May 26 2022
Today, Thursday May 26
God Provides and Protects
“Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 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. 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. 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.”
This has been a very interesting and exciting chapter! We have been reminded of the age-old conflict between good and evil, between the people of God and Satan, and especially between Israel and the Devil. We believe that this an event that takes place in the middle of the Tribulation. To understand the last part of this chapter, we also need to remember that the Antichrist made a peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9), and promised peace to the rest of the world at the very beginning of the Tribulation. And for three and a half years he has kept this promise with Israel.
This chapter tells us of a coming war in heaven between Satan and Michael and his angels. At least four times it mentions that Satan is cast out of heaven or cast down. Heaven will rejoice when Satan is cast out, but the earth-dwellers will not; for the last half of the Tribulation will mean intense suffering for the world. It may be that this is part of the third "woe" when Satan is permitted to turn his terrible wrath to the earth.
This, then, is the third scene in the drama: Satan's wrath on earth (Rev. 12:13-16). Knowing that his time is short, and having no more access to heaven, the adversary must vent all of his anger earthward. He begins with Israel (the woman) by breaking his peace treaty and releasing a wave of anti-Semitism. Satan has always hated the Jews because they are God's chosen people and the vehicle through which salvation came into the world. Satan would like to destroy the nation, particularly as the time draws near for the Messiah to return to earth to establish the promised kingdom. A Jewish remnant must be ready to receive Him and form the nucleus for the kingdom (Zech. 12:9-14:21; Rev. 1:7). Remember Satan knows the Bible and is aware of these passages.
God will prepare a special place where the Jewish remnant will be protected and cared for. It is interesting that the remnant's escape from Satan is described in terms of a flying eagle, for this is a repeated image in the Old Testament with reference to Israel. God delivered Israel from Egypt "on eagles' wings" (Ex. 19:4), and cared for the people in the wilderness as an eagle would her young (Deut. 32:11-12). Their return from Babylonian Captivity was like "mounting up with wings as eagles" (Isa. 40:31).
Note that the remnant will be sheltered for the last half of the Tribulation. We are not told where this sheltered place will be in the wilderness, but many of us believe that it is a place called Petra, which is located across the Dead Sea in the central part of Kingdom of Jordan. This is one of my favorite places to visit in the Middle East as I think of these prophecies. It is a natural fortress, but for sure God miraculously provides safe passage and protection for His people.
There is a lesson we can learn from this, and it is that God cares for those whom He wants to use to accomplish His purposes on earth. It is true that some people will give their lives (Rev. 12:11), but others will be spared. In Acts 12, James, an original disciple, is killed by Herod, but when Herod attempts to kill Peter, God sends an angel to miraculously deliver him from prison and set him free.
The phrase "water as a flood" is not explained. This "flood" could be an outpouring of hatred and anti-Semitic propaganda. Or it may symbolize armies that invade Israel and seek to defeat the remnant. If that is the meaning, then the earth opening up could well be an earthquake that God sends to destroy the invaders. Some of us believe that it is a literal flood of water that Satan send down the opening into Petra, and a literal earthquake takes place that opens up the earth and stops it.
When Satan discovers that the people he seeks to kill are protected, then he turns on those who were not carried to the hidden place of safety. He will declare war, and God will permit him to have victory for a time (Rev. 13:7); but ultimately, the old serpent will be defeated.
Today, be encouraged to know that God always provides and protects His people. And if He allows suffering or even death to come our way, we can be assured of His sufficient grace for it!