Session 13

Revelation Study – Session 13

 

In this session we pick up the story in this great drama of redemption with the sounding of the 7th trumpet in the series of seven trumpets.  The seventh trumpet transitions us the fourth act of the drama – the revealing of seven significant signs.  Since the signs are not numbered as were the seals and trumpets in the previous two acts, they are a little more difficult to follow.  Here is an overview of the seven signs in 12:1 – 15:4:

1.      A woman and her son (12:1-2, 56)

2.      A great red dragon (12:3-4)

3.      A beast from the sea (13:1-10)

4.      A beast from the earth (13:11-18)

5.      The Lamb with 144,000 people with His name on their foreheads (14:1-5)

6.      A vision of angels (14:6-20)

7.      Seven angels with seven plagues (15:1-4) – Transition to the next series of seven, the 7 bowls of wrath

 

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET (11:15-19)

            The 7th trumpet, as is true of almost all the final things in the various lists of seven, is a transition device leading to the next series of seven.  The seven signs, at which we’re going to look for the next several sessions of our study, show in graphic detail the great cosmic battle taking place between the forces of God and the forces of Satan.  Before we are exposed to the battle, John tells us in advance the outcome.  He didn’t want to leave us in suspense or to be overly concerned or worried about the outcome.  So, in the 7th trumpet John announces tells us the outcome of the battle.

            Revelation 11:15 sums up the entire message of Revelation.  If you get this one point, you’ve gotten the main point of the book.  “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”  That’s the message of Revelation!  God and His allies win; Satan and his allies lose.  Allusion in that statement to two great events in the life and ministry of Jesus:

·         The temptation experience – Third temptation of turning stones to bread and jumping from pinnacle of temple...Satan took to high mountain...promise all the kingdoms of world if worshipped him...false claim of sovereignty/promise could not keep...Jesus rejected temptation and proved claim to be false...

·         The cross/resurrection – When did Jesus accomplish that?...won that victory on the cross and in the resurrection...

o   ”...has become...” – Already happened...the victory has been secured...done deal...

o   “...will reign forever and ever...” – No temporary victory...literally says, “...unto the ages of ages...”...strongest phrase for eternity...

      When was the victory over evil secured?...not in the final battle at end of age...that outcome is forgone conclusion...secured in cross/resurrection...cf. Col.2:13-15...

 

Verses 16-18 show the reaction to this announcement of victory...24 elders appear for third time...

·         4:10-11 worshipping omnipotent God

·         7:11     between 6th and 7th seals worshipping around the throne

·         11:16 worshipping and giving thanks for the announcement of victory...

Gratitude is only appropriate response to what God has done for us in Christ...

 

Verse 19 describes the result of the victory...

·         “temple” – Not physical building but people...God’s people are His temple... I Peter 2...image of living stones...

·         “ark of His covenant” – Symbolized God’s presence...kept in holy of holies...only high priest could view it and be in immediate presence of God...victory of Jesus changed all that...veil in Temple torn in two...God no longer separated from His people...result of victory is God’s continuing presence with His people...more fully expressed in Revelation 21:3-4...

The first two of the seven significant signs introduce us to the main combatants in the great conflict about to be unveiled to us.  Chapter 12 introduces the opposing forces and the first major battle in the war.

 

The first sign:  The woman and male child (12:1-2, 5-6)

           

            The woman (12:1-2, 6)

·         Her appearance...”...clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her hand a crown of twelve stars...”...some see reference to the OT and NT in the reference to sun and moon...some see reference to 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 apostles in the 12 stars...I’m inclined to agree with Herschel Hobbs who says her appearance is merely “...window dressing for the scene [about] to unfold...”

·         Her identity...several different views...

o   Mary, the mother of Jesus...traditional Roman Catholic view...while Mary obviously literal mother of Jesus, this is not an effort to describe her heavenly state...it’s unnatural and out of character with apocalyptic literary style to attempt make details of this vision literal...

o   The church...we’ll see in a moment that the child of this woman is obviously Christ...making the mother of the child the church is putting cart before the horse...church didn’t give birth to Christ, Christ gave birth to the church...

o   The Jewish nation...physical Israel...many who were Israelites by birth opposed the ministry of Christ...v.17 describes the offspring of this woman as those “...who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”...that certainly is not a description of physical Israel...

o   The spiritual Israel...chosen people of God...much to be said for this view...would include the nation Israel in the OT from which the mother of Jesus came...would also include the followers of Christ in the NT era...

·         What happened to her...

o   Fled to the wilderness...in Bible often seen as place of protection and communion with God as well as place of testing...(Israelites/Jesus)...may refer to church fleeing just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as reported by early church historian Eusebias...

o   Was there 1,260 days....3 ½ years...apocalyptic symbol for incomplete period...1/2 the perfect number of seven...indefinite time but would not last forever...

 

            The male child (12:5)

·         As woman introduced about to give birth to child...obviously reference to Christ... described as one who was “...to rule the nations with a rod of iron...”...quote from Psalm 2:9 which was viewed by Jews as messianic passage...”rule” can mean “to shepherd”...”rod of iron” refers to authority, not tyranny...

·         Entire span of Christ’s earthly life summed up in statement “And she gave birth ... was caught up to God...”...wasn’t necessary for John to say more because his readers already familiar with the details of Christ’s life...

·         This child...Lamb...is the central figure in the conflict...

