He chose out of all the nations of the world, who have been saved by grace, through faith, who have found salvation in Jesus Christ, and whose sins have already been paid for at the cross on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33. They are called “Jerusalem which is above”, for their names were written in heaven from before the foundation of the world. And God says in verse 26, “She is the mother of us all”, clearly not referring to all of mankind, but “us all” refers to “all of us” who have become saved. These are important conclusions, for these days there is a teaching in most of the churches that in the 2nd coming of Christ He shall establish an earthly kingdom here on earth, and Christ shall reign for a 1000 years from Jerusalem as His capital city, and the Jews shall evangelize the world. They are referring to “Jerusalem that now is, which is in bondage with her children.” How can that be? It would mean that God is lying here in Gal 4:25. This is a teaching which is becoming more and more popular these days, but it is a false teaching which has all kinds of nasty consequences. Please turn again to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 12:15 (2X). And thus when we see this woman persecuted by her greatest enemy in this universe, remember that she is the mother of us all. And since the outwardly visible church, the local church, may also be represented by a woman, we can say that the visible church, as a visible institution on earth, brings forth the invisible church, the true body of believers. The visible church is the mother of the true children of the Kingdom. These are born from her, they are baptized by her, they are nourished through her, they receive strength and training and all the other blessings from God totally free of charge, because God delights in them. The outwardly visible church is the instrument whereby God accomplishes His goals for the Kingdom that will be established in the future. That is the great importance of the visible church, even though not everyone in the visible church is a saved individual. The Devil knows this. That is why the Devil not only persecutes the woman, the elect of God, but he also persecutes the outwardly visible church and tries to make that church to fall in snares and traps of false gospels that are o-so-close to the true Gospel. And since the visible church has unsaved members who can be persuaded by the Devil, he tries to promote these unsaved members into positions of rulership in the church, and then he carries the whole church away on a path to Hell, for people are like a flock of sheep who follow their leader wherever he leads them. The Devil knows that even as the woman has not only brought forth the Great Seed, which is Christ, but was also the mother of Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and the Patriarchs, and Moses, and all the prophets and all the faithful believers of the OT time, so she will continue to bring forth faithful children in the NT time, She will bring forth children of the Kingdom of God who will be instrumental in winning souls for the Kingdom of Christ. And therefore the Devil tries to destroy the church by bringing in false gospels and he will try to silence the witness of the true believers. We need to know that, so that we can prepare ourselves for the attacks of the Devil. Can we do that on our own? No! It is all a gift of grace. But His promise is that:

#3.       God Will Keep and Protect His People (Rev 12:15-16, John 7:38, 4:14, Isa 54:15-17)

Re 12:15-16  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.

What is this flood of water representing? We should not try to single out this flood as just a flood of real water. Everything else in verses 13-17 is given to us as an allegory. We may not single out one element in an allegorical representation of things and take it in the literal sense. If we need to find a spiritual meaning for water, what does water represent in the Bible? Most often it represents the water of the Gospel. When the Gospel is presented the words flow out of the mouth of the evangelist and out of the Bible as an endless stream of pure water. For example, the Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:14, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The Lord Jesus is referring to the Gospel that He will give to someone, will have the result that this person will in turn proclaim the Gospel to many other people. The Greek word for “Flood” in Rev 12:15 is normally translated “river” elsewhere in the Bible. This leads us to John 7:38. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles the Lord Jesus said in John 7:38, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” The rivers of living water represent the true Gospel as it is applied to God’s elect by the Holy Spirit. And thus, by the serpent casting out of his mouth water as a flood, God is saying that many of Satan’s emissaries will be bringing gospels that sound almost like the true one, but they are from the Devil. And how does the earth help the woman? Are Satan’s emissaries swallowed up in the earth? O yes! When these false teachers die they are buried in the earth, and this is how God until recently had supernaturally kept Satan’s emissaries from taking over the church. Over the past centuries many heretical movements have emerged. But somehow, God has opened the earth’s mouth, so to speak, and swallowed up the threat. But as we approach the end of time, the false teachers are becoming more and more successful, and many congregations will be carried away by these rivers of poisoned water. Nevertheless, we should remember that God is our Protector. God will keep His elect from being deceived. Please turn in your Bibles to the prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 54:15 (2X). If we are God’s elect, then God’s grace will keep us faithful. How do we know IF we are God’s elect? The answer is: What do we do with the Bible? Do we cherish and love this Bible, for these are the words that our Bridegroom spoke to us? Do we love to go to Bible Study, do we love the brethren, and do we believe all the words that God spoke to us in this Bible? If so, then listen to God’s words in:

Isa 54:15  Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.

Isa 54:16  Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

Isa 54:17  No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

In verse 15 paraphrased God says, “It shall certainly come to pass that they shall gather against you, but not by Me. I did not cause it, for I am not the author of sin. But know this, that whosoever shall gather against you to do you harm shall certainly fall and become like Judas, the son of perdition.”

And then God says in verse 16, paraphrased, “I have created the craftsman who with great skill shall produce weapons that can be used against you, and I have created also the Waster, the emissary of Satan, who shall come and use these weapons to kill and to destroy.”

And then God says paraphrased in verse 17, “But know this that no weapon that is formed against you shall accomplish what the Waster intended, and no tongue that shall rise you in judgment shall succeed in its accusation. This is the privilege of every servant of the Lord: I will protect you, and I will defend you, and your righteousness is certain for your righteousness is from Me, says the Lord”.

This is our comfort. Even though Satan will do all he can to drag us into Hell, God is our Protector, and our Defender, and our Avenger. He will make sure that our enemies shall not prevail, for He loves us, and “He will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape”. And even though Satan shall cast a flood of poisoned water after us, by God’s grace we shall remain faithful, for this is God’s promise to us, His people.                       AMEN.

Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.