With the Roman empire now being revived through the European Union, and a global purchasing system evolving fast via a rice-size microchip skin implant, it is becoming critical that Christians understand God's message in Revelation 12, because the people led out into that chapter's wilderness locations are Christians.
Jesus had cursed and abandoned Pharisaic Israel some 60 years prior to introducing the Book of Revelation to the Christian Church in or about 95 AD. Note that the book was neither written for, nor offered to, the bloodline Jews. Included early in that book, aside from blessings to the wise, is an unsettling Critique of Christian churches of the Greek world. Then, as Revelation's central chapters challenge us further with a perplexing array of end-time events, special emphasis is placed on Christians enduring those events, not on the Jewish bloodline.
In the Book's entirety, we do not see a beloved people of God portrayed as a non-Christian, Jewish element. Not at all! Yet, the Book weaves Christian saints in and throughout the prophesied events, both Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, the Woman of Revelation 12, loved by God and Protected as she endures the end times, ought to be viewed as a representation of the Christian Church. Reflect upon verses 10-13, where the Woman is convincingly revealed as a Christian body.
The Jewish Remnant, a chosen people of God destined for His wrath during the 1260-day tribulation, but Saved afterwards upon surviving Armageddon, is conspicuously absent from the contents of Revelation. For reasons given in a previous chapter ("Who Will Populate the Millennium??"), the 144,000 do not represent the Remnant. The closest thing to the Remnant that we see, and only very briefly, are the Jews who glorify God after the Jerusalem earthquake in 11:13.
Possibly, this quake results in the faulting of the Mount of Olives, meaning also that the Jews of Jerusalem witness Jesus in the skies at that time, explaining well why they glorify God...finally. Take a deep breath of relief, O Lord, and Rest your weary Heart! It's been a looong 3,500 years of same-old-same-old since Moses slipped out of his sandals upon your mountain floor.
It is correct to view the Woman, at the time that she gave birth to the male Child, as Old-Testament Israel. However, as soon as the Child is taken up to Heaven in verse 5, Old-Testament Israel permanently evolves into Christian Israel. If you wish to view this as standard Replacement Theology, go ahead, even though it's not; note that I do not cancel Old-Testament prophecies concerning Jacob/Zion/Israel, nor spiritualize or otherwise twist them to somehow fit the Christian Church.
If there isn't a problem with our calling the Christian Church by the title of "Israel," then it should come without difficulty to view the Israeli Woman, in her 1260-day existence, as the Christian Body of saints alive at that time. But there are so many believers whom have been conditioned to view her as the Jews alone that I feel it necessary to extend myself still further proving otherwise (I provided other arguments in the previous chapter).
TWO ISRAELS; TWO FATES
We realize that Satan crucified the Lord Jesus primarily through the political powers of the Pharisees and other religious leaders of Israel. If the Roman governor (in charge over Palestine) had gotten his way, he would have released Jesus after His arrest by the Jewish leaders. Therefore, when we see the Dragon hounding the Woman after Christ ascends to Heaven, it could certainly portray Satan's attempt to destroy Christian Israel rather than portraying Satan's attack on worldly or Pharisaic Israel. Indeed, simply because Satan is pursuing Christ in verse 4, it's no stretch to conclude that it's Christian Israel that he persecutes thereafter.
Of course, the Bible makes it plain that Satan also attacks bloodline Jews in the end times. The "great tribulation" period begins with, and is defined as, not the destruction of the world, nor the persecutions endured by the global Church, but as God's punishment on bloodline Israelites:
"When you see Jerusalem surrounded by [the anti-Christ's] camps of soldiers, then know that its [abomination that causes] desolation has drawn near...these are days of vengeance where all the things that have been written [in the Old Testament prophecies] are to be fulfilled...There will be great tribulation on the land [of Israel] and wrath against this people, and they will fall by the mouth of the sword and will be led captive into the nations...and Jerusalem will be trampled down by nations until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:20-24).
