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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

September 17, 2014

Revelations 12:13-17, 13:1-4

  1. Recap from last week reviewing verses 7-12. A battle is described occurring in heaven. Michael and his angels are fighting the dragon and his angels. The dragon was defeated and thrown down to the earth along with his angels. A battle occurred and Satan lost. What event is this referring to? Read John 12:27–33 and notice verse 30. Jesus said that Satan would be cast out when he died and rose from the dead. Jesus is picturing the victory he is about to achieve. He will draw all people to himself as he is glorified on the cross. The heavenly counterpart to Christ’s victory on the cross and at his resurrection is described in Revelation 12:7-9. Christ has dealt a blow to Satan with his death and resurrection. Satan has been defeated. Satan’s plans have been thwarted. All that Satan has left to do is battle the people of God on the earth. The battle against Christ, the heavenly (spiritual) battle, was lost. The effect of Christ’s victory on the cross over Satan and sin is declared in verse 10. Salvation has come. Power has come. The kingdom has come. The authority of Christ has come. The accuser has been thrown down. No longer can Satan accuse us because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross (see Romans 8:1 and 33–34, 35-39, vs37). The effect of this expulsion from heaven will be illustrated in Revelation 20:1-3. The ultimate meaning of Christ’s victory over Satan will be graphically revealed to us in Revelation 20. The people of God through Christ are victorious (12:11). But woe to the earth because Satan is enraged and he knows his time his short. Satan is not done. But his time is short.

  2. Verses 13-16. Because Satan’s plan has been thwarted to destroy the Christ, Satan turns his attention to the woman. We were told back in verse 6 that the woman would flee to the wilderness for protection during these tribulation times. Verse 13 picks back up on that thought after noting the effect of Christ’s victory over Satan. Satan looks to attack the faithful remnant (the early church made mostly of believing Jews) that brought about the Christ. However, the woman was given two wings of the great eagle to fly to wilderness for protection for a time, times, and half a time. Being carried on eagles’ wings into the wilderness is a reference to how God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery into the wilderness to Mount Sinai. You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (Exodus 19:4 ESV) It is also a picture of comfort and security to the remnant, the spiritual Israel. But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 ESV). Flood waters are used to describe persecution. David used language like this when Saul was trying to kill him. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me (Psalm 18:4). David uses a torrent of water to describe the persecution. Then he uses waters to describe his deliverance. He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters (Psalm 18:16). Therefore, Satan does not give up even though the remnant is protected. Satan will try to destroy the true people of God. But verse 16 shows that he will fail in that effort. In Verse 16, it says the earth swallowed the satanic flood waters. The early church found safety from the attacks of the enemy by fleeing the city to the countryside (Luke 21:20-21).

  3. Verse 17 shows that this failure enrages Satan all the more. Satan turns his attention to the rest of her offspring to make war with them. We are told who the rest of the offspring are. “Those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” This gives us a time frame for what is going on in this chapter. The woman represented the remnant of Israel who were spiritually true to the Lord and brought about the child, the Christ. The woman is attacked by Satan but is preserved. The woman is still the first century remnant that is enduring tribulation, but is spiritually secure. All that is left is for Satan to take his attack to the future believers. He is going to make war with the rest of her offspring. Satan is going to turn his attention to the church. This is what we are going to read about in chapter 13. Chapter 13 is going to show us how Satan is going to take his attack to the church in the future. Satan was unsuccessful in defeating Christ and unsuccessful in extinguishing the remnant. Satan now attacks the church, those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. More persecutions are to come.

