[When] the woman flees into the wilderness . . . we meet with another, and yet more lengthened parenthesis. Between the ascension of the Man Child and the womans flightyet futurethe history of Christianity comes in. The great point to lay hold of is the connection between Christ and Israel, not Christ and the Church, hence the two omitted parenthetic periods: (1) between the birth and ascension; (2) between the ascension and the flight.3
This vision next recognizes Jesus ascension (Rev. Rev. 12:5+), and then takes up Israels story as though the Church Age does not intervene, just as Dan Dan. 9:26 ignores the same period. The Church Age is the mystery of the Old Testament (Rom Rom. 11:25; Rom. 16:25), and is distinct from Israels history.4Zechariah saw the same sequence, contiguous in the text, but separated by the age of grace during which the body of Christ preaches the gospel before the focus shifts back again to Israel:
Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion, says the LORD of hosts. Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the LORD, That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, This is My people; and each one will say, The LORD is my God. (Zec. Zec. 13:7-9)In Zechariahs passage, the shepherd is struck (the Great Shepherd crucified) and then the sheep are scattered. In the time of testing, only one-third survives. The remainder turn to God in faith. Can this be said of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70?
The prophecy that two parts . . . shall be cut off and die, but the third shall be left in the land cannot refer contextually to the destruction wrought in Judea during the Jewish War of A.D. 67 to 70. . . . Nor can its sequel regarding the third part that survives the terrible time of judgment by being brought through the fire (Jer. Jer. 30:5-7; Mtt. Mat. 24:13) be reconciled with the facts of history under such an interpretation. The remnant of the Jews who survived the horrors of the Jewish War from A.D. 67 to 70 did not come forth refined as silver is refined and tested as gold is tested, a regenerated and spiritual people. On the contrary, the preponderating majority remained in their unbelief, were scattered worldwide, and to this day have remained in spiritual darkness, with only a very few believing and forming a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom. Rom. 11:5).5Both Zechariahs passage and this passage refer to the same events of the time of the end. In both contexts, they are related as being immediately after the First Coming (shepherd struck, child caught up) yet an intervening age occurs. The flight of the woman takes place after the final casting out of the dragon (Rev. Rev. 12:7-12+). The woman fled because of intense persecution by the dragon (Rev. Rev. 12:13-14+). Although the woman has not yet fled in the sense of this passage (where only 3.5 years exist before the return of Christ, Rev. Rev. 12:6+, Rev. 12:14+), the dragon has great enmity toward her on an ongoing basis. For, as we have mentioned, the return of Christ involves the Jews coming to repentance and calling for His return (Mtt. Mat. 23:39). And the character of His millennial reign upon earth is intensely Jewish, as indicated by a temple standing in Jerusalem. This all reflects the important fact that God is not through with the Jews: they remain an important part of His plan (Rom. Rom. 9:1-Rom. 11:1). Therefore, we should expect to see great opposition by the god of this age to the chosen nation. And indeed we do! Is there any one nation which has survived persecution and pogroms as have the Jews? Can one point to any other nation which has a Holocaust like that of the Jews? A Holocaust, which destroyed some six million people, and is even now denied as a ruse by somea mere six decades after the event, when the piles of shoes, teeth, and hair of the victims may still to be seen? Even portions of the Church serve as a hireling of the dragon. Large numbers among Christianity deny Israels right to the Promised Land and oppose her attempts to defend herself against unreasonable hostility. The same wayward Church denies Gods OT promises which are manifestly for Israelattempting to rob them for her own purpose and producing a distorted understanding of Scripture in the process. Although all race-related persecution is of the dragon, he has a special penchant for opposing Israel because she is a key in what remains for Gods program of the end times and beyond. Unless we realize this spiritual reality, we will be forever puzzled by anti-Semitism. How else does one explain the possession of The Temple Mount by Israel, but her inability to ascend there to worship? Or her possession of Jerusalem while the nations of the world, including our own United States, refuse to recognize Jerusalem as her capital? Or what about the countless resolutions of the United Nations condemning Israel and the veritable silence from the same body in regard to hostilities by her enemies? None of this makes logical sense because it has nothing to do with logic! There is a dark spiritual dimension behind anti-Semitism and its cousin, anti-Zionism:
You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely anti-Zionist. And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain-tops, let it echo through the valleys of Gods green earth: when people criticize Zionism, they mean Jewsthis is Gods own truth. . . And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the Globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism. . . Let my words echo in the depths of your soul: when people criticize Zionism, they mean Jewsmake no mistake about it.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., cited in Levitt Letter, December 2002, p. 28. [www.levitt.com]
One of the darkest stains on the history of mankind has been the persistent specter of anti-Semitism. Over the centuries the Jews have faced more hatred and persecution than any other people. Much of that suffering was chastisement from God to turn the nation away from their sin and unbelief and back to Him. God repeatedly warned Israel of the consequences of disobedience (cf. Deu. Deu. 28:15-68) and punished them when they failed to obey (cf. 2K. 2K. 17:7-23). Within the paradigm of Gods sovereign purpose for His people, Israel also has suffered constantly and severely at the hands of Satan, acting as Gods instrument. Unlike God, however, Satans purpose in causing the Jewish people to suffer is not remedial, but destructive. He seeks to bring them not to repentance and salvation, but to death and destruction.6Among the most notable times of Jewish persecution are found the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms of Russia, and the Holocaust. Sadly, the persecution of Gods chosen nation has not yet reached its climax, for Scripture reveals the darkest hour is yet to come.
