Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Revelation 12:1-6 Satan's War Against Israel

KEY TEXT: Revelation 12:1-6 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

KEY THOT: The description of a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and crown of 12 stars reminds us of Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9, "Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, 'Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.'" The context of Joseph's dream was that his brothers (whose families form the 12 tribes of Israel) were the eleven stars bowing down to him and the sun and moon were Jacob and his wife. So, Jacob (Israel) responded to Joseph's dream: "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?" And out of this woman (Israel) was born a male-child who was "to rule the nations with a rod of iron" (Christ) and this male-child was "caught up to God and his throne", clearly a reference to Christ's ascension to the right hand of the Father. 

Having identified the "great sign" of the woman with a crown of twelve stars as Israel with her male-child Jesus Christ, we next come to the other sign of a red dragon which is identified in the text as "that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan" (v.9). The persecution of Israel took place after Christ has ascended to heaven. And the history of Israel is marked by persecutions & pogroms that culminated Stalin's pogroms of Russian Jews and Hilter's murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust. 

The founding of Israel in 1948 did not end the persecution for her economic success as the "start-up nation" has fueled jealousy among her neighbors bent on her destruction. But behind this anti-Semitic hatred and bias lies the red dragon, Satan. The devil hates Israel because the Saviour Jesus Christ came out of her and would one day "bruise his head" (Gen. 3:15). He knows his time is short and his rage is unbounded.

And the Church will not escape his rage because she is now grafted onto the original olive tree as Israel: "But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree" (Romans 11:17)

Paul emphasises this union of the Church with Israel in his letter to the Ephesians: "remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world... by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he (Christ) might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace" (Ephesians 2:12‭, ‬15). We share a common fate with Israel, not just a common faith.

But the good news is we will be shielded from Satan's assault on the new Israel: "and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days" (Revelation 12:6). And that period of 1,260 days (3.5 years) represents the second half of the 7-year Great Tribulation.

Abba-Father, You have made one new Man out of Israel and the Church, so that we now share a common faith and fate. May Your presence and protection guide Your people in these last days. Amen.

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