Because of the salvation, power and authority of Jesus, John makes another important fact known in Revelation 12:12 that we seldom hear discussed. “Therefore rejoice you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” This is one of the most powerful warnings to the people of God found in Scripture. “Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Much of the balance of Revelation 12 describes the protection afforded the woman (Israel) following the birth of the male child (Jesus) after Satan and his angels had been hurled to Earth.
“When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s [Satan’s] reach” (Revelation 12:13-14). In my research I discovered that the phrase “time, times and half a time” was used by Jewish scribes to refer to an unknown troublesome period of time that lingers—and lingers—and lingers.
Recall verse 6: “The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.” 1260 days refers to the same unknown period of time that God would protect the nation of Israel from Satan. The phrase “time, times and half a time” is taken from Daniel 7:25. It, or something similar, appears as well in Daniel 12:7, Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6 and 13:5. According to Jewish history, when John wrote this book, they had no way by their calendar to express an extended period of time.
The Jewish calendar consisted of 12 equal months, each with 30 days corresponding to the approximate cycle of the moon. Therefore, 1260 days would be one year, two years and one half of a year. To align the length of their year with the solar year, a complete cycle of the Earth around the sun, every 2 or 3 years they would add an extension. We do something similar with our leap year every 4th year.
Of course we know the dispersion of the Jewish people lasted for more than 1800 years, but as John prophesied God protected them and their national identity. One of the things I found in my research is that in prophecy, numbers are often used symbolically. Therefore, the meaning of the number rather than the actual count of the number is what is important.
The next two verses finish what John began in verses 13-14 about God protecting His people Israel. “Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth” (Revelation 12:15-16). In A.D. 70, the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem, which began the period of “time, times and half a time.” We now can see that it refers to the Diaspora of over 1800 years. Many Jews fled to Italy and Spain, and some as far away as China. Scattered elements settled throughout Europe; however, Spain was the center of Jewish life until 1492. During the Spanish Inquisition, they were expelled after a century of persecution by the then-ruling Catholic Church. From there they settled in Europe in countries like Germany, Poland and even Russia. Usually they lived in city districts or remote territories, which were occupied only by Jewish people. This continued until the Nazi massacres of the 1930s and 1940s, when as many as two-fifths of the world’s Jewish people lost their lives.
The persecution of the Jews provoked many to begin to search for a way to return to their homeland. This culminated with the creation of the State of Israel when the United Nations recognized their new nation on May 14, 1948. Through the many years of dispersion and persecution, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and preserved his descendants. This second restoration to Palestine was prophesied in Isaiah 11:11-12, Jeremiah 16:14-15 and Ezekiel 11:16-17. Since May 14, 1948 the Jewish people have continued to battle for their homeland. In fact, the small land of Palestine and the nation that occupies it is often front-page news today.
Beginning with the next verse, we see the picture changes. The Jewish people being preserved by God, Satan went off to make war against her offspring, who are Christians.
“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17). For nearly 2000 years, Satan has attacked Christians through relentless persecution and deception. As we already noted, nearly 70 million Christians have been killed since the church began. More than 43 million of these were killed in the last 100 years. Of course many more have been imprisoned or persecuted in other ways. Spiritual warfare is for real. It is not a game!
The pronouncement “woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” and “[the dragon] went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” has certainly been true regarding the church.
Like His words about the days of Noah and Lot, this too is a word to us from Jesus. Remember that all of the Book of Revelation is a message Jesus Christ gave to John about what was to come to pass. “The message of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show His servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John who testifies to everything he saw—that is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1-2).
Watch for PART 1 of “The Beast of Revelation 13” on November 22nd, 2010.Tags: beast, deception, Diaspora of over 1800 years, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham, God protecting His people, Jews fled to Italy and Spain, persecution, persecution of the Jews, prophecy, Revelation, Roman army destroyed Jerusalem, satan, Spanish Inquisition, spiritual warfare, State of Israel, Word of God