And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17 (NASB)
The dragon: This is the first time the dragon symbol appears in “The Revelation”. We are told this dragon is the “the serpent of old”, who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the inhabited earth. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels with him. He is the “ruler of angels”, those who dwell in the abyss (see Revelation 9:11).
The elements/composition of this symbol reveal it’s characteristics. The dragon represents the kingdom of the rebellious angels, those who waged war against Michael and His angels in the heavens. The red color represents the bloodshed for which this kingdom is responsible; it is the kingdom of the dead. The seven heads represent the council of seven demons who administer this evil empire, and their master is Lucifer, the ruler of the kingdom of the world. The ten horns represent the ten divisions/kingdoms on the earth, and under the control of this dragon/beast.
The Woman: There are different opinions as to the meaning of the symbol of the woman, clothed with the light from the east (rising sun), moon under her feet, crown of twelve stars on her head. One hypothesis is that she represents Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is disproved by the fact that Mary died; therefore she would not be able to give birth to offspring at the end of time, as recorded in Revelation 12:17. This representation is primarily that of the Catholic Church. The protestant Christian believers associate this symbol as the Christian Church, and the offspring are the believers, “people of faith”. When questioned about the identity of this Woman, one zealous “believer”, who had informed me that I was completely in error in my understanding, could not explain how both the Woman and her offspring could represent the same thing i.e. the church. He informed me that the woman was the institution (denomination), and the offspring were the membership. I asked him how the church buildings could represent the woman and the membership her offspring. His answers kept going around in circles, and as far as he was concerned, he had proved me wrong beyond any doubt.
When it comes to interpreting symbols used in the prophecies, we must let the words of God give the explanation. Jesus told Nicodemus that before anyone would enter the kingdom of God he must be born from above. Being born from above is a two step process and when both steps have been completed the individual is a new being; in essence they have been born anew. When we enter this world for the first time we enter through the doorway of our mother’s birth canal. We develop according to the blueprint of our DNA; therefore we are flesh and blood mortals. When we are born from above we exit the physical realm and enter the spiritual realm. The kingdom of God is in the spiritual realm. This process is accomplished through the following two steps, and each is a baptism. The first baptism is through water, the second is through fire. The water cleanses the outside and prepares the individual for the cleansing of their inside/heart. The fire cleansing is a cleansing of the spirit; it is the removal of lies. The kingdom of the world/darkness is built upon, sustained, and maintained through lies. The fire cleansing is also described as sanctification/consecration. The end result of these two baptisms is purity/righteousness/holiness. John the Baptist’s message was this, repent and be baptized for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand. His message included these two baptisms.
I baptize you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry His sandals; He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)(JB)
Everything that has the corruption of unrighteousness must be cleansed, first with water then with fire. We are told in Genesis chapter six that the condition of humankind before the flood was evil, and that they were beyond reconciliation. Because of this the Elohim resolved to cleanse the whole earth by the waters of a great flood. Noah was righteous; therefore it would not be just to destroy him with the wicked, unless he chose to accompany them. The cleansing waters of the great flood were for the purpose of removing all unrighteousness from the face of the earth; more specifically, all unrighteous flesh and blood (mortals). The rebellious angels, who were the gods of this world, would not face their final judgment until the coming of the second cleansing, which is the second death.
The Nephilim were on the earth at that time (and even afterwards) when the sons of God resorted to the daughters of man, and had children by them. These are the heroes of days gone by, the famous men. (Genesis 6:11)(JB)
The sanctuary is the sacred precinct where the sanctification process is visually described and actually accomplished. The children of Israel had a specific mandate to restrain transgression, make an end of sin, make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy (see Daniel 9:24). It would be through the functions of the sanctuary that they were to learn how this process would be accomplished. First, the priests had to accomplish the requirements of dedication of the Sanctuary; this required the application of the blood of a specific sacrifice. Then they had to daily wash themselves with the water from the bronze laver (water baptism), put on linen garments (so they would not sweat) and offer the morning and evening sacrifice on the bronze altar (fire cleansing). These two articles of furniture were in the outer court of the Sanctuary. It is the outer court of the sanctuary that is the visual demonstration of the sanctification process on earth. In the fulfillment of this process the Son of God was first baptized with water, then He delivered the true testimony He received from His Father, then his Father put Him to death. His sacrifice was the payment for redemption; and with His blood He purchased the holy people (saints).
