Description: “Hunted by the Dragon”
What in the World Is God Doing?
Viewer Screen: Israel, the Real Story
While America and the world have been focused on a presidential election in the U.S., the real story in God’s kingdom plan revolves around Israel where major developments may signal the soon return of Jesus.
As Ed Hussain’s article details:
Viewer Screen: The Significance of the Israel Peace Deal - Ed Husain (Telegraph-UK)
. . . recent peace deals between Israel and the U.A.E., Bahrain, and Sudan show “the Jewish state [has become] acceptable to the world's 1.8 billion Muslims.” This is miraculous, as who would have guessed this even a year ago?! As Shmuel Rosner writes in:
Viewer Screen: The Israel-Bahrain-UAE Deal Defuses the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Shmuel Rosner (NBC News)
this acceptance is “a huge step forward toward peace” in the Middle East.
It seems God is preparing, at warp speed, for the coming 7-year treaty with Israel, which will be confirmed by Arab states and European leaders. If so, this signals we may not be long till Jesus comes in the air for us. So, keep looking up!
This is: “What in the World Is God Doing?”
What in the Bible Is God Saying?
“Hunted by the Dragon”
Viewer Screen: “Hunted by the Dragon”
At this point of our series, we are at the mid-point of the Tribulation period.
Viewer Screen: The Mid-Point of the Tribulation Period
At the mid-point, the 7-year treaty of Israel is broken when the King of the North invades Israel. This king is then attacked and appears to be slain by a sword. At that point, Satan sends the spirit of a departed Roman Emperor—one of the first five, according to Revelation 17—to inhabit the body of the King of the North. This king then appears to rise from the dead. His very next exploit is to kill the two prophets of God; then he abominates the temple by entering it in order to be worshipped as the god of the earth. This begins his 3½-year rule over the earth.
However, there is an event that occurs prior to the Beast’s arrival; it is an event that occurs in heaven and involves Satan, also known as the Devil, the dragon of Revelation.
Eight-year-old Carla wrote this brief letter to her pastor:
Are there any devils on earth? I think there may be one in my class.
The answer to Carla’s question is yes and no. The Devil is portrayed in the New Testament as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). So, in a sense, he is on the earth. Yet, oftentimes he is not present on the earth. In fact, surprisingly, the Bible tells us that he currently has access to heaven, where day and night he accuses Christians before God, seeking to turn God against them.
This is similar to what is described in Job 1:6 and 2:1:
Viewer Screen: “Now there was a day when the sons [angels] of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. . . . Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord” (Job 1:6; 2:1).
Many Christians are surprised to learn that Satan still has access to God, but not only doe Job 1:6 and 2:1 present that truth, but so does Revelation 12:10:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘. . . the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down’ ” (Rev 12:10).
The “brethren” mentioned here is a reference to Jewish believers in the Tribulation period. During the first 3½ years of the Tribulation, Satan will accuse them before God “day and night,” just as he did regarding Job. He will seek to turn God against them in order to frustrate God’s kingdom plan. But God will have enough of Satan’s accusations, and, at the exact mid-point of the Tribulation, Satan will finally be cast out of heaven.
Many Christians will be surprised to learn that Satan will be cast out of heaven in the future, since most people seem to believe he was kicked out of heaven long ago. In fact, some will refer to Isaiah 14:12:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!’ ” (Isa 14:12).
and to Ezekiel 28:17
Viewer Screen: “ ‘Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty . . . I cast you to the ground . . .’ ” (Ezek 28:17).
to argue that Satan was cast out of heaven long ago. However, prophetic statements in the Bible oftentimes state a future occurrence as if it had already occurred. In comparing these statements from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 with Job 1 and 2, along with Revelation 12, we can see that they portray Satan’s future humiliation and judgment as if they had already taken place.
So, the time is fast approaching when the Devil will be expelled from heaven, at which point he will come to the earth with a fury. His removal from heaven will be the result of a great war that will take place there. Note how Rev 12:12 describes this result:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time’ ” (Rev 12:10).
When Satan is expelled from heaven, the inhabitants of the earth are warned that Satan will expel great fury, because “he knows he has a short time”! What is that “short time”? At that point, Satan will know that he has only 3½ years left before Jesus will return to make His rightful claim upon this world as His place of rule. That is when He will bring God’s kingdom to the earth.
According to Rev 12, the timing of Satan’s ousting from heaven is connected to the timing of Israel fleeing into the wilderness where believing Jews receive provision by God for 1,260 days (Rev 12:6), that is, exactly 3½ years on a Jewish calendar of 360 days per year. This indicates that the ejection of Satan from heaven will occur at the very middle of the tribulation period.
Thus, at the exact mid-point of the Tribulation, a war will break out in heaven. This cosmic conflict is described in Revelation 12:7–9:
Viewer Screen: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev 12:7-9).
