Part 3a - The Second Scroll: Warfare (Seven Visions & Plagues) [12-16]

note: these are very brief notes

chart of the second scroll (pdf format)

A. Seven Visions of Warfare

  • All of Revelation makes use of O.T. symbolism, but this part is particularly dependent on it
    • Any culture has well known events or motifs in its history which can be used as metaphors which everyone will understand
    • “We are going to hit the January sales, D-day is tomorrow”
    • “The insurgents seemed to be making progress, but June 2008 was their Gettysburg and they never recovered”
      • (For the English, subsitute “their Waterloo”)
    • Sometimes there is an organic relationship between the O.T. symbol/event and the event in revelation
      • e.g. there is an O.T. account that relates Eve to the serpent which has a relationship with the story of the woman & dragon
      • But sometimes the symbol can be used independent of the original event (e.g. stars falling in the O.T. are political collapses but are not necessarily in any way related to those in Rev.)

1. The Woman [12:1-2]

  • woman = covenant community, OT & NT
    • The promise is made to Eve in [Gen 3:15] that her offspring would defeat the serpent’s seed
    • The imagery repeats through history, e.g. Pharoah and the Israelites (even killing baby boys)
    • This was finally fulfilled in Mary’s child
    • crown of 12 stars symbolizes the old and new Testament people of God (12 tribes / 12 apostles)
  • child = Jesus [quote from Psalm 2]

2. The Great Red Dragon [12:3-6]

  • dragon = Satan (we don’t have to guess, [v9] tells us! and repeated later in [Rev 20:2])
    • ⅓ of the stars falling = the original rebellion. Stars are angels who revolted with Satan against God.
  • Satan’s attacks
    • ever since the promise to Abraham of a seed, Satan has attacked the Messianic line to try to keep the seed from being born
    • e.g. Pharoah & baby boys, David & Goliath, Queen Athaliah & Josiah, Herod killing baby boys
  • 1260 days = 3½ years (approx 40 months)
    • Elijah was sustained in the wilderness for 3½ years, hiding away from the wrath of Jezebel, and he was fed by ravens.
    • (maybe an allusion to Israelites escaping into the wilderness for 40 yrs

3. War in Heaven, Dragon thrown down to earth [12:7-18]

  • battle—cf. Jesus saying to disciples “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. . .”
    • Satan’s power was utterly broken at the cross and from that time onward he knew he was defeated and his time is short
    • But why does it say Michael defeated him?
      • God uses subordinates to fulfill his purposes, angels and humans.
  • time, times and ½ a time = 3½ years.
  • spewing water—some think this is a reference to Pharaoh and the Israelites at the Red Sea?
    • this is a pattern of history, repeated again and again
    • I might say “I am going through a wilderness experience”—I don’t mean that I am the Israelites! I am using it as a metaphor
    • In the same way Old Testament events are used as symbols that everyone would understand to speak of future events
  • the rest of the offspring of the woman [12:17] = people of God (the church)
  • the church is protected for 3½ years. this is a measure of protection, not total and complete
    • the church is protected compared to what will come later.
    • many examples throughout history, e.g. Martin Luther

4. Beast from the Sea [13:1-10]

  • who is the beast?
    • Nebuchadnezzer’s dream in Daniel—statue with 4 parts which are 4 kingdoms
    • Followed by Daniel’s dream in Daniel 7 which is very similar, except there are 4 beasts out of the sea
      • Destroyed by the the Kingdom of God
      • Stone hewn by no human hands cut it down.
    • This beast is all the kingdoms wrapped together in one, with multiple heads.
  • The five which have been are:
    • Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medes & Persians, Macedonians under Alexander the Great. See [Rev 17:10]
    • Rome is the 6th which now is. These are all satanic anti-God kingdoms which persecuted the people of God. See 17:7ff.
    • The 6th kingdom which has a wound is Rome, which was destroyed by Christ.
  • The wound and recovery are a fake resurrection—imitation of Christ.
  • In [13:5] a new era of the beast is begun
    • as the final head is given a mouth and allowed to start a period of persecution
    • 42 months = 3½ years. This is the rest of history from the Great Tribulation to the end of time.
    • Endurance is required
    • This is not exactly synchronized with the seals, since the events of the 5 seal (Great Tribulation) are being started just before the end of this 4th vision, with the last king
  • This beast is the false Messiah, false Christ

5. Beast from the land (False Prophet) [13:11-18]

  • this is a false Holy Spirit
    • his role is to do signs and wonders to authenticate the beast and draw people to worship him
      • as the real Holy Spirit does for Jesus
  • there is now a false trinity—dragon/Father, beast/Son, false prophet/Holy Spirit
    • a false bride—Babylon, the prostitute
    • a demonic army vs. the 144,000
  • are the beast and the false prophet one person or several? we don’t know.
  • In some ways this has happened many times throughout history
    • although the text seems to point to a final, climactic fulfillment
    • Note the parallel with the the 5th seal—many were killed [13:15]
    • [13:13] would correspond to the Great Tribulation in Jesus’ chronolgy where the false prophets will do amazing signs and wonders.

