General Table of Contents

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This website is independent and non-denominational.

This main purpose of the website is to comment on the book of Revelation, but many of the articles are about Daniel because Revelation is based on Daniel.  Further, a sound understanding of basic theology is also required to interpret Revelation, for instance Israel’s end time role and the Law of God.  Many articles therefore study Paul’s letters.

Below the available articles are listed.  Some of the articles have been summarized.  Word copies of some of the articles are available.

 THE BOOK OF DANIEL

IS DANIEL A FRAUD?
Daniel claims to have been written in the sixth century BC, but critics believe Daniel was written after the events it “predicts”.  What evidence do we have for when was Daniel written and to accept the book as a divinely inspired miracle of God?    Summary    Full article in Word    Summary in Word

DANIEL’S EVIL HORN—GREEK OR ROMAN?
Critics identify the evil king in Daniel as the Greek king Antiochus IV.  This article is an overview of the prophecies of Daniel and proposes that that evil king arises after Rome has become the dominant power.  Summary    Full article in Word   Summary in Word

ANTIOCHUS AND DANIEL’S EVIL KING
There are many similarities between Antiochus and Daniel’s evil king, but there are also many major differences.  Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage.  Antiochus IV is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s predicted evil king.   Summary   Full article in Word    Summary in Word

DANIEL 9
Seventy Weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city – Evaluation of the four major interpretations of Daniel 9:  Summary   Full article in Word   Summary in Word

NEHEMIAH
Summary of the book: This book is important for the interpretation of Daniel 9.

THE DISPENSATIONAL INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 9
Detailed analysis of Daniel 9 to identify the “he” of verse 27 and the timing of the final seven years during which he acts:  Summary    Full article in Word    Summary in Word

DARIUS THE MEDE
Who was Darius the Mede in the book of Daniel? Article in Word

ROMANS

ROMANS 1 – Verse by Verse:
“Unrighteous” man explains “live by faith”. God reveals “His invisible attributes”, but this man rejects God. God then gives the man over to impurity.

ROMANS 2 – Verse by Verse:
Romans 2 warns Jewish Christians that they will not be justified by the Law. It announces judgment of deeds, but that is justification by faith.

ROMANS 3:1-8: The faithfulness of God:
These verses deal with the same topic as Romans 9 and 11, namely the causes and consequences of Israel’s rejection of Christ.

ROMANS 9–11; The Chosen Nation
An independent and original interpretation of Romans 9 – 11 to identify the Israel of prophecy  Article in Word

ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED
This is a summary of the article on Israel in Romans 9 – 11.  While the main article more or less sequentially works through Romans 9 – 11, this article discusses these chapters thematically.  Article in Word

ELECTION IN ROMANS 9 – 11:
Romans 9-11 contain many strong election statements, but this is election to a mission, not to salvation, as is confirmed by the Jacob-example and other.  Article in Word

ROMANS 14

ROMANS 14:1-4
Some Christians in Rome did not eat meat, namely Gentiles, converted from idolatry, who still believed that meat offered to idols gave idols control over them.

KOINÓS UNCLEAN
The Greek word ‘koinós’ is translated “unclean” in Romans 14:14.  It does not refer to the unclean animals of the Old Testament.

FOOD IN CORINTH
Similarities to 1 Corinthians 8-10 imply that the same dispute existed, namely meat sacrificed to idols.  For the weak Christian eating meat is idol worship.

ROMANS 14:5-6 DAYS
Not the Sabbath – No Jewish elements – Issue is non-Jewish – Would contradict Galatians – Sabbath requires specific treatment – In context probably meat-days.

ROMANS 14:7-13
Judgment Seat of God: Judged by deeds but not be justified by the works of the Law.  The difference is a difference in the Law and a difference t=in the function of the Law.

ROMANS 14:13-23
Rather Abstain: Strong Christians can harm weaker brethren by eating such unholy food, and should not eat meat rather than to cause harm.

GALATIANS

GALATIANS CHAPTER 1

  • 1:1-5: Introduction to the letter

GALATIANS CHAPTER 2

  • 2:1-10: Visit to church headquarters in Jerusalem; Titus not compelled to be circumcised
  • Gal. 2:11-14: Conflict with Peter in Antioch over forcing Gentile Christians to be circumcised and to live like Jews
  • Gal. 2:15-16: Church Council in Acts 15; Man is not justified by observing the Law of Moses.  Jewish Christians continued to observe the Law of Moses.
  • Gal. 2:17-18: What did Paul destroy?
  • Gal. 2:19-20: Died to the Law, to live to God
  • Gal. 2:21: Nullify the grace of God, which is Christ’s death, by striving for righteousness through the Law

GALATIANS CHAPTER 3

  • 3:1-5: Support for the statement that man is not justified by the works of the Law – The risk of eternal loss
  • Gal. 3:6-9: Further proof that man is not justified by the works of the Law – Who are Abraham’s sons?
  • Gal. 3:10-14: Still further proof that man is not justified by the works of the Law; Christ’s death did not change God; He always loved His creatures and always will.
  • Gal. 3:15-18: Two reasons why man is justified through faith
  • Gal. 3:19-25: Law and Promises have different functions.  Man is not justified by the Law.  Christians are not subject to the Law of Moses, but to the Law of Christ.
  • Gal. 3:26-29: There is no difference between circumcised and uncircumcised Christians.  There is no need to circumcise Gentile Christians.  Physical Israel no longer has a separate role in God’s plan.

