Sunday, September 10, 2006

An Evil Plan Revealed - Revelation Chapter 12

An Evil Plan Revealed – Revelation Chapter 12

There is one major subject of prophecy that we have not discussed. We’ve touched on just about all of the major end time prophecies except one - the nation of Israel. Most prophecy scholars today will tell you that the physical nation of Israel is at the center of the end time prophetic storm. They will tell you that most of the end time events described to us in the Bible center around Israel in the Middle East. Some will tell you that Russia will attack Israel at some point in the near future (battle of Gog/Magog), some will tell you that ‘the Kings of the East’ along with other armies of the world will attack Israel at the battle of Armageddon and most will tell you that at some point in the future, an evil world leader (Antichrist) will sign a 7 year peace treaty with Israel. The Antichrist will then break this treaty after only 3 ½ years – ushering in the ‘Great Tribulation’. The question we must ask is this – is the physical nation of Israel of the Old Testament the same Israel of New Testament prophecies?

What would happen to most popular end time prophecy beliefs if the physical nation of Israel is not at the center of prophecies about our future? We’ve already discussed that the Bible does not point to one evil world ruler and a peace treaty with Israel, it does not point to a 7 year period of tribulation or 3 ½ years of ‘great’ tribulation and it does not tell us that Armageddon is localized to the Middle East. As for the battle of Gog/Magog and the popular belief that this refers to Russia attacking Israel, I believe the Bible is clear – the battle of Gog/Magog takes place at the end of the Millenium – not during this present age. What you will find in the next few posts is that in the true light of God’s Word, the physical nation of Israel is not the center of the prophetic storm. There will be an ‘Israel’ in the center of the storm – but it won’t be the physical nation of Israel in the Middle East. I know this is hard for many of us to believe. So, in the next few posts, we’re going to examine what Jesus and the New Testament tells us about Israel and our future. I believe we are clearly told who Jesus considers to be ‘Israel’.

Once again, I believe that many of us have completely missed the mark on discerning the Lord’s prophecies because we have fit Scripture to our beliefs – we have not fit our beliefs to Scripture. I believe that Satan has deceived many of us because of this – and there is certainly a reason for this deception. Many prophecy scholars and teachers are focused on the nation of Israel, when the real target of our enemy is something else entirely. Pay close attention to what I’m going to tell you, because if you are, or will become a born again child of God who follows our Lord Jesus Christ – you are the target.

You have learned and will continue to learn that our spiritual enemy is the most deceptive being in the universe. When the Lord tells us that Satan is the ‘evil one’, the ‘wicked one’, the ‘father of lies’ and is here only to ‘kill, steal and destroy’ – He isn’t sugarcoating anything. We have chosen to ignore our Lord’s warnings – about a great many things. When it comes to Israel and end time prophecy, you will discover, once again, that we have been deceived.

In preparation of our discussion on the nation of Israel and Bible prophecy (next posts), in this post we’re going to discuss our enemy’s overall plan. We must never forget that Satan is a real spiritual being who has much more power and intelligence than you and I. The human race has been, and will continue to be deceived as long as we think we’ve got it all figured out. As soon as we realize that we cannot rely on our own knowledge and understanding, as soon as we realize that we must acknowledge God in all things and truly ask Him for heavenly knowledge – not rely on worldly knowledge – we begin to ‘see’ the world as it truly is. We begin to recognize that we fall short of God and His kingdom and realize that we need a Savior to restore us so that we will not sit in judgment for all eternity – but reign with Christ in His kingdom. We begin to understand why God does the things He does and why He has provided us with a way back to Him – a true Savior for our sins. We also begin to ‘see’ our true calling – God’s individual will for each of us. What is your calling? It’s up to you to find out. Those who seek – find. Those who ask – receive. Those who knock – the door to the kingdom of heaven will be opened. The great thing about God’s plan is that you don’t need to acquire anything in this world to be redeemed – no amount of money, religious rituals, chants or anything else. All you need is humility – a humble heart that searches for your Creator. God makes it clear – you will find Him if you truly want to know the Truth.

