III. The final persecution of Israel

That brings us back to Israel. We have seen their role in the drama of the ages and the war in heaven. Now we see the defeated enemy persecuting the woman after his fall. “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” The devil turned the venom of persecution toward Israel. He hates her because she is the one that brought the Messiah into the world for he looks at her now as “the woman which brought forth the man child.” The hatred of Jews always goes back to the truth of Christ. Salvation is of the Jews (Rom. 9:5). The existence of Israel is a constant reminder that God is working in this world. This is the final solution of Satan.

First consider the great deliverance of the nation of Israel. “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place….” This immediately hails us back to the words of Christ where He said that after the end is revealed those in the nation of Israel should flee (Matt. 24:16) and specifically referred to this as a flight (Matt. 24:20). Some talk about this flight of Israel as if it was an actual and literal aerial deliverance. It appears to be symbolic language on the speed of the escape. The most important point is that the woman had two wings “given” to her. The ability to escape the hand of the enemy is never in our own hands. We are helpless without divine assistance. It is God that gave her the ability to flee. When Israel fled from Egypt God aided them in the same manner. “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Ex. 19:4). God is again leading them out of captivity and will soon crush their enemies. “He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him” (Deut. 32:10-12). The promise is again given to all that wait upon the Lord: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). So the flight was divine deliverance. God aided them and carried them with wings as eagles to safety.

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Secondly, we see the provision of God to the persecuted nation of Israel. There are two means of provision of God, He provided them with a place and with sustenance. Consider the place. God gave them wings to fly “that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place….” God wanted to bring them back to wilderness so He could bring them back to the Promised Land as their Joshua. The wilderness is the place of provision. “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deut. 8:2, 3). It is fitting that repenting Israel finds itself again in the wilderness being nourished and finding their sustenance from God. Thus it said that when they found their place in the wilderness and “she is nourished….” The word “nourished” describes the tender care which one gives to an invalid or as a shepherd would give to the sheep (Gen. 47:12, II Sam. 12:3). It is the care of a parent for a weening child (Acts. 7:21). Maybe God will again give them Manna and water from the rock. Maybe he will send birds to feed them as Elijah (for three and a half years). The provision of God is necessary because of the great length of time. A time, times, and a half a time answers to the last three and one half years (Dan. 12:7, 14). But the provision is even more necessary due to the fact that beast is pursuing them as Pharaoh and cutting off their supply. “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan. 7:25). If God did not supply for them they would be undone. This is a good lesson for all believers in the coming dark days. “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Ps. 37:25). “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

Next, we see the protection of God. The dragon was on the offensive and was out to destroy utterly the name of Israel. “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” This is actually one of the most mysterious phrases in the whole book. It’s completely possible that there is a literal flood that was cast out by Satan to drown the Jews and some sort of seismic activity delivered them. But there are things that appear figurative that need to be considered when looking for its meaning. First, we note that the term serpent is used to hearken us back to the subtle enemy that deceived mankind in the garden. Also, the imagery draws us back to the original promise of deliverance in which it is stated that there will be enmity between the woman and the serpent and between her seed and his seed (Gen. 3:15). It is the original hatred and enmity that is the cause of Satan’s offensive. That has always been the root of Anti-Semitism. Secondly, the flood spoken of was cast out of the mouth of the serpent. So it appears to be an event that was caused by the guile and subtlety of the words of the serpent. Thirdly, the purpose of the flood was to carry away the woman not to immediately destroy her. The term carried away is more in line with captivity. The purpose of Satan was to imprison them. We see a shadow of those things in the methods of the Nazis when they wanted to methodically destroy the Jews. Lastly, the flood is said to be cast out “after the woman….” This is more in line with the pursuing of an army. The imagery of a serpent spitting its venom out at its prey. It appears though that the imagery is that of the serpent influencing mankind through lies to invading Israel with its armies. We know that the words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters and the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things (Prov. 18:4, 5:28). The imagery of the flood is often used to describe invading armies (Isa. 8:7, 8, Jer. 46:7, 8, 47:2). We see the seeds of such venom against Israel already being sown on the world stage. But, the Lord gives them divine protection. “And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” The text says that the earth helped the woman but all glory goes to the Lord. Maybe it says earth here because there will be environmentalist earth worshippers in that day that will report it that way. The fact that the Lord is protecting Israel here is without question. “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:18, 19). I can see a scenario here that is possibly true and I commend it to you. Satan convinces a massive army of various nations to invade Israel causing her to miraculously escape with the help of God into the wilderness. The army by the direction of Satan pursues her to bring her into captivity. When they attempt to do so the earth opens up and swallowed the whole army up. This, if true, would help to explain why Armageddon does not occur until the end of the three and a half years. It delayed the plans of Satan and the beast in destroying Israel. Just as the earth swallowed up Korah and all his rebellious company so it will swallow up the army that pursues Israel (Ex. 15:12). God is our shield and buckler.

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Lastly, we see the salvation of Israel. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Satan was even more angry that his war was thwarted by God and directed all that anger toward the remnant of the woman’s seed. The woman’s seed could mean all other Israelites above and beyond the 144,000 that have been specifically mentioned. Or it could mean any one Jew or Gentile that believed on the Lord Jesus Christ who is intimately the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). The book of Revelation leaves little room for believing that anyone other than the Israelite appear to be those who will not repent and hate the coming of Christ. The remnant of Israel appears to be the obvious meaning of the text. Satan makes war with them everywhere they go. Many no doubt will perish during this time “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them” (Dan. 7:21). But the important part is that no matter what they are saved now and the war of Satan may kill their bodies but not their souls. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (Isa. 10:20, 21). This is the remnant of our text, a fully redeemed Israel. The proof of their salvation is clear. The keep his commandments which is proof of their genuine love (Ex. 20:6, John 14:15, 21). They also have the testimony of Jesus Christ. They bear Christ within them and bear record of it with their mouths and with their lives. Ellicott stated, “They take heed to themselves; they abide in Christ; they take heed to the teaching, that Christ’s word may abide in them. They keep His word, and they witness to Him in lip and life.” Those they joined those that overcame Satan even through the persecution and death (Rev. 12:11).