The War in Heaven and the War on Earth

At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people— everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered (Daniel 12:1).

THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL (12:7-9). Michael means “like God.” War breaks out in heaven. It appears the Archangel and his angels start the war, since the Dragon and his angels fought back. The objective of this war is to cast the forces of evil out of heaven and to the earth. Angels are capable of being captured and confined by chains and prisons like people (Daniel 10:13-21; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6-7; Revelation 9:11, 14; 20:1-10). The Great Dragon’s forces were not strong enough; they lost their place in heaven, and they were hurled to the earth. That is good news for heaven; bad news for the earth!

Could this be the same war as the one in heaven at Satan’s fall (Isaiah 14:12-14; Luke 10:18)? Certainly, Satan has led the whole world astray to the present and he will intensify his efforts during the Tribulation (Revelation 13:14; 20:3; John 8:44) and after the Millennium (Revelation 20:8-10).

THE SONG OF THE LOUD VOICE (12:10-12). This voice could be all heaven in one accord rejoicing over the victory won by Michael and his angels. Never again will Satan cross the threshold of Heaven. The voice announces seven things:

1. Salvation and power and the Kingdom of God has come
2. The authority of God’s Christ
3. The accuser has been hurled down
4. Martyrs have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and their testimony
5. Woe to the earth and sea
6. The Devil’s fury
7. The Devil knows his time is short

THE DRAGON PURSUES ISRAEL (12:13-16). The Devil knows that he has 1,260 days or three and one half years to be loose before being confined to the Abyss. He pursues Israel but she is given the two wings of a great eagle so she might fly to Petra, where God will take care of her for three and one half years.

What or who are the two wings of a great eagle? Reaching safety may involve God’s miraculous power or human instruments. After Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, God reminded the people, saying:

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself (Exodus 19:4).

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and either Pharaoh Psammetichus or Hophra of Egypt are called great eagles with powerful wings (Ezekiel 17:3, 7). Is it possible modern Egypt and Iraq (Assyria and Babylon) will help Israel to reach Petra?

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance” (Isaiah 19:23-25).

These two nations are going to be blessed in the kingdom for an important reason—God promises in the Abrahamic Covenant: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).

TWO MOUTHS. Mouth appears sixteen times in Revelation. The water like a river/flood might be evil propaganda against the Jews issuing from the Devil’s mouth. It could be the Antichrist’s armies in pursuit of Israel. Jeremiah 46:8 uses similar imagery:

Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters. She says, “I will rise and cover the earth; I will destroy cities and their people.”

The earth could open its mouth and swallow the armies of the Antichrist as it did Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16:29-35).

THE REMNANT (12:17) is the fifth personage in this parenthesis. Whatever happens will not keep Satan from making war against the rest of her offspring. Those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus are either tribulations saints not martyred or the remnant of Jews scattered in the other nations. In Christ all saints are offspring of God’s covenants with Israel (Romans 11:13-24).

Historicists identify the war in heaven as the time of Christianity’s conflict with heathenism in the days of Emperor Julian the Apostate (A.D. 361-363). The two wings of the great eagle given to protect the Church are the Western and Eastern divisions of the Roman Empire.

Preterists suggest the Archangel Michael is Christ and the death of Christ did not finish Satan but ended his career as an accuser of the brethren. If Satan is cast to the earth, he cannot accuse the saints before God any longer. The two wings of the great eagle stand for the escape of Judean Church from the Edomite and Roman invasions during the Jewish Wars. This church did escape to Pella in A.D. 66. The river or flood is the Devil’s campaigns against the Church.

Idealists believe the woman’s flight into the desert (where she is sustained for 1,260 days) speaks of God’s care of the Church throughout this age. The river from the Dragon’s mouth is either the peoples of the world or a stream of lies, delusion, religions, etc. The earth opening its mouth symbolically is seen as the saving of the Church from the dangers of deceit and false religions.

A Third of the Stars

THIRD OF THE STARS (12:4). Presently, Satan is “the prince of this world” and is “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), with a host of demonic forces at his disposal. His tail swept a third of the stars [fallen angels or demons] out of the sky [heaven] and flung them to the earth. At least one third of the angels rebelled with Satan and they presently have access to heaven (if this war in heaven takes place in the future).

The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. Throughout history, Satan has attempted to stop the Messiah’s birth. Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill boys when they were born (Exodus 3:16). Athaliah managed to kill all the heirs to the throne of David, except for Joash, who was hidden from her (2 Kings 11:1-3). Herod the Great gave orders to kill all boys two years and under living near Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth (Matthew 2:16).

THE MALE CHILD: HIS INCARNATION, RETURN AND ASCENSION (12:5). She gave birth to a son, a male child [with Christ’s incarnation], who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter [at His Second Coming]. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne [at His ascension].