As for me, my calling is becoming increasingly clear to me. While all children of God study His Word and perform ministry, I am not a teacher. Mike McClung, Gerald McGinnis, John MacArthur, Steve Wohlberg, Rusty Hayes – these are gifted teachers of God. I have learned much from these men – and continue to learn everyday. While I will tell anyone the Truth and proclaim the Truth - my calling seems to be specifically related to fighting our enemy and his plans directly. The things revealed to me center around our enemy’s plans and deceptions – they center around revealing the truth of what is happening in the world. Our enemy has tried to stop my progress every step of the way – he has tried to stop me from telling others what has been revealed to me – only some of this have I written about on this website. I have no doubt this will continue. I’ll talk more about this in the future, but for now, let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Satan has an evil plan and it’s told to us in the Bible. It’s told to us because nothing is hidden from God – He’s very aware of what our enemy is doing and why. Most Bible scholars agree that it involves a worldwide political ‘beast’ and a religious ‘beast’ – an evil worldwide government that oversees an unbiblical religion or church. Few dispute this. What is disputed is how these ‘beasts’ come into being, who they actually are and who is in charge (in the world) of these beasts. Most prophecy scholars will tell you that a future world leader will somehow unite the world. They will also tell you that this worldwide government and this worldwide ‘church’ will be evil and place the world into bondage. What they don’t tell you is why these entities place the world in bondage. We will never truly understand things in our world until we understand what is happening in the spiritual realm that causes these things to happen. There is a spiritual component to everything going on in our world.

Everything that is good comes from God, everything evil comes from Satan. Our enemy is deceptive and evil – and highly intelligent. There must be a reason why an evil world religion and world government are formed. Is it simply because Satan has little time left and wants to create as much havoc as possible before he is bound for eternity – or is there an evil plan at work here? If you believe that the nation of Israel will be the focus of future prophetic events and that Satan is focused on destroying Israel – then you have to ask yourself why. What would be the reason for destroying the nation of Israel at this point in history? Would it be because God wants to restore the nation of Israel and Satan simply wants to prevent this from happening? Or is there another ‘Israel’ that is much more threatening to our enemy? An ‘Israel’ that wields God’s power and destroys the devil’s works. In order to determine what Satan’s plan is we need to review the history of the spiritual war that has been waged in our world – who is at war and what it means for our future.

Once Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and listen to the lies of Satan, the human race invited the spiritual war into our world. We handed the keys to our world over to God’s enemy and we have stood in judgment with Satan since that time. Ever since then – the war has raged throughout our history. God’s plan for our redemption has moved forward and Satan has tried to get in the way of that redemptive plan. Satan would prefer to take as many of us with him to hell as possible – and so we all, every one of us, must overcome him and his deceptions if we want to enter God’s kingdom. Mike McClung said something once that has stayed with me over the past 3 years – he said, ‘The battle for the souls of men is extremely important, but this battle goes much deeper. The earth is God’s and He wants it back.’

So, we know that Satan currently rules the world and we know that God has a plan to redeem the world. These are the spiritual forces that have been at war since shortly after our creation. Of course, Satan prefers that you never know this. He prefers that you simply stay focused on this world and what goes on in it – don’t worry about spiritual stuff – it’s crazy. Stay spiritually blind and you’ll never know the truth. You know what he fears most? A weak, broken human being praying to our Father in Heaven. Why? Because he doesn’t fear us – but he fears God – and he knows that God listens to us and that He wants us to know Him. Satan fears what God will do through us once we truly understand, overcome the world and obey God. Once you overcome that fateful decision made by Adam and Eve and truly believe in God and His plan and start obeying Him – things are going to start happening. You will be transformed from being a child of the world and an enemy of God to a child of God and an enemy of Satan. God will begin to tear down that which Satan has tried to build – through you.

I once heard someone say ‘When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something’. I can certainly attest to this. In January of 2007 I had no money and had no idea how I was going to get out of the financial mess I was in. How would I support my family? How was I going to pay the mortgage? I knew that I was following God’s plan, but it sure seemed a little shaky to me at that point. I remember going to church on a Wednesday night that January. I was frustrated and feeling sorry for myself as I kicked rocks across the parking lot – everyone thinks I’m crazy, I have no money, no savings, few friends – I have no idea how I’m getting out of this mess. Self pity ruled the day. I could hear the devil say- ‘are you sure this is God’s plan? Things don’t seem to be going so well.’ As I walked into church I heard another quiet voice – ‘but what have you gained?’ I thought - well, I’ve overcome the world and its deception, I’ve been redeemed, I know important things that no one else seems to know, I’m following God’s will for me and most importantly – I know Jesus Christ and a place is being saved for me in heaven. I know that I can talk to the Lord and He answers. He’s talking to me and guiding me. What I realized sitting in church that night is that the world had been stripped away from me so that I could see the truth clearly – so that I would understand what was really happening in the world and the spiritual weapons I would need to overcome the world. I didn’t really need anything in the world – I only needed to know God. Would I have traded my relationship with the Lord for money, for financial security? No. The world makes a lot of promises, but can keep none of them. I was trusting the One who is always faithful, so I ignored the devil and stayed focused on God and His plan. A couple of weeks later I received a job offer that was better financially than my previous job. I have learned many things over the past 3 years, one of which is that you can’t argue successfully with God. It’s impossible to argue with the One who knows your thoughts, feelings and your future. It’s much better to simply trust Him.

