Michael's Angels Fight
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49. Michael's Angels Fight
Revelation 12.6-12

"The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Then war broke out 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 Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over 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 12.6-12)✞

Woman Fled

PellaWe see in Revelation 12.6 that "the woman fled into the desert place" for "1,260 days" or "three and a half years." This is a length of time purposely incomplete after which something important is to happen. According to the Greek historian and commentator Eusebius (263-339 AD) in "Ecclesiastical History 3.5," this reference is probably to the escape of the Church to Pella on the other side of Jordan before the final destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus in 70 AD. Eusebius tells us that before the final disaster came, the Christians in Jerusalem are warned by a prophecy to leave before Jerusalem's destruction. Eusebius becomes the Bishop of Caesarea about 314 AD and is today referred to by many commentators as the "Father of Church History."✞

Prophet Elijah's Escape

Bronze Dragon on PlinthIn the escape of the woman and the dragon's attack, John of Patmos describes two very familiar pictures to those who know the Old Testament. The escape of the mother and child is reminiscent of the Prophet Elijah's fleeing from persecution into the wilderness east of the Jordan. There are no doubt many pictures in John of Patmos's mind as he writes this Biblical record under the inspiration of God. There is the picture of the Prophet Elijah's escape from King Ahab to the "Brook Cherith," sometimes called "Kerith" or "Brook Chorath." 1 Kings 17.2-6. tells the story, "Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 'Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.' So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook." Elijah later flees into the desert, where an angelic messenger nourishes him. According to 1 Kings 19.3a, "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life." "Elijah was afraid" may be translated as "Elijah saw."

Mary and Joseph's Escape

Jesus in DesertJohn of Patmos' would also remember Mary and Joseph's flight with the baby Jesus to Egypt in Matthew 2.13b-15a, "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." Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus journeyed into Egypt to escape King Herod's murderous intent. Two other more recent incidents were probably also in John of Patmos' mind. 1 Maccabaeus 2.29 tells us that in Antiochus Epiphanies' time when to keep the law and to worship the true God meant death, many "who sought justice and judgment went down to the wilderness to dwell there."

Jerusalem Destruction

Historian EusebiusThe Jerusalem destruction in 70 AD by the Romans is the "last terrors coming." The Christian church escaped to Pella across the Jordan River. The woman in this Revelation story would be taken care of for "1,260 days" or "three and a half years." The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans happens as prophesied. The years immediately before that are terrible years of bloodshed and revolution.

Abomination

Theologian H.B. Swete Jesus himself refers to Jerusalem's destruction in Mark 13.14. He says, "When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it, or he, does not belong — let the reader understand — then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." In Daniel 9.27, we also read, "And at the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." When they see the last terrors coming, they are to flee to the mountains. The English Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) comments, "The Church had to flee into the wilderness, and the wilderness is lonely. For early Christians, life was lonely, and they were isolated in a pagan world." There are times when Christian witness is bound to be a lonely thing, but even in human loneliness, there is divine companionship. In other words, it's not over yet, and there is more to come!

The Lamb

Blood of Lamb on DoorpostsHow Satan accuses the brothers is a test of Christians day and night. Satan will be hurled down by the Lamb. The word "devil" comes from the Greek word "diablos" and means "accuser, slanderer or opponent." "Satan" is a Hebrew term meaning "adversary" or "accuser." Satan is enraged and goes off as mad as can be in this Revelation passage to try to hurt other members of the woman's family. Satan continues today to accuse Christ's disciples. Although God's special providence protects the Lamb's followers, some individual Christians may expect a measure of persecution and suffering. The critical blow to Satan comes from the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. His victory is his sacrifice on the Cross. He is the object of sacrifice, just like a lamb without blemish sacrificed on the Temple altar. Satan is furious and begins to step up his persecution because he knows that his time is short. We live in the last days, even though we don't know the time, the day, or the hour. There are two results of Satan's defeat. The heavens rejoice, and the earth mourns because the accuser is now wreaking havoc there.

"Michael's Angels Fight"
by Ron Meacock © 2020

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