The result is that Satan will be barred from heaven—forever! Never again, after this, will Satan be able to approach God’s presence to accuse believers in Christ.
As Rev 12:12 proclaims:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time’ ” (Rev 12:12).
When Satan is cast out, heaven will rejoice. However, because Satan will then bring his fury to the earth, woe will be pronounced upon the planet.
As a result of being cast out of heaven, Satan will come to the realization that he has only “a short time.” This “short time” becomes even more understandable when we grasp the meaning of the verses (13–17) that follow that phrase. Beginning with verse 13, we see this:
Viewer Screen: “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child” (Rev 12:13).
This woman represents Israel, as we can begin to see in 12:1:
Viewer Screen: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1).
This depiction of the woman stems from a dream Joseph had in Gen 37 which clearly identifies Israel, with the twelve stars referring to the twelve sons or tribes of Israel. More specifically, the woman represents the many Jews who will believe in Jesus for eternal life during the first half of the Tribulation period. The Dragon is identified in this passage in this way:
Viewer Screen: “. . . that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan . . .” (Rev 12:9).
Therefore, verse 13 . . .
Viewer Screen: “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child” (Rev 12:13).
. . . presents Satan’s response once he is cast out of heaven: he will persecute the believing Jews. By the way, the identity of “the Child” is revealed in Rev 12:5:
Viewer Screen: “She [the woman] bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne (Rev 12:5).
It is important to understand that Satan desperately seeks to hold onto this world as his kingdom. Though Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and will return to claim this world as His rightful kingdom, Satan continues to do what he can to thwart God’s plan to bring His kingdom upon the earth.
Satan knows that, according to Zechariah chapters 12-14, when the final Jews in the Tribulation period believe in Jesus, the Jews will call out to God for deliverance. God will answer by sending Jesus back to Israel, at which point, He will defeat God’s enemies and ascend the throne of David to begin His rule over the earth.
In Satan’s mind, the way to stop Jesus’ return is to eliminate the Jews—especially those who have believed in Jesus for eternal life. Here is the thought behind this reasoning: If there are no believing Jews left alive on the earth, there will be none to call out to the Lord for deliverance (salvation). And if there are no Jews to call out to the Messiah for salvation, God’s Word will not be fulfilled.
However, God has a plan for believing Israel, as Revelation 12:14 portrays:
Viewer Screen: “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Rev 12:13).
To understand this plan, some metaphors in this passage need to be explained. The first of these is this extended metaphor: “the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place.”
The meaning of this metaphor can be found in the OT. Two passages in particular, Exodus 19:4 and Deuteronomy 32:9–12, present this same metaphor as God’s deliverance of Israel from her enemies in connection with the wilderness. In both passages, the eagle’s wings represent God’s care for Israel.
Exodus 19:4, in particular, provides a close comparison with Revelation 12:14, for both describe God’s deliverance of Israel in the wilderness from Israel’s enemies. Exodus 19 describes God’s deliverance of Israel from the pursuing Egyptians, while Revelation 12 presents Israel’s deliverance from the Beast’s pursuing army.
We learn in Rev 12:14 that after the Lord delivers Israel into the wilderness from her persecutor, Israelwill be“nourished for a time [one year] and times [two years] and half a time [a half of a year], from the presence of the serpent.”Thus, these believing Jews in the future will have their needs met for three and a half years. Verse 6 (of Rev 12) clarifies the time frame for us in this way:
Viewer Screen: “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared for God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Rev 12:6).
Verse 15 presents another extended metaphor calling for explanation:
Viewer Screen: “So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood” (12:15).
The word “flood” in this verse can also be translated as “river” and refers to a flood of troops. Some Old Testament passages can help us to discover the meaning of verse 15. For example, Isaiah 8:7–8 and Isaiah 59:19 presents “river” in this same metaphoric sense. While Isaiah 8 mentions the army of Assyria, Isaiah 59 simply presents “the enemy” in a generic form. Jeremiah 46:7–8 also uses the same metaphor to describe the flood of troops from another enemy, Egypt.
Thus, at the command of the Beast, Satan (the serpent) will send out an army to hunt down the Jews who had fled into the wilderness. However, while Satan will seek to destroy Israel, God will have a ready plan available for her deliverance, as we see in verses 16–17 of Revelation 12:
Viewer Screen: “But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 12:16-17).
The portrayal in verse 16 is not unique; it has happened before. In Numbers 16:28–33, following a rebellion by Korah and others who sought to overthrow Moses’ authority, “the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them.” When the earth opened, the rebellious men fell into it and were covered by the ground. Just as will occur with the armies of the Beast in the future, they will be swallowed by the earth!
This is similar to what God did with the Egyptian army that pursued the Israelites in Exodus. Only there, He caused water to swallow the troops.