GALATIANS CHAPTER 4

  • Building …

GALATIANS – GENERAL TOPICS

COLOSSIANS

COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 1

  • Colossians 1:1-8 – Introduction of the letter – Paul is the author – addressed to the church in Colossae – the Father is the One Who willed Paul’s apostleship
  • Colossians 1:9-14 – The Father rescued us to share in the kingdom of His beloved Son. The deception in Colossae claimed to have special knowledge.
  • Colossians 1:15-19 – The deception claimed to have received special knowledge from supernatural beings apart from Christ, but all knowledge is found in Christ; the Creator of all.
  • Colossians 1:20-22 – Before Christ some intelligent earthly and heavenly creatures waged war against God by evil deeds. God was not angry.  He ended the war by providing evidence through Christ’s death, which even heaven needed.
  • Colossians 1:23-28 – Paul rejoices in his suffering because it part of the stewardship he received from God. The Lord gave Paul a new message, namely that Gentiles can also be saved.

COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 2

  • Colossians 2:1-4 – Deceivers in Colossae were merging the church with mystery religions, arguing that Christ is not the only source of supernatural knowledge.
  • Colossians 2:5-8 – The Colossian deception was man-made pagan philosophy; not Old Testament law. It claimed that God’s grace flow to man through various supernatural mediators.
  • Colossians 2:9-10 – The deception claimed that Christians will only be complete if they obey supernatural rulers. But Christians, trusting Christ, are already complete.
  • Colossians 2:11 – Circumcision without hands – A heart circumcised by the Spirit loves the LORD and His Law and hates sin. Its guilt and penalty for past sins is cancelled.
  • Colossians 2:11-14 – Christians were made complete through circumcision of the heart, through baptism into Christ’s cross and by cancelling their certificate of debt, which is forgiving all their sins.
  • Colossians 2:14 – Translations of cheirographon – Essentially only the KJV implies that the Law of Moses has been cancelled. Most translations imply that the penalties for our sins have been cancelled.
  • Colossians 2:14 – Certificate of debt consisting of decrees – Given the pagan nature of the deception cheirographon is not the Law of Moses. It is a note of indebtedness, as confirmed by most translations and by the context.  It means to be “dead in your transgressions”.
  • Comparing Colossians 2:14 to Ephesians 2:15 – Ephesians 2:15 abolishes the Law of Moses and is similar to Colossians 2:14, but Colossians 2:14 abolishes something else to achieve a different purpose.
  • Colossians 2:15 – Satan accused God of unfair judgment. The cross demonstrated the true nature of both sides of the war in heaven, and vindicated God’s judgment.
  • Colossians 2:16 Introduction – While the Sabbath is heavily debated, but it was a not controversial issue in Paul’s day.
  • Colossians 2:16 – Feasts … New Moons … Sabbaths – “Festival … new moon … Sabbath” (Col. 2:16) is a technical phrase for “all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel”.

COLOSSIANS SPECIFIC TOPICS INCLUDED IN THE DISCUSSION:

SABBATH

The Seventh Day – blessed at creation, counted by Noah, made a Sabbath by Moses, corrupted by the Traditions, reformed by Christ and avoided by Paul.

THE OLD TESTAMENT SABBATH

  • Blessed And Sanctified At Creation
    The specialness of the seventh day is part of what God created and permanently engrained into human existence.
  • Evolution
    The view that God created man over millions of years by guiding evolution makes the Bible’s core message null and void.
  • From Creation To Moses
    Evidence exists for a seven day cycle before Moses, but not that the seventh day was a day of physical rest.
  • The Sabbath in The Law of Moses
    The Sabbath was a Symbol of Liberation, a Day of Rest, a help to Israel remember the Lord and a Test of Obedience. It was not a day for church meetings or a day to seek the Lord.

JEWISH SABBATH TRADITIONS

  • The Jewish Traditions are extremely detailed laws that the Jews added to the Old Testament. It was intended to help them keep God’s Law, but by representing God as a tyrant, it eventually separated them from God.

THE LAW OF CHRIST

  • The Law of Christ (1Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2)Christ replaced the Law of Moses with a higher law – the Law of Christ. This is the law that existed “from the beginning” and reveals the Father’s heart.

CHRIST SABBATH INCIDENTS

  • First Two Sabbath Healing Miracles (Luke 4; Mark 1)Early in His ministry Christ publicly contravened the traditions by healing a man on the Sabbath. This prepared the ground for the later confrontations.
  • The Man With The Withered Hand (Matthew 12:9-14 and Mark 3:1-6)Jesus healed the man, saying, “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”. The Pharisees went out and immediately began to conspire as to how they might destroy Him.
  • The Crippled Woman (Luke 13:10-17) – The Pharisees became angry because Jesus healed the woman. Jesus then asked, “should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?
  • When His Disciples Picked Grain (Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5)His disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath. He defended them by saying “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”, and claimed to be “Lord of the Sabbath”.
  • The Invalid At Bethesda (John 5) – He justified the healing by saying: “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working … the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (5:19).
  • The Man That Was Born Blind (John 9) – The miracle healings supported His astounding claims, condemned the Pharisees and explained the Sabbath as a day for the “good works from the Father”.

CHRIST AND THE SABBATH

The articles above each deal with a specific Sabbath incident from the gospels. The current series of articles is a topical overview of the main principles.

OTHER

Christmas: Its Meaning and Origin:
God’s willingness to become a human being reveals much about Him, but 25 December was derived from the pagan feast of the birthday of the Invincible Sun.

revelationbyjesuschrist.com/christmas/ – Christmas: Meaning and Origin – God so loved the world! – 25 December was the pagan feast of the birthday of the Invincible Sun

Eternal Life and Death in Paul’s Letters
Paul never wrote of eternal punishment for sinners.  He consistently warns that sinners will die.

