The Visions of Revelation; 13th & 14th visions

The thirteenth vision; the seventh trumpet sounds,

Rev. 11:15-19

15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

John now returns to the stream of the main events, mainly the sounding of the trumps. It is a very brief vision, but later visions add a lot of the details of what happen during this time. In one way this terse vision gives us a small peek at the end of the Day of the Lord.

The vision begins with the seventh angel sounding the last trump, which as we have seen, announces the return of Christ to the earth. We are told that at this moment it is announced that Jesus has now assumed rule over the “kingdoms of this world”. It may surprise some to learn that currently Jesus is not the King of this world, yes he has qualified to assume that position, but God has not placed him into that spot. It may further shock some to learn that the current King of this world is actually Satan (Matt. 4:8-9; II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:12; I John 5:19). As was said, yes Jesus Christ has overcome Satan and has qualified to replace him, but God has not yet removed Satan and installed Jesus. This dramatic event occurs with the sounding of the seventh trump!

John relates that due to the Satan-crafted deceit that God has allowed to come over most of mankind the nations of the world are not happy with this turn of events; he says that “the nations were angry” (vs. 18). He goes on to say that they are angry because it is time for them to be judged. He also says that it is time for God to reward his servants, prophets, and all that fear him and he concludes by saying that through Christ’s rule he will destroy those that destroy the earth (vs. 18). Quite a lot of things happening in that one verse but as we shall see these events take a good amount of time to be accomplished. It’s rather like a very condensed preview of coming events.

John concludes this short vision by telling of the temple of God in heaven being opened and the ark of his testament being seen (vs. 19). He finishes by telling about “lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” The last two events are place markers to help us understand in coming visions where they occur during the climax of God’s wrath upon the unrepentant sinners in the world.

The fourteenth vision; the lady and the dragon,

Rev. 12:1-17

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. 7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

John breaks the stream of events relating to the Day of the Lord, the return of Christ and the reestablishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth with a couple of visions. In the next three chapters we are introduced to, one might say, the central characters in the end time drama and they are; a lady, a red dragon, a multi-headed beast and a false prophet. As we shall see these characters have been on the world stage during all of mankind’s existence, but in different guises.

Chapter twelve is composed of a vision, which in very broad strokes recounts the age long struggle between God’s people and Satan. It has generated its’ own fair share of speculation and conjecture as to the identities of the characters mentioned in the vision but, again, if we allow the Bible to lead and inform us we shall learn who these strange beings represent. In seeking a Biblically based understanding we will need to repeat some information we have already discussed.

The woman

John begins this vision by describinga great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (vs. 1). While this woman or rather what she represents will appear throughout Revelation, this is the first and only time she is described as a woman. This woman is a central character to this vision (she, the dragon and the conflict between them are the core elements) and so it is important that we begin our quest by identifying this woman. Some may have an idea of who this woman is, but again let us allow the written word of God to identify her for then we will know we are correct.

There are two female symbols in the Book of Revelation, here and in chapters seventeen and eighteen. Unlike the woman described in chapter twelve the second woman is clearly identified; she is called, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” (17:5). Further, of this second woman it is said that she is “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (17:6). So we can clearly see that this second woman is hostile towards Christ and his followers; but what of the woman mentioned in Chapter twelve?

Looking at the description of the woman in chapter twelve we see her described as being “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” obviously if we can determine what these images represent then we can determine who this woman is or represents.

There are three explanations of who this woman is. They are that the woman represents; one, Israel, two, the church and three, Mary the mother of Christ. Let us look to scripture to see exactly who this woman is.

Was this woman Mary? This explanation can be dealt with by simply looking at what the vision says about the woman and seeing if it can relate to Mary. Notice later in the vision it says that the dragon “…persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place.” Now many will say that this involves the flight of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus into Egypt to escape Herod and his order to kill all the male children of up to two years of age (Mat. 2:13-14, 16). But unlike the woman in the vision Mary did not flee into the wilderness, but to Egypt. The vision also says that the woman would be in this hiding place in the wilderness for “for a time, and times, and half a time” (i.e. 3 ½ years). There is no declaration within the Bible as to how long Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus were in Egypt, it simply says they were there until Herod died, most estimates place it from between 1-4 years, so this can not be used either to prove, or disprove, that the woman is Mary.

However if we look as to when this woman fled into the wilderness we can see that it could not have been Mary. The vision states that the woman fled into the wilderness after “her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne”, there is no record of Mary ever fleeing anywhere after her initial flight into Egypt after the death of Jesus (John 19:25-27). Also the vision says that the dragon “went to make war with the remnant of her seed”, once again there is no mention of any of Mary’s other children being persecuted. Also as was pointed out in regards to the two witnesses, the term ‘war’ indicates a large scale conflict involving many people. So this woman can not have been Mary.

Another explanation of who the woman is claims that she represents the ancient nation of Israel. This claim is based primarily on two points; one, the crown of stars and two, the son who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron was prophesied would come from Israel (Gen, 49: 10).

Let us begin with the crown of stars the woman is seen wearing. The vision tells us that the crown is composed of twelve stars. Some claim that this is a fulfillment of the dream that Joseph had;

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

(Gen. 37:9-10)

Recall also that ancient Israel had the 12 tribes, the 12 Judges; the Levitical priesthood consisted of 24 courses or 2x12. (1 Chronicles 24:1-18). Also remember how God promised Abraham that the whole world would be blessed through his descendents (Gen. 18:18). A final point is, later in Revelation John relates seeing the New Jerusalem descending from heaven (Rev. 21: 10-27). Describing the holy city he tells that it is surrounded by a high wall (21: 12) and there were 12 gates in the wall and over each gate was written the names of the tribes of the children of Israel (21: 12-13). John is told that this is the bride of Christ (21: 9).

