Study Notes

Revelation 11:14-12:17

11:14 The Three Woes

We have almost left the parenthesis between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. John tells us that the second woe is past and the third woe is coming. Do you remember what he means by the three woes?

There was an eagle back in chapter eight that flew in the sky proclaiming,

Rev. 8:13 ..."Woe, woe, woe, to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"

The first woe that came was that the devil opened the abyss and a plague of demonic locusts were released upon the earth - tormenting mankind with a sting that put men in agony for five months.

The second woe came with the sounding of the sixth trumpet. This released a demonic army of two hundred million horsemen led by four angels that had been bound at the great river Euphrates. The result of this woe was that a third of mankind was killed.

We are about to see the third woe in chapter twelve - the devil being thrown to earth and his terrible persecution of the Jews. We'll be there in our study next Sunday. But before we see the woe take place, we are once again shown the throne room of heaven and the worship that takes place there.

11:15-18 The Future As Sure

At this point in Revelation, we are at the midpoint of the seven years. However, notice that as the 24 elders worship God, they are speaking as if everything is accomplished. They are proclaiming that it is a "done deal." The kingdom of the world will not be the Lord's for another 3 1/2 years. The nations will not make war with Him for another 3 1/2 years. The rewards will not be given for another 3 1/2 years. The destruction of God's enemies will not occur for another 3 1/2 years. So why are they speaking these things in a present tense?

Because when you see God for Who He truly is, you know that what is written in the Word is a done deal. It is pleasing to our Lord when you take what He says to the bank. When you act on His promises as a done deal, even when you don't see evidence of it yet. Indeed, that is what faith is all about.

Hebr. 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of {things} hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is acting on what God has promised even when you don't yet see any indication that He is doing it.

11:19 The Temple In Heaven

There is a temple in heaven. The temple on earth was a mere model of it.

The writer of Hebrews pointed out that the priests in the temple merely

Hebr. 8:5 ...serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned {by God} when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."

The temple on earth was a model of the temple in heaven. Just as Moses had the Israelites build an altar of incense, we saw in chapter eight that there is an altar of incense in the heavenly temple. There was a table of showbread in the earthly temple, and in heaven there is a table that we will eat and drink with the Lord at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The Ark Of His Covenant

Now here is the mystery. The ark of the covenant with the lid called the mercy seat was an earthly model of the throne of God. And of course, in the heavenly temple, there is the true throne of God. But now the ark appears in heaven with the throne of God. It would seem that this is the actual ark that God commissioned Moses to build!

In the Bible, he last we saw of the ark of the covenant was in the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple. But then the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. The people were taken into the Babylonian captivity (including Daniel & friends), and the valuables in the Temple were taken. We never heard of the ark after this point.

Even when the temple was rebuilt under Zerubbabel and refurbished under Herod, the ark was not in the Holy of Holies. Will it be in the Tribulation temple? Many claim to know where the ark is today. Some say it is in Ethiopia. Others say it is hidden under Temple Mount. Steven Spielberg portrayed it as being boxed and stored in a giant US Government warehouse.

But my personal view on this subject is that the ark will not make a last days appearance. I believe this based on two Biblical passages. First of all, this verse in Revelation appears to demonstrate that it is hidden in heaven,

The second reason is that Jeremiah 3:16 seems to say that after the regathering of the nation of Israel, which occurred in 1948, the ark won't be around.

Jer. 3:16 "And it shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land," declares the LORD, "they shall say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' And it shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again."

Maybe God is hiding it in a place that no archaeologist or treasure hunter can find it - in His own throne room!

12:1-5 A Great Sign

Now John sees a sign in heaven. Understand that this is not literal - it is a sign. These things represent other things. In this scene, there are three major players: a woman, her child, and a dragon, and they are doing certain things. Although this may seem incredibly complicated, it is really quite plain and simple if you know your Bible.

The Woman

A woman in labor - who is she? This is a Biblical sign that has a Biblical explanation. The clue we're given is that this woman is clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. This sends us over to Genesis 37. You know the story of Joseph. Of Israel's twelve sons, Joseph was his favorite. He'd been having dreams that made his brothers hate him. In one of his dreams, he told his brothers,

Gen. 37:9-10 ..."Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." And he related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?"

So Israel himself interprets the dream - he is the sun, his wife is the moon, and his boys are the eleven stars (Joseph would be the twelfth). This woman then, represents the family of Jacob - the entire nation of Israel.

Her Child

The woman gives birth to a child. What male child did Israel give birth to? It was proclaimed to Israel,

Isa. 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Who was this? Jesus Christ. It was Israel that birthed Jesus, a Jewish carpenter from the tribe of Judah. Paul wrote in Romans 9 regarding Israel,

Rom. 9:5 ...from whom is the Christ according to the flesh...

The male child that Israel gave birth to was Jesus.

