The War continues…
The book of Revelation can be described as a commentary on the war with Satan that is constantly being fought between the Angels of God and the angels of Satan. It is a war that is being fought in the heavenly and unseen realm where time as we know it does not exist on earth. The real battle is for the souls of men and women. The battlefield is not confined only to the spiritual and unseen realm but is also raging on this earth as nation rides against nation, kingdom against Kingdom, pestilence, famine earthquakes and many false prophets and increasing persecution of faithful Christians. All of these things are conspicuous features in the world today. They have always been around but in these last days they are multiplying as the Lord Jesus said they would. These “birth pains” the Lord Jesus spoke about or “contractions” as it were are becoming more frequent and more intense as the birth of the kingdom of God draws nearer.
The First Great Sign
In study one we saw a great sign appear in heaven and we also looked at what it meant. It was not referring to Mary but to Israel, God’s woman and by extension the faithful Church. In the dream Joseph had where he saw the sun and the moon and the eleven stars bowing down to him for his time it meant that Jacob (the sun) Rachel (the moon) the eleven stars (his brothers) would bow down and pay him homage. This dream was a clear reference to Israel. In John’s vision he sees the sun and the moon and the twelve stars and in a different context but never the less a reference to Israel. Also in the light of the New Testament the sun represented the Lord Jesus, the moon represented the Church corporately and the stars individual believers in both Testaments. In John’s vision we see Israel and the Church together. Remember that the first church was Jewish and believing Gentiles grafted into the root (believing Israel) become spiritual linked to Israel. Israel is the root and both Jewish and Gentile believers are branches grafted into the olive tree (The Commonwealth of Israel). When you look at the history of the world in relation to believers in both the Old and the New Testament they are both persecuted. Even today Satan is trying to exterminate Israel and born again Bible believing Christians.
A great red dragon
(Vs 3) “Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon…”
In the Bible we are told that the dragon represents Satan. In our text he is referred to as; “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan.” (Vs 9) So it is clear that the dragon is Satan. Some have said it may refer to Red China; however, the text is clear it is Satan who is the dragon. He is a red dragon because of the blood he has shed on the earth through wicked and evil men and women on earth. He also appears elsewhere in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 13:2) (Revelation 16:13). In all of these references he is connected to bloodshed, violence and especially to the Antichrist and his cohorts from hell.
Today the predominant colour on the flag of Turkey is red. On many maps in Turkey they have used red to colour in all of the countries they want to conquer especially those countries that once were part of the previous Turkish Ottoman Empire which lasted at least for a thousand years. The countries coloured in red on many maps in Turkey today cover the European continent parts of Russia and China not to mention Indonesia and all of the Middle-eastern countries. In other words Turkey wants to re-establish a global Caliphate and the supremacy of Islam in the world.
The Armenian Genocide
Turkey has a bloody history of violence and especially the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in the early 1900’s most of whom were Christians. The “bloody” empire is again on the rise, “the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lives!”
Turkey and Germany
In relation to the refugee crisis, Turkey and Germany got into bed with each other, The Government of Germany may well, in time, produce another youth movement aligning themselves with a Turkish youth movement and together going after Jews and Born-Again Bible believing Christians. What Adolph Hitler did in signing a pact with Turkey the German government may well sign a pact with Turkey? Time will tell of course, however, there is not much of it left! The Genocide Turkey committed against the Armenians, many of whom were Christians, may be repeated by them and Germany against Bible Believing Christians as well as the Jews. What Adolph Hitler did to the Jewish people may well be repeated and spearheaded by the Antichrist nation of Turkey with Germany following behind? Nazi Germany had a mass following of Hitler and the Turkish Caliphate, once established again, likewise will have a great following of young Islamic soldiers giving their allegiance to the Caliph Himself in the same way the youth of Germany gave their allegiance to Adolph Hitler.
The Beast Empire of the Antichrist
“…having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.”
Notice also that Satan is connected to earthly empires. The diadems represent the kings of these empires. John brings these empires up again in the book of Revelation. These empires are historical empires. In brief John also tells us that the seven heads are seven mountains (kingdoms) and also seven kings. He said five have fallen. Historically these five kingdoms would have to be 1. Egypt 2. Assyria 3. Babylon. 4. Medo-Persia 5.Greece. The Sixth king was Rome which was in existence at the time John wrote.