So is this woman representing the ancient nation of Israel? At this point it would seem to be so, but a closer look will provide clearer understanding as to the identity of the woman.

A third explanation of who this woman is postulates that it is the New Testament church. An unbiased examination will provide us with the understanding that the woman in this vision is a combination of the last two interpretations; Israel and the church. But even that is not truly correct; that the woman for a while was Israel and is now the church of God, which in fact the ancient nation of Israel was. We shall see that the identity of the woman has always remained the same it was the elements that composed this woman that have changed.

We must first begin by understanding the meaning, as used in the Bible, of the word church. Today when the word church is used, most tend to think of a building used for worship, but that was not the meaning of the word that is rendered as church in the Bible. The English word church is derived from ‘kuriakos, a Greek word meaning ‘belonging to The Lord. Church is commonly used to translate another original New Testament Greek word, ekklesia, which meant an ‘assembly of called out ones. It corresponds to ‘congregation of the Old Testament[1]. Congregation, meeting or assembly are most often used to translate the original Hebrew words of the Old Testament, pronounced mo-aw-daw, ay-daw and kaw-hawl which were used primarily to describe the Israelites in a sense of a gathering of the Lord's holy people[2].

In the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament, ay-daw was translated as sunagoge (from which comes the English word synagogue), and kaw-hawl was translated the same as ekklesia. Earlier, synagogue was a term used collectively for the Israelite people, while ekklesia was used for the church, the "called out ones."

So we see how in the Bible the word church has nothing to do with a structure used for the worship of God. It instead, is referring to the people whom God has called and is worshipping him. We shall see how the other items of the vision support this identification of the woman.

Returning to our claim that for awhile Israel was this woman let us look at how they were called by God. When God was calling Moses to go and speak to Pharaoh at the burning bush he lays claim to the descendents of Israel;

Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt 22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

(Ex. 3:10; 22-23)

God told the nation of Israel after freeing them from their slavery in Egypt that they were to be “…a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). In the New Testament, Peter uses these same words when addressing the church: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

But there has been a change in the chosen of God. It is not strictly confined to the physical members or citizens of the nation of Israel. Paul writes, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). He expands on this point a short time later, stating; “That is, They which are the children of the flesh (physical descendants of Abraham), these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed (vs. 8). The children of the flesh are only natural descendants of Abraham, but the children of the promise are counted as the true seed.

An examination of the crown may help settle this issue. Most in today’s world, when they hear the word crown think of it denoting authority, such as a king’s crown. But the word that is rendered in the Bible as crown does not signify authority. There are two words that were rendered as crown when the Bible was translated from Greek into English. The two words, while rendered as crown, signify different things. The first word rendered as crown is stephanos and it meansthat which surrounds, as a wall or crowd” (from stepho, “to encircle”) and is a symbol of triumph in games or some kind of contest. It is also used as a token of public honor for distinguished service, military prowess, etc., or of nuptial joy, or festal gladness[3]. The second word rendered as crown is the Greek word diadema is always used as symbol of kingly or imperial dignity, and is rendered as ‘diadem’ instead of ‘crown’ in the RV; also this word is never used as stephanos is[4]. So we see that the word translated as crown can have two separate meanings and so we must see which word was used to describe the crown worn by the woman in the vision.

The woman in the vision is wearing the first crown, stephanos, the crown of honor and triumph. This crown is mentioned in other places in the Bible;

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

(I Cor. 9:25)

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

(I Peter 5:4)

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

(I Thess. 2:19)

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

(James 1:12)

Elsewhere in Revelation we find references to this crown;

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

(Rev. 2:10)

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown

(3:11)

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

(4:4)

Recall that according to the vision the woman was “clothed with the sun” this further confirms that she is the called out ones of God. Remember the physical purpose of the sun is to give light to the earth (Gen 1:15) and in a spiritual sense that is what Jesus did[5] and is doing. This clothing of the sun is of righteousness[6] which God will give to his followers, through the blood of Christ. Isaiah succinctly explains this part of the vision;

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

(Isaiah 61: 10)

That the woman represents the called of God is supported by the final part of the verses relating this vision; “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

John next tells us that this woman was “with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered”. This further confirms that this is God’s called out ones and at this point still the physical nation of Israel. We read;

31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion…22 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth. 23 They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion. 24 We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

(Jer. 4:31; 6:22-24)

This also gives a historical place marker, the woman represents God’s chosen people prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. Actually it covers a huge span of time, essentially covering the time from God’s promise to Abram in that the world would be blessed through his descendents up to the actual birth of Christ.

There has been some debate as to the identity of the baby the woman is carrying. Some have postulated that it is Christ while others claim it is a symbolic representation of the church.This uncertainty can be resolved by simply reading what is said about the child a little later in the vision that he is to rule the nations with an iron scepter;

7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

(Ps. 2:7-9)

behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

(Dan 7:13-14)

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

(Is. 9:6-8)

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God…15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

(Rev. 19:11-13, 14-16)

It is obvious that the male child in this vision is referring to Jesus Christ, an actual being and not as a symbol of something.

