Before we look at this passage, we need to see what preceded it. In verses 7-9 we read, “War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the DRAGON; and the DRAGON and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the GREAT DRAGON was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan…and his angels were cast out with him” (NKJV). This “war in heaven” will take place in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation Period (that was foretold by Daniel the prophet) and it will result in Satan’s expulsion from heaven. That’s good news for those in heaven but bad news for those on earth. We see this in verse 12, “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” The devil is filled with rage and since he knows what the Bible says about him he is well aware of the fact that “his days are numbered.” How will he spend his last days on earth? That is the subject of verses 13-17.

Verse 13: “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.” We see here that “the woman” is the special object of Satan’s wrath. Who is the woman? Verse 1 gives us a clue: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a WOMAN clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.” If you compare this symbolic description with Genesis 37:9-10, it becomes obvious that the WOMAN symbolizes ISRAEL (for Joseph had a dream using the sun, moon and stars to illustrate Israel). In our verse (and verse 2) it says that the woman “gave birth to the male Child,” a plain reference to Jesus Christ being born through the nation of Israel.

Verse 14: “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.” The faithful among the nation of Israel will be given refuge from Satan for “a time and times and half a time.” A “time” stands for “one year” so they will be protected for 3 ½ years (see verse 6, along with Daniel 7:25; 12:7; and Revelation 13:5).

Verses 15-16: “So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.” Is this describing a literal flood that will be swallowed up by the earth in order to preserve Israel from utter destruction? The physical features of the land of Israel make this view highly improbable. I believe this is speaking of enemies of Israel invading the land of Israel to destroy them. In Daniel 11:40-41 we see the “King of the North” and his armies invading Israel and it specifically states that he “shall OVERFLOW and PASS OVER.” This same army is alluded to in Isaiah 28:15 with the words, “the OVERFLOWING scourge shall PASS THROUGH.” But God will preserve Israel in an unusual way, for it states that “the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed up the flood.” What does this mean? If we are correct that the FLOOD refers to INVADING ARMIES, then the EARTH could be speaking of the “ungodly” in the LAND OF ISRAEL taking, as one has said, “the brunt of this attack,” allowing for the “godly” in Israel to be spared. We know from Zechariah 13:8 that the majority in Israel will be killed: “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.”

Verse 17: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Because Satan is unsuccessful in destroying ALL of Israel, he will focus on those who have survived; namely, the “godly remnant” who are obedient to God’s Word and who have faith in Jesus Christ. He will especially use the “first beast” of chapter 13 to accomplish his fiendish goal, for we read in verse 7, “It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” This seems to refer to godly Israelites who did not seek refuge in the wilderness but who remained in Jerusalem. Yet their death is not really a victory for Satan, for they will be resurrected and live and reign with Christ. “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image…they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4). (271.7) (DO)