Satan, A Defeated Enemy (2019, Quarter 1, Lesson 8)
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Sabbath (February 16)
Revelation 12 is perhaps the Bible’s most comprehensive chapter in its breadth and scope. It’s focus highlights the battle between Christ and Satan, and traces this “great controversy” through the Old Testament, Christ’s life, the New Testament era, and the end times. This chapter reveals that since the formation of Israel in the Old Testament, God has had an organized, visible church on earth, and the woman—and “the remnant of her seed”—in Revelation 12, represents this body of believers.
Chapter 12 provides a launching pad for the second half of the book of Revelation, and its warning of “woe” to the earth in verse 12 connects it with the earlier two “woes” associated with the fifth and sixth trumpets. The end-time closing events referenced in Revelation 12:17, then, complete the prophetic events of the seventh trumpet and include the following tremendous events:
- the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of Christ (Rev. 11:15);
- the judgment of the dead takes place (Rev. 11:18);
- the temple of God is opened in heaven (Rev. 11:18);
- two beasts work together to enforce the mark of the beast (Rev. 13);
- three angels give God’s last message to the world (Rev. 14; 18:1-4);
- the seven last plagues fall (Rev. 16);
- humanity launches its final assault on God (Rev. 17);
- Babylon falls (Rev. 18); and
- Jesus Christ returns (Rev. 19).
During this climactic time period the mystery of God is also “finished” or “completed.” This mystery is the fulfillment of the prophetic message “declared to [God’s] servants the prophets”—the call to and promise of victory over sin.
Chiastic Structure of Revelation 12
Some have seen a chiastic structure in Revelation 12. Such a structure centers in the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church, and assures us that His victory is also theirs.
- A The woman (vss. 1-2)
- B The dragon fights against the woman (vss. 3-5)
- C The woman flees into the wilderness for 1,260 days (vs. 6)
- D Satan attack on heaven (vss. 7-9)
- E Victory of Christ and His people (vss. 10,11)
- D’ Satan attacks on earth (vs. 12)
- C’ The woman led into the wilderness for 3.5 years (vss. 13,14)
- B’ The dragon chases the woman into the wilderness (vss. 15,16)
- A’ The remnant of the woman’s seed (vs. 17)
- What benefits come to us spiritually from seeing the “big picture” of the fight between God and Satan?
Sunday (February 17): The Woman and the Dragon
The woman of Revelation12 represents God’s visible, organized church on earth through all ages. Both the Old and New Testaments use the symbol of a woman to represent God’s church (Jeremiah 6:2; 2 Corinthians 11:2). While we often think of the word “church” as pointing to a New Testament-era institution, the deacon Stephen in his final testimony before his martyrdom spoke about ancient Israel as God’s “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). The very symbol of the woman in Revelation 12 also points to the fact that in God’s sight, His faithful people have always formed one body of believers as they are united in Christ. There is, after all, only one woman in this chapter, whether she is pregnant or fleeing into the wilderness.
Several identifying marks of God’s people are identified in Revelation 12:1. Read the verses below and discuss:
- Read Malachi 4:2. What does the sun that clothes the woman represent? (The righteousness of Christ.) What does this mean practically for us?
- Read Psalm 89:34,37. What does the moon that she stands on represent? (Faith in God’s promises.) What does this mean practically for us?
- Read Daniel 12:3. What do the stars that crown her head represent? (Effective and faithful witnessing to others.) What does this mean practically for us?
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:33. What characteristic of God is revealed in the fact that His church on earth has always been both organized and visible, rather than being merely a “mystical association” of believers?
Monday (February 18): Satan Cast Down to Earth
The Bible clearly identifies the red dragon in Revelation 12 as the devil, or Satan (Revelation 12:7-9). Although Satan was cast out of heaven at the beginning of the controversy (Revelation 12:9), he still apparently had access to heaven in his claim to be the ruler of Earth (see Job 1:6-12). Following Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, however (summarized in Revelation 12:5), Satan was again “cast down” (Revelation 12:10), apparently indicating that since the cross Satan has been confined to this earth awaiting his punishment (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). The dragon’s increased anger at the end of time (Revelation 12:17) comes in large part from the fact that he realizes his eternal destruction is drawing near (Revelation 12:12).
- What strength can we draw from realizing and remembering that the events on earth are part of a larger drama between good and evil?
- What comfort do you get from knowing that Satan is a defeated enemy? Why is this so important to remember?
Tuesday (February 19): The War on Earth
After the dragon fails to destroy the man child, or Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:3-5), he turns his attention to the woman and attacks her (Revelation 12:6,13-17). The prophetic time period of this persecution is given twice in verses 6 and 14, and both point to the 1,260-year period from AD 538-1798 when the papal power effectively controlled civil government, suppressed the Scriptures, and persecuted those who chose to follow God’s Word. During this time God’s faithful people, represented by the woman in Revelation 12, were chased and persecuted from place to place until they found refuge in the “wilderness,” particularly the sparsely-populated New World of North America. “It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation” (GC 292).
- Read John 14:29. For whose benefit were these time prophecies in Revelation 12 given? (We who live after their fulfillment!) What benefit do you think God intends us to experience from understanding how these prophecies have been fulfilled?
- This time prophecy is actually given seven times in Scripture (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 11:2,3; 12:6,14; 13:5). What does this tell about it’s importance? Why do you think God has repeated this prophecy so many times?