The Son of God
The Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and His Son, but also says that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ”.  How do we explain this?

Author
I have no formal Bible training and do not hold a formal office in any church.

WAR IN HEAVEN

War in Heaven – This article has not yet been published.

Rulers and Authorities
Supernatural beings that oppose Christ

Disarmed the rulers and authorities
The Cross was the solution, but what was the problem, and how did the Cross solve that problem?

JUSTIFICATION CONCEPTS

  • Grace: His merciful kindness
  • In Christ: A study of the meaning of the phrase “in Christ”, which is often found in Paul’s writings. Christ is the Vehicle through which we are rescued from this present evil age;
  • Justified: An interpretation of the Greek word normally translated as “justified”. It means to be reconciled to God or put right with God.
  • Live by; an Old Testament expression that means to be right with God (justified).
  • Righteousness: a synonym for Justify; to be “put right with God
  • Reconciled: How did Christ’s death reconcile us to God? Did He pay the price?  Did He pacify God?  Does justice require somebody to suffer? Did He prove God’s judgment?
  • Metaphors of Salvation
  • Atonement

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY

Jerusalem Phase (Acts 1 to 5)
First 2 to 4 years – Receive the Holy Spirit – Exponential church growth, but in Jerusalem only.  The church remained a sect of Judaism, observing the Law of Moses.

Judea and Samaria Phase (Acts 6 to 9)
Next starts 5 or 6 years – The church grew in Judea and Samaria.  All Christians were Jews, regarded Gentiles as unclean and still observed the Law of Moses.

Gentile Dispute Phase (Acts 10 to 15)
Next about ten years – First Gentiles allowed to join the church. Dispute whether Gentiles must observe the Law of Moses.

Separation Phase
Started with the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, nearly 20 years after Christ’s death and resurrection, where it was decided that Gentile Christians do not have to observe the Law of Moses. This decision created separation between Gentile and Jewish Christians; one group observing the Law of Moses, the other not.

Theological implications of the Early Church History
Important context for Paul’s arguments with respect to the Law of Moses, Justification by the works of the Law and the Seventh Day Sabbath.

Estimated dates for significant events in the history of the early church.

THE BOOK OF REVELATION

Does Revelation describe a sequential list of chronological events?
Many people believe that Revelation it is a chronological record of events from start to finish. Revelation explains some things repeatedly, and sometimes even reverses the order of events.  Article in Word

The seven seals
What book does He open?  What are the seals of the book?  Who are the 144000?  What is the great tribulation?  Who is the innumerable multitude? Article in Word
Prior reading advised: Israel in Romans 9 to 11

Does the seventh seal include the trumpets?
The trumpets have their own introduction, a theme different from the seals and focus on a different people.  The seals and trumpets end with the consummation.

The Seven Wars (Revelation 12-14) – not yet published

The Beasts with Seven Heads
Revelation has three beasts with 7 heads and 10 horns—the Dragon, Sea Beast and Scarlet Beast on which the harlot sits.  What are these beasts?  Prior reading advised is Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman?  Article in Word

The Seven Heads of the Beast
The heads are limited to Daniel’s four beasts and 11th horn, but the 11th horn has three phases, and the wound-period is the sixth head.  Prior reading advised is Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman?  Article in Word

Babylon, the mother of harlots
Who is Babylon?  She exists for all human history, corrupts the people and reigns over the kings, but also destroyed by the kings.

THE PLAGUES

Prior reading advised is “The Seven Headed Beasts” and Babylon”.

  • First four plagues – All people divide into two groups; the larger group persecutes the smaller. The plagues only affect the larger group.   How do they react?  Do they repent?
  • The Fifth Plague – The fifth plague destroys the Beast’s right to rule.  What gives the Beast its right to rule, and how is this destroyed?
  • The Sixth Plague – Euphrates dried up. The way for the kings from the east is prepared.   Demons perform miracles to gather the kings for war at Armageddon.
  • The Seventh Plague – Voices, thunder, lightning, an earth-shattering earthquake splitting Babylon into three and massive hail, but still people blaspheme God. Literal or symbolic?
  • The Purpose of the Plagues – Nobody is saved during plagues. Why then does God torment with plagues?  Why has God not made an end to sin a long time ago?

War In Heaven – Revelation 12

Purpose – Revelation 12:7-12 mentions a war in heaven between two groups of angels.  The purpose of this article is to explain the cause, the time, the place, the nature and the weapons of that war, how the victory was won as well as the consequences of the victory.

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the book of Revelation and from the NASB translation.

SUMMARY

The conclusions in this article may be summarized as follows:

Male Child – Verse 5 is a good place to start the discussion because it gives us a definite point in time.  The “male child” is Jesus.  He was “caught up to God and to His throne”.  This is His ascension.  Verse 5 covers the entire time from Christ’s birth to His ascension to heaven.

The woman in verses 1-2 is “clothed with the sun”.  Since the child she is expecting is Christ, she is a symbol of all believers in the time before Christ that were looking forward to God’s deliverance.  After Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne”, she and her other children are persecuted (v6, 14, 17).  Now she represents God’s New Testament people.  She therefore represents God’s people in all ages.

The dragon in verses 3-4 is identified in verse 12 as “the devil and Satan”.  It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (v4).  Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head” (Genesis 3:15), Satan has been standing ready to thwart Christ’s mission.  The dragon also represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan persecutes God’s people.