So, on one side of the war is God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and His angels – on the other side is Satan and his demonic forces. The Bible is clear on this. There is a spiritual realm that you need God to see and understand clearly. In our world, there are followers of Jesus Christ and there are followers of Satan. You are yoked to one or the other. You may say that you don’t follow Jesus Christ, but you’re not a bad person – so you’re not yoked to Satan. The truth is that if you are not regenerated by God, you are an enemy of God – the Bible is also clear on this. You are either listening and obeying God and Jesus Christ or Satan. Maybe you’re not actively doing evil, but you must consider that you have allowed the enemy to place you on the sidelines – pursuit of money, power, material gain, addictions, etc. Anything to keep you from knowing and obeying God. He’s deceptive and has the power to blind you spiritually if you don’t know Jesus Christ. It takes humility to understand this. You are either unredeemed and sit in judgment with Satan or you have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is what the war revolves around – Satan and deception – and Jesus Christ and God’s redemption. Jesus Christ and Satan are at war for the hearts and minds of those on earth. Remember – the battle is between Jesus Christ and Satan. Everything in our world revolves around this Biblical fact.

Now that we know who’s at war and why, let’s take a look at Satan’s overall plan. This plan is given to us in Revelation Chapter 12. At first glance, this chapter seems out of place. It describes Satan’s fall, war in heaven, a woman giving birth, Satan chasing the woman, God’s protection. It’s placed between chapter 11 (describing God’s two witnesses and the seventh trumpet judgment) and chapter 13 (describing the beasts). Initially, it seems odd that God would choose to describe these things in a chapter of Revelation. After all, we already know that Satan fell and took a third of God’s angels with him. We know he is in the world and we know that he is our enemy and opposes God and His plan. I believe God placed this information in Chapter 12 to give us an overall view of our enemy’s plans before He begins to give us the details of this plan in Chapters 13 and 17.

Chapter 12 begins:

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:1-5)

Who is the woman in verse 1? I believe this is the nation of Israel. The twelve stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel. God chose the Jewish nation as His covenant people and through the line of David Jesus Christ was born into the world. What else are we told here? We’re told that Satan is focused on the woman (Israel) and tries to kill Jesus Christ when He was born in this world. The Lord is reviewing Satan’s plan from the beginning. This is the spiritual description of what happened when Jesus was first born. How did Satan attempt to devour this child on earth? With an earthly king. Remember this because we’re going to see our enemy use the same tactics over and over again. The complete answer lies in Mathew Chapter 2.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more." (Mathew 2:1-18)

The Lord is showing us both the spiritual realm and how spiritual forces of evil have influence in the world. You realize as you study God’s Word that this is serious business we’re learning about here – this is not fantasy. You learn what evil really is and can do. Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world is born and Satan tries to kill Him as a child. Evil knows no bounds. Also notice that as long as we follow God, He will protect us according to His will. Remember this as we begin to unravel Satan’s plans for the ‘beasts’ of Revelation Chapter 13.

Satan’s focus on the nation of Israel prior to Jesus’ birth is due to one reason – he knew that they were the covenant people who would give birth to our Redeemer. So, he tries to destroy this nation. The Old Testament is full of stories of spiritual warfare being waged on the Jewish nation – idolatry, child sacrifice, murder, adultery – there are many lessons for us here. What happens when Christ is born? Spiritual forces of evil try to kill Jesus. It doesn’t get more serious than this. It didn’t stop after this initial attempt on Jesus’ life. It continued during His ministry.