Number of the Beast

  • One theory is the numbering of people’s names
    • in ancient languages letters had numerical value, and by totalling up the numerical value of a person’s name you can make 666 and discover who is the beast.
    • The problem is that it is easy to make almost anyone’s name into 666 if you are prepared to make enough changes to it (adding a title, translating it, dropping out letters)
  • We are missing the point if we focus on the number 666. The key phrase is “the number of a man.”
    • The point is that the antichrist is a MAN. He pretends to be God but is human.
    • The number of perfection is 7, so 777 is a Trinity of perfection.
    • 6 is one short, so has something missing. 666 is symbolic of the fake trinity
    • Everyone else is deceived by him, but Christians are not.
  • false sealing—mimics the sealing of the 144,000 by the Holy Spirit
    • a seal is a mark of ownership, the same as being given a new-name
    • they are given the name of the beast

6. The Lamb with the 144,000 (hour of judgement) [14:1-13]

  • “have not defiled themselves with women” sounds like it supports celebacy
    • It is a picture of being totally devoted to God (God never puts value on literal celebacy)

7. Judgement begins [14:14-20]

  • rather shocking image in [14:20]

Summary of Seven Visions of Warfare

  1. God promised to his people that they would eventually give birth to a Messiah, but there are many attempts to destroy the line of Jesus
  2. These attempts are from Satan, the dragon, but Jesus is born and later ascends to heaven, and the Satan turns his attack on God’s people
  3. Jesus’ victory on the cross was Satan’s defeat and he is no longer able to accuse believers
    • He attacks God’s people, but they are supernaturally preserved, just like Elijah and Israel were
  4. Satan’s opposition to Christians begins to be through anti-God kingdoms (the beast from the sea)
    • There are a series of these kingdoms which eventually culminate in a particularly evil one that is the manifestation of anti-christ
    • This time ends with an intense persectution and martyrdom of Christians, the “Great Tribulation”
  5. The final member of the anti-trinity is the false prophet, (the beast from the earth)
    • He does supernatural signs and wonders and makes people worship the anti-christ
    • He puts a mark on unbelievers which is a fake of the sealing of the Spirit
  6. But Jesus is assembling all the true belivers, whose worship song is amazing and can’t be faked
    • events rapidly hasten towards the final judgement
  7. Jesus appears in the clouds and judgement begins

B. Seven Plagues (bowls poured out)

  • These mirror the seven trumpets very closely
    • They are an expansion of the 6th/7th part of the previous series
    • The link (like with the seals & trumpets) are the 144,000
    • In [14:2-5] the ones who have not given into the beasts and taken their number sing a song of praise
    • This story and song is picked up in [15:2-4]
  • believers are not touched by the plagues—like Israel in Egypt. This could be spiritual or physical protection, or both.
    • the description of the first four are very similar to the first four trumpets: earth-sea-rivers-sun
    • the last three are similar to the last three trumpets
      • Throne of the beast—darkness and pain
      • Demonic army from Euphrates—preparing for the great battle
      • Start of judgement—great hailstorm
  • Once again, as Jesus said, stay alert—don’t be deceived
    • Jesus’ statement that he will come like a thief is quoted just before the seventh plague
  • 7th angel
    • A great earthquake and then later a great hailstorm are mentioned, just as at the end of the trumpet sequence
      • but this scene tells a bit further into the future
    • Babylon is mentioned for the first time
    • The islands and mountains vanish as creation comes to an end
    • this scene is expanded in the next section: “7 visions of Victory”

Summary of Seven Plagues (bowls poured out)

  1. — 4. the earth is damaged by plagues, but the true believers are not hurt
  1. The beast causes darkness and extreme pain. This was supposed to lead people to repent, but (most of them) refused to
  2. A demonic-inspired army is raised up for the final confrontation (this may or may not be literal)
  3. Creation comes to an end

Updated on 2011-05-27 by Andrew Fountain -