Caught up to God – Satan stood ready to devour Him as soon as He was born (v4), but Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (v5).  This means that Satan failed and that Christ won the victory when He came to this earth.

WildernessVerses 6 and 14 both describe the woman’s wilderness period.  In both verses the woman flees into the wilderness where she has a place prepared where she would be nourished for the same period of time.  The wilderness is a place of suffering.  The holy city (Rev. 21) is her destination, but she must go through the inhospitable wilderness to reach her city.

War in Heaven – The verses between verses 6 and 14 describe the war in heaven.  The name of the leader of God’s angels is “Michael” (12:7).  He is “the archangel” (Jude 1:9).  He wars against Satan and his angels.  Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to side with him.

Satan’s weapons in this war are deception, accusations and slander.  Satan would like to use physical force, but God would not allow him.  Satan deceives angels and people into sin, and then accuses the people whom God’s identified as His own, effectively accusing God of unfair or bad judgment.  This describes the nature of the war in heaven.

War – We should distinguish between the war and the victory.  The war existed before the “male Child” was born.  For instance, we see evidence of the war in heaven in the time of Daniel, where Michael and Gabriel are at war with the supernatural “Prince of the Kingdom of Persia“.  And in Jude “Michael … disputed with the devil … about the body of Moses”.

Victory – The war existed before Christ, but the victory was won after Christ’s ascension and as a consequence of the Cross.  From an earthly perspective the Cross was a defeat for the Son of God, but Revelation 12 reveals that it was a major victory, causing Satan’s downfall.

Who? – But who won the victory?  The text seems to contradict itself.  The victory was gained through Christ’s death, but according to verse 7 it is a war between two groups of angels. To complicate matters further, verses 10 and 11 seem to say that God’s people won the war.

Angels and Our Brethren – But this is not a war between angels in heaven, it is a war fought in both heaven and on earth, involving both angels and people.  Michael does not fight for himself; he is the guardian of God’s people on earth and he fights for them.  His angels are “all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Hebr. 1:14).

Christ and Our Brethren – Revelation 12 teaches that Christ’s ascension was Satan’s downfall.  But why does Revelation also teach that “our brethrenovercame him (Satan)?

Principles – Before we answer this question, note also the following principles from the text:

The war in heaven is a war of accusations.

Our brethrenovercame him … because of the blood of the Lamb”.  Without Christ’s death it would not have been possible to overcome Satan.  They secondly overcame “because of the word of their testimony … even when faced with death”.  The testimony that overcomes Satan is a testimony that is proven real in adversary.

By specifically accusing the people whom God calls His own, Satan effectively accused God of bad judgment.  Since Christ’s death made an end to the war in heaven, His death confirmed the accuracy of God’s judgment.

Satan is not overcome by physical force.  Satan was not literally or physically thrown out of heaven; he was thrown out of heaven in the sense that he was no longer able to accuse God’s people before God.

Through the blood of Christ the Father made peace with the “things in heaven”, but the war continued on earth.

The traditional explanation – The traditional explanation for why Christ had to die is that the death of Christ satisfied God’s need for justice, implying that God is angry and needed to be changed and was changed by Christ’s death.  But the Bible reveals God as love and as the Driver behind salvation.  The traditional view is therefore not accepted here, but viewed as unbiblical.

Who overcame Satan? – Considering the principles above, and also considering the previous articles in this series, the question who overcame Satan—Christ or “our brethren” —may then be answered as follows:

  1. Lucifer probably has the most brilliant mind ever created. Before his fall, all angels trusted, loved and admired him.
  2. But he became selfish and proud, desiring to be worshiped like God.
  3. By slandering God he convinced many angels to side with him, but even the loyal angels were unable to fully understand and answer Satan charges against God.
  4. God condemned Satan and his angels to “the eternal fire”. But because the angels did not fully understand what Satan did wrong, God allowed Satan to continue until all understand.
  5. To defend himself and his angels against this judgment, Satan also deceived mankind and claimed that they must now also be condemned to the eternal fire.
  6. But God forgave many people their sins.
  7. Satan consequently accused God of unfair judgment.
  8. God, on the basis of His principle of freedom, allowed this.  He became the accused and the universe had to judge.
  9. The evidence required, to confirm God’s judgments, is that His elect will remain faithful to Him, “even when faced with death”. Through the centuries many of God’s people remained faithful, but no one remained perfectly faithful.  Satan was always able to point to sins in God’s people.
  10. But then Christ became a human being and remained perfectly faithful through every test, “even when faced with death”. This decidedly confirmed the fairness of God’s judgments.

To summarize, “our brethren” overcame Satan, but “our brethren” include our brother Jesus.  Without Jesus’ perfectly sinless life, the testimonies of “our brethren” would not have overcome Satan’s accusations.  But since Jesus confirmed the accuracy of God’s judgment, the testimonies of His brethren become very valuable.

War continues on earth. – The Cross brought peace and unity in heaven, for no longer are evil angels able to justify their own sins by pointing to the sins of God’s people, but the war continues on earth.  That is the subject of the next article in this series.

SERIES

This is the fourth of the following series of articles:

  1. Origin of Evil
  2. Satan thought he could succeed
  3. Why did God not destroy evil immediately?
  4. War in Heaven
  5. Why was evil not destroyed after the Cross?
  6. Why does God not create a separate galaxy for Satan and his followers?