The dragon

Having thus identified the woman we can now turn our attention to the other character in this vision and that is the dragon. A point should be made here regarding this new image and that is that it is that; an image or symbol of something. In simpler terms, this is not an actual dragon that John is seeing, but it is used as a symbol of something. We must be careful in these next few visions to remember that God does use different symbols to represent the same thing, but he also uses similar symbols to illustrate related ideas. This is true with the images of the dragon and the soon to be revealed multi-headed beast.

John tells us thatthere appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon” (vs. 3). It is interesting that it is described as being red in color. The Greek word that is translated as red is ‘pyrros’ and is described as “having the colour of fire, red”[7], this is the same word is used to describe the red horse of the second seal; the horsemen that takes peace from the earth (Rev 6:4). There is no basis for not knowing who or what this red dragon represents for we are clearly told a few verses later; “And the great dragon…that old serpent, the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth[8] the whole world…” (vs. 9).

While there should be no misunderstanding as to the identity of this dragon John’s concluding introductory remarks about it has caused a fair amount of confusion. The later part of verse three tells us, about the red dragon, that he has “seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” This has caused many to erroneously equate the red dragon and the multi-headed beast that is mentioned in the prophecies of Daniel and in Revelation as being the same thing, but as we shall see they are not. They are related but yet separate.

In the next two verses John very succinctly recounts the age long struggle between God and Satan. First; And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth, this is obviously a reference to the angelic rebellion recounted in Ezekiel 28 and also talked about in the Book of Enoch 6:1-7; 14:5. The comment that “the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” can have a couple symbolic applications (Ex. 1:22; Esther 3:13). Since we have seen that the child is specifically Jesus Christ, then obvious fulfillment is of course Herod’s decree to kill all the male Hebrew children up to two years of age (Matt. 2:16).

Verse five mentions the birth of the Messiah and his destiny (i.e. to rule all nations with a rod of iron, see above) but the later part of the verse has generated a fair amount of confusion. Most regard the last part of the verse, “and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” as relating to Christ’s ascension into heaven after his resurrection (Luke 24:49-51; Acts 1:6-9) but an open-minded and careful examination will show this is in error.

We first need to look at the story flow of the verses composing this vision to see how the traditional explanation is strained to logically explain this vision. Remember that this vision is a very abbreviated historical look at the struggle between God’s chosen, symbolized by the woman with child, and Satan, the red dragon. It speaks of Satan’s efforts to prevent the birth of the Messiah, his efforts climaxing with Herod’s decree to kill all the infant males up to two years of age. Generally that is the scope so far of this vision and, again, most believe that verse five covers Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. It is then believed that the vision leaps ahead, either to 70 AD or to end-time events, where the woman flees into the wilderness and is protected by God for 1,260 days (42 months or 3 ½ years). The vision next recounts the occurrence of a war happening in heaven culminating with Satan being defeated and cast from heaven; most tend to claim this is talking about Satan’s rebellion that supposedly occurred prior to the creation of man and his placement in the Garden of Eden. After being cast out of heaven the vision tells of Satan being angry with the woman and knowing he has little time left persecutes the woman. It tells of her being given the wings of a great eagle so she can fly into the wilderness, to her place, where she is nourished by God fora time, and times, and half a time” (vs. 14).

An honest assessment of this generalized interpretation would say that this is a confusing narrative that it begins and proceeds in a simple historical recounting, albeit loaded with symbols for the first six verses and then in the seventh it interrupts this straight forward style to leap back an unknown number of years. Then after briefly talking about this pre-historical event it leaps back to either the same point it was at before the break or forward to an unknown point of time.

However a careful look at what is said will reveal that this popular interpretation is incorrect; actually the vision does not interrupt its narrative style, to jump back in time, and in fact the two events that many ascribe to be the same thing being mentioned (i.e. the destruction of Jerusalem) is actually two separate events that occur to God’s chosen people.

To gain a Biblical understanding of this part of the vision we must jump over the last part of the fifth verse (and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne) and discuss the sixth verse so we can understand the logical placement of the previous verse.

The woman’s place prepared of God

As was stated above many believe that this is referring to an end-time hiding place that God provides to his people for their protection from the antichrist (details vary) and others say this is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Either view requires the vision to completely pass over Jesus’ life, specifically his ministry.

A careful examination of what exactly is said will provide a better and Biblically based understanding. Let us first examine the pieces of the verse to gain the understanding we seek. First off the vision tells us that sometime after the birth of the male child the woman flees into the wilderness.

Again, while most believe that this is describing either the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem or an as yet unfulfilled end-time happening, the Bible offers a third possibility. The Greek word translated as ‘wilderness’ is erēmos and according to Strong’s it is defined as;

solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited a) used of places 1) a desert, wilderness 2) deserted places, lonely regions 3) an uncultivated region fit for pasturage b) used of persons 1) deserted by others 2) deprived of the aid and protection of others, especially of friends, acquaintances, kindred 3) bereft a) of a flock deserted by the shepherd b) of a woman neglected by her husband, from whom the husband withholds himself”.[9]

While the first part of this definition does accurately describe the terrain surrounding Jerusalem, in a physical sense, one needs to remember that the Bible often talks about things in a spiritual sense.

God did describe Jerusalem as a spiritual wilderness in his written word;

Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.

(Isaiah 64:10)

Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

(Jer. 12:10)

Also erēmos can denote a herd bereft of its shepherd and God repeatedly uses this analogy in regards to his people;

My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.

(Jer. 50:6)

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?... And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.

