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Revelation 12:6

Then the woman fled
The connective, “Then,” indicates a sequence between the catching up of the child and the fleeing of the woman. But are these two events necessarily closely correlated in time? How soon must the flight be to the catching up of the child? Some interpreters relate this flight to that of the Jews from Jerusalem in the destruction by Rome in 70 A.D.1 Yet even that flight was approximately 4 decades after the ascension of Christ. Nor was there any indication of supernatural assistance as this passage describes (Rev. Rev. 12:14+). Certainly nothing like the Exodus occurred in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. which would allow for the use of similar phraseology involving “wings of a great eagle.” Here we are faced with one of the characteristics of prophetic passages: events which appear side-by-side in the text can often be separated by long ages. This occurs because the prophetic vision has two characteristics which we need to be aware of. First, the prophets were only shown important highlights of the final development (1Pe. 1Pe. 1:10-11). Second, the full range of history was often collapsed in their view, much as when looking through a telescope. “Somewhat as a picture lacks the dimension of depth, the prophecy often lacks the dimension of time: events appear together on the screen of prophecy which in their fulfillment may be widely separated in time.”2 There are numerous examples of this phenomenon. The First and Second Coming of Christ are juxtaposed in numerous passages (Isa. Isa. 61:1-2; Zec. Zec. 9:9-10; Mal. Mal. 3:1-2; Mal. 4:5-6; Luke Luke 4:17-19). Yet history has shown these events to be separated by at least 1900 years. The first and second resurrections are juxtaposed (Dan. Dan. 12:2; John John 5:28-29), yet they are separated by no less than 1,000 years (Rev. Rev. 20:4-6+). We have a similar sequence before us: The child is caught up and the woman flees. The child was caught up over 1900 years ago and the woman has yet to flee in the sense of this passage.

[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 woman’s flight—yet future—the 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 Israel’s 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 Israel’s history.4

Zechariah 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 Zechariah’s 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).5

Both Zechariah’s 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 some—a 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 Israel’s right to the Promised Land and oppose her attempts to defend herself against unreasonable hostility. The same wayward Church denies God’s OT promises which are manifestly for Israel—attempting 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 God’s 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 God’s green earth: when people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews—this is God’s 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 Jews—make 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 God’s sovereign purpose for His people, Israel also has suffered constantly and severely at the hands of Satan, acting as God’s instrument. Unlike God, however, Satan’s 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.6

Among the most notable times of Jewish persecution are found the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms of Russia, and the Holocaust. Sadly, the persecution of God’s chosen nation has not yet reached its climax, for Scripture reveals the darkest hour is yet to come.

into the wilderness
The woman flees from the dragon. But where? She flees to the wilderness. Note that her flight is to a place of refuge for a period of 1,260 days (see below). This indirectly tells us when she flees—the precise event which triggers her flight. She flees at the middle of The 70th Week of Daniel when sacrifice and offering is halted and the Temple of God is made desolate:

“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 Christ’s command to flee as soon as the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place . . . indicates that they must flee immediately—no opportunity for plane reservations, packing belongings, or anything else. The nearest desert area they can reach will be their only opportunity for survival.7

Her Master gives her with necessary instructions: “let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Judean Wilderness West of Jericho

Judean Wilderness West of Jericho8

Those who are in Judea will flee eastward to the nearest mountains. Initially, they will probably attain the Judean wilderness westward of Jericho (shown above). “Fleeing first to the ‘mountains’ and then on to the ‘wilderness.’ ”9 In the day of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. Jer. 30:7-8), the latter days (Jer. Jer. 30:24), prior to Israel’s restoration for the Millennial Kingdom (Jer. Jer. 30:9-10) God promises to give a surviving remnant grace in the wilderness. “Thus says the Lord: ‘The people who survived the sword Found grace in the wilderness Israel, when I went to give him rest.’ ” (Jer. Jer. 31:2) Those who are in Jerusalem flee to the wilderness. Jews will also undergo purging among the wilderness of the peoples—among the nations where they have been scattered. In the same way that the rebellious of Israel fell in the wilderness and were prevented from entering the Promised Land, so too will the rebellious of Israel in the time of the end perish rather than participate in the promised Millennial Kingdom. 10

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
ἡτοιμασμένον [hētoimasmenon] , perfect tense passive participle, having been prepared by God. The preparation is made prior to her flight so that the place is ready for her upon her arrival. In the same way that the Church has a dwelling place (μοναὶ [monai] ) prepared by Jesus in the Father’s house (John John 14:2 cf. Rev. Rev. 21:2+), so the Jewish remnant has a place prepared in the Father’s world (Isa. Isa. 26:20-21).

they should feed her
The physical needs of the woman are met in her wilderness hiding place. They , an indefinite plural, seems to indicate the participation of others in providing for her nourishment. In the same way that the ravens (1K. 1K. 17:2-3) and the widow of Zarephath in Sidon (1K. 1K. 17:8-15) were used as intermediaries to feed Elijah during his time of drought, so too will others be used to provide for the Jewish remnant. During the Tribulation, there will be numerous situations involving drought and lack of provision. See commentary on Revelation 11:6 . The need for provision will be exacerbated in her case because no one will be able to buy or sell without the mark of the beast during this three and one-half years (Rev. Rev. 13:17+). We note that Elijah was fed by a raven (an unclean bird) and a Gentile widow (Luke Luke 4:26-29). Perhaps this is a typological indication that the Jewish remnant will be provided for by Gentile means. Provision for the Jews by Gentiles during this time helps explain the context of the Sheep and Goat judgment when the nations (ἔθνη [ethnē] , Gentiles) are gathered before Christ at His return and rewarded based on their provision for His brethren (Mtt. Mat. 25:32).11 God used Moses as an intermediary when He supernaturally fed Israel in her previous time in the wilderness after the Exodus where he provided water from a rock and manna from heaven:

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).

one thousand two hundred and sixty days
This period is also described as “time and times and half a time” (Rev. Rev. 12:14+). This corresponds to half of The 70th Week of Daniel . This is the last half of the week during which the nations trample the holy city (Rev. Rev. 11:2+) and the beast has authority (Dan. Dan. 7:25; Rev. Rev. 13:5+). A period Jesus referred to as consisting of “great tribulation” (Mtt. Mat. 24:21). See Prophetic Year. This is the period during which Daniel was told events of the end would come to fulfillment: “Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished” (Dan. Dan. 12:7). One of the purposes of this period is to shatter “the power of the holy people” to turn them back to total dependence upon God. In the time of Jacob’s Trouble, God will both tear and heal in order to bring the Jews to recognize Jesus as Messiah and urgently seek His return on their behalf:13

“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 Christ’s incarnation and redemptive work at the first advent and the application of His salvation to Israel at His second advent (Rom. Rom. 11:26).14

They 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]


Notes

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.

2 Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 136-137.

3 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), 258.

4 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 12:6.

5 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Zec. 13:8.

6 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 12:13.

7 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 12:6.

8 Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.

9 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 12:16.

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 Satan’s kingdom in favor of the kingdom of God (Mtt. Mat. 4:10), the Jewish remnant refuses Satan’s 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 Antichrist’s 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 Satan’s career is eternally safe.”—Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 311-312.

14 Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Hos. 5:15-6:2.

Read Revelation 12:6