All sinners are slaves of sin; they belong to the lord of sin, the evil one. When a sinner has completed the sanctification process, this process through which they become holy in fact, they are no longer sinners, yet they still belong to the lord of this world, because the evil one has a claim of ownership upon them. When the man and woman disobeyed their Creator’s specific command to not eat from the forbidden tree, they subjected themselves to a dept. They were to be put to death by their God “on that very day”, but their God did not carry out His promised judgment. This debt was paid in full by their eldest brother, Jesus the Messiah. The final judgment is the second death; this payment will be made by all who choose to remain unrighteous. The second death is the required payment (the judgment) for all who remain sinful after the close of the time of opportunity. God is the executioner who carries out the required second death. This is the fire cleansing of the earth, after which there will be no corruption on the earth. The earth will be sanctified and returned to its former glory. There is no resurrection for those whom God has put to death. The first death is a type of sleep, all who have died have “fallen asleep”, and they will be awakened at one of two resurrections. The first resurrection is to awaken the righteous, the second to awaken the wicked. The dead arise from the grave to be put to death by God, this is the second death. Satan and the evil angels who joined him in rebellion against God, are also put to death. The second death is symbolized by the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:14). When God put His Son to death it was for payment for the righteous, it did not purchase the ungodly. Those who complete the requirements of righteousness are therefore purchased by the blood of the slain Lamb of God. They are no longer slaves of sin, for they no longer sin (see Matthew 3:15 and John 8:34-36). When the individual meets all the requirements of righteousness, they are born from above through the Holy Spirit, who is now their heavenly Mother. The Woman described in Revelation 12 is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. When we have been cleansed of all corruption and lies we are holy, there is no lie in our mouth (see Revelation 14:5). When we no longer sin we are righteous in fact. All previous sinners who have learned the truth and now practice the deeds of righteousness, are born of the Woman described in Revelation 12. The offspring of this Woman are children of God, God the Father is their Father, God the Holy Spirit is their Mother, and God the Son is their eldest brother – they are in the family of God. Here is a picture that I have in my mind: In this picture I see my Father; I want to show my love for Him by doing what He has asked; my Brother the Son of God/Son of Man, is in the heavens waiting for me to accomplish what He commissioned all His disciples to accomplished before He would return to those who hold to His testimony; my Mother (the Holy Spirit) is here on earth with me, to comfort, teach, and encourage me; our Mother is saying, “Dinner is ready, finish the chores your elder Brother left for you to do, then come and eat”. Of course, this is only a picture in my mind, but it is based upon what I have learned from the words of God. I know that God does not lie. You have the option of participating in the process, if you are willing to commit to it. Be honest with yourself – acknowledge that you must be cleansed from all sin, all unrighteousness, and become holy. Our eldest brother showed us what must be done and what we must accomplish by doing it Himself (Rev. 3:21). He told us the truth, and we must listen to Him. He was victorious; He showed us how to be victorious. The victorious children of God will receive the same reward their oldest Brother received; they will sit on the throne of God right beside Him.
Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears Me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him. Those who prove victorious I will allow to share My throne, just as I was victorious Myself and took My place with My Father on His throne. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the assemblies. (Revelation 3:20-22)(JB)
The offspring: These are those who “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus”.
Revelation 12:2,5 indicates that the firstborn of the Woman is the Son of God. When Jesus (the firstborn) had accomplished His purpose on earth in demonstrating righteousness He went to heaven to sit on the throne with His Father. The Woman who gave Him spiritual birth (or birth into the spiritual realm), remained here on earth to continue the work of Her Son. This Woman could not be Mary ‘the mother of Jesus’, because Mary is not a ‘sign in the heavens’ – she is dead. Jesus fulfilled the two requirements that the Law of righteousness demanded; He was born of the water (baptized), and then born of the Spirit (sanctified). The sanctification process in which the Son of God participated was (for Him) not a cleansing from sin, because He had no sin in Him. What the sanctification process did for Him was prove beyond doubt that He had no sin in Him. This is demonstrated by the fact that even though His Father put Him to death as the Lamb that was slain, He rose from death (see Rev. 5:6). The only time God puts someone (anyone) to death is to carry out a requirement of the Law (discussed previously). If one is put to death by God but is not guilty of committing sin (innocent under the Law) they will not remain dead forever. It is for this reason the Son of God did not remain dead, but arose from the grave in which He was buried. Jesus received the penalty required by the Law of God for sin and sinner, and then being found innocent by the heavenly court He qualified to transfer His payment of the second death to those who were born into sin, but who had learned and practiced righteousness.