(Ezek. 34:2, 5)

For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. 3 Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah…

(Zech. 10:2-3)

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

(Matt. 9:35-36)

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

(Mark 6:34)

So it would appear that the wilderness mentioned in the vision is a spiritual wilderness that the House of Judah was lost in. Recall also what Jesus said about John the Baptist;

For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

(Matt. 3:3)

Actually this is correct in both aspects; John did preach out in the wilderness of the Judean countryside[10] but as we see he was also preaching in the spiritual wilderness. In talking about John the Baptist we next need to examine the word that is translated as ‘prepared’. The Greek word is hetoimazō and it means;

1) to make ready, prepare a) to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready 2) metaph. a) drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable b) to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure his blessings[11].

Obviously this was what John the Baptist did; And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17 emphasis added).

But the vision talks of a place, doesn’t this mean a physical locale? Not really, the Greek word translated as ‘place’ is topos and is defined as;

1) place, any portion or space marked off, as it were from surrounding space a) an inhabited place, as a city, village, district b) a place (passage) in a book 2) metaph. a) the condition or station held by one in any company or assembly b) opportunity, power, occasion for acting.[12]

As we have seen the woman represents God’s chosen people they obviously hold a special place or station among the people of the tribe of Judah.[13] That the people that made up the New Testament church, the apostles and disciples, were chosen by God is confirmed by Jesus;

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

(John 17:12 emphasis added)


That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

(John 18:9 emphasis added)

So this place of God mentioned in this vision is the loving care and tutelage that Jesus provided. This is confirmed when one considers what the vision says would happen while the woman was in this place prepared of God. It says that “they should feed her there” (vs. 6). Notice, it says ‘they’ would feed her. Since, other then the red dragon, the vision speaks of the male child and God so it can only be these two beings that will be feeding her while she is in this special place. Also what she is fed is not actual food and drink, but the spiritual food of God’s word;

7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life… 31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

(John 4:7-14, 31-34 emphasis added)

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

(John 6: 27-40 emphasis added)

So this part of the vision is essentially speaking of spiritual matters; the place of safety we see is actually the fellowship with Jesus and what the woman (i.e. the chosen of God) was fed was the spiritual bread of life. Finally it should be pointed out that the vision says that the woman would be in this place prepared of God for one thousand two hundred and sixty days (vs. 6) or three and one half years, the generally agreed length of time of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

“caught up unto God”

Having seen that the vision is a chronologically recounting of the struggle of God’s chosen people and that the description of the woman fleeing into the wilderness to a place of God is actually Christ’s earthly ministry we can now return to the last part of the previous verse to gain an understanding. The latter part of verse five, speaking of the male child, says “was caught up unto God, and to his throne”. Most interpretations say that this is referring to Christ’s ascension into heaven after his resurrection (Acts 1:9) but as we have seen the verse following this speaks of Christ’s ministry so it is illogical to believe that this verse is speaking of something that occurs at the conclusion of his ministry. It is obvious that it is talking about something else.

Again we must look at the original Greek wording to clarify the confusion. The phrase that is translated as ‘caught up’ is harpazō and according to Strong’s Concordance is defined as; 1) to seize, carry off by force 2) to seize on, claim for one's self eagerly 3) to snatch out or away.[14] However the word that is normally rendered as ascend is anabainō1) ascend a) to go up b) to rise, mount, be borne up, spring up.[15] It is this word that is used to describe both Christ’s ascension and the two witnesses talked about in Revelation 11 (vs. 12).

So we see that what is being described is not Christ’s ascension, but is denoting some kind of action; taking hold of, seizing. Also based on its location, that is between the birth of Christ and the start of his earthly ministry should help in gaining God’s meaning. Christ does make a comment about the Kingdom of God during this brief period in Matthew;

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

(Matt. 11:12))

Unfortunately this is a bad transition of the original Greek. The phrase “suffereth violence” in Greek is biazetai and “the violent” is biastai. To understand the significance of these two words we need to cite Dr. Brad Young;

The Greek verb which is translated "suffers violence" in the KJV is biazo. “Suffers violence” is not a good translation. As has been noted, the New International Version rendered this Greek verb as "forcefully advancing." This translation of biazo is more appropriate than the passive idea from “suffers violence” because the active meaning correctly conveys both the force associated with the verb and also mentions the progressive movement of the divine reign. At times, the Hebrew verb paratz, which means “to break forth,” was translated by the Greek verb biazo in the Septuagint. The idea conveyed by the Greek verb biazo certainly includes the action of “breaking forth.” . . . Likewise, the single word biastai, a noun derived from the same Greek verb, is translated as “the violent” in the KJV and “forceful men” in the NIV. However, since biastai comes from the same verb biazo…it should be rendered as “the breakers,” that is, the ones making the breach wider as they break out from within the wall. They are the ones who are breaking out with the kingdom. . . [16]

Another rendering of the verse reads as;

And from the days of John the Baptist till now, the kingdom of heaven is forcing its way in, and men of force take it.

(The Bible in Basic English)

It also needs to be noted that the phrase “by force” in Christ’s statement is the same word, harpazō, that John used in describing the male child being caught up to God and his throne. So it would seem that it is not referring to Christ being removed or taken away, but is speaking of the Kingdom of God breaking out into the world.

