In our last lesson, we talked about the ministry of the two witnesses. At the end of their ministry, there were killed by the beast and rose from the dead after 3 ½ days and were lifted into Heaven. Many people gave glory to God. The second woe ended.
At that point, the 7th angel blows the 7th trumpet. As you may remember from the lesson on the trumpets, the seventh one signifies the second coming of Christ and overlaps with the seals and bowls.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39
In the verse above, as well as Luke 13:34–35, Jesus lamented the sad spiritual state of Israel and predicted they would not see him again until they blessed his name. Once they do so after the resurrection of the witnesses, the second coming takes place. As we’ve discovered, Revelation hops around. In chapter 12, John is given a summary of the great spiritual war—beginning before creation and ending at the second coming. There is a lot of symbolism in this section.
Read Revelation 12:1-5
There are several images here, beginning with the woman giving birth. Some people consider this to be Mary, but dig a little deeper into the symbolism. How is she dressed? Who is the woman? Don’t read ahead below (spoilers).
Standing before her is a dragon. He has seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns. His tail swept away 1/3 of the stars in Heaven. He stands waiting on the birth of the child to devour it. This is probably easy, but who or what is the dragon? What is the significance of the stars? Who is the child?
If you want to jump ahead and read more about the dragon and the meaning of his description, you can read Revelation 17—but we will study it soon enough. The woman, is Israel. She has been chosen to give birth to Messiah. Israel has been waiting for this leader since the beginning and, as we know, they didn’t recognize him when he came. Jesus ascended to Heaven in the book of Acts. The woman retreats into the wilderness where she was protected for 1260 days. This part has a dual meaning. What do you think it means?
Just like Hagar in Genesis 21, the woman fled into the wilderness and was protected by God. Israel has been protected time and again. God has allowed her to be harmed at times but has never broken his covenant. In the great spiritual war, we see that it is always about Israel. The dragon has tried to spoil God’s plan throughout history by changing Israel’s fate. First, he tried to destroy Jesus at birth to prevent grace from reaching us. Many times since, he has prompted nations to wage war on Israel (and the world) through jihads, politics, and even biased news. Maybe now he wants to arm the nations around the secular nation of Israel to destroy it. In his plan, he wants to prevent the second coming and defeat God by removing the possibility of keeping prophecy intact.
Beginning in verse 7, a war breaks out in Heaven and Michael and his angels defeat the dragon and his followers. Finally, he is cast out. When does this take place? Link for references
One clue about the timing can be found in verses 10-12 where the martyrs in Heaven rejoice that Satan has finally been removed from Heaven. “The accuser of our comrades has been thrown down.” How do we know this in not describing the original rebellion? How do we know this is a future event?
When he realizes he has been thrown down to earth, Satan is angry and wages war on mankind. The woman, with wings of an eagle, flies away to safety and is protected for a time, times, and half a time. Do you know the meaning of this description?
The serpent (dragon) spews water to destroy her but the earth protects her. Angered, the dragon decides to make war on her allies. Water, here is military strength.
The unholy trinity arrives
The dragon, Satan, takes his stand on the shore and a beast rises out of the sea—having ten horns and seven heads. This is the antichrist. Scripture tells us he will be given all of the authority of Satan and will be allowed to rule for 42 months. What authority does Satan have? Discuss from scripture.
It says all of the inhabitants of the earth with worship this beast—the antichrist. However, a second beast arises from the earth (compare to the beast who killed the two witnesses). This beast will facilitate the worship and perform miracles.
What is the meaning of the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth? Discuss the symbolism of their origin.
When Revelation was written, readers would have understood the beast from the sea to be a gentile political leader. The sea represents gentile nations. In those days, Roman emperors proclaimed themselves to be gods (blasphemies) as we studied in the seven churches. So, the first beast is a political leader.
The second beast is a religious leader, a false prophet. Described as a lamb but having horns and speaking like a dragon would indicate that it is something it is not. Jesus warned of false prophets claiming they would appear as sheep but would bear false fruit. So, the second beast is, in some way, connected to a false religion.
The false prophet helps establish the mark of the beast.
Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
In this last part of the discussion, our conversation touched on speculation. The mark of the beast is a government system of economic control. That’s fairly obvious. The two beasts mark the rise of a political system. One theory revolved around the G7—seven economic powers that control commerce. The G7 has divided the planet into 10 economic regions (seven heads with 10 horns). According to Forbes, the average credit rating in the U.S. is currently 666 and 660 is the minimum acceptable rating for borrowing money without penalty.
We don’t know what the system will actually be, but this is certainly something to pay attention to as we watch our bubble economy.
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