The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Friday, January 22, 2010

Christ our 'Sabbath' ( Hebrews 4:8-10 )

The fourth commandment reads, depending on the version ( NKJV )'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy',: the NIV ( New International Version ) reads 'Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy', the NASB ( New American Standard Bible ) and ESV ( English Stand Version ) read exactly the same as the NKJV, and YLT ( Young's Literal Translation ) gives us pretty the same reading, 'Remember the Sabbath-day to sanctify it'. Most versions that I've seen say basically the same thing, although using slightly different wording, but still bringing across the idea that God wanted ( wants ) His people to 'keep' His 'Sabbath', and 'sanctify' it.

I'm sure that many here have heard of the recent ( within the past 5-10 years ) 'The Ten Commandments: Twice Removed', and maybe even read it, and, while you may agree or disagree with the presuppositions in this book; this topic has become a more prevalent topic for discussion in the modern church. I recently had a conversation with a brother on this topic ( among others ), and one question that kept popping up was, 'where in the New Testament does it say ( and my brother will be sure to 'correct' me if I got the phrasing wrong ) that we can ignore the fourth commandment?' Well; being as 'hindsight is 20/20', I should have said that it's not just one place that says this, in fact I'd be hard-pressed to 'nail it down': this 'notion' or doctrine ( it's not just me ) can be gathered from the whole of Scripture, in covenantal term. If you've read any of my other articles; you probably noticed, and possibly even agree with me, that Paul's words, in II Corinthians 15:46 are, I believe, indicative of a biblical principal, true throughout the Scriptures, that the Old Covenant ( under the Law ) was chockful of physical types, of which Christ, in some way, was and is, the greater, spiritual Anti-type. The apostle Paul said, in a discussion of the 'change' that they would undergo, 'However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual', telling them, in not so many words, and as a disciple of his ( ? ) would write later, 'For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second', and then, quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, 'Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,a]">[a] says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more' ( Jeremiah 31:31-34 ) This 'New' Covenant would not be as the 'Old' was, written on physical tablets of stone, in nice 'block' letters; but this time, God would 'write' it on their 'hearts', in a spiritual way ( John 3:1-21 ), searing it into their consciences, if you will, that they might not be able to just throw it away ( unless they got rid of their conscience, which some have tried to do ) but would be a constant 'burning' to them, just in case they attempted to forget His Law!

Back to the particular question of the 'Sabbath' now; what is, or was, the sabbath? According to Genesis 2:2 & 3, 'And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made', and, later in Exodus 20;10, 'the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God'and that in that Sabbath, they were to do no work, at the risk of being cut off from God's people. In Hebrews 4:10, the writer states that 'he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His', which should tell us plainly ( or maybe not so plainly ) that this 'rest' that the writer spoke of was a spiritual rest ( in Christ ), and having entered His rest, we have ceased from ( trusting in ) our works, and are resting in His. Some may object to this 'line' of reasoning because the passage, from a 'woodenly literal' reading, seems to say that it is only when we have died and entered what most refer to as 'our eternal rest' in 'Heaven' that we very literally cease to work, but I believe that the context, not only of the surrounding passage, but Scripture as a whole, says otherwise!

So why do we say, ''Christ is our 'Sabbath'"? According to the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary, the word 'sabbath', from the Hebrew 'shabbāth', simply means 'rest': that we rest in Christ ( spiritually ) is a fact that no Christian in his ( or her ) right mind would deny, or try to repudiate ( okay; that was a little strong maybe, but I'm not apologizing! ), but many Christians, and I'm not condemning them for this, believe that we must still keep that physical sabbath, on the first day of the week, rather than on the seventh, as God commanded His Old Covenant 'children. I readily acknowledge, by the way, that the early Christians met on the first day of the week ( Acts 20:7 ), arguably in recognition of the fact that Christ rose from the grave in the early morning hours of this day, which we ironically call 'Sunday', originally named after the pagan worship of the sun. According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, 'The name comes from the Latin dies solis, meaning "sun's day": the name of a pagan Roman holiday. It is also called Dominica (Latin), the Day of God. The Romance languages, languages derived from the ancient Latin language (such as French, Spanish, and Italian), retain the root.' I myself assemble with a certain local church on the first day of the week to worship God and to fellowship together; I do not have a problem with this, though I believe that it tends to detract from everyday worship, but it is traditional ( 'everybody's doing it.........) and I see no harm in, this case anyway, 'when in Rome.................'!