A war in heaven

Following the chronology of this vision sometime after Christ’s ministry here on earth there was a war in heaven. This claim will upset many traditional views of Satan’s actions. Most believe that Satan was kicked out of heaven sometime prior to the creation of mankind. But this vision tells a somewhat different story, at least as to Satan and his access to heaven and God’s throne. For after telling of Jesus’ earthly ministry John saysAnd there was war in heaven” (vs. 7)

John provides no details as to this war, he just tells us that “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (vs. 7). While John does not tell us how long this struggle lasted arcane sources claim it lasted a total of three seconds. Regardless of how long it lasted, John simply says that Satan and his minionsprevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

What may surprise some is John’s next statement regarding Satan and his followers; we are told thatAnd the great dragon was cast out…he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (vs. 9).

The casting down of Satan

Many will emphatically claim that Satan was thrown out of heaven thousands of years prior to the ascension of Christ, but according to John this is not so[17]. Some might claim that John is referring back to Satan’s banishment from heaven, but the story flow of this vision does not support this claim; remember this vision, in very broad terms, is recounting the struggle between Satan and God’s chosen people. If the idea that John is simply recounting a much earlier occurrence why wasn’t it placed at the beginning of the vision since that was where it should be if this were true. But others may claim earlier in the vision it speaks of a third of the stars being removed and cast down to earth (vs. 4). Yes it does state that, but it also says that “his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth”. Notice it was his (i.e. the dragon/Satan) tail that drew a third of the angels and cast them down. Nowhere does it say that he, Satan, was cast down at that time. To fully understand this situation, the fall of Satan, and this part of the vision we must take an aside to look at Satan’s history since he is one of the main characters in this vision and also for that much throughout the Book of Revelation.

In the Beginning

Although not definitively stated when God created the spirit realm it would appear that it was before he created Earth;

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

(Job 38:4-7 NKJV, emphasis added)

The terms ‘morning stars’ and ‘sons of God’ are referring to the angels. The comment in verse 4 about, God laying the ‘foundations of the earth’ is probably a reference to God separating the dry land from the sea. As the latter part of the passage indicates when God did this the angels were present (i.e. already existed). Also from the creation account in Genesis we know that Man was created after God separated the dry land from the sea.

What about Satan, was here there too? The answer, according to the Bible, is a definite yes. How does the word of God describe him?

…Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:12-14 emphasis added)

Apparently he had quite an impressive position within the Kingdom of God. According to Ezekiel he was one of the two cherubim that covered the Throne of God with their wings. He was, as the Bible puts it;

…blameless… from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.

(Ezekiel 28:15 English Standard Version)

Also note that it says that he was in the Garden of Eden; from the passage it would seem that he had the right to be there. It does not indicate that he had snuck into the Garden of Eden. Before we continue looking to see if we can determine when he fell from grace we need to take a look into who the Garden of Eden was created for and a larger question, what was the purpose of the creation of man?

Purpose of the Garden of Eden

Many believe that man (i.e. mankind; man and woman) were created as replacements for the angels, those that had rebelled against God. That essentially they, the fallen angels, had blown their chance and God created mankind to fulfill their place in the Kingdom of God. Is that what the Bible says, that we are second tries by God? Was mankind created as replacements for the disobedient angels?

As was shown above the spirit realm was created before mankind was and even before the Earth was. Does that mean they are of greater importance in God’s master plan? Were the angels created with the intent that they would be masters of Earth? A review of what the Bible says would cause one to say no.

Recall the account in Genesis;

And God said…and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth…And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

(Genesis 1:26, 28)

Notice that man was given dominion over everything on the Earth. While we are here at this point in Genesis we need to take a brief detour into what is meant where God says that man (again mankind) was created in his image.

Taken at face value this statement (Gen. 1: 26-27) that we were created in the image of God, one might argue that this means that God, a spirit being, has a head, two arms, two legs etc. Which begs the question, if this claim is correct, why are there two sexes? How could both sexes be an image of God? Others have advanced the theory that the statement means that we can think and reason and love as God does; it is in that way we are mirroring the image of God. But is that really what is meant?

Michael Heiser, an expert in ancient Hebrew, offers a more plausible explanation of this statement:

. . . When Scripture speaks of mankind being created in the image of God, what is meant is that mankind has been created to represent God on earth.
. . . God deliberately created mankind to rule the earth, and to accomplish this purpose, he created man as his own image - He made man his co-regent / representative ruler.

The image of God then, refers to our unique status as human beings, rulers in God's stead, according to His own will. We are created AS his image - to function as he would were he administering His own affairs directly. Our abilities - unequally given to us in the providence of God are not THE image, but only a means to carrying out His expressed and often secret end.[18]

So we are not physical reproductions of God, but his physical representatives here on Earth. We were slated to administer the Kingdom of God here on Earth. This is confirmed by Psalm 8;

4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

(Psalm 8:4-8)

Although part of this is a prophecy about how the Messiah would come as a man it also clearly says that man was created to have dominion over the works of God’s hands (vs. 6) and not the angels. This point is reinforced in Paul’s writings.

He clearly says that we are destined to be co-rulers under Christ when he returns to Earth and reestablishes the Kingdom of God.

Know ye not that we shall judge angels?

(I Cor. 6:3)

Paul expands on this point in his letter to the Hebrews. He is speaking of Christ and says;

4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?...14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

(Heb. 1:4-5, 14)

The point here is Paul’s comment at the end; that the angels are ministering spirits. We are the heirs that he mentions and so it is unto us that the angels minister. Paul confirms this point a little later in his letter. Referring to the Psalm cited above he says;

For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

(Heb. 2:5-11)

Again, while the passage is talking about Christ and what he has achieved through his sinless life and death and that he has been crowned by God with glory and honor he also says that we are considered his brother. So it would appear that God’s plan for man had always been for us to rule this planet and to be groomed to assume positions within the Kingdom of God, but the incident in the Garden of Eden necessitated a slight alteration.