The easiest way to describe the action of this process is through the example and operation of a TRUST. A trust is both a legal and lawful entity that is operated by a Trustee for (in the name of) a Beneficiary, and is established by a TRUSTOR, who is often called the MAKER. The boundaries of a TRUST are established through BY LAWS, called a COVENANT, and indicate how, for whom, and in what manner the trust is operated.
Adam and Eve were the first members of The Kingdom of the Heavens; but they disobeyed God in Eden. Then God, in His mercy, established the Kingdom of the Heavens TRUST. God established this Trust for the purpose of providing a way for His Kingdom to PASSOVER eternal death to eternal life. The by laws of this Trust with His Kingdom is via a Covenant, called the 10 Commandments (Deut. 4:13). God then placed in this Trust the payment for the penalty of death which was incurred by the original members of this Kingdom; Adam and Eve, and their spiritual descendents. The death of the Lamb of God was the payment of the penalty for the eternal death of those in the Kingdom of the Heavens who inherited this death penalty. In this case the second death payment is placed in this trust, and will be used for all who qualify; “Those that keep the commandments of God, and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17).
The “Lambs Book of Life” is the record of all who are INSIDE this Kingdom, and qualify to be able to utilize this penalty payment. This book is the one with seven seals (Rev. 6). These seven seals are opened as each required element of the TRUST is accomplished. The first requirement is that there is someone of the same type of being, in this case flesh and blood human, who qualifies to receive the book from the right hand of the Father. Only the ONE who qualifies by Sanctification is able to unlock the seals and open book/scroll. Inside this book are recorded the names of all humankind who have lived, or will live, on this earth. The trust account is accessed by all those whose names are in the book, they are the beneficiaries of the trust. What is immediately apparent about this process is that the Son of God did not come to save sinners in their sin, which has been described by Paul as salvation through grace in accordance with faith. NO! The Son of God came to save the righteous of HIS Kingdom, so they would not be required to pay a debt they inherited; therefore they no longer owe the debt of the second death. Those who refuse to learn and practice righteousness will pay the penalty of wickedness. Unfortunately many who believe in God and Jesus will be put to death because they refused to listen to His words of warning. These will refuse to accept that Jesus would put anyone to death, because this is what the have been taught. However, it is ONLY by righteous action that a person becomes righteous, not by asking for a gift of righteousness through grace, then believing with all their heart, mind, and soul, that they are safe from the second death. You are not born from above while continuing to sin. You are born from above after learning the way of righteousness and living by its requirements.
The Woman, the Holy Spirit, was sent to earth by Jesus to preserve the words of the testimony of Her Son. The dragon was intent on destroying any evidence of this testimony, and would have succeeded, if not for the Holy Spirit. We have today the testimony of three reliable witnesses to the testimony of the Son of God; Matthew, Mark, and John. Mark may or may not have been an eyewitness, but he certainly associated with those who were eyewitnesses. It is commonly understood that Mark wrote from the testimony of the disciple Peter, in a recounting of his time spent with his Master. Luke was never a disciple of Jesus. He does not cite the names of any of his “witnesses”, and his accounts dispute and contradict those of the eyewitness disciples. It is my conviction that Luke and Paul were used by the dragon (Satan) in an attempt to rid the world of the true testimony of the Son of God.