Back to our topic, and finally; given the irrefutable fact that we rest in Christ, together with our reference in the book of Hebrews; it should be a plainly ascertainable clue that Christ IS our Sabbath, the spiritual Anti-type of His Father's physical command to His typical Old Covenant 'children! I realize that all may not recognize this fact, and although I believe this to be so ( Amen? ); again, I want to make clear that I do not condemn them for it, though they may condemn, or accuse me! By writing these words; I am not trying to alienate myself from orthodox and mainstream Christianity; nor do I wish to make enemies of any part of the Body of Christ: I am merely responding to question that a dear brother posed. I pray that these words will be read in that Light, and that they may be both instructive and edifying!

In His service, and for His Kingdom,
Charles Haddon Shank

( hey 'Man'; I hope this satisfies you question! )

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Conversations with a bullfrog ( 'all the boys and girls' )

Jeremiah Bereano wasn't ranting this time, not against me, anyway...............

When I answered the phone the other day, I heard, 'Hey, buddy; I was reading in Ezekiel 43 this morning, and thinking about the roller coaster that God's people ( His Old Covenant 'children', in particular ) have been on since day one. I also read, and have been thinking about the article that a friend of ours recently wrote, about the fulfilled land promise that God gave to the 'children' of Israel, and its being typical of the rest that we have in Christ. When you hear all this talk about the New Covenant ( Jeremiah 31:31, etc. ) being the 'covenant of grace' and the Old Covenant ( Exodus 19:5 ) being a 'covenant of works'; you might be thinking, 'well; they have a point there: it was the first covenant that God gave man, that was conditional on his obedience', but was it really, did God really make it conditional on man's obedience?

I replied, good un-orthodox Christian that I was ( I was brought up orthodoxically! );'I've always thought so, but my mind's not really 'set' ( in concrete ) on that': 'what were you thinking?'

'Well', he said,'I was thinking that it's all really just one covenant, the everlasting covenant ( Genesis 9:16, 17:7, I Chronicles 16:17, Isaiah 55:3 ) that Jeremiah speaks about in Jeremiah 32:40.'. He went on to remind me that all the separate 'covenants' that are recorded in Scripture; the so-called 'Adamic' ( Genesis 1:26-29 ), the 'Noachic' ( Genesis 6:13-18 ( 9:8-11 ), the 'Abrahamic' ( Genesis 12:1-3, reiterated in chapters 15, 17, etc.), 'Mosaic' ( Exodus 20, etc ), and so on and so forth, were all covenants of grace!

'But Jeremiah, are you trying to tell me ( I forgot to remind him of all the ones he had skipped, the 'Davidic', most importantly ) that the Mosaic covenant, which said 'if' you do this, then God will do this, was a covenant of grace?'

He continued then, reminding me that, even though the 'children' of Israel, in all their wilderness wanderings, and even in their conquest of the land, had continually rebelled and complained against God, and received the obligatory punishments for their sins, were allowed, withe the exception of those with whom God was not pleased ( Hebrews 8:8-12 ), to enter 'the land of milk and honey'.

'You might have a point there, Jer' I grudgingly said, 'but what about that part that says 'if'?'

'I'm glad you asked', he replied, 'the first commandment with promise ( Exodus 20:12 ), for instance, says 'Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you'. It sounds like God is saying 'if you honor your father and mother, that your days will be long', but such is not the case; it is not, nor ever was, because we do what we're supposed to that God blesses us ( this is not to say that we shouldn't try to do right! )............

As I'm wont to do; I interrupted my friend with, 'I often tell folks in our bible-study at church that, back then, this commandment could have had a very physically literal meaning and consequence, because parents were allowed to have their stubbornly rebellious and defiant children stoned to death..............'