Returning now to the question of the purpose of the Garden of Eden, we see in Genesis after completing his creation, detailed in Chapter 1, that at some point God “planted a garden eastward in Eden(Gen 2:8). The reason he created the garden and placed Adam there was for him “to dress it and to keep it” (vs. 15). So essentially Adam was entrusted with caring for the Garden that God had created, but there were some rules laid down. As most are aware God told Adam that he could freely eat of “every tree of the garden(vs. 16) except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (vs. 17). It is possible that Adam and Eve’s mission as caretakers of the garden was somewhat of a proving ground for them; to see how well they would obey God.

The Bible does not say how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden before they sinned. It is probably safe to assume that they were there for sometime learning how to care for the garden and also developing a relationship with God. Probably God was schooling them in his ways, but the Bible does not say exactly what happened during their time in the Garden of Eden. We just know that after an unknown length of time they stumbled and ever since then we have been denied that close personal relationship with God.

The Incident in the Garden

As we look into the incident in the Garden there are a few things we want to determine. First, was this when Satan’s fall from grace occurred and second, was this when he was banished from Heaven?

Before we look into those matters there is one other thing we need to investigate and that is the question about Satan and his appearance in the Garden. While Satan is not named in the Genesis account it is stated in Ezekiel that he was in the Garden (Ezek. 28:13). Also, as most are probably aware, Genesis says that it was a serpent that deceived Eve (Gen 3: 1-2, 4, 13-14) elsewhere in the Bible Satan is identified as being that serpent (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). So does this mean that he appeared to Eve as a talking snake? While that would appear to be the answer there is an alternative to that supposition.

The Hebrew word that is rendered as serpent is nachash; along with serpent there are other meanings. When used as a noun it can mean “one who practices divination” or “shining brass” and when used as an adjective it means “bright” or “brazen.” If the Hebrew word used in the Genesis account is an adjective, being used as a noun, then the proper translation of the verses in Genesis 3 would be “the bright one” or “the shining one.” This rendering is supported by Paul's statement that Satan can appear as an “angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14).

Another aspect of Satan’s nature is found in the passage in Ezekiel 28:16; it is said that Satan was filled with violence and sinned through his “widespread trade.”[19] The Hebrew word in Ezekiel 28:16 is rekullatekha; it is a form of the noun rekulla, which means “merchandise” or “traffic.” However, rekulla is derived from the root word rakal, which means “to go about.” A closely-related derivative, rakil, means “slanderer.” In the New Testament, Satan is often called the “devil,” or diabolos in Greek. Not coincidentally, the literal meaning of diabolos and its variations is also “slanderer.”[20] Notice how this neatly matches with the subtle tactics Satan used to deceive Eve;

And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

(Gen, 3:1-6)

He didn’t encourage Eve to disobey God; instead he caused Eve to doubt God’s words and in turn trust her own judgment and decide for herself what she would do. There is no indication of how long it took for Satan to deceive Eve, we just know it happened.

To further support the idea that Satan had not fallen from grace when this happened noticed how God reacted towards Satan when he discovered that Adam and Eve had taken of the forbidden fruit. When Eve told God that she had been deceived by the serpent (Gen. 3:13) God did not ask what he, Satan, was doing there or how had he gotten into the Garden; no his reaction was to place a curse upon him (vs. 14-15). God’s reaction would indicate that he, Satan, was allowed to be in the Garden as the previously cited passage from Ezekiel said.

It would appear that this is when Satan’s fall from grace occurred. Once more looking at the passage in Ezekiel we read that;

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was foundin thee. 16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God

(Ezek. 28:15-16)

Notice that it says when iniquity was found in Satan; certainly his act of deceiving Eve into disobeying a clear order from God fulfills this. Also in the passage it says that he sinned, one might ask what his sin was. Remember that the Bible says that sin is the transgression of God’s laws (I John 3:4). Christ himself tells us what sin Satan is guilty of;

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

(John 8:44)

One might be puzzled by Christ’s comment that Satan was a murderer ‘from the beginning’. John repeats the charge against him:

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.

(I John 3:8)

How can this be if, according to Ezekiel, he was perfect the day he was created (Ezek. 28:15). The answer is that while he was perfect when he was created he somehow became corrupt and was this way from the beginning of God’s plan regarding mankind. Which leads us into seeing if we can determine from God’s written word what happened to Satan; what caused him to fall from grace?

The Cause of Satan’s Fall

The Bible is quite clear as to the cause of Satan’s fall and that it was his pride. In Ezekiel we find this charge against him;

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness

(Ezek. 28:17 World English Bible)

That it was his pride is confirmed in Paul’s letter to Timothy;

not a new convert, lest being puffed up he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

(I Tim. 3:6)

While the Bible does not tell how Satan’s pride led to his fall from grace it does speak about the danger of pride and so we might allude that this is how Satan was affected (Ps. 73:6; Prov 11:2, 13:10, 16:18, 29:23; Mark 7:20-23). Remember that Man was created and was to have dominion over the Earth so it is quite possible that Satan, with his corrupted ego, decided that he would be better suited than Man to fill this position within the Kingdom of God. In his quest to disqualify Man from this position he did achieve his desire, but he also disqualified himself and the angels that allied with him.