A Seventh and eighth kings
Then he saw in his vision a seventh kingdom and historically this would have been Islam as it was the empire of Islam that overthrew the Roman Empire. John also saw an eighth king and this king belonged to the seven. This king was to come in the future. This was the King and his beast empire that was, and is not, and yet will come. This is the Kingdom of the Antichrist. In view of ancient and not so ancient history this would have to be an Islamic Empire. There are 10 horns also mentioned and they all give their power and authority to the beast. These would have to be 10 Islamic States that follow after the Beat Empire of Islam. This Beast Empire that was once, is not, but will come again is the same beast Empire that comes up in Revelation chapter thirteen. It is the Beast Empire that “was wounded by the sword and yet lived!”
The Roman Empire fell to Islam
In the light of the situation in the world today and in view of the situation in the Middle-East It would have to be Islam! Furthermore, when you consider the refuge invasion of Europe you have the Islamic Beast Empire expanding its tentacles over Europe and invading the west. Also keep in mind that Islam destroyed the Eastern leg of the Roman Empire. The Byzantium Empire in the East lasted another 1,000 years after the western leg of the Roman Empire fell to the barbarians. In 476 C.E. Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the west, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. The order that the Roman Empire had brought to Western Europe for 1000 years was no more.
Islam “the Beast wounded by the sword and yet lives!”
There is no doubt today that Islam is spreading throughout the world. It is a Beast Empire unlike anything that has been before. It is infiltrating virtually every nation on the globe. All of the wars in the world today are wars with Islam. This is the Beast Empire of revelation. As yet there is no supreme Caliph but he is coming and with him the Caliphate. The Turkish Ottoman Empire is making a comeback and if Erdogan has his way he will be the first Caliph of a global Islamic Empire. Either he will be the first Caliph or there is one waiting in the wings in obscurity for now but to be revealed in his time. When you look at Islam it has a bloody history of murder, death and destruction.
Islam cannot assimilate
It is the fourth Beast in Daniel’s vision that cannot assimilate with any other previous empires. Islam cannot assimilate into any other cultures. In Revelation chapter 17 we are also told that the Beast Empire (Islam) and the 10 kings (A Federation of 10 Muslim nations) will wage war against the Lamb (Jesus) and that the Lamb will overcome them. Islam persecutes “the People of the Book” namely Jews and Christians. If you look at Islam today these are the two people groups they target more than any other people group.
Three forms of Apostasy
(Vs 4) “And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.”
Stars are symbolic of believers in both Testaments. Here John sees the tail of the dragon sweeping a third of the stars out of heaven and throwing them to the earth. Some will say this is a reference to the angelic beings that fell with Satan, however, when you consider stars as believers it is clearly a reference to the great apostasy or falling away mentioned in the Second letter of Paul to the Thessalonians. In the New Testament there are three forms of apostasy.
1. “A faith without works”
The first form is when believers start to live below the standard of living taught in the New Testament. They may have “a form of godliness, but deny its power” to change their lives. They believe in the right things but do not live according to what they profess to believe. (Hebrews 6:4-6) The Apostle James also mentions this when he says that a person may believe and even ardently profess to believe in the Lord Jesus and in the word of God but do not have works along the lines of the faith they profess. Their faith is a dead faith. They may believe the right things but do not live out their faith every day.
2. A Complete turn-around
The second form of course is a complete renunciation of faith in Jesus and stepping out from the path of faith and practice and publicly denying the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a voluntary action of the will where one deliberately steps out of and away from a secure position. A deliberate decision to turn ones back on the Lord Jesus and to go out and as it were to “to bust hell wide open!” Of course there is no redemption for those who take this course of action. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
3. Taking others with them!
Then there is the third form which has been mentioned that is found in 2nd Thessalonians. Paul mentions, “The Apostasy” and this is not only falling away from the faith and stepping out of the way of salvation but also seeking to turn others away from the faith and taking others with them. Those who do this are not only deceiving others but themselves as well. (2 Timothy 3:13) They profess to be servants of righteousness but are doing Satan’s work. When we see Satan as the Dragon we see him as the persecutor of the saints but when he appears as the serpent he is the seducer. Spiritual seduction is rampant in the professing Christian Church today. Whether it is Ecumenism, Purpose Driven, Seeker friendly, Alpha, Post-Modernistic thinking, the Immerging Church with its Eucharistic Christ or interfaith worship or the hype artistry of the faith prosperity money preachers on TV or the many charlatans and false prophets around or the extreme forms of Charismania it is all spiritual seduction. Those who turn away from the word of God and teach others to follow them will go to hell. These are the modern-day Pharisees. The Lord Jesus says to them what He said to the Pharisees of His time; “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! (Actors) You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15)
Persecution is coming!
