The War In Heaven

Revelation 12 & 13

By Pastor Jeff

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." Revelation 12:11

As you read the notes below, think through these questions:

  1. Have you overcome this life's battles (if not ask the Holy Spirit why?

  2. What is your testimony (write it down if you never have; write down what God has done in your life)

  3. Do you love to obey God more than your life?

Defeats of Satan (Rev. 12:1–17)

What is the origin and meaning of the conflict which demands judgment on the worship and worshipers of the emperor?

A section beginning with 12:1 and extending through 14:20 answers that question. The struggle on earth is part of a heavenly struggle.

Passage.—The accuser, the devil or Satan, is assumed to be a reality, with no effort being made to explain his origin. He suffers three defeats: (1) in efforts to destroy God’s chosen ruler of the earth (vv. 1–6); (2) in being cast out of heaven (vv. 7–12); (3) in efforts to destroy God’s people (vv. 13–17).

Special points.—The woman is God’s people, and her child is the Christ. The resurrection defeated the attempt to destroy him on the cross.

The dragon’s seven heads and ten horns probably symbolize great wisdom and unlimited power (v. 3). However, many interpreters believe they represent the line of Roman emperors (cf. 13:1).

God’s people are cared for during the time of their persecution (vv. 6, 13–16; cf. 11:2). Although every Christian is attacked (v. 17), there is complete victory for each one who, like Jesus, gives his life in the struggle.

The Battle Forces of Evil (Rev. 13:1–18)

The passage.—The power of the evil force seems to be too great to resist. Satan, the dragon, is the leader.

His first ally (beast) is the emperor (vv. 1–10). He has all the qualities of the three beasts described in Daniel 7:2–6. All except those who belong to the Lamb worship him (v. 8), and he has power even to overcome the saints (v. 7).

The second ally (beast) is the group of prophets, priests, and enforcers who carry on the worship of Domitian. By performing fake miracles they make the worship appear to be proper. All who do not worship are cut off from trade and work, and some are put to death.

Special points.—The first beast, like the dragon, has seven heads and ten horns (v. 1). The dragon gave the beast his power (vv. 2, 4); so the heads and horns may mean that he has the dragon’s great wisdom and power. Many feel that these also represent the line of Roman emperors (cf. 12:3).

The two lamb-like horns of the second beast indicate the power of religious appeal. This beast has the appearance of divine power; but its true character is shown by its voice, the tempting, deceiving tones of Satan.

The “mark of the beast” is a contract to the sealing of God’s servants (7:3). The details are drawn from several practices. The emperor’s seal had to be on every legal document, such as wills or licenses. Often this seal was not permitted to a person who did not have the official receipt for his Caesar worship during the past year. The “mark” suggests that worshiping the emperor once leaves a permanent brand on a person. The “mark” is put in places where Jews wear phylacteries. Even in public, true witnesses of Jesus do stand out in contrast to those who worship Domitian.

The number 666 is interpreted in two main ways. One is symbolic. Seven is the number of completeness or perfection. One less than seven is the symbol of evil. Three sixes together (666) means total, complete evil, like Domitian.

The other interpretation adapts a myth which was common at that time, called “Nero re-living.” Some believed that Nero, recovered from his wounds, was living in Parthia, and soon would lead a Parthian army against Rome. John used this story in a Christian frame to show that Nero would become the supreme enemy of Christ. Letters of the alphabet, used alone, represented numbers. The letters of the Hebrew form of Nero Caesar, added together, total 666. So Nero is the beast who is pictured here.

It may be that John had both these ideas in mind, for to Christians Nero was an example of complete evil.

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