'As I was saying', Jeremiah cut back in, ( rudely ) ignoring my brilliant observation, 'it is because of His grace, because He promised and purposed ( II Timothy 1:9 ) 'in Christ Jesus before time began' to redeem us and 'transformed' ( Romans 12:2 ), 'changed' us ( I Corinthians 15:52 )!' He explained further that, although they were required to obey, to keep His commandments, something we are still required to do, their salvation is not contingent on our obedience ( never was ), but on His grace. The up and down history of the children of Israel shows us that; even though they kept on saying they would follow His rule, but forgot Him and played 'the harlot' ( Leviticus 17:7 ( Hosea 9:1 ) after God had delivered them out of their troubles; He led them into the land, and blessed them anyway!

He had a good point, I had to admit, and of course, with all my Calvinist 'baggage', maybe I'm still a little prejudiced anyway, but I told him that I had to run, but that I appreciated his call, and would continue to think on these things.............

'God bless you, brother.............later, Jeremiah', I said, as I flipped my phone shut, ending our conversation; for now........................

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Studies in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ the Son of God ( the visions ( final judgment ( The Adversary ) pt 9

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation

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.

'Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me'. ( Genesis 37:9 ( Ezekiel 32:7 )

'Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”' ( Genesis 15:5 ( Daniel 12:3, Joel 2:10 )

'I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels'. ( Isaiah 61:10 ( Job 29:24, Psalm 30:11 ) Genesis 3:21 )

The Hebrew prophetic Scriptures are filled with references to 'the powers that be' symbolized by the stars of heaven and the other heavenly bodies, such as the moon, the sun, even constellations in some cases. After a decisive victory against the armies of Canaan,the prophetess sang, in Judges 5:20, 'They fought from the heavens; the stars from their courses fought against Sisera', speaking of the children of Israel's victory. Speaking of His majesty and sovereignty over the children of men, in Job 38:7; God asks Job where he was 'When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?' The prophet Isaiah uses familiar language to describe the punishment of Babylon when he wrote, in Isaiah 13:10, 'For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine'. ( see also Isaiah 14:13, Ezekiel 32:7 ) I believe that these and other Scriptures show fairly clearly to what John refers here in the Revelation; to the 'virgin' ( Jeremiah 31:4 ) of Israel, God's typical Old Covenant bride!

Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

'Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in birth pangs. For now you shall go forth from the city, you shall dwell in the field, and to Babylon you shall go. There you shall be delivered; there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies. ' ( Micah 4:10 ( Romans 8:22 )

'Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit'. ( Matthew 1:18 ( Micah 5:3 )

'Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child'. ( Isaiah 66:7 ( Isaiah 54:1 )

In the historical context of the great upheaval during with John received this Revelation; the Hebrew Scriptures often utilized the term 'birth-pangs', or 'labor pains' to describe a great fear, even a panic exhibited by those in the midst of just hearing of coming judgment. Psalm 48:6, describing the reaction of God's enemies to His righteous judgments, reads, 'Fear took hold of them there, and pain, as of a woman in birth pangs', and of the coming 'Day of the Lord' on Moab, we read, in Jeremiah 48:41, 'Kerioth is taken, and the strongholds are surprised; the mighty men’s hearts in Moab on that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs'. "Hearing of the coming judgment on Babylon, the prophet Isaiah recorded that 'my loins are filled with pain; pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor. I was distressed when I heard it; I was dismayed when I saw it.' ( Isaiah 21:3 ) Jeremiah 6:24 records that when the prophet, representative heard of the coming invasion from the North ( Babylon ), he reported that 'We have heard the report of it; our hands grow feeble. Anguish has taken hold of us, pain as of a woman in labor'. ( see also Jeremiah 22:23, 30:6 ) Pronouncing God's judgment on the nations; Jeremiah wrote 'Damascus has grown feeble; she turns to flee, and fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor.' ( Jeremiah 49:24 ), and Paul, writing to the church in Thessalonica of the coming 'Day of the Lord', told them, 'For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.' ( I Thessalonians 5:3 ) Of course the church was brought to birth ( traditionally ) during Christ's ministry and through His death and resurrection, but it was not until the end of the Old Covenant 'age' that it came to fruition, growing up through tribulation, coinciding with the final 'Day of the Lord' for the Jewish economy.

