The wilderness period is mentioned both in verses 6 and 14. In between these verses, Satan is thrown down from heaven. What is the real chronological sequence?
This is the second article on Revelation 12’s war in heaven. The first article identified the role-players in this war:
● The Male Child, who was caught up to God, is Jesus Christ.
● His mother represents the people of God both before and after Christ.
● In the context of the war in heaven, the dragon is Satan, but when it stood ready to devour the Child, it also represented the early powers through which Satan works.
Revelation 12 first mentions the war in heaven after Jesus was caught up to His Father’s throne. However, that war began before Christ. What happened after Christ is that Michael and his angels won the victory.
Verses 8 and 9 mention Satan’s defeat after the wilderness period in verse 6, but the wilderness period is mentioned again in verse 14. Furthermore, verses 13 and 14 make it clear that the woman flees to the wilderness AFTER Satan was thrown down to earth. The real chronological sequence, therefore, is as follows:
● Before Christ, there was war in heaven while the dragon waits to devour the Child;
● Christ is born and caught up to God;
● After Christ, Satan is defeated and thrown down to earth (Rev 12:8-12);
● The woman flees to the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14).
Given this chronological sequence, it is proposed that Satan was thrown out of heaven immediately or soon after Christ’s ascension.
After the male child was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5), “the woman fled into the wilderness” where she would be “nourished” for 1260 days (Rev 12:6). Rev 12:7 describes the angels in heaven “waging war.” Rev 12:8-9 describes Satan’s defeat: “He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Rev 12:10-12 explain the nature of the war. Rev 12:13 shifts the focus from heaven to earth when it continues:
“When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.”
In Rev 12:14 the woman flees to the wilderness “where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time.”
The sequence of events, therefore, seems to be as follows:
● Male Child caught up to God (Rev 12:5);
● A woman hides in a wilderness (Rev 12:6);
● War in heaven (Rev 12:7);
● Satan is thrown down to earth (Rev 12:8-9);
● A woman hides in the wilderness (Rev 12:14);
WAR BEFORE CHRIST
This sequence may seem to imply that the war commenced after Jesus was caught up to His Father’s throne, but the following shows that the war existed before Christ:
Daniel – God sent an angel (Dan 10:5-6) to Daniel, but for “three weeks” the supernatural “Prince of the Kingdom of Persia” prevented this mighty angel from reaching Daniel (Dan 10:13). He was only able to do so after Michael came to his assistance (v13). The angel told Daniel that he (the angel) 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” (Dan 10:20-21).
Jude – Satan has “power of death” (Heb 2:14). In Jude 9 we read that “Michael the archangel … disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses”. This must have been before the time of Jesus because Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus (Matt 17:3). (Elijah never died, but was taken up alive into heaven (2 Kings 2:11).)
Other examples of the war in heaven, before the time of Christ, are Zechariah 3 and Job, already mentioned above. “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).
In other words, the war existed before Christ became a man. We must distinguish between the war and the victory. The war existed before Christ, but Michael won the victory only after Jesus was caught up.
WAS SATAN DEFEATED AFTER THE 1260 DAYS?
Between Jesus’ ascension in Rev 12:5 and Satan’s defeat in Rev 12:8, the woman hides in the wilderness for 1260 days (Rev 12:6). Was Satan defeated after the 1260 days?
To understand the correct chronological sequence, one has to understand that verses 6 and 14 describe the same wilderness period, for in both verses the woman flees into the wilderness where she has a place prepared for her, where she would be nourished for the same period:
The “time and times and half a time” (Rev 12:14) = 3½ times = 3½ years = 3½ x 12 x 30 days = the 1260 days (Rev 12:6). In Old Testament times people used the moon cycle to count months, giving approximately 30 days per month.
These two verses, therefore, describe the same wilderness period, but Rev 12:6 is mentioned before the war, while Rev 12:14 follows after Satan was thrown down to earth. Did Michael win the victory before or after the wilderness period? Rev 12:13 and 14 give the actual chronological sequence because they explicitly link Satan’s defeat to the wilderness period:
“When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place.”
The woman, therefore, hides in the wilderness after Satan was thrown down to earth. In other words, the real chronological sequence is as follows:
● War in heaven – the dragon waits to devour the Child (Rev 12:1-4);
● The Child is born and caught up to God (Rev 12:5)
● Satan is defeated and thrown down (Rev 12:8-12);
● Woman flees to the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14).
WHAT IS THE WILDERNESS PERIOD?
As indicated by Rev 12:13 and 14, this is a time when God’s people have to hide from persecution. They become invisible. It is a very important prophetic period, for it is mentioned seven times in Daniel and Revelation. It 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 (the evil horn-king’s hand) for a time, times, and half a time.” This means that they are persecuted. “It would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed” (Dan 12:7).
This period is not specifically identified in this article because that is not necessary for the purpose of this article. But as one can see from Revelation 12, it is a period between Christ’s ascension (Rev 12:5) and the end-time war (Rev 12:17). That is one reason for the view that this is a very long period, and that the 1260 days are symbolic.
WHEN WAS THE VICTORY WON?
Some people want to put Satan’s defeat a long time before Christ, when Lucifer was “cast … as profane from the mountain of God” (Ezekiel 28:16). Others want to put it at the end of time, when “the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev 20:10). But since the victory was won before the woman has to hide in the wilderness, it is proposed that Satan was thrown out of heaven immediately after Christ’s ascension.