And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he persecuted the woman that brought forth the man child. And there were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness unto her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus: Revelation 12:13–17
Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 171–174
A. WAR BETWEEN THE WOMAN AND THE DRAGON RESUMED, verses 13–17a
When the dragon notices that he has been hurled down to the earth he goes in pursuit of the woman who had given birth to the male child. Yes, Satan wreaks remorseless vengeance upon the Church for having produced Christ, according to his human nature.
Do not minimize the bitterness of the serpent’s wrath or the severity of the persecution to which it gave rise. Have you ever read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs or Antonio Gall0nio’s Torture of the Christian Martyrs? The cruelties which these believers suffered were so horrifying that in comparison with them the “inconveniences” which we endure are trifling. There seemed to be no limit to devilish ingenuity. Christians were anointed with honey and then exposed to the stings of bees, attached to stakes under a blazing sun, consumed over slow fires, beaten with cudgels, exposed to vultures, racked at the pulleys, crushed like grapes in a press, sawn asunder with an iron saw, tom apart and devoured by wild beasts, bound to tails of wild horses and thus cruelly dragged about, flayed alive, etc.
But did this dire affliction destroy the Church? The very opposite occurred. As has often been remarked, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” In the vision as John sees it the woman, having received eagle’s wings, flies into the wilderness where she is nourished for a certain definite period “away from the face of the serpent.” Let Satan rage for all he is worth. He cannot even reach the woman so as to destroy her. His power is definitely curtailed. For further explanation see on Rev. 20:1–3.
Now when the serpent notices that he cannot even reach the woman, he disgorges a stream of water from his mouth and pows it after the woman in order to engulf her. But the earth swallows up that river. Meaning: Satan’s attempt fails completely.
B. WAR BETWEEN THE DRAGON AND INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS, verse 17b
Unable to destroy the Church as a mighty, unified organization Satan now launches a desperate attack upon individual believers. He is thinking, “If I cannot sweep away the Church as a unit all at once, perhaps I can destroy its members one by one.”
1. The present section teaches that Satan’s attack against the Church is really an attack against whom?
2. Is there any relation between the time-references in the following passages from the book of Revelation: 11:2, 3; 12:6,14; 13:5?
3. Is the fall of Satan to which 12:13 refers the same as the one indicated in II Peter 2:4?
4. Note the eagle in verse 14. What scriptural lessons are connected with eagles?
5. Note Satan’s perseverance in evil as indicated in the present section. What should we do to persevere in whatever is pleasing to God?
6. Christ is “the seed of the woman.” Believers are “the rest of her seed.” What is the implication of this comparison?
7. According to verse 17 what is the mark of the Christian?