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.

'Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last'. ( Daniel 8:3 )

'After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it'. ( Daniel 7:6 )

'You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness'. ( Psalm 74:14 )

'He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries'. ( Psalm 110:6 )

'For the LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers'. ( Isaiah 29:10 )

We have noted many times before that the numeral 'seven', particularly in the prophetic Scriptures is used symbolically to signify perfection, completeness, and this 'dragon' is no exception: remembering that John is witnessing a vision here, significant of future events, much like the visions that the prophets before him reported 'seeing'. As the 'horns' and 'heads' in the two passages from Daniel, which I've quoted above referred to kings and dynasties, so these multiple heads of the dragon refer to those 'kings of the earth' ( Psalm 2:2 ) who have gathered together, and prepared themselves to oppose God's covenant people. I have endeavored to show in these studies thus far in the book of Revelation, and in several of my other articles, that the Old Covenant 'children' of Israel ( after the flesh ) were often seen ( even noted ) to be adversaries to God's covenant people, and even to themselves. We have noted too, that these Old Covenant 'children', especially as represented by their leaders ( Pharisees, for example ) were often referred to, particularly by Jesus, as 'serpents' ( Matthew 23:33 ( Jeremiah 8:17 ( Luke 10:19 ( Psalm 91:13 ), 'the offspring of vipers' ( Isaiah 14:29 ( Genesis 49:17 ), even as children of their 'father, the devil' ( John 8:44 ), and I believe that these Scriptures, along with many others, such as Deuteronomy 32:33, Psalm 58:4, 140:3, Ecclesiastes 10:11, Isaiah 27:1, and Micah 7:17, tell us to whom John referred, God's Old Covenant 'children' who had apostatized and 'killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One'. ( Acts 7:52, Nehemiah 9:26 )

His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

'And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.' ( Daniel 8:10 )

'One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them'. ( Ezekiel 5:12 ( Zechariah 13:9 )

'Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.' ( Matthew 2:13 )

Traditionally, I believe, in most circles, passages such as Revelation 12:4 above are taken quite literally, in a symbolic sense, as meaning that 'Satan', when he was finally ousted from 'Heaven' brought exactly one-third of the angels with him, which 'angels' are better known as demons, devils, evil spirits, etc; I believe rather, that reading back through the Old Testament ( even New Testament ) prophets will reveal that this is not necessarily so, that this is merely hyperbolic language used to 'veil' ( Matthew 13:13 ( Isaiah 25:7, Ezekiel 13:21, II Corinthians 3:14-16 ) God's true message and to relay to those who 'heard' a sense of imminence and immediacy. Several verses later, in Daniel's second vision, in an example of 'biblical parallelism'; Daniel further explained what he had written; 'an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground'. This 'heavenly host', which Daniel saw 'cast down' was actually an army given over ( Romans 1:24 ) for the purpose of purifying God's covenant people through trial by fire, if you will.

She 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.

'You shall break[a] them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel'. ( Psalm 2:9 ( Psalm 22:28 )

'Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against'. ( Luke 2:34 )

'Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.' ( Acts 2:33 ( Acts 1:9 )

Again, traditionally ( at least, in my experience ), this 'male Child' has been identified as the Church, or the Body of Christ on earth, and rightly so, I believe, although one could easily see that John is also, in a purely physical sense, referring to Jesus' lowly nativity, because, as we have seen before in previous studies ( and will continue to see ) and articles; Scripture teaches that we are one with Christ, and co-laborers ( rulers-Psalm 122:5 ( Daniel 7:9, 27 ) Matthew 19:28 ( Revelation 3:21 ) with Him!

Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

'Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there'. ( I Kings 17:3 & 4 )

In John's vision; the woman was allowed to escape into the wilderness, like Elijah, where she was fed for roughly three and a half years, the same amount of time that the 'two witnesses' prophesied, and that, in Elijah's day, the land of Israel experienced a drought ( James 5:17 ) from which Elijah was 'saved' by receiving sustenance at the hand of the Lord ( Roughly the same period of time that Jerusalem was under siege by Rome's armies, interestingly enough! ). One might think too, of Jesus' venture into the wilderness, in which He, although God Himself, was tried and tested, but simply replied 'man shall not live by bread alone' ( Deuteronomy 8:3 ( Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4 ), and to His own disciples, 'I have food to eat of which you do not know' ( John 4:32 ). Later on in the Gospel of John; Jesus told His followers that 'I go to prepare a place for you.[b]'( John 14:2b ), and in His Revelation to the churches, that 'he who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more' ( Revelation 3:12 )!

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[a] in heaven any longer.

'At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book'. ( Daniel 12:1 ( Matthew 24:15-28 )

'Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out'. ( John 12:31 )

'And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven"'. ( Luke 10:18 )

'But since you say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!’ therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Because you say this word, “The oracle of the LORD!” and I have sent to you, saying, “Do not say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!’” therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence. And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’' ( Jeremiah 23:38-40 )

Michael; translated from the Hebrew מִיכָאֵל and the Greek Μιχαήλ simply means 'who is like God'; this could be take several different ways: one could read that Michael was 'one who is like God', or that the name Michael is full of adoration, saying 'who is like God?' I will let my readers reason it out for themselves ( if they haven't already ) and suffice by saying that Scripture seems to tell us, particularly in the book of Daniel, that Michael was a pre-incarnate Jesus! There has been much debate among theologians as to the identity of this 'arch-angel' ( Jude 9 ); some believe, as do I, that He was The Son of God, and some have built up, from a woodenly literal reading of Scripture, a hierarchy, indeed a 'doctrine' of angels, of which this Michael is the Highest, the brightest 'star'!

Speaking of a woodenly literal translation; where is God and His Son when this 'war in heaven' broke out?

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.

'How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger! He cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel, and did not remember His footstool in the day of His anger'. ( Lamentations 2:1 )

'Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many'. ( Matthew 24:11 )

'How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,[b] son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!' ( Isaiah 14:12 )

'By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones'. ( Ezekiel 28:16 )

'Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly'. ( Numbers 16:31-33 )

For years, many theologians have read Isaiah 14: 12-15 as supporting the doctrine of 'Satan', the supposed 'arch-angel' ( as opposed to 'Michael' ) that 'fell from grace' because of rebellion against God ( Jude 6 ), but, as we read later, in verse 16, this whole passage is speaking of a mere 'man', the king of Babylon. If you will remember; the word 'satan', in the Hebrew, simply means 'adversary'; so 'Yes', in that sense, Isaiah 14:12-15, along with Ezekiel 28:11-19, includes a description of the casting down ( by God ) of 'Satan'! When we read 'that serpent of old'; we can't help but think, and rightly so, of the first 'serpent' recorded in Scripture; the one who tempted our first parents in the Garden of Eden, back in Genesis 3. The adversaries which had plagued the covenant-keeping people of God from the genesis of their history had finally been judged and cast from their exalted positions to feed upon the dust of the earth. The prophets, most notably Jeremiah above, in his lamentation for his people Israel, realized that they, as the adversaries, or 'satans', of God's people, had been cast down from their exalted position as the covenant people of God. As I have written before; the covenant-breaking 'children' of Israel had reached the point of apostasy in their rebellion against God and were thus indistinguishable from the 'nation' around them, and because of the covenant into which God had brought them, were deemed worthy of a more adverse judgment!