The Woman fled into the “wilderness” away from the reach of the dragon (Rev. 12:6). During this time there was no Kingdom of the Heavens on earth. The mandate for restoration would be accomplished in an entirely different manner. Previously, the plan was for the children of Israel to learn righteousness, and become a righteous kingdom. Then their Messiah/King would come and take His seat upon the throne of David, and rule His kingdom. All the other kingdoms would see the fruits of righteousness and come to learn how to become righteous and enter this wonderful kingdom. All who were willing to comply with the requirements would be welcomed with open arms into the kingdom of God. Time ran out for the children of Israel. Their Messiah did come to them, not because they had finally learned righteousness, but because their time had run out. The two prophecies that describe this are Daniel chapter eight and nine. Chapter eight reveals the restarting of the services of the sanctuary on behalf of the Kingdom of the Heavens. Chapter nine determines the final time for the children of Israel. Final because if they fail to accomplish the requirements of righteousness they will lose their invitation/opportunity to do so (see Matthew 21:33-43).
When the 2300 evenings and mornings had passed the sanctuary in Heaven began operation on behalf of the Kingdom of the Heavens. These were those who answered the “wedding feast” invitation; this invitation went out to all who would agree to the specific requirements listed in it. The time came, and a great many went out to meet the Bridegroom (see Matthew 25:1-5). In their exuberance to go to heaven, they were careless in their interpretation of the scriptural material. They believed, as do Christians today, that salvation is a gift of grace. They had not taken the time to learn righteousness; none had been born from above – no one has been born again. If the Bridegroom had come (at that time) He would have had to put to death all who were not righteous, and that was everyone. The reason He was delaying His coming, and continues to delay today, is because He is waiting for His Kingdom to learn the truth. When the truth is known, understood, and put into practice those who will be in His Kingdom will be sanctified through the operation of the Sanctuary in the heavens. When there is a group of people on earth who are perfected in righteousness, then and only then will the Master return. This coming is not the one everyone is expecting in which ‘every eye shall see Him’. This is when He comes as a thief in the night (Rev.3:3). All who are awake, prepared, and righteous will see Him; the rest will miss it. This group are the servants (see Matthew 24:42-51), the faithful and sensible servant (the promised Elijah type prophet, Matthew 17:11) and his fellow servants, will welcome their Master when He returns. At that time their Master will send them to awaken the sleeping kingdom, represented as ten bridesmaids (see Matthew 25:1-13).
The Son of God explains the sequential flow of events leading up to the appearance of the unified world, represented as a beast coming up out of the sea (see Revelation 13). The first way-point was the assemblage of people from all over the world, who answered God’s invitation to come to the marriage feast of His Son; this is the invitation to enter His kingdom. It is necessary to enter the Kingdom in order to attend the marriage feast. The Law and Prophets reveal that this invitation was, in fact, the offer to the children of Israel to become the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of the Heavens consists of two parts. The first part is represented by the outer court, and is the preparation of the people for entrance into the Kingdom of God. This preparation entails the removing of corruption/sin, also known as sanctification/consecration. The expected outcome of this process is righteousness and purity. Those who are in the process of sanctification are in the Kingdom of the Heavens. Those who have completed this process become members of the Kingdom of God. The children of Israel in the wilderness were the Kingdom of the Heavens, and they never attained to the consecration that was required to be the Kingdom of God. Time ran out for them and they were no longer a kingdom at all.
The twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings prophecy (Daniel 8:14), reveals a period of time given which specifically details the sanctuary operation. The connection with the prophecy of Daniel 9:22-25 is made by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. The seventy weeks/490 year period had almost ended; the Messiah had come and began His testimony in the middle year (Wednesday year) of the final seven year period in 30 CE. By the end of that year the privilege of the kingdom had to be taken away from them, it would be given to another people (see Matthew 21:43). The remaining time from the prophecy would end in 1843-44 C.E. From 30 C.E. to 1843-44 C.E. there was no Kingdom of the Heavens on the earth. The information upon which the coming Kingdom would be built was preserved and protected from the attacks of the dragon in the wilderness, in the years leading up to 1843-44 C.E. This preserved truth came out of the wilderness, so to speak, with the availability and accessibility of the Scriptures; the Woman had come out of the wilderness. The ten bridesmaids took this newly acquired information and determined that there would be a prophetic fulfillment of the 2300 years in 1843-44 CE. In their exuberance they were somewhat careless in their interpretations of the prophecies. The Son of God had revealed to His disciples the specifics of this event (see Matthew 25:1-5). It is interesting to note that the Son of God revealed that these people had misunderstood the prophecy and would experience a great disappointment. It is truly interesting and revealing what He calls these people, and shows that this parable is also a prophecy:
At that time the kingdom of the heavens will be like this… (Matthew 25:1)
I underlined the name He calls them, the Kingdom of the Heavens. Remember, the Kingdom of the Heavens is a people who are in the process of sanctification/consecration. This process requires a functioning sanctuary, with a High Priest. The prophecy of the 2300 years reveals that at the end of this time period the sanctuary will be properly restored; but this sanctuary is in the heavens; because that is where the High Priest dwells.