Some believe that this section of Luke 21 pertains only to the invasion of first-century Palestine. If true, then the Gentiles are said to trample Jerusalem for 1930 years, and counting, ever since 70 AD. Yet, note Revelation 11:2: "the Gentiles will trample on the holy city for 42 months." Thus, the Luke quote above is best read in relation to the 42 months.
Indeed, everything stipulated within the Luke text is, according to other prophecies, completely true of the end-time Jerusalem invasion. And the end-time fulfillment holds priority over the first-century fulfillment due to an abundance of Old-Testament prophecies decreeing wrath on end-time Jerusalem as compared to scarce instances speaking on the first-century invasion. The end-time surrounding of Jerusalem can be seen in Isaiah 29:1-8; the captivity/exile of the end-time Jews can be seen in Zechariah 14:1-4; and the end-time trampling of Jerusalem can be seen in various Old-Testament texts including Isaiah 29:1-8.
I have chosen the two Old-Testament passages above for good reason, as they expose the wrath on Israel as God's wrath, not merely Satan's. This is important to this discussion. For it is impossible to see how Jesus in Revelation could portray the under-God's-wrath Israel of the end times as the glorified Israeli Woman under God's divine protection.
Those who claim that the protected Israel represents only the Chosen Jewish Remnant are not only being presumptuous, since the Revelation text makes no such allusion, but are twisting Scripture so as to teach Blessings to that Remnant during the 42 months. Again, the prophecies reveal the Remnant receiving Blessings only at the brink of Armageddon, when Jesus arrives to save them from their Great Tribulation.
The contrast between Israel under Wrath and Israel under Protection leads categorically to the truth, that the Woman is a portrayal of the infinitely higher Israel of God which the Christian Church now and forever more represents. With this in mind, read carefully the quote below in an extreme word-for-word translation from a Greek text:
"And were given to the Woman the two wings of the eagle great, in order that she might fly to the wilderness to the place of her, where she is nourished there a time and times and half a time [3 1/2 years, or 1,260 days] from the face of the serpent. And cast the serpent out of the mouth of him behind the Woman water as a river, in order that her carried off by the river he might make. And helped the earth the Woman, and opened the earth the mouth of it and swallowed the river which cast the dragon out of the mouth of him. And was enraged the dragon over the Woman, and went away to make war withthe rest of the seed of her, the ones keeping the commandments of God and having the martyrdom of Jesus" (Rev. 12:14-17).
The Christian Church did initially spring forth from Old-Testament Israel, and it is this, in conjunction with the above quote, that keeps even some post-tribbers viewing the Woman as Israel rather than the Christian Church. But the “rest of her seed” does not necessarily indicate Israel giving birth to the future Christian Body; the phrase can be understood in another way: as other Christians living simultaneous with the end-time Christians depicted by the end-time Woman.
Pre-tribulationists (and others) would like us to view the Woman as bloodline Jews in the end-time Israeli wilderness. If pre-tribulationists are correct, then the vision claims that, upon Satan's failure to overtake bloodline Jews in and around the Judean wilderness, he then turns on Christians instead? That result is not only unexpected of the text, and inconsistent, but it contradicts what many other prophecies dictate, that Satan is wildly successful against Jerusalem in the 42 months. I could perhaps take this view more seriously if there were just one scripture showing that the Remnant is saved before the 1260 days, but, correct me if I'm wrong, the Remnant would not be a remnant unless they are a part of the Wrath on Israel. That is, by "remnant," it is meant that some of those under Wrath survive the period of Wrath. Am I right? Yes I'm right. The alternative view is that God has determined no wrath upon the Remnant, but until I read even one scripture to verify that position, I'm not biting.
That erroneous view becomes very palatable if we are convinced (wrongly) that the 144,000 Jewish Christians depict the Remnant. If the 144,000 depict the Remnant, they would go up in the post-trib' rapture, and could not therefore populate the Millennium. But it is the Purpose of the Remnant to carry bloodline Israel into the mortal situation of the Millennial. There is a huge contrast in my mind between the glorious "firstfruits" that the 144,000 are called, and the dismal survivors of Israel's Great Tribulation...who are saved by the skin of their teeth. The first group is saved because they love the Lamb and willingly follow him wherever he goes. The second is saved for no commendable reason, but because God promised Abraham to make his bloodline great (it's a shame that it will take 2000 years of dejection, and then an Armageddon scenario to boot, to get those stiff-necked Jews to become pliable).