THE PREPARED PLACE (12:6). The woman [Israel] fled into the desert to a place [Petra] prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days [the last half of the Tribulation].

Isaiah 16:1-5 predicts the flight of Israel into Moab and Edom, and mentions Sela (Petra) the ancient capital of Edom as their headquarters during Tribulation. Also the prophet pictures Christ in His second coming as descending from the direction of Edom where the Israelites are to be protected (Isaiah 63:1-5; Matthew 24:27; cf. Isaiah 19:23-25).

In addition, Isaiah predicts that the people in the desert and Sela will sing rejoicing at the LORD’S coming (Isaiah 42:11-13). The woman (Israel) will be delivered from the Antichrist along with those who protect her (Luke 21:21-28).

The Antichrist will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon (Jordan of today) will be delivered from his hand (Daniel 11:41).

The Seven Personages

CHAPTERS TWELVE AND THIRTEEN is the fourth division of the sevenfold structure of revelation as well as another parenthesis. This interlude reveals the seven key personages of the Great Tribulation. The twelfth chapter contains flashbacks and flash-forwards. The woman in this chapter is the key interpretive figure of the Apocalypse. Covenant theologians, who spiritualize the fulfillment of the OT prophecies, interpret the woman as the Church. Dispensational theologians, who take the OT prophecies as literal, interpret the woman as Israel. The crux of the interpretation of the entire book revolves around the identity of this woman.

Historicists see chapters 4-11 as the outward state of the Church and chapters 12-19, looking at the same period, as the inward state of the Church. The woman’s child symbolizes the enthronement of Constantine over the entire empire in A.D. 324.

Preterists hold different views at this point. Some see the prophecy continuing with the destruction of Jerusalem, now called Babylon; while others see Babylon as the city of Rome, the great persecutor of the Church, in the remaining chapters. The woman is the faithful remnant of Israel and her child is Christ.

Idealists view the principal details of these chapters as beginning at Acts 11:9 so that they are not prophetic but relate to things past and passing. The travailing woman is either the believing remnant of OT Israel or a symbol of God’s people in both OT and NT dispensations. All agree the child is Christ.

Futurists find details unfolded that chronologically precede the consummation of God’s judgment. Some along with the Roman Catholics say the woman is Virgin Mary. The majority take the woman to be Israel and her child to be Christ.

THE HEAVENLY CLAD WOMAN (12:1-2). Some believe this woman is the visible outward false church. However, the false church is spoken of as a woman, who is a great prostitute (Revelation 17). Others say she is the Church in travail awaiting the Rapture.

However, this description of the woman is found in Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9, in which the sun and moon and twelve stars depict the family of Jacob, the people of Israel. Israel is often spoken of as a woman married to God under the terms of the old covenant (Isaiah 54:1-6; Jeremiah 3:1-14; Hosea. 2:14-23). Israel gave birth to Christ (cf. Isaiah 9:6-7; Romans 9:4-5; 12:5).

Israel is identified as the woman by the wars against her and her seed. The same predictions of this woman are found in connection with Israel in the OT so they must be the same (Daniel 7:21; 8:9-14, 24-25; 9:27; 11:40-45; 12:1, 7; Joel 3; Zechariah 12:1-9; 13:8-9; 14:1-21).

The Seventh Seven of Daniel 9:27 concerns Israel and Jerusalem, as did the first sixty-nine sevens (Daniel 9:24-27). The Church is not once mentioned in connection with these last day events. Therefore, this woman is taken to be Israel.

THE GREAT RED DRAGON (12:3-4).

There is no doubt as to the identity of the dragon.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9).

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2).

In Revelation, four names are used for the Evil One:

1. The Great Dragon depicts that he is the enemy of God and Israel
2. The Ancient Serpent points to his craftiness in deception
3. The Devil denotes that he is a slanderer or accuser
4. Satan means he is an adversary or enemy

In Revelation, the Evil One’s end is recorded in four stages:

1. From the air to the earth (Revelation 12:9; Luke 10:18)
2. From the earth to the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3)
3. From the bottomless pit to the earth (Revelation 20:7-9)
4. From the earth to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10)

Dragon is used fourteen times in Revelation as a symbol of Satan. The fall, rebellion, and end of Satan (the Guardian Cherub or the Morning Star, Lucifer in Latin Vulgate) are vividly described in Isaiah 14:12-20 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. He is a created being, not a god! He is powerful, however. He presently controls the kingdoms of this world as well as the demonic realm. When Adam and Eve fell in sin, Satan seized dominion and rule of this planet. Even Christians are warned not to underestimate the power of their adversary:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27). Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Ten heads and ten horns and seven crowns on the beast’s head correspond to Daniel’s vision of the Fourth Beast (Daniel 7:7, 23-25) and John’s vision of the Beast (Revelation 17:8-14).