The tail of the Dragon sweeping away a third of the stars of heaven also speaks to us about a persecution that will cause many to fall away from their faith and even betray their brothers and sisters to save their own life in this world. Already the Beast Empire of Islam is persecuting the saints. Through this persecution the LORD is weeding out the tares from the wheat. It is a judgement but also a refining process. When you have a third swept away out of three thirds it is a severe decimation of numbers. According to what the Lord Jesus said in His Olivet discourse many would fall away because of the increase of wickedness (lawlessness) but also mentioned that many would fall away and betray one another when faced with persecution.
Now persecution of faithful believers has always been around but in the Last days it will become common place in almost every country in the world. For some it will mean alienation from family members and loss of their inheritance, for others it will mean loss of work and freedom of speech, for others it will mean demotion at work, loss of friends, rejection by pears and colleagues. Yet for others it will mean torture, prison and poverty and martyrdom. Some will escape but not many when the Dragon’s tail sweeps the nations of the earth. At that time many Mega-Churches will disappear. Money preachers and false prophets and teachers will seek to hide themselves in their closets from what is coming on their congregations. Tragically and sadly, even those sincere proponents of the pre-Tribulation rapture theory will find themselves unable to answer their congregations as to what they are still here after the Antichrist has been revealed and has started his systematic persecution of faithful Christians. Not only does Satan go after faithful Christians but also he has tried to destroy Israel as well. He is anti-Semitic to the core and is encouraging many within and without the professing Christian Church to hate Israel. John writes about Satan’s hatred for Israel. Let’s look at this…
Anti-Semitism is nothing new!
“And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.”
There are many characters that typify the Antichrist in the Bible and King Herod was one of them. He was satanically inspired to kill off all of the boys who were two years and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity when he learned from the Magi that Israel’s Messiah and true king had been born in Bethlehem. Herod had pretended to be favourably disposed towards the Lord Jesus but in reality Herod was set on Jesus’ destruction. Down through history, despot after despot had tried to systematically destroy the people of Israel. Whether it was the Kings of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon or the Philistines, the Amalekites, the Midianites or the emperors of Rome all of them were types of the Antichrist to come, all of them tools in Satan’s hands to destroy Israel and to prevent the coming of the Messiah. Satan knew the Bible and feared what was coming. However, after the Lord Jesus had been born the LORD warned his parents Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt with their infant son. At that time the Lord Jesus was just “a tender root out of dry ground” and needed protecting and nurturing.
Satan is ‘hamstrung’
Satan could not prevent the first coming of Jesus and down through history even to the present day he has consistently tried to destroy Israel. He knows that if he can destroy Israel then he will stop God’s prophetic purposes from coming to fruition at the Second Coming of Jesus. Israel is God’s prophetic time-clock for the nations and Satan knows this and is doing everything he can to delay and even destroy God’s prophetic plan and purposes to establish the Millennial Kingdom of His dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course Satan experienced his first defeat with the first coming of Jesus and he will experience his last defeat with the Second Coming of Jesus. His ultimate defeat will be at Jerusalem!
(Vs5-6) “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
This is a very clear reference to the Resurrection and more particularly to the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Also it speaks of His Second Coming to rule the nations with an iron rod when He establishes His Millennial Kingdom on earth. Now there is a teaching being perpetrated by a certain Bible teacher who is promoting the heresies of Roman Catholicism. According to his view the woman spoken of here is Mary. This fits in well with those who magnify Mary and attribute to her titles and deeds and functions in heaven that is nowhere taught in the Word of God. This idea is in reality promoting Roman Catholic dogma about Mary. This is another subject of course. The woman here in the text clearly is Israel. Now Mary did take the infant Jesus through the desert down into Egypt, however, was it for 1,260 days in duration?
The 1,260 days
The Bible tells us that the 1,260 days is equivalent to times, times and half a time or to three and a half years. (Vs 14) This time period is the Time of Jacob’s Trouble or what we can call the Great Tribulation which will last for three and a half years and culminate with the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. During this time a remnant of Jewish believers in Jesus will escape the city of Jerusalem and be protected from the reach of the Antichrist. In 70AD, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, there was a remnant of Messianic believers who were secretly and supernaturally led out of the city through the Roman lines undetected consequently escaping the destruction of the city. They were led by Simeon who had replaced James who had been killed with the sword by King Herod. All those who believed what Jesus had said 40 years before concerning the destruction of Jerusalem fled the city just before “the axe was laid to the root.”
