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My Take: Revelation 12

My Take: Revelation 12

I recently had the fun of being stopped to answer a question on Revelation. I don't actively teach on the book. I clearly am opinionated but I rarely take the time to voice those opinions in public settings. Nevertheless, when I get asked a question I pounce on the chance to explain preterism. Here was the question,

Revelation 12:4-5 states that at the end of time this woman will give birth to a male child who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. What does this mean? Will we not be living in Heaven after the revelation of the world?

Before answering the questions specifically, I want to lay some preterist ground work. It is my opinion that Revelation 11:1-2 are descriptive of the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. In particular, this passage fits very well with the Olivet Discourse. Few would argue against this passage be tied to the gospel account of Luke (Luke 21:24). It is within that context that Christ says all this things would happen within a generation (Luke 21:32). This of course is preterism at its most basic.

Going back to Revelation 11, it is of value to know that the “war” against Jerusalem lasted 3 ½ years from Spring 66 (when Nero assigned a retired General to lead the war) to Aug/Sept 70 (the destruction date of the walls and temple). Why is this historical information important? Because it fits with the reference to 42 months and the 1260 days of the two witnesses. This doesn't prove the preterist opinion but it can not be used against the preterist view.

So why spend time on that? Primarily because the woman in Revelation 12:1-6 goes into hiding for 1260 days. I see these numbers being repeated to establish a specific and important link: I believe these are the same period of time.

Just as Christ told the disciples to flee (Luke 21:21-22), so John here is recounting that the faithful Jews in Jerusalem were going to be saved from the destruction in A.D. 70. But what required the salvation of faithful Jews? The birth of Christ in Revelation 12:2-5. The birth of Christ started His gospel ministry which resulted in His death and the persecution of the church. Israel's rejection of the incarnate Messiah is the basis for God's covenant rejection of the nation which is described in Revelation. The foundation for this interpretation is that David speaks concerning Christ when he wrote in Psalms 2:7-9,

I will tell of the decree:

The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;

    today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

    and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a

rod of iron

    and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”

In a similar fashion, the catching up to the throne (Rev 12:5) is nothing but the ascension of Christ. I believe many Christians look past this event. While it isn't as important for individual salvation, it might be one of the most important events for victorious eschatology. This event was offensive to the Jews (Acts 7:56-57) and was the clear teaching of Paul (Eph 1:20-23). Christ's Lordship is now. His reign is present and active. Historical Dispensationalism rejected this but has adapted. Progressive Dispensationalism now accepts this and has grown to look more like amillennialism and postmillennialism.

Back to the Revelation text. It is worth noting that John “returns” to the woman and beast after describing Satan’s fall. I again think this is a simple re-telling of the gospel accounts of Christ's ministry on earth (Luke 10:18). Yet again, the time period is still the same (Rev 12:14). It is safest to assume these again are speaking of the same physical time on earth. This is important in showing that Revelation doesn't move "linearly" but in more of a cyclical pattern. Most everything in this passage seems the same except now we read that the dragon begins to seek the other offspring (Rev 12:17). I believe this is the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. I also believe that this is the fulfillment of Christ's warning about demons returning to a "swept house" (Matt 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26). Notice that Matthew's text is explicit about the fact that this comes upon "this generation" (Matt 12:43-45). Little texts like this are helpful in understand Matthew's differences in the Olivet Discourse.

Now to answer the more specific questions, I don't believe Scripture actually speaks of us "living in heaven". Since heaven is in fact created (Gen 1:1), I tend to think we will live in a New Heaven and New Earth (Rev 21:2). And the ruler will remain Christ Jesus as He and the Father will reside as “the temple” (Rev 21:22).

I hope this answer was helpful to everyone. Questions like this are greatly appreciated!

1 Peter Preview: Lawrence Farley (Chapter 5)

My Take Audio: Mark 8:38-9:1