The ten bridesmaids went out to meet the Bridegroom in 1844 CE, but because He was delaying His coming He did not appear as expected. The kingdom waited, and waited, and waited, and eventually fell asleep. This is the point where the activity of the bondservants begins (Matthew 24:42-51).
And the disciples put this question to Him, ‘Why do the scribes say then that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True;’ He replied ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be… Matthew 17:10-11 (JB)
The underlined portion shows that the Son of God reveals that the coming of an Elijah type prophet is in the future. Jesus goes on to say that Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him. His disciples realized He was speaking of John the Baptist. So there are two Elijah type prophets connected with the time period of the 2300 years, each appearing just prior to the end of time for the current Kingdom of the Heavens. The end of the 2300 years prophecy was a beginning for the current Kingdom of the Heavens that is in existence today. This shows that it is the beginning of the time of the end, right now.
He approached the place where I was standing; as he approached I was seized with terror, and fell prostrate. ‘Son of man,’ he said to me ‘understand this; the vision shows the time of the End’. Daniel 8:17 (JB)
The fact that the Bridegroom is delaying His coming is proof that He plans to return. The next event that was prophesied to take place is the activity of the Faithful and Sensible bondservant. This person will start his/her ministry much like John the Baptist did. It seems that John was not given a specific message to preach. The one who told him to go and baptize only said how he would recognize the Lamb of God (see John 1:33).
The Elijah type prophet at the end of time will not be asleep with the rest of the Kingdom. At some point he will make a discovery that will, at long last, result in the final judgment and the restoration of all things. He will uphold the testimony of Jesus as the standard of truth, by stating that all other testimony must be in complete agreement with the Master’s testimony; that any testimony that goes beyond it is a lie. He will “give his fellow servants their food” for it is the proper time (see Matthew 24:45). When the time has come for the end of the delay the Master of that servant will return to His household and to see if he has complied with his mandate. When the Master comes to His servants, the Kingdom of the Heavens is sound asleep. The placement in the prophecy is chronological, even though it may appear at first that it is not. The reason that the account of the bridesmaids who go out to meet the Bridegroom, follows after the account of the bondservants, is to explain why they are asleep.
The chronological sequence is as follows: The bridesmaids/kingdom take their lamps (prophecies) and determine a specific year and day for the expected return. The year and day arrives and the Bridegroom does not come as expected. The Kingdom becomes drowsy and falls asleep. Some time after they are all sound asleep an individual awakens them (cry at midnight), and starts to work on behalf of his Master, who is the Son of God. This Faithful and Sensible bondservant discovers that learning, living, and sharing the testimony of Jesus is the activity of a disciple of the Son of God. This activity continues until the end of the delay (see Revelation 10:6). The Master comes to his household and finds His servants ready. He then sends them to awaken sleeping Kingdom (see Matthew 25:6). Those in the kingdom who have the oil of the Holy Spirit, will receive the message given by the servants, and they will prepare for entry into the kingdom of God (they will be sanctified). Then the golden censer is cast down.
The casting down of the censer effectively ends the sanctification process conducted in the Sanctuary in the Heavens. The sanctification process is transferred to the earth. It is the holy people (Kingdom of God and 144,000) who conduct this process on the earth (see Revelation 19:7-8). They are the first fruits of the Kingdom of the Heavens; the first of all those that will be able to avail themselves of the Trust account set aside in the name of their King for the Kingdom of the Heavens, which will pay the penalty for that Kingdom, and move that Kingdom from eternal death to eternal life.