MALE CHILD (12:5)

Verse 5 is a good place to start this discussion because it gives a definite point in time.  It reads,

she gave birth to a son, a male child,
who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron;
and her child was caught up to God and to His throne
” (12:5).

In 19:11-21, in the description of Christ’s return, we read again of this rod of iron:

I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it … in righteousness He judges and wages war. … He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. … From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron … the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Here we see that the “Word of God” (19:13) will “rule” the nations “with a rod of iron” (19:15).  John, the author of Revelation, who also wrote a gospel, in his gospel referred to Jesus as “the Word” (John 1:1).  The male child is therefore Jesus Christ.

Caught up to GodHe “was caught up to God and to His throne” (12:5).  This is His ascension.  Mark 16:19 reads, “the Lord Jesus … was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”.  Verse 5 covers the entire period from Christ’s birth to His ascension to heaven.

Rod of Iron – The rod of iron is what Christ will use at His return.  Then “the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him (Jesus) … and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (v20).  It will be a time of extreme sorrow for believers.  They have been praying so much for their loved ones.  Now they see them die.  But the pain of the believers will be nothing compared to the sorrow in God’s heart.

WOMAN (12:1-2)

We can now read verses 1 and 2, where John saw:

A great sign appeared in heaven:
a woman clothed with the sun,
and the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
and she was with child; and she cried out,
being in labor and in pain to give birth.
” (12:1-2)

Before Christ – Since the child she carries is Christ, she is a symbol of all people in the time before Christ that were looking forward to God’s deliverance.  She is beautiful in God’s sight.  She is “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars”.  Because she is beautiful, and because literal Israel was not always that beautiful, we should not interpret her as literal Israel, but as all believers in the time before Christ, both inside and outside Israel, and also prior to the time of Israel.

After Christ – After Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne”, she remains on earth and flees to the wilderness (12:6, 13-14).  Her other children (other than Christ) “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12:17).  Now she represents God’s New Testament people.  She therefore represents God’s people in all ages.

On earth – John saw her in heaven, but physically she is on earth.  Later a great voice says “woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath” (v12), causing the woman to flee to the wilderness (v14).  Here she is presented as on earth.

DRAGON (12:3-4)

Next John saw:

Then another sign appeared in heaven:
and behold, a great red dragon
having seven heads and ten horns
And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth,
so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
” (Rev. 12:3-4)

12:9 identifies the dragon as “the devil and Satan”.  It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (v4).  Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head” (Genesis 3:15), Satan has been watching, expecting the Messiah, and standing ready to thwart His mission.

Seven heads – But the dragon has seven heads and ten horns, just like the beast coming out of the sea in chapter 13.  The seven heads and the ten horns are symbols for the kings of the world (17:9, 12).  The dragon therefore also represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan persecutes God’s people.

Caught up to God – Satan stood ready to devour Him as soon as He was born (v4), but Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (v5).  This means that Satan was defeated and that Christ won the victory when He came to this earth.

WILDERNESS

To understand the chronological sequence of events in Revelation 12 one has to understand that verses 6 and 14 describe the same event.  In both verses the woman flees into the wilderness where she has a place prepared where she would be nourished for the same period of time:

Then the woman fled into the wilderness
where she had a place prepared by God,
so that there she would be nourished
for one thousand two hundred and sixty days
” (Rev. 12:6).

two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman,
so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place,
where she was nourished
for a time and times and half a time
” (v13-14).

The “time and times and half a time” in 12:14 is the same as the 1260 days in 12:6.  [“A time and times and half a time” = 3½ times = 3½ years = 3½ x 12 x 30 days = 1260 days. In Old Testament times months were counted according to the moon cycle, giving 30 days per month.]

The wilderness is a place of suffering.  The “time, times, and half a time” is first mentioned in Daniel 7:25, where it is the period when the “saints of the Highest One … will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time”.

Later in Revelation John is invited to come and see “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (21:9).  What he saw was “the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (21:10-11).  The holy city is her destination, but she must go through the unfriendly and inhospitable wilderness to reach her city.

The next article, which deals with the question why evil was not immediately destroyed after the Cross, indirectly says more about the woman’s wilderness period.

WAR IN HEAVEN

The verses between verses 6 and 14 describe the war in heaven.  Verse 7 mentions the war briefly:

And there was war in heaven,
Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon.
The dragon and his angels waged war

Michael – It is a war between two groups of angels.  The name of the leader of God’s angels is “Michael” (12:7).  His name means “who is like God”.  He is mentioned four times in the Bible; mostly resisting evil angels:

In Jude 1:9 Michael is “the archangel” and he argues with the devil “about the body of Moses”.

In Daniel 10 Michael is the only one “who stands firmly with me (God’s messenger) against these forces” (v 13).  Daniel wrote that, when he saw God’s messenger, “no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength” (Dan 10:8).  But this mighty messenger was delayed for three weeks by “these forces” (v13).   This shows that “these forces” are powerful supernatural forces.

Satan – Michael and his angels war against Satan and his angels.  Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to his side.

While verse 7 mentions the war, verses 8 to 12 describe the victory.  Various aspect of the war and the victory will now be discussed.

SATAN’S WEAPONS

Satan is described as

the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan,
who deceives the whole world
” (v9)
the accuser of our brethren
he who accuses them before our God day and night
” (v10).

This explains his methods:

Satan – The name Satan means adversary (opponent).  In the first place he is God’s adversary.  But consequently he is also the adversary of all angels and people who side with God.

Deceives – “Serpent” refers to his role in the deception of Eve; he “deceives the whole world” (v9).  Deception is therefore one of his key strategies; he tells lies to get people and angels to do and say the things he wants them to do and say.