A believing remnant
In the very near future when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies once again there will be a believing remnant who will have Jesus revealed to them supernaturally by the Spirit and escape out of the hands of the Antichrist just like the Messianic believers did in 70AD. Not only this but this escape also teaches us about the rapture and resurrection of the faithful Church at the end. It will be rescued out of the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 7:14) Faithful Christians will go into the Great tribulation but be rescued out just prior to Jesus’ return. They will be saved out of the worst of it. Like Lot they will be rescued just before the fiery bowls of God’s wrath are poured out on a Christ hating, Christ rejecting world. Faithful believers will never experience the wrath of God. In this life we will experience the wrath of Satan but never experience the wrath of God. When God sends judgements it is to correct, to chasten and to rebuke with restoration in mind. However, when God dispenses wrath as He did in the time of Noah there is no reprieve! Once the door of the ark was sealed up no one could be saved. The flood in Noah’s time was an event depicting and foreshadowing the wrath of God that will be poured out at the end of the Great Tribulation in the future.
In the Old Testament many themes are recycled for the Church and many events are foreshadows and types of the last Days pre-ceding and leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The case of Lot teaches us about this. Now we are told that Lot was a righteous soul in that he was vexed or troubled by the filthy conversation of the wicked every day. The word conversation (KJV) includes speech as well as conduct. He lived in a world that was very much the same as the world we live in today. Immorality, bi-sexuality and sodomy was everywhere in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Of course when you look at Sodom and Gomorrah you see in a capsulated form what the world will be like just before the Lord Jesus comes back. Even the Lord Jesus Himself said this would be so. (Luke 18:28-29) Now Lot was in the city along with his wife and daughters. He was somewhat reluctant to leave as the two angels that rescued him had to virtually drag him out of the city. Even though he was a righteous man and living by faith he was also to a degree attached to the things of this world and was a prominent citizen in that city. It was only due to the Grace of God and to the intercessory prayers of Abraham that brought about his rescue from the city.
Will it be Rescue, or Retribution?
We are also told in the Bible that the very same day Lot left the city the fire of God fell upon those wicked cities of the plain. He was there right up to the very last moment. This teaches us about the rapture and resurrection of the faithful Church at the end. They will suffer persecution but be saved out from it just before the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out on the cities of this world. For most part the Great Tribulation will be the wrath of Satan and only the very last part will be the wrath of God. Faithful Christians will suffer the wrath of Antichrist but never suffer the wrath of God. The Apostle Paul clearly tells us this in his first letter to the Thessalonians. He writes; “For God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…who rescues us from the coming wrath!”(1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1:10) The moment Lot was rescued out of the city the fire fell from heaven! It will be this way for the faithful Church at the end.
What do we value most?
Righteous Lot has suffered persecution through the hostility of his neighbours and was not really welcome among his peers. They called him “an alien and stranger” among them because he did not go along with their value system even though he lived among them as a prominent and wealthy man. When he was entertaining the two angels we are told that all of the men and even boys of the city of Sodom wanted to have sex with the angels and even pressed against Lot at the very door of his house where the angels were staying. Even after the angels had struck those men and boys with blindness they still groped around in darkness trying to find the two angels to have sex with them. Likewise, Lot’s wife was very much immersed into the world of fashion, comfort and a lavish lifestyle, after all Lot was a prominent man of the city.
Remember Lot’s wife
When the rescue came Lot and his family were told not to look back but to run as quickly as possible from the city. We all know what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back. She was turned into a pillar of salt. Her affections and her heart and mind were still attached to the world and she valued and loved her lifestyle and social contacts more than she loved God and was swept away in the fiery holocaust that overthrew those sodomite cities on the plain. Like Lot she was escaping from the city but looked back and was lost! Just before Jesus comes back the pressure on faithful Christians to compromise and resist attraction to the things of this world will be unrelenting. In the end it will be a miracle if anyone is saved and rescued. Peter writes about this when he says; “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:18) It was only the intercession that Abraham made for Lot that caused the compassion of the LORD to rest on Lot. It will only be through the intercession of our Great High Priest the Lord Jesus Christ Himself that any of us who believe in Him will be saved!