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” (John 8:58-59)

“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy[a] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian."
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:25-30)

Jesus speaks the truth and Satan tries to suppress it by any means available to him. Standard operating procedure by our enemy. We see it time and again. Pay careful attention to these verses:

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Mathew 16:21-23)

What is happening here? Jesus gives His Disciples a prophecy of His death and resurrection that must take place according to God’s plan. What is the result? Peter responds by rebuking the Son of God. In Peter’s mind, he thinks he’s doing the right thing. From a worldly standpoint, why should Jesus have to die? Peter is not yet spiritually mature; he’s not yet able to discern the voice who speaks to him in this situation. Who does Jesus tell us is behind Peter’s thoughts and words? Our enemy. Satan once again tries to intervene in God’s plan. He’s always there – lurking – ready to deceptively lead us astray from God’s plan. Jesus recognizes exactly what is going on and who is behind it. As we mature spiritually, we gain the same discernment that Jesus has – an ability to see into the spiritual realm and understand what is really happening in our lives and on this earth. Always remember that we must stay focused on the things of God, not worldly things of men. God’s ways are not our ways. He does not think as we do. He may have reasons for the things that He asks us to do that we will not understand until a later time.
Let’s continue with Revelation Chapter 12:

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
"Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short." (Revelation 12:7-12)

Here we are told of the war in heaven that spills over into our world. Some important points are reiterated in these verses. Satan leads the whole world astray. It is Satan who ultimately deceives the world – not people in the world. It is Satan who deceives those on earth and leads them to carry out his evil plans. Who overcomes our accuser? Those that believe in and follow Jesus Christ. It is by the blood of Jesus that we overcome this world and its ruler – just like we’re told in other verses throughout the Bible. Another important point is mentioned here – true believers do not shrink from death. They do not fear death because they know what lies beyond their lives on earth – eternity in the Lord’s kingdom. Remember this because it’s mentioned in other verses in the New Testament – there is a reason the Lord reiterates this message. Verse 12 then gives us a clear warning. Woe to the people of earth because Satan is full of fury and will continue to cause havoc throughout the world until his time on earth is over.
Revelation 12 continues:

When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. (Revelation 12:13-16)

These verses tell us that Satan pursues Israel after the birth of Jesus Christ because they have brought our Savior into the world. We see this in the world when the Roman armies invaded Jerusalem in 70 A.D. We’ll discuss in later posts why God allowed this. We’re then told that God protects Israel from Satan for ‘a time, times and half a time’ (a time = 1 year, times = 2 years, half a time = ½ year, total of 3 ½ years or 42 months or 1260 days). This is the same time reference we see in Revelation Chapter 13 regarding the amount of time the ‘beast’ out of the sea is given authority (42 months or 1260 days). Daniel is also referencing this same ‘beast’ in Daniel 7:25 and the amount of time (3 ½ years or 42 months or 1260 days) the beast is given authority is the same. Because of this, many prophecy scholars today relate these verses to a 3 ½ year period of great tribulation. Instead of using the day for a year conversion that we’re told to do in other verses in the Bible, they interpret these verses as a literal 1260 days or 3 ½ years. What is interesting about those that believe this line of reasoning is that they determine the 7 year tribulation period from the 70th ‘week’ of Daniel (which we have explored in earlier posts, Daniel 9:25-26). Here the day for a year conversion is used (7 days or 1 week = 7 years). Why would they not then use the day for a year conversion for the 3 ½ years told to us in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation Chapters 12 and 13? I believe it’s because they are trying to fit Scripture to their beliefs. Instead of being consistent and truly seeking what the Lord is telling us, they believe they’ve got it figured out – with a few inconsistencies. This is a very dangerous path to take. If something doesn’t fit Scripture, it doesn’t fit. Instead of saying that this 70th week of Daniel in Daniel 7:25 (7 days = 7 years) doesn’t seem to be related to these references to Israel and the ‘beast’ (1260 days = 1260 years) because of the differences in duration – many scholars solve the ‘problem’ by saying that the day for a year conversion doesn’t apply to the prophetic references to 3 ½ years. Would the Lord do this? Would He not be consistent? As I’ve stated before, I believe it’s possible that the 70th ‘week’ of Daniel did not end with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but I don’t believe it in any way relates to a 7 year period of tribulation or a peace treaty with Israel – and this ‘week’ is in no way related to these references to 1260 years. It’s much better to say that you don’t understand and continue to pray for knowledge, than to simply ‘fit’ Scripture to your beliefs. In a world of deceit with a spiritual ruler who is evil, this is a very dangerous game to play. We are told clearly in the Bible that Satan will incorporate Scripture into his plans – in unbiblical ways. We must heed this warning and discern the truth.