Do other scriptures show the Remnant being saved in a wilderness? Various prophecies clearly reveal that the Remnant is protected in other nations, having been sent into them by the anti-Christ. A good example is Joel 3:2-6, and we learn there that "My people" and "My inheritance," an obvious reference to the Remnant, are scattered toward the north into European regions. In verse 7 we see those exiled Jews coming back to Israel to the blessings of God. And in other prophecies we see Jews coming from the four ends of the earth, apparently indicating some of the Jews even now in other countries. In Isaiah 66:18-19, we see the Lord commissioning some of the Gentiles who survive Armageddon to go fetch Jews in distant lands, to bring them back to Jerusalem. When will He gather them back? Before the 1260 days? Of course not.
Never do we see an Old-Testament prophecy wherein the Remnant is Protected in a wilderness, or that the Millennial Remnant is gathered from a wilderness where it had been previously Protected. We see people running out into the wilderness while fleeing the dread Wrath on Jerusalem (e.g. Isaiah 2:10), but they may just as well die in the wilderness as per the wrath of God upon them. In fact, towards the end of Isaiah 2, some of the Jews who run out to the wilderness are likened to those maddened men in Revelation's sixth Seal, who will call on the rocks of the mountains to fall on them in order to hide them from the WRATH of God (Rev. 6:16).
Read Ezekiel 5 and see how this end-time situation will turn out, and how God feels about the Remnant. In 6:8, it says that He will spare some Jews during the war in Israel; again, they are shown fleeing from Israel, but being sent into other nations for that Protection, not to the Judean wilderness...which doesn't make sense to begin with since that wilderness will be surrounded with enemy soldiers of the anti-Christ. And what does verse 9 say? That God is pleased with his Remnant, as He is pleased with the 144,000? No, but we find that God will be angry with that Remnant: "Those who escape shall remember Me among the nations where they will be made captive, because I was broken by their whoring heart..." Therein is just one of many Biblical examples contrasting the 144,000 with the Remnant.
When we see the Remnant in Zechariah 14:8-9, the Jews are not said to be Protected in a wilderness, but, when Jesus finally appears to save a part of the Remnant there, he creates a chasm that extends from Jerusalem, east through the Mount of Olives, and further east yet toward the Dead sea. We see this Jerusalem portion of the Remnant also in Zechariah 12:8, and again in Isaiah 4:2-4. But why don't we see in any prophecy the salvation of remnant Jews in the Judean wilderness? Or, if Revelation 12 is truly on the subject of Protecting the Remnant, why does that chapter not mention the Jews exiled in other nations for the 1260 days, or the Jews holding out in Jerusalem for 1260 days? Other prophecies mention those two things; why not Revelation 12???
In Ezekiel 9:4, we see God placing "a mark on the foreheads of the men who are groaning and mourning over all the abominations that are done in [Jerusalem's] midst." Surely these are some, if the bulk, of the 144,000, for in Revelation 7 we see that the 144,000 also receive a protective "seal" on their foreheads (before the seven Trumpets are blown).
In Ezekiel 9:5-6, we see that the sealed ones are saved from the war against Jerusalem, though it doesn't specify how they are saved. It does say that, while the destroying angel is passing throughout the city, beginning at the Temple site (the anti-Christ will also begin at the Temple site), those with seals on their heads are to be passed by and not killed. This angelic scenario is of course not literal, but indicates to us that the sealed ones will be living in the city when the anti-Christ's men sweep through.
