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Revelation 12:13–17

“The dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea” (v. 17).

Having failed to destroy Christ, Satan was cast out of heaven. He can no longer accuse believers of sin and failure, for we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus (Rev. 12:1–12; see 2 Cor. 5:21). Yet that does not mean the devil has given up. As Revelation 12:12 tells us, Satan, the great and evil dragon, has come down to the earth in great wrath.

After being defeated by Jesus, Satan has tried to destroy our Savior’s people. According to Revelation 12:13, he first pursues the woman from John’s vision. This woman, as we have seen, represents faithful Israel, the remnant of God’s people (see Gen. 37:9; Isa. 54:1; Mic. 4:9–10). The woman escapes into the wilderness on the two wings of a great eagle. There she is “nourished” (Rev. 12:14). We have imagery taken from the exodus here. God brought Israel to the wilderness on eagles’ wings, as it were, and there He fed, cared for, and protected them (see, for example, Ex. 16; 17:8–16; 19:4). So, we find assurance in the imagery of the woman’s escape from the dragon that God will care for the remnant of His people. As Satan attempts to destroy God’s children, he will not finally succeed.

The woman is nourished in the wilderness for “a time, times, and half a time” (v. 14). This works out to three and a half years, or forty-two months, or 1,260 days, which had come in John’s day to represent any period of time associated with the persecution of God’s people by foreigners. Our study of Revelation 11:3–14 argued that in Revelation, 1,260 days refers to the period between Christ’s first and second comings. Thus, God will take care of His people in every generation as we wait for Jesus to return.

Verse 15 of today’s passage tells us that Satan attempts to defeat the woman by pouring “water like a river out of his mouth . . . to sweep her away with a flood.” In Revelation, the mouth usually refers to speech (1:16; 13:5); thus, commentators remark that this likely refers to Satan’s attempt to destroy the church through prompting earthly foes of God to utter false words of slander against it or to inspire false brothers to speak words of false teaching within the church. Either way, Satan will not be ultimately successful. The earth will swallow up this flood from the dragon, a metaphor for defeat (see Ex. 15:4–12). But even then, the devil will not give up. He will continue to make war on the woman’s offspring (12:17), which is another reference to God’s people.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Even when the days look darkest for the church, we can be sure that God will provide for His people. He has promised to care for us and to preserve us. That may not always mean success in the short term. However, the long-term prospects for the church are glorious indeed. God’s truth will win in the end, and we are called simply to be faithful in the meantime.

For Further Study
  • Numbers 16:1–40
  • Mark 1:12–13

Michael Battles Satan

Bruised Reeds

Keep Reading Truth

From the November 2020 Issue
Nov 2020 Issue