  4. Chapter 13:1-2 reveals the most amazing and terrifying image of a beast. The dragon takes his stand on the sand of the sea (12:17), and a beast rises out of the sea. The beast has ten horns and seven heads with ten diadems on its horns. Blasphemous names were written on its heads. The similar number of heads and horns reveals that the beast is from the dragon and like the dragon in wickedness. The symbolism of the heads and horns is the same as with the dragon. The beast has great power, authority, and strength. The beast’s appearance is like a leopard with feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion. Further, the dragon gave his power, throne, and great authority to the beast. Futurists see this description of the beast as a prophecy about the coming Antichrist. This chapter is where much of the speculation comes from concerning the Antichrist controlling the earth and the earth worshiping him. However, we cannot forget what we read at the beginning of the book. The book of Revelation is revealing “things that must soon take place” (1:1) and “the time is near” (1:3). There is nothing soon or near about 2000 years passing by. We have seen the immediacy of the prophecy contained in chapters 6-11, fulfilling the declaration that these things must soon take place. Chapter 13 reveals what is going to happen next. It is not revealing what is going to happen next 2000 years later but what will happen next immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

  5. The image of this beast comes directly from Daniel with the intention for the readers to see that this beast is Revelation 13 is the fulfillment or arrival of the beast predicted in Daniel 7. Daniel 7:3 shows four great beasts coming up out of the sea, just as the beast in Revelation 13 comes out of the sea. Notice that the first three beasts in Daniel 7 are a lion, bear, and leopard, the same three animals that make up the beast in Revelation 13. It is the fourth beast (Daniel 7:7) that is of interest in this chapter. The fourth beast is not like the other beasts and it has ten horns, just like the beast in Revelation 13. Daniel sees this vision and wants to know the interpretation of these things (Daniel 7:16). The answer given is that the four beasts represent the four kingdoms that arise out of the earth. We stand at a time where we know the order of the four kingdoms/empires that arose over the earth. Daniel 2:37-38 tells us that we begin with the Babylonian Empire. Therefore the Babylonian Empire is the first beast. The second beast is the empire that conquered the Babylonians, which was the Persian Empire (also called the Medo-Persian Empire). The third beast is the empire that conquered the Persians which was the Grecian Empire. The fourth beast is the empire that conquered the Greeks and that was the Roman Empire. The fourth terrifying beast that Daniel prophesied about and about which Revelation 13 is referring to is the Roman Empire which ruled from around 44 BC to 476 AD. To show that Daniel and John are seeing the same beast let us quickly look at the parallels in their descriptions. We have already noted that both come out of the sea (Daniel 7:3; Revelation 13:1) and both have ten horns (Daniel 7:7; Revelation 13:1). Both beasts speak blasphemous words (Daniel 7:8,25; Revelation 13:1,5-6). The duration of power is the same for both beasts. Daniel records the power would last for “a time, times, and half a time” (3 ½ years) and John notes the power would last for 42 months (3 ½ years) (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5). The most important parallel is found in the actions of the beast. Daniel 7:21-22 records that the beast will make war with the saints and prevail over them. Revelation 13:7 records the same point, “It was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.” The beast is Daniel 7 and the beast in Revelation 13 refers to the same kingdom, the Roman Empire. With this interpretation set, we can look at Revelation 13:1-10 and notice what is being prophesied about the Roman Empire. Verse 1 tells us that the Roman Empire is going to exercise great power and authority. This power and authority is given to it by the dragon (13:2), which was identified as Satan in Revelation 12:9. The scriptures describe Satan as the ruler of this world (Ephesians 2:2; 1 John 5:19). The combination of the animals in the beast’s description reveals that this Roman Empire is more powerful and more dreadful than the previous three empires.

  6. Verses 3-4. These verses suggest an event that will happen within the Roman Empire that will cause people to believe it is going to collapse. Rather than collapse, the empire will revive and be as strong as ever. There are a few situations that took place in the Roman Empire that could fit this scenario. Using what we know from Roman history this likely refers to the civil war that broke out within the Roman Empire for over one year after the death of Emperor Nero (perhaps the wounded head is the death of Emperor Nero). Four emperors, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian, all seized the throne in less than one year. Two of the three were murdered and one committed suicide. It was a time of unrest and upheaval within the Roman Empire as the Roman legions were divided in their support of each one claiming to be emperor. Vespasian becomes emperor at the end of 69 AD and stabilizes the empire. This causes the world to worship the beast. The people perceive the Roman Empire as invincible and unable to collapse. They give their allegiance to the empire and by doing so are giving their allegiance and worship to the dragon (Satan) who is the authority and power behind the beast.

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