Accuser – Satan is “the accuser of our brethren”; he “accuses them before our God day and night”.  In Zehariah 3 Satan accuses Joshua of iniquity.  In the book of Job Satan said that the only reason why Job fears God, is that God protects him on all sides, but if all of Job’s possessions are taken away, then Job would curse God (Job 1:10-11).

Devil – His role as accuser is related to the name “devil” (diabolos).  This means “slanderer; false accuser; unjustly criticizing to hurt (malign) and condemn”.  The NASB in a few places also translates the Greek word as “malicious gossips”.  Satan does not accuse all people; he only accuses “our brethren”.  These are the people whom God claims as His own, like Job and Joshua.  But Satan is actually accusing God of unfair or bad judgment.  While Satan is rightly able to accuse us of sin, God is perfect.  Satan therefore unjustly criticizes God; He slanders God.

Nature of the war in heaven – Many preachers understand the war in heaven as physical in nature; not fought with earthly weapons, but by supernatural physical means; using powerful physic-spiritual energies of which we have only vague intimations; energies which can move mountains and change planetary orbits.  But Satan’s weapons describe the nature of the war in heaven.  Satan would like to use physical force, but God would not allow him.  It is a war of accusations.  Satan deceives angels and people into sin, and then accuses them before God, effectively accusing God of unfair judgment.

WHEN THE VICTORY WAS WON

War before Christ – Some people want to put the war a long time before Christ, when Lucifer was “cast … as profane from the mountain of God” (Ezekiel 28:16).  Others want to put the war at the end of time, when “the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10).  It is proposed here that we must distinguish between the war and the victory.  The war existed before Christ:

Daniel – We see evidence of the war in heaven in the time of Daniel.  God sent a heavenly messenger (10:5-6) to Daniel, but the supernatural “Prince of the Kingdom of Persia” prevented this messenger for “three weeks” from reaching Daniel (v13).  The messenger was only able to reach Daniel after Michael came to his assistance (v13).  The heavenly messenger told Daniel that he must return “to fight against the prince of Persia”, and that “there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince” (verses 20-21).

Jude – Satan has “power of death” (Hebrews 2:14).  In Jude 9 we read that “Michael the archangel … disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses”.  (Note; not Moses’ spirit or soul, but his body.)  This must have been before the time of Jesus, because Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus (Mat. 17:3).  (Elijah never died, but was taken up alive into heaven (2 Kings 2:11).)

Two other examples of the war in heaven, before the time of Christ, are Zechariah 3 and Job, already mentioned above.

Victory at the Cross – While the war existed before Christ, the victory was won by the Cross.  We see this in the following:

The emphasis on Christ’s ascension (12:5) in this section that deals with the victory in heaven implies a relationship between His ascension and the victory.

As shown above, verses 6 and 14 both describe the woman’s wilderness period.  Since this victory explains why the woman had to flee to the wilderness in verse 6, namely because “the devil has come down to you, having great wrath” (v12), the victory in the war in heaven, in verses 8 to 12, fits in-between verses 5 and 6.  The victory in heaven therefore follows after His ascension in verse 5.

Verse 13 reads, “when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child”.  This describes the time immediately after Satan “was thrown down to the earth” and implies that “the dragon … was thrown down to the earth” after the male Child was caught up to heaven, otherwise Satan would still have tried to devour the Child.

They (our brethren) overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb”.  This not only means that they therefore overcame Satan after the Lamb’s blood has been spilled, but also that “the blood of the Lamb” was the cause of Satan’s defeat.

Direct evidence from outside Revelation includes Christ’s words when, talking about His approaching death, He said “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:27, 31).

It is therefore concluded that the victory in the war in heaven was won after Christ’s ascension and as a consequence of the Cross.  Christ’s ascension to heaven was Satan’s defeat.  While Christ went up from earth to God’s throne (v5), Satan went down from heaven to earth.  From an earthly perspective the Cross was a defeat for the Son of God, but Revelation 12 reveals that it was a major victory, causing Satan’s downfall.

The chronological sequence of events is therefore as follows:

  1. Dragon standing before the pregnant woman, ready to devour her child (v1-4)
  2. Male child born and ascends to God’s throne (v5)
  3. Victory in the war (v8-12); Satan thrown down;
  4. Woman flees to the wilderness (v6, 14)

Stated differently, the events in the chapter are given in their chronological sequence, except for verse 6, which must be read with verse 14.

WHO WON THE VICTORY IN HEAVEN?

But the text seems to contradict itself.  Satan was expelled from heaven after Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne”, but according to verse 7 it was a war between two groups of angels.  To complicate matters further, verses 10 and 11 seem to say that God’s people won that war:

When the great voice announces the victory in this Great War (12:10-12), it describes Satan as “the accuser of our brethren” and says that “they (by implication our brethren) overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death”.  This sounds as if “our brethren” (the accused) are people and as if they won the victory over Satan.  The great voice does not mention Michael or his angels.

So the question is, who overcame Satan?  Was it Michael and his angels or Christ or God’s people?

ANGELS OR PEOPLE?

It must firstly be noted that it is a single war fought both in heaven and on earth, involving both angels and people, as indicated by the following:

It is said to be a war in heaven, but John also saw the woman and great red dragon in heaven (12:1, 3), while they are actually on earth, respectively representing God’s people and the earthly authorities through which Satan persecutes God’s people.  The war could therefore also be on earth.