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

'And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.' ( Romans 13:11 )

'Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near'. ( Luke 21:28 )

'But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you'. ( Matthew 12:28 )

'And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions—them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den'. ( Daniel 6:24 )

'And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven'. ( Luke 10:18 )

'Let my accusers be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle'. ( Psalm 109:29 )

Although I believe, as I have intimated and tried to show in this study, or rather, these studies, that the main focus of the Revelation, besides, even more importantly, the revealing of Jesus the Christ as God Himself, was the adverse judgment of the Old Covenant 'children' of Israel; it is also about the total and final defeat, in reality, of the enemies, or enemy ( death-Hosea 13:14, Hebrews 2:14 ( I Corinthians 15:56 ) of God's covenant people. You may have heard, pretty convincingly, I might add, that when Job chapter one records that 'Satan' ( literally 'adversary' ) came before the throne of God to accuse Job, it simply showed that the accuser of the brethren' stands before His throne yet, accusing us ( Christians even ) of our failures, trying to fault us in God's presence. As I implied previously; this is, in a sense, a correct assumption, were it not for several glaringly obvious facts, for example, where Paul, in Romans 16:20, promises the Roman believers that 'the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.' Peter also wrote, concerning this 'adversary', that he 'walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' ( I Peter 5:8 ( Luke 20:47 ).

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

'He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life'. ( John 12:25 ( John 15:13 )

'I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me'. ( Galatians 2:20 )

'If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore'. ( Psalm 132:12 ( II Chronicles 17:12-14 ) I Kings 11:11 ( Matthew 21:43 )

'He shall see the labor of His soul,[b]and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities'. ( Isaiah 53:11 )

'Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption'. ( Hebrews 9:12 ( Hebrews 13:12 ) Zechariah 9:11 )

The context of John's written words in the Revelation necessitate, of course, a first century fulfillment, as you can read in the accounts of Josephus and other such chroniclers, even as Jesus Himself promises, in Matthew 23:34, 'Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city' ( see also Luke 11:49, 21:12 ), and 'Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake' ( Matthew 24:9 ( II Timothy 3:12 ), but these words hold as true for His followers today, in that the Spirit of anti-Christ, the spirits of those in opposition to Christ and His Body still operates, and persecutes, even murders those who would make a stand, and strive to be His 'healing leaves'!

Jesus told His first-century disciples, as He tells us, in John 16:33, 'These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[d] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' In context; these words held a slightly different meaning then for us today, because the 'world' that Jesus spoke of was the covenant 'world' of the typical Jewish age, which He had indeed overcome, in reality, through His so-called first advent, and in actuality, overcame when He, through the Roman armies, brought an end to the Jewish ( Temple ) economy, or 'age'. In his first letter, John wrote to his 'children' that 'you have overcome the wicked one' ( I John 2:13 ( 4:4 ), as Paul had promised his readers, in Romans 16:20, 'the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen'. What Christ had accomplished definitively at the cross, and by His resurrection; His first-century disciples had fulfilled by being in Him!

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.

'Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns"'. ( I Chronicles 16:31 ( Psalm 96:11 ( Matthew 5:12 )

'I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the LORD, by His fierce anger'. ( Jeremiah 4:23-26 )

'Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!' ( Isaiah 17:12 )

'They shall throw you down into the Pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the midst of the seas'. ( Ezekiel 28:8 )

'Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule;[c] and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means.[d]' ( Daniel 8:25 )

Paul wrote to the Ephesian church that Christians now 'sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus'. ( Ephesians 2:6 ) ( I must also note that the word 'places' here is in italics and thus not in the original Greek, but only added for clarity )I have written before, under the assumption that 'the heavens', in prophetic Scripture, refer to the covenant ( typical or anti-typical ) people of God; this being the case, God's people rejoiced to see the coming of the 'Day of the Lord' because, even though they knew it would mean tribulation for them, it ultimately would result in their final and full salvation, or deliverance! When reading the prophecies of Daniel; sometimes it is hard to figure out how the kings that Daniel prophesied about concerning the 'time of the end' related over the centuries ( almost 5 ) from the kings of Syria, almost imperceptibly merging with the 'kings' of Rome, but I believe that God, through Daniel, makes it quite clear, that in the times of these 'kings' ( the Roman emperors ) He would 'bring in everlasting righteousness' ( Daniel 9:24 ), and that 'at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book'. ( Daniel 12:1b )

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.

