This phrase is pregnant with anti-Semitism. Although the woman now hides, representing the hidden Jewish remnant, the dragon turns to pursue the rest of her offspring. This should not be taken as spiritual offspring for the context of this chapter and the identification of the woman argue that her offspring are physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is the distinction which Paul maintains when he describes the time of Israels spiritual restoration in preparation for the Millennial Kingdom (Rom. Rom. 11:25-26 cf. Eze. Eze. 37:1). It is inconsistent interpretation to make her offspring in the first portion of the chapter denote physical descendants (Jews) only and then take her offspring as spiritual descendants here. In reference to the womans representation of Israel, some take her to be the faithful remnant within national Israel, the Israel of God (Gal. Gal. 6:16).1 In this view, she represents the spiritually regenerate among the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This view encounters some difficulties:
- Promised Redeemer - The promise of a redeemer, so central to her identification in this chapter, was given to the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It did not depend upon a continuous line of God-believing Jews for its fulfillment, it was a physical development. Paul says that the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises were given to my countrymen according to the flesh [emphasis added] (Rom. Rom. 9:3-4). One of these promises was that national Israel would produce the Messiah, regardless of the spiritual condition of the Jews (Rom. Rom. 9:5).
- Purpose of Persecution - It would seem that one purpose of the time of Jacobs Trouble is found in the purging of unbelief from national Israel. If the woman represents only the faithful remnant, who among her is purged (Eze. Eze. 20:33-38; Hos. Hos. 2:14-17)?
- Anti-Semitism - Once we make the woman to be the faithful remnant within national Israel, it becomes difficult to explain the nature of anti-Semitism by what is revealed here. If the woman represents only faithful Jews and she is persecuted, then shouldnt faithful Jews be the main focus of anti-Semitism? Wouldnt Christian Jews be purged by the dragon while Orthodox Jews remain relatively unscathed? Yet History reveals an even-handed persecution of the Jews, even where faith in Messiah Jesus is lacking. In some instances, such as the Crusades and the Inquisition, lack of faith in Messiah Jesus even brought greater persecution. This chapter explains the history of anti-Semitismthe persecution of Jews based on physical descent better if the woman is national Israel. Even unbelieving Jews represent a dangerous potential for the dragon, for they carry forward Gods promises to continue the physical nation and offer continued hope of the spiritual regeneration which Scripture promises (Jer. Jer. 31:34; Rom. Rom. 11:25-26).
- Jews protected in the wilderness, where God continues the work of purging idolatry from their midst (Hos. Hos. 2:14-17; Eze. Eze. 20:33-38).
- The 144,000 Jews protected by Gods seal, probably engaged in the work of worldwide evangelism (Rev. Rev. 7:1+, Rev. 14:1+).
- Jews in the diaspora who come to faith during this time who are unable to reach the wilderness with the woman.
- Jews in the diaspora who receive the Antichrist and his mark (John John 5:43).
The dragon had to redirect his anger from the Son to the woman in Rev. Rev. 12:5+ when the Son escaped his clutches. That increased his rage. He lost his place in heaven in Rev. Rev. 12:8+, Rev. 12:9+, Rev. 12:12+, angering him even more. At this point the woman has escaped to a place of refuge leaving him only the womans remaining seed to vent his fury on. The repeated frustration of his efforts explains the furious persecution the dragon proceeds to inflict on the faithful.6But it will be doubly difficult for the Jewish believers because God has revealed the uniquely Jewish terror of this time:
At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. (Dan. Dan. 12:1)
Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacobs trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. (Jer. Jer. 30:7)
In the Holocaust under Hitler, one-third of the worlds Jewish population died. Under the fierce persecution of the Antichrist, controlled and energized by Satan, two-thirds of the Jewish population will die [Zec. Zec. 13:7-9]. This will be the largest and most intense persecution of the Jews ever known in history.7
Zechariah Zec. 13:8-9 indicates that only one-third of Israel will survive the tribulation and enter the millennium. This will result in an all saved Israel as prophesied by Romans Rom. 11:26. At the beginning of the last decade of the twentieth century there are approximately fifteen million Jews worldwide, so, if this is a guide, it suggests that about five million Jews will enter the millennium and ten million Jews will perish in the Great Tribulation.8However, the dragon will not succeed in his ultimate solution. As in the days of the Assyrian, God will protect a believing remnant:
And it shall come to pass in that day That the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God. For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, A remnant of them will return; the destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a determined end in the midst of all the land. (Isa. Isa. 10:20-23) [emphasis added]The dragon fights a battle he can never win, for God has sworn that Israel will continue before Him (Jer. Jer. 31:35-37). Her continued existence is also required in order to fulfill aspects of the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New Covenants which have yet to find fulfillment.9 By the end of Jacobs time of trouble, the terms Israel and Israel of God (Gal. Gal. 6:16) will be synonymous for all Israel will be saved (Rom. Rom. 11:26). At that time, the only Israel will be a believing Israel:
No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD, for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. (Jer. Jer. 31:34)have the testimony of Jesus Christ
They have the testimony provided by Jesus Christ which they witness to others concerning Him. See commentary on Revelation 1:1 and Revelation 1:2.
2 It is unclear whether the acceptance of the mark by some Jews will guarantee their survival under the Beast. Isaiah describes a covenant with death which God annuls: When the overflowing scourge passes through, then you will be trampled down by it (Isa. Isa. 28:15-18). Perhaps the rage of the dragon will be so great against the Jews that the Beast will make an exception and exterminate even those Jews who take his mark.
4 Those who take My brethren as denoting the family of faith face the difficulty of explaining who the sheep are? If His brothers are both Jews and Gentiles in the faith, then how can the sheep be separate from them and yet also inherit the kingdom? The actions of the sheep and their reward of entry to the kingdom demonstrate them to be among the saved. The differentiation between Jesus brothers and the sheep cannot be based upon spiritual regeneration, but must reflect a national Jew/Gentile distinction concerning persecution at the time of the end.
8 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 12:15.