Monday, September 22, 2014

Israel’s Role

Revelation 11:19-12:17

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” (Revelation 11:19)

The old Jewish temple was modeled on the temple in heaven according to Hebrews 9:23-24.  “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.   For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:”   The ark of the covenant or testimony represented God’s contract with Israel, and sat at the very heart of the temple.  According to Hebrews 9, that earthly templ;e depicted God’s plan for all of humanity, even though it was specifically for the Jews. 

The appearance of the temple in heaven emphasizes God’s special relationship with the Jews, as a picture of his love for those who believe in him.  Daniel 9:24 tells us, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”  God has designated seventy weeks or sevens of years to bring Israel to the place where he wants them, a total of four hundred ninety years. 

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Daniel 9:25)

The command to build Jerusalem was given about 495 BC.  Please note that there is considerable debate among historians as to the actual date, with the traditional date commonly set at 535 BC.  Records discovered in Babylon indicate the later date is more accurate.    Forty nine years after Cyrus gave the command, when Darius died and Artaxerxes became emperor, the temple and city were built, but the wall was not completed until during Artaxerxes reign, amid growing unrest.  Four hundred thirty four years after Artaxerxes assumed the throne. The wise men from the east began their journey to find the infant Messiah, Jesus.

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.   And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:26-27)

Later Jesus was executed, and the city of Jerusalem was razed by the Roman Empire in 66 AD.   Israel did not even exist as a nation until it re-established in 1948.  Even today, they are under constant attack.  The treaty with Israel begins the last seven years of God’s dealing with Israel, known as the tribulation.  The primary purpose of the tribulation is to turn Israel unto God, although the entire world will be affected by it. Chapter twelve focuses on Israel’s role in history.

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” (Revelation 12:1-2)

The vision of the woman has a great deal of similarity to the dream Joseph had in Genesis 37:9-10, and is clearly a reference to the nation of Israel.  Messiah’s birth had been predicted for a thousand and more years, and finally the time came, about 7 BC.

“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.  And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Revelation 12:3-4)

The dragon is Satan as we see from Revelation 12:9.  “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”  The stars represent the angels which followed him when he was cast out of heaven.  The seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns represent various governments under Satan’s power throughout history that have tried to destroy Israel, preventing the fulfilment of God’s plan, as we will see in Revelation 17.

“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Revelation 12:5-6)

Despite Satan’s best efforts. Christ was born and fulfilled what was needed to provide salvation.  After his resurrection, he was caught up into heaven in Acts 1.  In Matthew 24:15-16. Jesus warned the disciples there would come a time when they would have to flee from Jerusalem. 

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.  Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:7-12)

Satan’s forces were defeated and cast out of heaven by the archangel, Michael and his forces.  They came to the earth, and are attempting to deceive the whole earth.  Satan is no longer able to stand and accuse those who oppose him because Christ has paid for the sin and stands as their advocate.   Knowing he has been defeated and that ultimate defeat is just ahead, Satan is desperate and will attack and destroy everything in his desperation. 

“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.  And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” (Revelation 12:13-14)

Seeing the destruction of Israel as his last chance, Satan will cause the nations of the world to turn on her half way through the tribulation, led by the Antichrist.  As Jesus warned the disciples they will need to flee to the mountains to a place God has prepared where they will be protected for three and a half years during the Antichrist’s reign.  Many believe that place will be the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, although scripture never says so. 

“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.  And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” (Revelation 12:15-16)

The Antichrist’s forces will be unable to destroy the Jews with ordinary military attacks, but Satan will attempt to destroy them by flooding the area where they have taken refuge.  God will cause the flood to be diverted, saving the Jews.

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17)

Frustrated in his attempt to destroy the Jewish people, Satan will then attack the Jewish people who had not gone to Israel, and the Christians around the world in a last ditch effort to change the outcome. 

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