Also remember the curse that God placed on Satan in the garden when he discovered what he had done. The final part of it says;

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

(Gen. 3:15)

There has been an age long battle between the human race and Satan. As Paul said;

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

(Eph. 5:12)

As we have seen this age long battle is tersely recounted in the vision of the woman and the dragon. But as Paul also tells us that we, as brethren with Christ and children of God, in fulfillment of the curse, will defeat Satan;

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly

(Rom. 16:20)

So we see that Satan’s fall from grace happened sometime after the creation of Man, but was he also cast from Heaven at that time?

Satan Cast Down

We need to jump forward from the incident in the Garden of Eden to the Tower of Babel. Shortly after the Great Flood (Gen. 6:7-7:24) the people began to construct a great tower (vs. 11:2-4). God saw this and was dismayed by it (vs. 11:6-7) so he confused their language and caused them to be scattered across the face of the Earth (vs. 11:7-8). It is from this event that God separated the sons of Noah into nations;

These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

(Genesis 10:32)

Later as Moses is saying farewell to the nation of Israel prior to his death he, referring to this incident, says;

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you. 8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of men, He fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. 9 For the Lord’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage.

(Deut. 2:7 RSV)

Many translations incorrectly render the phrase “sons of God” as “children of Israel”. Recall that the phrase ‘sons of God’ refer to spirit beings; in other words angels. That God separated the people into nations based on the number of spirit beings is supported by the Book of Jasher;

And they built the tower and the city, and they did this thing daily until many days and years were elapsed. 32 And God said to the seventy angels who stood foremost before him, to those who were near to him, saying, Come let us descend and confuse their tongues, that one man shall not understand the language of his neighbor, and they did so unto them.

(Jasher 9:31)[21]

An ancient Targum[22] rendering of the passage in Deuteronomy supports this idea that the nations were created based on the number of spirit beings;

When the Most High made allotment of the world unto the nations which proceeded from the sons of Noach, in the separation of the writings and languages of the children of men at the time of the division, He cast the lot among the seventy angels, the princes of the nations with whom is the revelation to oversee the city, even at that time He established the limits of the nations

While Satan is not named as part of these seventy angels elsewhere in the Bible his position is mentioned;

But when the Pharisees heard it they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand; 26 and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?"

(Matthew 12:24-26)

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

(II Cor. 4:3 NKJV)

"I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me."

(John 14:30 NKJV)

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish."

(Luke 4:5 NKJV)

So we clearly see that Satan is king of this world[23]; if he originally held this position is uncertain but would seem likely. His position as ruler was probably temporary, until Man proved himself worthy of replacing him. We do know that Christ has proven he is worthy of replacing him and shall at his second coming.

Our final point, when was Satan banned from the throne of God? Was it concurrent with his fall from grace? The answer is no; he had access to the Throne of God for a significant length of time after his fall from grace. Throughout the Bible we find references to Satan coming before the very Throne of God;

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it… 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD

(Job 1:6-7; 2:1)

Notice that when Satan ‘presented’ himself that God did not demand to know what he was doing there, it would seem that he, Satan, was still allowed access. It would also seem that Satan had a role similar to a modern day prosecutor;

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"

(Zech. 3:1 NIV)

the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

(Rev. 12:10)

So we see that the vision as written is accurate; that according to the Bible Satan and his angels were cast from heaven and confined to this planet after Jesus Christ ascended to heaven.

Joy in heaven

John tells, after Satan is defeated and cast down to earth, of hearing a voice from heaven exclaiming gladness that he has been cast down; "rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them". But this joy is tempered with a dire announcement to those on earth “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (vs. 12).

As was stated above the exact time of this heavenly war cannot be accurately pinpointed but it can be definitely placed somewhere between the crucifixion of Jesus and 70 AD. The certainty of this can be determined by what is stated by the voice and what is recorded as the next event in the vision. That the war occurred sometime after the crucifixion can be claimed based on something the voice from heaven said. In speaking of the followers of Christ the voice proclaims “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb[24] the followers of Christ could not have done this until his blood had been shed (Heb. 9:12-14, 28). Pointing to 70 AD as the later end of the possible time span for this war in heaven is based on what is recorded next in the vision; that the dragon, upon being cast to earth persecuted the woman and forced her to flee into the wilderness (vs. 13-15).

The dragon persecutes the woman

We are told that upon being cast down to earth the dragon was filled with great wrath because he knows he has a short time. He then persecutes the woman that brought forth the man child (vs. 12-13). John relates that the woman was “given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (vs. 14).

As with the previous verse that makes reference to the woman fleeing to the wilderness (vs. 6) this verse has spawned its fair share of discussion. Some believe that this verse is just a reiteration of verse 6 and it is discussing both the historical destruction of Jerusalem and is also prophesying of an end time destruction. The end-time theorist believe that this is speaking of God providing a place of safety somewhere in the wilderness for either the end time church or for converted Jews living in Jerusalem at that time. Many also claim, citing the mention of God granted the woman the wings of a great eagle and her flying to this place that whom ever these people are they will be airlifted there.

However as we have seen the belief that verse six was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem was incorrect is that true of this also? A careful examination of the history will show that this verse is speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem and it has already occurred as prophesied.

Recall that John said that after Satan was cast out, he was filled with wrath and persecuted the woman. It does not indicate there was any extreme length of time; as we shall see, at most, there was forty years delay between his expulsion and the fulfillment of this event. We are speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, specifically the temple.

As was mentioned earlier forty is associated with testing[25] and it would appear God was giving his people a test to see if they would accept Jesus as the Messiah and as we know they failed this test by not accepting him. It would appear that upon the expiration of this time span that Satan was allowed to vent his wrath upon Jerusalem. It says that the serpent “cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman” (vs. 15). Water or more specifically floods are often used as symbols of invading armies;

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

(Dan. 9:26)

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

(Isa. 59:19)

Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers? 8 Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.