Also note that Michael is introduced in Daniel 10 and 12 as “the great prince who stands guard over … everyone who is found written in the book” (Dan. 12:1). He is, in other words, the guardian of God’s people on earth. The implication is that, when Michael wars with Satan, he is not fighting for himself; he is fighting for God’s people.  Satan has appointed evil angels to protect and inspire evil people in their war against God and His people, but similarly God has appointed Michael to “stands guard over” His people.  His angels are “all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Hebr. 1:14).  “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).  The people of God are the object of the devil’s wrath.  If it was just us human beings against “the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”, God’s people would have been destroyed long ago.

It would therefore be wrong to distinguish between the war in heaven and the war on earth; it is a single war fought on both fronts, involving both angels and people.   We should not distinguish too much between heaven and earth.  Heaven is actually very close to earth.

CHRIST OR PEOPLE?

As argued above, Revelation 12 implies that Christ’s ascension was Satan’s downfall.  The Bible also elsewhere teaches that God overcame Satan through Christ:

it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Christ), and through Him (Christ) to reconcile all things to Himself (God), having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).

He (the Father) made you alive together with Him (Christ), having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Colossians 2:13).

But why then does Revelation teach that “our brethrenovercame him (Satan)”?

Principles – Before we try to answer this question, note also the following principles from the text:

Answered accusations – The war in heaven is a war of accusations.  Since Christ’s death made an end to that war, it means that Christ’s victory made an end to Satan’s accusations.  Since God does not use force, it means that Christ’s death made it impossible for Satan to accuse by answering all of Satan’s accusations.

Blood of the Lamb – They firstly overcame “because of the blood of the Lamb”.  Without Christ’s death it would not have been possible to overcome Satan.  Paul wrote:

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  … having now been justified by His blood … we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:8-10)

Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:25).  (Propitiation, in normal English, means a sin offering, by which the wrath of the deity shall be appeased, but the Greek word translated “propitiation” in this verse is the word for the covering of the ark, which was sprinkled with the atoning blood on the Day of Atonement.  Propitiation, in this verse, therefore means the place where guilt is finally taken away; Christ is where our guilt is taken away.)

Testimony to death – They secondly overcame “because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death”.  This statement contains the concepts of “testimony” and “death”.  These two concepts should not be separated.  Testimony and death are also combined elsewhere in Revelation:

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (6:9).

When they have finished their testimony, the beast … overcome them and kill them” (11:7)

John saw “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand” (20:4).

The testimony that overcomes Satan is therefore not superficial testimony; it is a testimony that is proven to be real in adversary, “even when faced with death”.  As God said of Job, after Satan destroyed all his possessions and killed all his children, “he still holds fast his integrity” (Job 2:3).

A person’s testimony includes what one does.  For instance, in 20:4, quoted above, “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus“, refused to worship the beast. A person’s testimony is what Paul calls faith; it is to “be faithful until death” (2:10).  Faith is not just a nice feeling; it is what you are; it permeates the entire being; the thoughts, the desires, the words and the deeds.

Confirmed God’s judgments – Satan did not accuse people who side with him.  By specifically accusing God’s elect, Satan effectively accused God of bad judgment.  Since Christ’s death made an end to the war in heaven, we can conclude that His death confirmed the accuracy of God’s judgment beyond a shadow of doubt.  This is confirmed by Romans 3:26, which indicates that the death of Christ demonstrated God’s righteousness so that He may justify sinners merely on the basis of faith.

No Physical Force – Satan is not overcome by physical force.  Satan deceives, accuses and slanders.  God’s army responds, not by physical force, nor by mere claims, but by a faith (testimony) that is strong enough to make them willing to die for what they believe.  Satan’s weapons, and the means by which Satan was overcome, confirm that this war is not fought with physical force.  The outcome in the war in heaven is not determined by who has the most physical power.

Not literally thrown out – Since this is a war of accusations and slander, Satan was defeated and thrown out of heaven in his capacity of accuser.  He was not literally or physically thrown out of heaven; he was thrown out of heaven in the sense that he was no longer able to accuse God’s people before God. This conclusion is consistent with the geography: Satan “accuses them before our God” (12:10), and God is in heaven (4:1-2).  When “there was no longer a place found for them (Satan and his angels) in heaven” (12:8), Satan no longer has access to God to accuse them.

War continues on earth – After Satan was thrown out of heaven (12:8), a loud voice said “rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath” (12:12).  The victory in this war therefore solved a crisis in heaven, but the war continued on earth.  We read of this elsewhere:

God reconciled “all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20).  Christ’s death is critically important for human beings, for without it we could not be saved, but through the blood of Christ the Father also made peace with the “things in heaven”.

The manifold wisdom of God (is) … made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places“ (Ephesians 3:10).

Through the Cross “He (God) had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He (God) made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (Christ)” (Col. 2:15 – read verses 13 and 14 for context).  Their arms (weapons) were Satan accusations against God’s elect, and therefore against God’s judgments, but through Christ God took their weapons away.  See the article Disarmed the rulers and authorities for more information.

The issues in this war and the consequences of the victory is bigger than just us humans and our sins.  Through the blood of Christ the Father made peace with the “things in heaven”, but the war continues on earth.

The traditional explanation – These principles give an explanation for why Christ had to die that is very different from the traditional explanation.  Christians agree that without Christ’s death we cannot be saved, but disagree on how the death of Christ saves us.  The standard explanation is that the death of Christ satisfied God’s need for justice, implying that God needed to be changed and that He was changed by Christ’s death.

