Revelation 12-18

Today’s reading is the bulk of the tribulation.   Most of the popular images of Revelation are included in this section.
Ch 12
The woman with 12 stars is the nation of Israel.  I would suspect that the baby she gives birth to is Christ…that seems obvious.   But I confess that the next part is a little more difficult.   At first it seems easy, the red dragon is the devil…it’s hard for me because I’m not used to seeing the number 7 associated with the devil.   I wonder what seven heads signifies?   It could be seven leaders through whom the devil will work, or…who knows.   I can’t imagine it means “perfect” anything.   If Jesus was seen with 7 heads I would say “that means perfect authority” since the head of something is usually in charge of it.   But that can’t be true for the devil.    I know that the dragon is the devil, because his tail sweeps 1/3 of the stars of heaven (angels) away.   Lucifer must have been very powerful indeed to convince 1/3 of the angels to rebel against God.    Mutiny in heaven isn’t a topic I think of much….
We are first introduced to the 3 1/2 year period with the mention of 1,260 days.    In one sentence we went from the birth of Christ to the end of time…with no indication that any time passed between the two events mentioned here.   It’s just one more reason why Revelation is difficult…it describes events as they are seen in heaven….and in heaven there is no passage of time.      From the time Christ ascended until today it’s only been a day in heaven.
I wonder when this battle in heaven was fought….or will be fought.   It can’t be the original battle between the devil and God, because if it is then it’s out of sequence in the account.    That great battle was fought before Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden…otherwise there would be no devil present in the garden.    This must be another great battle fought in the future.   I wonder if during the battle of Armageddon there will also be a spiritual battle being waged?  Thinking of that…don’t you wonder if there isn’t always a spiritual battle being fought beyond our ability to see, and sometimes we are carried along by the current of the ebb and tide of that spiritual war?
Maybe the battle mentioned here was fought when Christ was on the cross.
I wonder if the earth opening it’s mouth and swallowing the great river has anything to do with the angels at the Euphrates releasing the army that was held there?   Some believe that the the Euphrates will dry up in the last days, allowing troops to move across it.   This would allow China access to the Holy Land, and it could lead to a foreign army standing beside the Mediterranean Sea.    I wonder if someday in the future China conquers all the land over to the Med?   You know, the Russian flag is Red and Blue…and it used to have a golden hammer and sickle.   If the army that invades has a flag of Red, Blue and Yellow that could be either China and Taiwan or Russia…or any combination.
If seven countries in that area decided to join forces and form a “union”, that could be the significance of 7 heads.   Even without Russia I can think of 7 countries that would do that easily.
Ch 13
The more I think of it, the more the beast that rises out of the sea sounds like a coalition force to me.    This army invades and conquers the Holy Land…which means that the United States is somehow not involved, or has withdrawn from the conflict for some reason.    I can’t imagine what that would be.
The most important thought for me so far in Chapter 13 is verse 10.   God’s people are told to endure persecution patiently, and this is while Israel falls to the beast and the whole world worships him.   I don’t know of more compelling evidence that we are not raptured away before the tribulation.
By the end of Chapter 13 we see the evil trinity in place: the dragon, who is satan remaining in the spirit realm and pulling the strings….the beast from the sea…somehow with an image associated with it.  The beast from the sea must be visible and known to all people.   I’m not sure how the coalition idea fits here…but many huge corporations have logo’s and personas that make them seem like a personality.    Then there is the false prophet, the second beast that appears from land.   He has the power to work miracles and even make the idol that is constructed of the first beast to talk.     Many will be deceived and believe that the aliens have come to rule the earth and be worshipped.    Whoever this is will deny the very existence of God, and of heaven.    Like I said before…many will be deceived and will worship the evil trifecta.  What a shame that will be.    I envision parents trying desperately to talk their children out of receiving the mark of the beast.   I feel sorry for those teens who are in a rebellious stage at this time.   I struggle with knowing that many third world countries that haven’t had the privilege of our insight and knowledge will quickly confess the beast as god.   Then there are those in the United States and other developed nations that deny the existence of God….they will look on this new entity and believe that it is deity….having no spiritual education…perhaps for generations….they will be easily led astray.     What a shame…and how frustrating to know in advance that it’s all coming to pass….and yet we can’t do anything to stop it.    We can only be ready ourselves.
Chapter 14
At the beginning of the Chapter we see the tide turn in favor of God.  Up to this point it could have seemed that  God was losing the battle, with his holy city overrun and the devil winning over most of the world.   But suddenly, the Lord appears on Zion with the 144,000 that are true to his name.   If you look at verses 12 and 13 you will see another exhortation to endure.  Now, why would God be telling the saints to endure patiently if they had already been taken to heaven.   Here’s another mind burner:   We heard about the great crowd wearing white robes and holding palm branches, singing praises in heaven way back at the opening of the sixth seal.   I don’t think that crowd can be in heaven until the earth is harvested….after the trumpets have sounded!   How is that possible?    It’s like trying to walk out the ground floor of a building only to end up on the roof as you walk through the door.   Whaaaaat?
Note this very important event:   There are two harvests of the earth.  The first one has no punishment associated with it.  The second one sounds like the battle or Armageddon.    I think that the rapture is the first swing of the sickle, and the punishment of the evil people left on the earth is the second swing.    Here’s a good question:  “how much time between those two harvests?”     Since there is no passage of time in heaven, could many things happen between them?    Could the first swing of the sickle happen earlier?     I don’t know.
Chapter 15
One thing seems certain…by Ch 15 all the saints are in heaven.    By the time the bowls are poured out, all Christians are gone from the earth.
Chapter 16
If you read verse 12 it sounds like those armies marched through earlier..
If you read verse 16 it talks about Armageddon.   But didn’t that already happen in the last chapter when the sickle swang the second time?    This sort of thing is what leads me to believe that Revelation cannot be understood if viewed strictly in chronological order.   I think some of these events are overlapping and happening at the same time.   But they were recorded in a sequence, so when the author says “after that…” what he means is “this is what I saw next”   that doesn’t mean it happened that way..that’s just how he saw it.
With the pouring of the seventh bowl, the work of God is finished on earth.   The earth is destroyed and the people apparently are dead.  If “every island disappeared” that would mean that water once again covers the face of the earth. the mountains are gone, so the water they displace has flooded the whole earth again.   However, this is not a repeat of the great flood because the people were destroyed before this happens.     In my humble opinion, this is God “resetting the clock” and making all things new.   We know that the earth will be recreated and I think this might be how that happens.
I will comment on 17 and 18 later in the day….