Verse 5: Chapters ten through 12 of Revelation focus on Gods ministry to Israel. In this context, the image of a woman giving birth is a symbolic way of saying Israel has one more spiritual child to bear before the end. Over the course of human history, this nation has given the world many spiritual children. As Jesus said, Salvation is from the Jews (Jn 4:22). Judaism and Christianity have both come from this parent, but up to now the vast majority of Christians have been Gentile believers. The reference at the end of this chapter to the rest of her children (v 17) refers to Gentile Christians. By this vision, God is declaring He will not allow this age to close without a great ingathering of Jewish believers. There will be a last male child born to Israel and it will be a powerful Jewish church who will boldly proclaim Christ in the face of violent persecution (Rev 12:11). Verse five goes on to say that this child will be caught up to God which means that God will safely bring each one to Himself (Rev 14:1; 15:2-4) either by a rapture (1Th 4:7) or by martyrdom. They may die violently but not a hair of their heads will perish (Lk 21:10-19).
Verse 6: Though it cannot be said with certainly, it seems to me the male child and the 144,000 are symbols meant to represent the same group: Jews who turn to Christ during the final seven years. During that time, many Jews will receive Jesus Christ having been evangelized by Moses and Elijah, or at least two men who bear their same powers (Rev 11:3-13). Satan will try to halt the process (Rev 11:7) but will not succeed. A strong Jewish church will be born who will defeat him (Rev 12:11) and ultimately stand victoriously with Christ in heaven (Rev 14:1-5). Verse 6 (continued): During the final 3 1Ъ2 years, Israel is going to be a special target. The dragon will hate the nation and try to destroy it, but once again this population will flee into the wilderness as they fled from Pharaoh during the Exodus (Ex 13:17-22). God will prepare a place where He can protect them from the antichrists planned genocide (Rev 12:13-17). He will care for them like a mother who nourishes her young for 1,260 days which means the final 3 1Ъ2 years following the abomination of desolation. This scenario corresponds remarkably with Jesus statement in Matthew 24:15-22. There He warns those who live in Judea to flee to the mountains when they see the abomination of desolation because a merciless genocide will erupt immediately (Da 9:27).
Verses 7, 8: The reason for this sudden genocidal persecution results directly from an event which takes place in the spiritual world. God will evict Satan from heaven. Up until that point, he had been allowed to constantly accuse believers before God (Rev 12:10). However, in preparation for the end, God will order the archangel, Michael, to forcibly remove Satan and his angels. Satan will violently resist being removed and will put up a fight, but in the end will be cast out of heaven. Verse 9: Having been removed from heaven, Satan is thrown down to the earth. The names given here clearly identify him as the evil source behind Adam and Eves temptation as well as every generation of humans since. Verse 10: A loud voice declares that Satans eviction from heaven is essential to establishing Gods rulership on earth. The source of deception and accusation must be removed before a new era can begin. We discover in this verse that the one who has tempted us to sin immediately reports our failure to God along with the demand that we be justly punished. Thankfully, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1Jn 2:1). As our high priest, Jesus makes constant intercession for us (Heb 7:25) based on a new covenant (Heb 8:6).
Revelation 12:11, 12
Verse 11: The statement made here about embattled believers who overcome Satan applies to true believers in every generation. This victory is based on two important elements. First, the blood of the Lamb washes away sin so that Satan cannot successfully demand that God judge us. Second, by the word of their testimony believers continue to faithfully testify to Christ as their Savior even when such faithfulness means death. Not every generation of Christians faces violent persecution, but the same depth of commitment which refuses to deny Christ must be in us all (Lk 9:23-26; 2Ti 2:12). Verse 12: Satans defeat at the hands of Michael and his angels is good news for heaven. No longer will they have to endure that malevolent spirit as he seeks to doom humans by calling upon God to judge them. But, his ejection from heaven brings the third woe to earth (Rev 8:13). Previously, Satan conducted his campaign of temptation and torment through the agency of rebellious angels (demons) who followed him in his rebellion against God. On occasion, he could be found roaming about on the earth and walking around on it (Job 1:6, 7; 2:1, 2) but his principle energies went into accusation (v 10). Its important to note here that Satan is a created spirit and as such lacks the divine attributes of God such as omnipresence. While God is everywhere at the same moment (Ps 139:7-12; Ac 17:28), Satan is not. He can only be in one place at a time so only after he is cast out of heaven does he personally arrive on planet earth. When he arrives, he is furious at his defeat and is aware he will soon face Gods judgment. Knowing his end is near, he accelerates his efforts in order to doom as many as possible during the time he has left.
Verse 13: When Satan arrives on earth, he takes personal control of the antichrist and the transformation that results is the center point of the final seven-year period. Three and a half years before this, the antichrist will have made a firm covenant with many which I take to mean he will grant some sort of edict of toleration towards other religions or at least Judaism because when he breaks this covenant 3 1Ъ2 years later, he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering. Taken literally, this statement in Daniel (Da 9:27) pictures worship being carried on in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Animal sacrifices and grain offerings are being allowed which must mean the Temple has been rebuilt. Then suddenly that covenant which allowed this worship to be conducted is broken and a horrible abomination takes place (Mt 24:15; 2Th 2:4). This is followed immediately (on the wing of...) by a murderous genocide intending to desolate all of Gods people (Mt 24:21, 22). Thankfully, Daniel goes on to assure us God has decreed a complete destruction of the one who makes desolate (the antichrist).
Revelation 12:13, 14
Verses 13, 14: Satans arrival on earth results in the immediate persecution of national Israel. His ancient hatred for the Jews has been further aggravated by the emergence among them of many who are earnest followers of Jesus Christ. But again God will miraculously protect national Israel. God told Israel through Moses, I bore you on eagles wings (Ex 19:4) to describe their miraculous rescue from Egypt. Now John sees two wings of the great eagle being given again to national Israel. Once more God will rescue them by transporting them into the wilderness, but this time, instead of Pharaoh it will be a satanically-possessed antichrist that pursues them, but he will not succeed. Israel will be carried to her place to be nourished for 3 1Ъ2 years (time, times, and half a time Da 7:25; 12:7). As we saw in verse six (12:6), God will somehow prepare a haven for a huge number of people in a place which is out of the antichrists reach. There they will be supplied with food and water. Truly another Exodus is in store for Israel. The purpose for this massive effort is not stated but it must be to prolong the season of Jewish evangelization begun during the first 3 1Ъ2 years (Rev 11:3-13) or to ensure that they reach the Millennium alive (Rev 20:1-9).
Verse 15: Satan will make a desperate attempt to destroy the Jews who are being protected in the wilderness. He is pictured as a serpent pouring water like a river out of his mouth. This may mean the antichrist will send a huge military force after them, but its also possible it is meant to be taken literally. The antichrist might try to divert a river to flood their camp. Verse 16: Whether the attack comes from a military, a flood of water or some other source, God appears to send a natural disaster to thwart the antichrists plan. Since one of the largest fault lines in the earths crust (the Great Rift Valley) runs beneath the Jordan River Valley and extends south into Africa, the potential for the earth opening its mouth is very realistic. Given all the earthquakes and other natural disasters that will occur prior to this (Rev 8:8-11) its possible God might defend the people of Israel by moving them into the wilderness east of the Dead Sea and then open a massive crevice along that great fault line. Verse 17: Frustrated in his attempts to annihilate Israel, the dragon will turn his fury to Gentile Christians around the world. These too are spiritual children of the woman Israel. In the next chapter, we will see how he conducts this world-wide campaign.