Let’s get back to Revelation 12. I believe that the 3 ½ years referenced in verse 14 is telling us that God will protect Israel for a period of many years while they are in the ‘desert’. This reference to a ‘desert’ could be the description of Israel while they were without an area or nation of their own or it could reference the time that Israel remains unbelieving that Jesus is the Messiah. Either way, we’re told that God is watching over them during this time. Does the Lord still watch over the nation of Israel even though most within the nation have rejected Jesus Christ? I don’t think anyone can answer this with 100% certainty. It is entirely possible that he is watching over this nation until they are restored in His eyes – until He opens their hearts to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Only time will tell whether He continues to extend His mercy – or not. We’re going to gain some insight into this in our next few posts as we explore what Jesus and the New Testament has to say on the subject of Israel.

To me, the last verse of Revelation 12 is the most important for us as it gives us insight into our future.

“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)

This is the last piece of Satan’s plan. Who is Satan focused on? He is focused on the woman’s ‘offspring’. True believers in Jesus Christ are referred to as being in the ‘body’ of Christ. So, we are the ‘offspring’ referenced here. He is targeting true believers – those that believe in and follow Jesus Christ. His focus has shifted from the physical nation of Israel to those that follow Jesus Christ. Are we given other references to this in other verses? Absolutely.

Notice these references to what the Lord’s Saints must endure in the near future:

“If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” (Revelation 13:10)

‘He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.”(Revelation 13:15)
“He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:9-13)

“They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." (Revelation 17:14)

“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4)

So, we see that the Lord’s saints will need patience and endurance due to the spiritual warfare present in our world - warfare that is directed at them by our spiritual enemy. Satan is focused on those that believe in Jesus Christ and those who do what He asks them to do – true Followers. Real Christians. Their focus is not on the world, but on the Lord, His kingdom and His will for them. As a result, they will be persecuted by the world – by Satan. How will he do this? By offering worldly power, wealth and glory to people on earth – he will form a worldwide government and ‘church’ that will persecute those that do not adhere to this unbiblical worship. He is attempting to eradicate the very name of Jesus Christ from the face of the earth. He is attempting to eradicate God’s plan of redemption from the world. This is why true believers are killed today and this is why we receive prophecies about what we will face in our future. It is time for us to humble ourselves and pray for forgiveness. It’s time to purchase white clothes to wear from our Lord and arm ourselves with the spiritual weapons we will need to endure our future. The only way we will be able to stand against Satan’s ‘beasts’, image, and mark is through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

I firmly believe that we are told who our enemy is focused on during these last days and it’s not the physical nation of Israel. Would destroying Israel have any impact on God’s redemptive plan? Would it make sense for Satan to attack those who are not following the Lord? This could change if Israel returns to the Lord, but for now, I believe our enemy’s focus is on followers of Jesus Christ – just as it’s always been.

It’s those that carry the true testimony of Jesus that threaten our enemy. Jesus Christ has always been the target of our enemy and if you’re in the body of Christ – you are the target. We see this time and again throughout the history of the church. All of the Disciples except John were martyred. Many within the church were persecuted and killed by the Roman Empire. Many Protestants were killed by the Roman Church during the Middle Ages. It continues around the world today and it will continue to intensify as we near the end of this age.

If you study the book of Revelation, you know that this book references many verses from the Old Testament. In fact, the only way to get a true understanding of Revelation is to understand how verses within Revelation relate to their Old Testament counterparts. I find it truly fascinating that the Old Testament was written thousands of years before John was inspired to write Revelation – yet all of these books are unquestionably linked by the hand of God. Again, there is wisdom present within the Bible that is not of this world. One of these links speaks directly to the war between Jesus Christ and Satan mentioned in Revelation 12. Notice carefully the last verse of Chapter 12:

“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)

Would it surprise you to know that this was referenced thousands of years earlier in the third chapter of Genesis? Adam and Eve have just made their fateful decision and have confessed this to God. Notice carefully the Lord’s response to Satan:

Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:13-15)

Immediately after the Fall, God tells us of His redemptive plan. We are immediately told that there will be enmity between Satan and his followers and Jesus Christ and His followers. This is reiterated again in Revelation 12 in exactly the same way. We’re also told the outcome – Jesus Christ will crush Satan. It’s inevitable. If we know the Victor, why are so many of us choosing the losing side? It’s time we acknowledge our sin, truly ask for forgiveness and follow our Lord to victory. He wins – the question for each of us is – will we join Him in victory?

In the next few posts, we’re going to examine what Jesus had to say about Israel. As I mentioned before, while I believe that God does have a plan for the Jewish nation, I don’t believe they are the focus of end time prophetic events.

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