This phenomenon of the earth swallowing the troops may be explained by an event described in Revelation 11:13, which will occur right after the two prophets of God ascend into heaven (three and a half days after their deaths). Here is the description:
Viewer Screen: “In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Rev 11:13).
This earthquake may be the explanation for the swallowing of the troops in pursuit of fleeing Jewish believers. The timing works. Because this earthquake will occur three and a half days following the abomination of desolation, it will take place while the Jews are fleeing into the wilderness.
And the location works. The center of this earthquake will be close to Jerusalem, for the quake will cause a tenth of the city will fall. Thus, God will use a well-timed earthquake to frustrate the plan of Satan by causing the ground to open and swallow the pursuing troops.
When the troops sent by the beast are eliminated, Satan will respond in this way:
Viewer Screen: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (12:17).
Satan will be enraged because of the God’s deliverance of the believing Jews who had fled into the wilderness. The sending out of these troops to capture and eliminate Jewish followers of Jesus will be Satan’s big hope to hang onto his kingdom. When that plan is frustrated, he will turn from his pursuit of the Jews in the wilderness to pursue another group of believing Jews.
We have already seen the group of Jews described as those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” There are two clues to their identity in this description. The first is their faithfulness to God, displayed by the description they “keep the commandments of God.”
The second clue to their identity is the announcement they “have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This testimony is the verbal announcement of the gospel.
Putting together these clues, we see that, once Satan is frustrated in his attempt to destroy Jews fleeing “the abomination of desolation,” he will then pursue the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
In the fourteenth century, Robert Bruce, next in line to the Scottish crown, led the fight to gain independence from England. At one point in the conflict, the English were about to capture him, but he escaped into the forest, so they put bloodhounds on his trail.
Within minutes, the hounds, tracing Bruce’s steps, came to the bank of a small river, but they went no farther. The English soldiers urged them on, but the trail was broken; the stream had carried away the scent. A short time later, the crown of Scotland rested on the head of Robert Bruce.
In the same vein, Israel will be pursued into the wilderness and will also escape. Because of their faithfulness to Jesus, they, also, will end up with crowns resting on their heads—ruling with Jesus in the kingdom of God.
What an example for us to follow!
So far in our study of the future seven-year Tribulation period, we have surfaced most of the main characters. Yet, there is one we have not yet seen. He is one nearly everyone has heard of; yet he is probably the most misunderstood of them all. Next time here on End Times Today, we will examine the critical role of the Antichrist and straighten out the misunderstanding of this character of evil. Join us next time in our broadcast of “The Antichrist.”
Questions / Answers
Q: Hi John, my sixteen-year-old daughter has been listening to ETT broadcasts along with me and we have both been greatly encouraged. You have often spoken about God's perfect plan and this got her wondering if it's part of God's perfect plan when someone commits suicide as her friend recently did or did the person just ruin God's perfect plan for them? --- Catherine, Kenya
A: Great question, Catherine! There is nothing more tragic than the suicide of a friend or loved one. It tears at my heart whenever I hear of someone who has, apparently, experienced such hopelessness that he or she decides to take their life.
Of course, God does not want anyone to take his or her life, just as God does not want anyone to commit any other sin; but God does allow it, just as He allows us to make other tragic decisions in life. This is part of the limited free-will God allows us. We are not robots; thus, God allows us to choose obedience or disobedience. Without this allowance for us to choose, we could never show love—to God or to others.
But with this choice comes the possibility we can choose wrongly—in fact, we can choose VERY wrongly! When we choose disobedience to God—whether it be suicide or any other form of disobedience—there will be consequences for those choices. Yet, God is so great that He is able to use even bad choices to fit within His perfect plan.
He was able to use the wicked choice of Judas to betray Jesus (which, can be argued, may be the most wicked choice ever made) to fit within His good and perfect plan. As a result of this choice, Jesus ended up being crucified for us, which turned out to be both the greatest tragedy (the death of the Son of God) and the greatest benefit for the world—the payment of all sins for all time so we could receive eternal life by simply believing Jesus for it.
We must also keep in mind that, because Jesus dies for ALL sins, there is no sin that keeps one out of God’s kingdom. Anyone who simply believes Jesus for eternal life will be with God forever—even someone who commits suicide. If your daughter’s friend had, at any moment in her life, believed in Jesus for her eternal destiny, then she is now in the presence of the Lord and will be forever.
So, coming back to your challenging, but very good, question, did the friend who committed suicide ruin God’s perfect plan for her life? Keep in mind that a life consists of far more than one decision. As serious as suicide is, that one decision does not decide her entire life. If she is a believer, God will assess her life for reward, as He will all believers in Jesus. But, like any form of disobedience, it can tarnish the good God desires for that life; but it does not determine the total outcome of that life.