(Jer. 46:7-8)

The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza. 2 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl. 3 At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; 4 Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor.

(Jer. 47:1-4)

While some may point out how the verse speaks of the woman having the wings of a great eagle and flying to the place of safety (vs. 14) which supposedly points to air travel and hence an end time fulfillment; God said he did this when he rescued the Israelites from Egypt;

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.

(Ex. 19:4)

It would seem that there are two things being alluded to in this passage; one, divine protection and two, speed. The image of an eagle representing God providing protection can be found in Deuteronomy;

For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. 10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

(Deut. 21:9-12)

That an eagle is portrayed as the bird whose wings God gives to his church implies the need for speed or not to delay. The speed of an eagle is mentioned in the Old Testament where it says;

Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

(II Samuel 1:23)

The need for haste relating to the destruction of Jerusalem was referred to specifically by Jesus. In the midst of his Olivet prophecy he tells his disciples;

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

(Luke 21:20-24)
15
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day

(Matt. 24:15-20 emphasis added)

This place in the wilderness that the woman flies to can be identified based on early church writing. According to Eusebius writing some 250 years after the incident;

The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea; the divine justice, for their crimes against Christ and his apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of these evildoers form the earth. [26]

Pella, now called Tabaqat Fahil, is located 100 km (about 62 miles) northwest of Amman and 18 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. It is also situated on the foothills of the Jordan valley. In 63 BC, Pompey organized it, along with nine other cities in the region including Damascus, Gerasa, Philadelphia, and Scythopolis into a federation known as the Decapolis for trade and a mutual defense. The region has some of the most fertile land and the geography provides a natural shield from winds and harsh winters. Also the area has an unusually abundant supply of water due to moderate rainfalls and a number of perennial springs. Obviously this place could offer nourishment to those Christians that had fled Jerusalem as Christ had directed.

It should be noted that the Greek word translated as ‘nourish’ is trephō and means; 1) to nourish, support, 2) feed, 3) to give suck, to fatten, 4) to bring up, nurture[27]. We have seen that Pella, in a physical sense, did nurture the refugees by adequately providing food and water, but it also nourished them in a spiritual sense. It did this by allowing them to remain together and allowing them to support and encourage each other.

It should also be pointed out that John says that the woman would be in this place for “a time, and times, and half a time” (vs. 14) or three and a half years. This is the length of time that the war lasted and there is archeological evidence that at least some of the Jewish Christians that had fled to Pella returned sometime after the temple was destroyed.

The vision concludes with the dragon being angry with the woman and he goes to make war with the remainder of her seed (vs. 17). This war is mentioned in other parts of Revelation (Rev. 11:7; 13:7; 17:14; 19:19). Christ himself identifies what the seed is in his parable of the sower and the tares (Matt. 13:24-30); in explaining the parable to his disciples he says that “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;” (Matt. 13:38) This is confirmed; that “the remnant of her seed, are those “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (vs. 17)


[1] "This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers" (Acts 7:38 RSV)

[2] "They set out from Elim, and all the congregation (ay-daw) of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt."(Exodus 16:1 RSV)

[3] Vine's Greek New Testament Dictionary

[4] IBID

[5]Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

[6] But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise (Malachi 4:2)

[7] Strong's G4450 - pyrros

[8] Deceiveth -- The word in Greek, planavw Planao, means to cause to stray, to lead astray. From the fall of Adam and Eve to this day, Satan is the chief cause of deception on the earth.

[9] Strong's G2048 - erēmos

[10] Matt. 3:1; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:2-3

[11] Strong's G2090 – hetoimazō

[12] Strong's G5117 - topos

[13] One needs to remember that Jesus clearly said he was sent specifically for the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6; 15:24). Also in the beginning the New Testament church was composed entirely of Jews. It wasn’t until Peter’s vision recorded in Acts 10:9-28 did the disciples realize that salvation was now open to the Gentiles.

[14] Strong's G726 – harpazō

[15] Strong's G305 – anabainō, elsewhere in the Bible it is rendered as; go up, come up, ascend up, climb up, spring up, grow up, come, enter, arise, rise up.

[16] Jesus the Jewish Theologian, pp 51-52

[17] While it is impossible to accurately determine when this war and Satan’s expulsion happened, based on the vision it can only be said that it occurred sometime between Christ’s ministry and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. A more plausible point would be close after his resurrection.

[18] "The Image of God in Scripture" pp 9-11

[19] There are numerous differing renderings of the word; KJV renders it as merchandise, the Darby rendition has it as traffic, and the Basic English Version renders it as trading.

[20] Satan, the adversary of Mnakind, Bryan Huie, April 7, 2009

[21] While the Book of Jasher is not in the Bible it is mentioned twice in the OT; Jos. 10:13; II Sam. 1:18

[22] Targum -- Any of several Aramaic explanatory translations or paraphrasing of the Hebrew Scriptures.; Answers.com

[23] Other scriptures also inform us that he is also the ruler of the fallen angels; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:9

[24] The ‘him’ is Satan.

[25] (Ex. 24:18; 34:28; Num. 13:25; 14:33-34; 32:13; Deut. 8:2; 10:10; 25:3; I Sam. 17:16; Jon. 3:4; Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2)

[26] Eusebius, Bk 3, ch. 5

[27] Strong's G5142 - trephō


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