Christ and His Body
The Bible uses marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-27). “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” writes Paul in Ephesians 5:30. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (verse 31, emphasis added). Just as a husband and wife choose to walk through life together, Christ and His people make the same decision. And just as a married couple shares the experiences of life, so do Christ and His church. Christ’s experiences on earth were in fact prophecies of what His body, the church, would pass through in the centuries after His return to heaven. The illustration below shows that “what happens to the Head, happens to the body”!
- What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ “paved the way” for the experiences of the church during the long centuries following His return to heaven?
- Read Revelation 12:11,17. For what reasons might God allow His church to pass through these trying experiences?
Wednesday (February 20): War Against the Remnant
Revelation 12:17 predicts that at the end of time, God will have a final, visible, organized church on earth. The Bible reveals several important identifying characteristics of this end-time church.
- It appears after AD 1798 at the conclusion of the 1,260 year prophecy (Revelation 12:14)
- It appears in the “wilderness,” or in a place with a relatively sparse population (Revelation 12:14-17)
- It appears in a place with religious freedom, where the dragon’s “water,” or armies, cannot reach (Revelation 12:16)
- It keeps “the commandments of God” (Revelation 12:17)
- It has the “testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17)
- The Bible refers to this end-time church as the “remnant of the woman’s seed.” What does this appellation imply about the people that make up this church?
- Read Revelation 19:10. What is the “testimony of Jesus”? (The “spirit of prophecy.”)
- Read Luke 22:67-70. When Christ gave His final testimony at His trial, what two things did He testify to? (He prophesied about the second coming [Luke 22:69 and Matthew 26:64] and testified to His relationship with the Father [Luke 22:70].) How do these two things relate to the mission and message of God’s people today? (We are also to prophesy about the return of Christ and demonstrate what kind of relationship is possible between God and humanity.)
There is a fifth identifying characteristic of the “remnant of the woman’s seed,” and that is that this end-time church will share in the experiences of Jesus Christ, its Head, just as the woman has in previous ages. The chart below illustrates how the last week of Christ’s life, in particular, serves as a prophecy of events in the formation and prophetic future of the remnant church.
Learn more about the parallels between Christ and the woman of Revelation 12 in the 24-part study guide set Living in the Final Week, available at www.PathwayToParadise.org.
Thursday (February 21): Satan’s End-Time Strategy
Deception is a serious issue at the end of time, one that Revelation repeatedly predicts will threaten God’s people (Revelation 13:13,14; 16:14; 12:9; 20:10; also Matthew 24:24). Revelation reveals that chief among Satan’s deceptions will be his efforts to counterfeit the work of God, and especially that of Jesus Christ.
- The beast gets its authority and power from the dragon, just as Jesus relied on God’s power (compare Revelation 13:2 with Matthew 28:18).
- The beast sits on the dragon’s throne, just as Jesus will sit on the Father’s throne (compare Revelation 13:2 with Revelation 3:21).
- The beast comes out of water, just as Jesus came out of the water in baptism to begin His ministry (compare Revelation 13:1 with Matthew 3:13-17).
- The beast works signs and wonders, just as Jesus did (compare Revelation 13:13,14 with Acts 2:22).
- The beast “ministers” for 3.5 prophetic years, and Jesus ministered for 3.5 literal years between His baptism and death (Revelation 13:5).
- The beast receives a mortal wound and is resurrected, just as Jesus was (compare Revelation 13:3 with 1 Corinthians 15:3,4).
- Is deception also a threat to God’s end-time church? (Of course!)
- Read Revelation 14:12. How can we who claim to be part of “the remnant of the woman’s seed” avoid falling to deception?
Friday (February 22): The Remnant’s Message and Mission
Just as God has a remnant people at the end of time, He also brought a remnant of Israel back from Babylonian captivity, and gave them the opportunity to accomplish His purposes for them. Daniel 9:24-27 reveals seven characteristics of the Old Testament remnant.
- The remnant given a time prophecy of 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24)
- The remnant to accept and participate in the Messiah’s work (Daniel 9:24)
- The remnant to “restore” Jerusalem and its government centered on God’s law (Daniel 9:25a)
- The remnant to “rebuild” Jerusalem and, in particular, the temple (Daniel 9:25b)
- The remnant called to be faithful through opposition (Daniel 9:25b)
- The remnant to prepare the world for the advent of the Messiah (Daniel 9:25,26a)
- The covenant to be confirmed at end of the remnant’s work (Daniel 9:27a)
Notice the similarities with God’s end-time remnant movement:
- The remnant church is given a time prophecy of 2,300 years (Daniel 8:14)
- The remnant church is to accept and participate in Christ’s work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary (Daniel 8:14; Malachi 3:1-3; Revelation 14:7)
- The remnant church is to “restore” God’s law as central to their lives (Revelation 14:12)
- The remnant church is to “rebuild” and restore the sanctuary message of Christ’s forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9; Ephesians 5:25-27)
- The remnant church is called to be faithful through opposition (Revelation 12:17)
- The remnant church is to prepare the world for the second advent of Christ (Revelation 10:11)
- God’s covenant will be confirmed at the end of the remnant church’s mission (Romans 11:27; Revelation 7:9; 14:1-5)
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