'For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead'. ( Psalm 143:3 )

'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. ( Matthew 5:10 )

'If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also'. ( John 15:18-20 ( Acts 22:4 ( I Corinthians 15:9 )

'For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men'. ( I Thessalonians 2:14 & 15 )

'But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint'. ( Isaiah 40:31 ( Exodus 19:4)

I believe that traditionally, at least in the catholic 'tradition', the 'woman' that John observes here, signifies Old Covenant Israel, or at least the faithful remnant, out of which New Covenant Israel, or the Church, the Body of Christ came. This is a safe assumption to make, and I have always been satisfied with this explanation, but to truly understand it better ( and I doubt if we fully understand it yet, I believe that we must look at several important facts: first, of course, are the 'wilderness years' of the 'children' of Israel; second, I believe that we should be reminded of the prophet Elijah's wilderness experience, in I Kings 17:4-6, and wherein he was fed, and thirdly, of our Lord's own temptation in the wilderness.

My readers might well wonder why I chose to include Jesus' temptation in the above list, but when you read Matthew 4:1-11, particularly in the events of the latter part of chapter 3, though Scripture does not specifically say this, one might 'gather' that one reason Jesus might have been led into the wilderness was that He had just been proclaimed, by a voice from heaven, the very Son of God, and thus could have been in some danger from the very Pharisees whom John had just declaimed as a 'Brood of vipers' ( Matthew 3:7 ). We might also remember, maybe more immediately and to the point, the flight of His earthly 'parents' into Egypt, recorded in Matthew 2:13 & 14, with the baby Jesus.

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.

'You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it'. ( John 8:44 )

'Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, Who will bring them down to the earth with His hand'. ( Isaiah 28:2 ( Psalm 90:5 )

'When the waves of death surrounded me, the floods of ungodliness made me afraid'. ( II Samuel 22:5 ( Psalm 18:4 )

'And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined'. ( Daniel 9:26 ( 11:22 )

'For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be'. ( Matthew 24:38 & 39 )

'Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many'. ( Matthew 27:51-53 )

When Jesus died on the cross, an earthquake, along with the other above-mentioned signs, signified that He had indeed defeated the powers of darkness, which, in effect , swallowed up the 'flood' of evil that Old Covenant Israel ( after the flesh ) had unleashed by their rebellion, and eventually, apostasy, against the Righteousness of God, seeking their own instead. Jesus condemningly told the Pharisees, in Matthew 23:13, that they had 'shut up the kingdom of heaven against men', because of their traditional 'laws', which Paul said, were 'contrary to' them ( Colossians 2:14 ), were attempting to carry away from the True Path those on whom the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ had fallen ( Matthew 13:9 ). When the 'dragon' attempted to imitate the power of God, as in Daniel 2:35; God defeated his purpose by sending His Son in the form of a man ( earthy ), in essence, 'swallowing' the 'flood' of evil, which had been unleashed by the Old Covenant. ( Romans 7:7-12 )

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.[b]

'You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.' ( Acts 7:51-53 ( 22:4, 26:11 ( Galatians 1:13 & 23 )

'Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words'. ( Jeremiah 18:18 )

'For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost'. ( I Thessalonians 2:14-16 )

'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you'. ( Matthew 5:10-12 )

'Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution'. ( II Timothy 3:12 )

Most of us are probably quite familiar with the quote from Paul's letter to Timothy, above, and while, in a sense, it holds as true for Christians today; I believe that when read it in the context of the apostle's other writings ( first century ); we can easily see that this statement would have held a more immediate and dire warning for its original audience. Paul actually used similar words to John's, in Acts 26:11, when, recounting his for conduct as a Pharisee, he wrote that, 'being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities'.

Talking to my brother-in-law the other day; I commented that I was just finishing up a study of Revelation 12: 'Oh', he said, 'the not-so-nice Christmas story!' I really hadn't thought of it like that before, but 'folks, that's just what it was', the Christmas story in symbolization. I mentioned above, Joseph and Mary's flight into Egypt; remember what the enraged 'serpent' did when he knew that the Christ-child had eluded him? 'Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men' ( Matthew 2:16 )!

May God bless you with this study, as He has blessed me in doing it!

Charles Shank