The Dragon

And in case you didn't get it immediately, John tells us clearly in Revelation that the dragon is satan:

Rev. 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world...

Rev. 20:2 ...The dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and satan...

We will look more in depth at his seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems later on in chapter 17.

So the three players are: the woman is Israel, the child is Jesus, and the dragon is satan.

A Third Of The Stars

It says that satan's tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. You've probably heard that a third of the angels fell with satan - this is where that idea comes from. Does it say angels specifically? No, but angels are often referred to as stars in the Bible (Job 38:4-7). The devil himself is even called a star (Isa 14:12-13; Rev. 9:1). So it is more than likely that the interpretation of the third of the stars being a third of the angels is correct. What we will read in verses 7-9 seems to validate that as well.

To Devour The Child

The devil was waiting for Israel to give birth to the Messiah. He knew that God had said He would crush satan under His feet, and planned to destroy the Child before He could grow up. Thus,

Matt. 2:16 ...when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi.

In the supernatural realm, the dragon was attempting to devour the Child when He was born.

Caught Up To God

Jesus was caught up to God and to His throne in Acts 1.

Acts 1:9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

So the beginning and ending of Jesus' time on earth is entirely summed up in verse five. This is because the real focus of chapter 12 is the enmity between satan and Israel.

12:6-9 War In Heaven

This has to be one of the strangest statements in the Bible: "And there was war in heaven." It's an amazing thing to think that heaven itself could be defiled by sin, but the devil brought sin into heaven. No wonder God says,

Isa. 65:17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind."

The war has Michael and his angels against the devil and his angels. Michael, you may recall, is the archangel (Jude 9) who stands guard over, and fights for, the Jews (Dan 12:1).

12:8-10 The Accuser of the Brethren

Up until this point, satan has had - and still does have - access to heaven. We see that in the book of Job. What's he doing there? Accusing us day and night before God. That's what he did in Job's case, accusing him (Job 1:9-11). Zechariah also was shown this,

Zech. 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

So satan is occupied now with pointing out our sin to God and demanding justice. Praise God that we have Jesus as our advocate! Praise God that there is no condemnation for us! Paul wrote in Romans 8,

Rom. 8:33-34 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

He accuses us and Jesus defends us.

12:11 Overcame

The brethren overcame satan with three steps:

1) Because of the blood of the Lamb. When we realize that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, we no longer walk in defeat and condemnation, but in victory and boldness. That is the victory.

2) Because of the word of their testimony. Sharing Christ with others, and encouraging one another in the faith. That is the victory.

3) They did not love their life even to death. If you're loving this life instead of eagerly waiting for eternal life, you're living in spiritual defeat. To live is Christ, to die is gain. To say, "O death, where is thy sting?" That is the victory.

12:12 Woe To The Earth And Sea

Heaven is to rejoice because satan has fallen, but earth is about to suffer its third woe because satan has fallen. When the devil gets kicked out of heaven, he kicks everything into overdrive. He knows his time is short, and he's making the most of it. It is at this point he initiates the attempted destruction of all God's people - blatantly, obviously, and the world will do his bidding.

12:13-17 The Dragon Persecutes The Woman

Jesus warned the Jews in Matthew 24,

Matt. 24:15-21 "Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.

When the antichrist stands in the holy place and proclaims himself to be God, there will be a world-wide persecution of the Jews, beginning with those who are in Jerusalem and Judea. And even though millions of Jews have been killed in persecutions in the past, this will be worse than it ever was before.

To Her Place

Where will the Jews flee when this persecution breaks out against them? Many scholars believe that they will go to the rock-hewn city of Petra.

Petra is about 90 miles south of Jerusalem. It is only accessible on horseback, and easily defended against attacking enemies. In the Bible, it is known as Sela. In Isaiah 16 (verses 1-4) we see that there will be people fleeing, outcasts that need hiding, coming to Sela. Later, in chapter 42 (verses 11-13), we read that there will be inhabitants of Sela praising God when the Lord returns.

Whether Petra or somewhere else, God will deliver many of the Jews to the wilderness, to wait out the last 3 1/2 years. It is there that many of them will turn to Christ and call out to Him for deliverance.


The Bible has describe pursuing armies as floods - so it would seem that these are those who pursue the Jews into the wilderness. The earth swallows up this flood before it can reach the fleeing Jews. If you look at a map, you will see the Jordan valley, which extends southward from the Dead Sea. This is part of the African Rift, a huge fault line which could open up at any time. I think it's interesting, because the city of Petra is on the other side of it, to the east. Kind of reminiscent of Korah's rebellion, isn't it?

The Rest of Her Offspring

Remember that it was the Jews in Judea who flee to the wilderness. When the antichrist sees that he can't reach them, he turns his attention to the other faithful people of the world. Every Jew and professing Tribulation saint he can get his hands on will be killed during this last 3 1/2 years.

Matt. 24:22 "And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.

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