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Mtt. Mat. 24:15-21)We believe this event occurs just after the Beast overcomes the two witnesses (Rev. Rev. 11:7+). See The Final Week. See commentary on Revelation 11:3. When reading Jesus words recorded by Matthew, one is immediately struck with the Jewishness of His comments which speak of a holy place, Judea, and the Sabbath. This is no accident! For the words of Jesus in Matthew Mat. 24:1, while of value for all saints of all ages, are of ultimate value to the Jewish saints at the time of the end who reside in Judea and understand the signs of their times. For them, Matthew Mat. 24:1 will not just have a spiritual application, but a real physical application for it is they who will see the abomination set up at the mid-point of the Tribulation and will know to flee.
The urgency of Christs command to flee as soon as the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place . . . indicates that they must flee immediatelyno opportunity for plane reservations, packing belongings, or anything else. The nearest desert area they can reach will be their only opportunity for survival.7Her Master gives her with necessary instructions: let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
As I live, says the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you, says the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD. (Eze. Eze. 20:33-38)prepared by God
And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy. Yes, they spoke against God: They said, Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? Behold, He struck the rock, so that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed. Can He give bread also? Can He provide meat for His people? Therefore the LORD heard this and was furious; so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel, because they did not believe in God, and did not trust in His salvation. Yet He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels food; He sent them food to the full. (Ps. Ps. 78:18-25)During her time in the wilderness, Israel will remember the days of her youth when she came up from the land of Egypt. God will speak comfort to her and she will be purged of idolatry:
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. And it shall be, in that day, says the LORD, That you will call Me My Husband, And no longer call Me My Master, For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their name no more. (Hos. Hos. 2:14-17)The context indicates this precedes the Millennial Kingdom:
In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely. I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD. (Hos. Hos. 2:18-20) [emphasis added]Isaiah spoke of the pure who would dwell with God and would be provided with water and bread:
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: he will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure. (Isa. Isa. 33:14-16)This time of testing in the wilderness, fed by God, will result in the full conversion of those who remain alive.12 Whereas Israel had been not My people, then it will be said, You are My people! (Hos. Hos. 2:23).
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. (Hos. Hos. 5:14-Hos. 6:2)
He would withdraw His favor, and His sinning people would be scattered worldwide and be temporarily set aside in their national election. He will remain in His place (the prophecy spanning the centuries until the second advent of Christ) until the remnant of Israel (Zec. Zec. 12:10-Zec. 13:1; Rom. Rom. 11:26; Rev. Rev. 7:1-8+) will acknowledge their offense . . . accepting the full punishment of their guilt and not considering themselves to be not guilty (Zec. Zec. 11:5). And seek My face , through faith in their future incarnate Messiah-Savior (Isa. Isa. 53:1-10). . . . This prophetically presupposes Christs incarnation and redemptive work at the first advent and the application of His salvation to Israel at His second advent (Rom. Rom. 11:26).14They will then repeat the praise which they first gave at His first advent (Mtt. Mat. 21:9), but now with genuine commitment:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! (Mtt. Mat. 23:37-39) [emphasis added]
1 The flight of the woman may in part reflect the escape of the Palestinian church to Pella at the outbreak of the Jewish war in A.D. 66 (Eusebius, hist. Eccl . iii.5; cf. Mark Mark 13:14).Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), Rev. 12:6.
4 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 12:6.
6 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 12:13.
10 They perish to join the ranks of the second resurrection who remain in Hades for the duration of the Millennial Kingdom only to be resurrected for judgment at the Great White Throne and subsequent condemnation in the Lake of Fire (Rev. Rev. 20:11-15+).
11 The difficulty and risk of their actions at the time of the end are a demonstration of their faith.
12 It is provocative to consider some of the parallels between the temptation of Jesus and the testing of the Jewish remnant at the time of the end: Jesus is the Son of God (Mtt. Mat. 4:3), the Jewish remnant is the son of God (Hos. Hos. 11:1; Mtt. Mat. 2:15). Jesus is led to the wilderness by the Holy Spirit (Mtt. Mat. 4:1), the Jewish remnant is led to the wilderness by God (Hos. Hos. 2:14). Jesus is tempted to worship Satan (Mtt. Mat. 4:9), the Jewish remnant is tempted to worship Satan (Rev. Rev. 13:4+ cf. John John 5:43). Jesus refuses Satans kingdom in favor of the kingdom of God (Mtt. Mat. 4:10), the Jewish remnant refuses Satans kingdom in favor of the Millennial Kingdom (Hos. Hos. 2:18; Isa. Isa. 16:1-5). Jesus is fed by God (Mtt. Mat. 4:11), the Jewish is remnant fed by God (Rev. Rev. 12:6+). Jesus is tempted to command that stones become bread (Mtt. Mat. 4:3), in the midst of the rock city (Sela, Isa. Isa. 16:1; Isa. 42:11) the Jewish Remnant finds bread (Rev. Rev. 12:6+), much in the same way their fathers were fed upon fleeing Egypt (Deu. Deu. 8:16 cf. Rev. Rev. 2:17+). During the time of Jesus testing, Satan brings Jesus to the pinnacle (wing) of the Temple. During the time of testing of the Jewish remnant, Satan empowers Antichrists abomination on the wing of the Temple (Dan. Dan. 9:27). (Commentators differ as to whether wing (Dan. Dan. 9:27, NKJV, NASB) refers to a physical location within the Temple. Nevertheless, Jesus and Paul make plain the abomination will involve a desecrating authority over the Temple (Mtt. Mat. 24:15; Mark Mark 13:14; 2Th. 2Th. 2:4).)
13 Satan knows that once Messiah returns, his freedom ends. Satan also knows that Jesus will not come back until the Jewish leaders ask Him to come back. So if Satan can succeed in destroying the Jews once and for all before they come to national repentance, then Jesus will not come back and Satans career is eternally safe.Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 311-312.