Jesus did warn that Jerusalemites should flee into the mountains when the anti-Christ surrounds Jerusalem (Matthew 24, Luke 21), but we understand that it's not the bloodline Jews whom are destined to obey this warning, but the Christians of Judea. The non-Christian Jews will arm themselves and stay to protect Israel. When the Church worldwide will no longer be able to buy and sell due to the skincode, you know that most will naturally move into the wilderness; this is predictable without Revelation 12 disclosing it to us.
No one says, "crush the rest of the apples," when the first batch were oranges. No, but the first batch must also be apples. In other words, because "the rest of her seed" are shown to be Christians, it would be consistent if the first batch -- those escaping into the wilderness -- are also Christians. I view the situation like so: upon Satan's failure to overtake Christians in the act of fleeing into wilderness locations, he then turns on other Christians instead. We are shown how Satan turns on the other Christians: by the powers of the two Revelation-13 beasts, for chapter 13 is a continuation of the vision begun in chapter 12. But who are the other Christians? Very apparently, they are those not in the wilderness.
This is important. For, in that the wilderness Woman represents Christians who escape Satan (as per 12:14-16) successfully, the Christians defeated by Satan as per chapter 13 (v 7) cannot be those in the Protected wilderness. Therefore, when the question arises as to the identity of the Christians who are defeated in 13:7, the answer is given in 12:17: "the rest of her seed". They must be those not in the wilderness.
In verses 7-9, we are shown a war between angels which appears to have a setting just before the 1260 days. Then, in verse 10, there is a proclamation from Heaven which in part says, "the accuser of our brothers has been cast down." Verse 11 exposes these "brothers," not as bloodline Jews, but as Christians "who overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb." We may easily understand from this fact that the very basis of the vision concerns Christians, not bloodline Jews. Indeed, not only is there nothing said about the bloodline Jews in chapter 12, but nothing again in the chapter-13 conclusion of the vision.
After verses 10-12 encourages tribulation Christians to overcome the Dragon, we come to the very next verse, which reads: "And when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he pursued the Woman who bore the male..." (v 13) Because the text emphatically reveals them to be Christians who stand up to Satan in verses 10-12, it follows that the verse-13 Woman he pursues must be a Christian body of saints. Would God be so inconsistent as to emphasize Christians in verses 10-12, and then bloodline Jews in verse 13?
THE CHRISTIAN WAR
THE CHRISTIAN WARBecause Revelation 12 reveals the duration of God's wilderness preparations as being 1260 days long, the easy prediction is that all things necessary for the survival of some fortunate wilderness saints will be Made ready prior to the start of that period. With a little less certainty, we can also predict that the preparations will be made by the Ordination of many dynamic Christians, especially wealthy, generous, and wise ones.
These special people will provide shelters and food-producing operations in remote regions, into which other members of the Woman can run to find comfort at the appointed time. Some of the providers may not realize that their wealth, or their involvement in the food, building, or ranching industries, etc., has been (or will be) Arranged for them for the Tribulation Purpose. Others already do realize and are moving in that direction willingly.
The wilderness flight is the Strategy. It's how we are Instructed to fight against the Dragon upon his granting special powers to the Beast and False Prophet to make war against us. It is made clear not only in Revelation 12 that the Strategy is to be a Grand Retreat from the enemy, but it's also insinuated in 13:10, where we are instructed, in effect, to use not one bullet. If Jesus instructed those in Judea to flee the anti-Christ rather than to fight him, what makes some Christians think that He will tolerate our fighting with bullets?
As the vision would appear to pertain to believers worldwide, if I understand the "world and sea" in 12:12 correctly, the "desert" of the text is not a single one, but a representation of any/many. The Greek word for "desert" (eremos) is not necessarily defined as a waste place, but a geography where man does not generally live..."a lonesome place." Lush, tropical forests, therefore, or pleasant mountains and their soil-rich foothills, may apply as much as the grassy prairies and rocky plains. That's why I use "wilderness" instead of "desert."