This view presents an unbiblical view of God as angry, requiring death as penalty for sin; only then can His wrath be appeased.  In consequence of this view we find words such as atonement (amends), propitiation (placation) and expiation (compensation) in some translations of the Bible, but these words do not appear in the original Greek Bible.   Please refer to the article on Atonement..

The traditional explanation is inconsistent with the revelation in the Bible of God as love and as the Driver behind the salvation which we find in Christ: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).  God reconciledall things to Himself … through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20).  God “disarmed the rulers and authorities” through Christ (Col. 2:15).  “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  God displayed publiclyChrist Jesus … as a propitiation in His blood” (Romans 3:25).  “It was the Father’s good pleasure … to reconcile all things to Himself through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).  The Father ”made you alive together with Him (Christ), having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Colossians 2:13).  It is God, the Father that “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14). God, the Father, is the One that saves; and He saves through Christ.  It is not God that had to change; we must change.

The traditional explanation is also inconsistent with Revelation 12, where the problem is identified as Satan’s accusations; it is not God that accuses.  Satan is the one that complains that justice is not done when God, in mercy, “passed over the sins previously committed” (Rom. 3:25-26); it is not God that demands justice.

The standard explanation, namely that the death of Christ satisfied God’s need for justice, is therefore not accepted here, but viewed as unbiblical.

Explanation – Our question is, if Christ’s ascension was Satan’s downfall, why does Revelation teach that “our brethrenovercame him”.  Considering the principles above, and also considering the conclusions from the previous articles in this series, this question may be answered as follows:

1. As discussed in the article on the Origin of Evil, Lucifer (a beautiful name meaning light-bearer) probably has the most brilliant mind ever created. He was a covering cherub (Ezekiel 28:14), which means he served in God’s immediate presence.  All angels trusted, loved and admired him.

2. But Lucifer became the selfish and proud Satan (meaning adversary), desiring to be worshiped like God (Isaiah 14:14).  “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17).

3. By ingenious means he convinced many of God’s beautiful and mighty angels to side with him.  To do this it is assumed that he used techniques similar to what he used with Eve, causing the angels to be unhappy with what they are and have, and accusing God of keeping good things from them.  Most of the angels refused to accept Satan’s allegations against God, but even the loyal angels were unable to fully understand and answer Satan charges.  Satan was able to sell his message very convincingly: “By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence” (Ezekiel. 28:16).  Thus the war and extreme unhappiness in heaven started.

4. Following this God cast Satan “as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:16).  God condemned Satan and his angels to “the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat. 25:41).  But because many angels did not understand what Satan did wrong, and because God wants His intelligent beings to understand, He had to allow Satan to continue until all would understand.

5. “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).  God made the humans in His likeness, and “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).  God allowed Satan access to the humans.  Satan appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent and succeeded in deceiving the humans into sin.  This means that Satan already was God’s adversary when the humans were created.  Satan now claimed, if he and his angels must be condemned to the eternal fire, that the same must be done to this new race.  To shield himself and his angels from God’s condemnation, he became the accuser of the brethren, prowling around like a lion (1st Peter 5:8) to deceive believers into sin so that he may accuse them before God.

6. But God refused to condemn the humans.  God said to Adam and Eve that they will die if they eat from the tree, but they did not die.  “In the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Romans 3:25), including Adam’s sin.  The same applies to all other people whom God elected; they all sinned, including Elijah and Moses, but God “passed over” their sins.

7. Satan therefore accused God of unfair judgment.  Satan is not trying to make sure that God elects the right people.  He argues that God, to be fair, may not give mercy to any person, because all people sinned.  His real purpose is self-preservation.  Satan is really warring against God and uses human beings in his effort to convince the universe that God judges unfairly.

8. God did not set Satan’s criticism and questions aside by force.  Consistent with His principle of freedom, He allows His judgment of people to be tested.  God became the accused and the universe became the judge.  God allowed this race, which He created in His own image, to be used to test His judgments.

9. For the universe to judge, it requires evidence (testimonies).  To confirm the fairness of God’s judgment, the people whom He elected and identified as His, are tested to see whether they will remain faithful to Him, “even when faced with death”.  Through the centuries many of God’s people, like Job, were tested, and remained faithful.  But no one remained perfectly faithful.  Satan was always able to point to sins in the lives of God’s people.

10. But then God “displayed (Christ) publicly … for the demonstration … of His righteousness … so that He (God) would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26).   Restating this verse simply, the death of Christ demonstrated God’s righteousness so that He, in mercy, may justify sinners merely on the basis of faith.  Satan accused God of unfair judgment, but through the Cross “He (God) had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He (God) made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (Christ)” (Col. 2:15).  Christ became a human being and He died as a human being.  He remained perfectly faithful through every test, “even when faced with death”.  This was the testimony (evidence) required to decidedly confirm the fairness of God’s judgments and mercy, thus overcoming Satan as the accuser by destroying all of his arguments and accusations.

To summarize, “our brethren” overcame Satan by maintaining “the word of their testimony … even when faced with death”, but “our brethren” include our brother Jesus.  Without His perfectly sinless life, the testimonies of “our brethren” would have been useless against Satan’s accusations.  But Jesus—“the blood of the Lamb”—confirmed the correctness of God’s judgment, and thereby gave meaning and substance to the testimony of His brethren.

THROWN DOWN TO EARTH

The Cross brought peace and unity in heaven, for no longer are evil angels able to justify their own sins by pointing to the sins of God’s people, but the war continues on earth:

woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (v12).

The question why evil was not eradicated and destroyed immediately after the Cross will be discussed in the next article.

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