 

The second sign:  The great dragon (12:3-4)  Introduced simultaneously with the woman about to give birth to the male child...

·         His appearance

o   “red” – the color of blood and death...

o   “seven heads” – great wisdom

o   “ten horns” – much power

o   “seven diadems” – crowns=much authority

o   “tail swept away a third of the stars” – additional reference to power

·         His purpose – Was poised to destroy the male child...first glance appears he would succeed...what chance would woman in delivery and baby have against such powerful enemy?...but God intervened and Christ prevailed...theme replayed over and over again in Christ’s ministry...Satan poised to destroy but Christ prevails – temptation experience...opposition from religious leaders...opposition from Rome...crucifixion...each time when it appeared Satan had won, God prevailed...(special word to John’s readers!!)

 

The battle in heaven (12:7-12) – The scene in this chapter shifts from earth (vv.1-6) to heaven (vv.7-12) back to earth (vv.13-17)…three questions…

·         When did this battle occur? – Three views...

o   Before creation of the world – Some see this as the original rebellion of Satan and his expulsion from heaven…that concept of the origin of Satan was popularized by John Milton’s Paradise Lost…however, interpreting this event as referring to that totally ignores the context of this battle…didn’t occur at beginning of world…occurred after the ascension of Christ into heaven…also ignores the purpose of Revelation which is not to explain the origin of evil but to proclaim the victory of God over Satan…

o   At the end of a 7 year tribulation period depicting the final struggle between God and Satan – Again, this disregards the immediate context and sequence of events in this chapter…after the battle in heaven, Satan returned to the earth to war against God’s people who were still there…(cf. v.17)

o   Immediately following the ascension of Christ to heaven – Satan knew only way win victory in battle with God was to crush life out of God incarnate, Jesus…thought he had done this at crucifixion…ironic that at point Satan thought winning ultimate victory, Christ was defeating him…on the cross Christ utterly defeated and humiliated Satan…cf. Colossians 2:15 – “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (or “it” meaning the cross).”…picture here seems to be when Satan realized that he failed to destroy Christ on earth, he pursued Him all the way to the gates of heaven…I like Herschel Hobbs’ comment on this text:  “Following the sequence of events in this text, I see this war as Satan’s effort to destroy Christ even after He had returned to heaven.  When the devil’s evil designs against Christ on earth failed, like a mad dog he was so enraged that he storm heaven itself in an effort to destroy Him.  We know far too little about the spirit world to deny this.  When God became incarnate, the scene of the cosmic struggle shifted to earth.  With Christ again exalted in heaven, the arena of battle shifted there.” [Hobbs, Studies in Revelation, p.29]

 

·         What was the outcome of the battle? – By this point in Revelation the answer is obvious…sometimes John leaves the reader in suspense concerning the outcome of the conflict…no suspense or delay here…just a strong statement that Satan was soundly defeated…

o   “…Michael and his angels waging war against the dragon…” – Often portrayed as war-like angel…defender of holy things…

o   “no longer a place found for them in heaven” – Not implying ever was…NEB – “…no foothold was left in heaven…”

o   “thrown down to the earth…” – Satan and his cohorts were turned back…

o   v.9 contains vivid description of our spiritual adversary…

·         “great dragon” – terrifying figure…

·         “serpent of old” – allusion to garden of Eden experience…

·         “devil” – slanderer…

·         “Satan” –adversary…

o   Point:  When forces of God and forces of Satan meet head to head, there is no contest…God easily won the confrontation…continued do so for John’s readers…continues do so today!

 

·         What should our reaction be? – Verses 10-12…key phrase in v.12 – “For this reason, rejoice…”…why?…

o   Because we have salvation…v.10…all other issues of life pale in light of our eternal security…

o   Because we have power…v.11…the shed blood of the Lamb is the source of our power…

o   Because we need not fear anything, even death…v.11…did not allow the prospect of death rob them from living an authentic life…

Paragraph does not end on positive note…ends of word of warning to those on earth…since Satan failed gain foothold in heaven, returned to earth to attack God there…explains why John’s readers still undergoing persecution…

 

The battle on earth (12:13-17) – Thrust of this paragraph seems to be that since Satan was unsuccessful in destroying Christ either on earth or in heaven, he turns his wrath on the followers of Christ…

·         “persecuted the woman” (v.13) – Symbolizes the true people of God…before birth of Christ the spiritual Israel, the people of faith from which the Messiah came…after birth represents the church, the true people of God…

·         “two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman” (v.14) – In OT eagles’ wings often symbolized the protection of God and uplifting arms of God…

·         “might fly into the wilderness” (v.14) – Place of refuge and protection…

·         “nourished for a time and times and a half time” (v.14) – Incomplete period…not have to endure forever the attacks of the dragon…

·         “serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman…” (v.15) – In OT flood waters were sometimes used to symbolize great travail or misfortune…the dragon wanted do harm to God’s people…

·         “the earth opened its mouth and drank up the water…” – Not uncommon sight in Asia Minor for stream or even river to disappear into ground and travel underground for awhile and then reappear…using this familiar sight John saying God will protect you from efforts of the dragon to do you harm…

·         “dragon was enraged…” – More the woman resisted and prevailed more intent dragon became on persecuting God’s people…in next chapter, see dragon calling on some evil allies to help him…beast from the sea (3rd sign) and beast from the earth (4th sign)…

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