I feel that the Ordained future isolation from cities will not only be the key to our defense, but a very tactful move on God's part because it forces us to disown our worldly lives. Therefore, rather than viewing the retreat as a cowardly event, view it as a necessary purification process. But, in truth, because we are Asked to lay down our lives unto death, if necessary, we are being asked to be courageous beyond the pale. We have everything to gain, even the earth as our inheritance as a mere starting point for far greater joys. Just imagine this earth littered with pleasant, truthful, loyal, upright, honest, peaceful, joyous, and energized friends with the same honor toward Jesus that you have.
Many questions come to our minds as we try to learn or imagine the mechanisms of protection which God might employ at that time, and there is significant disagreement in post-tribulation circles on this matter. The bottom line, as taught in this vision, is that the Dragon will fail to overtake the Woman! Good news indeed. However, this may merely mean that Christians will be permitted to move into the wilds. But what then? When Pharaoh failed to overtake the Israelites, the Hebrews yet had to endure the wilderness lifestyle. Some failed God in that department, and I would venture to say that the Biblical lessons that can be learned from that Mosaic desert flight are specifically for our learning who must one day endure the tribulation wilderness.
One can see a repeat mix of good and bad for the Woman in the last days -- deliverance from the World Empire, but also temptations created by complaining goats among the sheep, not to mention some back-stabbing traitors...i.e. the wolves now among us in sheepish clothing. However, it is predictable that most counterfeits will not join Christians in the wilderness for very long, if at all, precisely because they do not keep the faith under trial, and because they ultimately belong to the world. But there will be some spies who remain for long periods because they will delight in collaborating with authorities who despise us.
What of persecution that might come to us from non-Christians in nearby cities, even as the Exodus Hebrews had to contend with armed gangs from surrounding nations? Several apostles, and many ministers after them -- up until the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 -- have been Appointed/destined for murder, but God protected them from many serious threats until such appointments arrived. Therefore, it may not be an either/or situation in the tribulation, but we may receive both, protection and persecution. It would be helpful if we all talked amongst ourselves concerning the sort of protection and persecution that we might expect to run into.
While the Revelation vision is most brief on the characteristics of future wilderness conditions, yet with reflection a larger picture develops. Because the vision assures wilderness protection, we are not, as a rule, going to be peppered there by the world's military equipment. The anti-Christ is certainly portrayed in the Bible as a ruthless warrior, but his guns are limited to the Middle East and northern Africa, so far as the Bible reveals. It is not likely a coincidence that few Christians live in those parts today. Could it be that Western tolerance and pluralism, freedom and democracy, while used by Satan for generations to strangle and resist the political influence of Christians, will be used by God to protect us when we need it most?
It is not a coincidence that the skincode and image-worship systems are emphasized in the chapter-13 section of the vision. These systems will be the critical weapons used against us in the 13:7 war. These weapons have everything to do with the wilderness flight because they cause the flight in the first place. The question is, will the image-worship system be such that permits the authorities to persecute us unto death legally, while we're in the wilderness? Some post-tribbers, especially the militant ones, are claiming just that. But if that's true, how can Revelation 12 promise both our protection and nourishment during the 1260 days?
If one resists the wicked system -- sophistication, fashion, status, sexual pleasure, luxury, leisure -- the False Prophet's "weapons" will be nullified. But if one is in the wilderness without food and drink, the weapons become more powerful because the life becomes more miserable. Therefore, the matter of food, etc. is not unimportant. Worse off yet will be the Christian multitudes without food and drink while stranded in cities. Predict that Satan will prompt his sons to find ways to keep us from leaving into the country. Indeed, that is the very message of the torrent of water spewing from the Dragon's mouth (12:15); since it's purpose is to overwhelm the Woman during her wilderness exodus, we learn that Satan doesn't want us to go out.
The torrent must somehow represent the authorities of nations allied to the anti-Christ and False Prophet. But pre-tribulationists are supporting the devil unawares with the same message: no need to find refuge in a wilderness. Ditto for Latter Rain "prophets" who teach that it's cowardly and unspiritual to retreat from cities when, according to their heresy, we ought to be kicking Satan's butt en route to taking over the world in time for the return of Jesus.
When you read the part about the earth swallowing the Satanic torrent, read the Power of God, not to kick Satan's butt, not to set up a Millennium before the Appointed Time, but to provide nourishment in some of the least accommodating places on earth. Note the Power of God also in the illustration of eagles wings (12:14), not Power for to rise up above the political powers of Satan, but to flee far from him.
Because Satan's basic power over us will reside in the electronic skincode system, the outer extremities of the Dragon's domain will be limited to the techno-tentacles of civilization. What authority could coerce us into making purchases with the skincode system where no electrical wires exist? Therefore, I think that we can predict easily the Plan B of our Enemy, not to shoot bullets at us, but to somehow get us back to the City once we are successful in our exodus. But when we refuse to take the skincode so as to be operational in society, the leaders will have two options, either to persecute (e.g. imprison) us in an effort to make us comply, or to set us free into the wilderness again due to the high cost of persecuting us. Revelation 13:10 instructs us to enter prisons willingly, and the parable of the sheep and the goats instructs us to visit those in prison to relieve them. But why not try to get them out while you're at it? If they are in prison due to being nuisances on city streets, you could offer to house them on your country place.
The Bible does say that the False Prophet will force everyone to receive the mark, but not by physical force, and, obviously, not everyone will take it. This, like so many Biblical statements, must be taken properly. The False Prophet will try to force everyone to buy and sell using the mark, perhaps meaning that the system will by law become the sole form of purchasing, but if some (i.e. we, or even some of those with the mark) don't wish to purchase using the mark, because they choose to barter, pay with gold/silver, or provide/grow their own needs, they will have that freedom, naturally.
There is no law that can be made to stop a people from providing their own food on their own land. Today, if you wish to quit your job and live in a wilderness location totally off the grid, you have that option as a right. But tomorrow, the principles of freedom can be abandoned even by those who now swear by them. As Daniel wouldn't worship the king, so his enemies made a new law that anyone refusing to worship the king had to be put to death. Perhaps the Image of the Beast will be set up for the same purpose of trapping innocent Christians, and making them subject to harsh persecution. The fantastic thing is, the Bible told us ahead of time that these things would occur, so that we will not lack faith when it comes time to dying for Him. How hard it is to die for a God if one is uncertain as to His existence. But that's the purpose of Prophecy, to give us the assurance that He does in fact exist. With this gift, we can bend our knees to death with much more peace and hope.
As the False Prophet will indeed kill some of those who refuse to worship the Image (13:15), it may appear that Democracy will give way to Dictatorship. But what if it's the Muslims who radically oppose the Image of the Beast so that it's they who are killed, where that Image represents Western Globalism under Western Democracy? Are we jumping to conclusions when we assume that it's Christians who are killed for refusing to worship the Image? Or, what if the only ones killed are those Christians who vehemently oppose the Image, politically and militarily, while those who merely shun it peacefully are left alone? Unfortunately, no details are given us by which we can see the correct picture ahead of time.
If I'm correct in defining the Image as a program on television, which includes the spewing out of propaganda against Christians, then expect our enemies to be among our own neighbors. Solution? Have no neighbors but like-minded ones.
Find a property that is off the grid, and a mile or two off a main road. Compared to land on the grid, that property will be reduced in price sufficient to cover your expense in building your own one-to-two mile driveway (you need gravel just under the tires, not the entire width of the driveway). Then, in the tribulation, you can close your gate, and because you won't likely be driving, no one will think you are home, especially in winter when they can see no tire tracks up your driveway. If you can get three or four miles off the road, you'll be able to use a chain saw, and maybe a gun for hunting, without it being heard; plus, the smoke of your chimney won't be caught by anyone's nose. You get the idea.
Why pay extra for a property on the grid when later you won't likely be able to use the township's electricity, gas, or water? Use the savings toward your own utility systems. If you have a creek that originates in no-man's-land, it'll be fine for drinking with either a boil or some chlorine. You can easily arrange to dig a pond on the creek, where you can take baths, or pump water into your tub, or even have some fish. It might attract deer and other meaty items. When you're off the grid, you can build your house any way you please, without meeting town codes.