Revelation 12

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

Revelation 12:1-4 says the following:

1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;

2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,

8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.

14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

15 And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.

16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.

17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Today we will be examining the different ways this particular chapter has been interpreted.

 Timeframe  Description
 1) Flashback to Bethlehem + Flash forward to end times
  • The woman is seen as ethnic Israel and so the birth of the child is a flashback to the incarnation of Jesus.
  • After the Messiah is born, the scene immediately flashes forward to a time after the rapture, halfway through the seven year tribulation.
  • That’s when Satan will renew his assault on the modern nation of Israel. This assault will result in cosmic war between the angels of God and the dragon.
  • Defeated by the archangel Michael, the dragon will try to destroy the Jewish believers in Jesus but the earth itself will rise up to protect them (Revelation 12:13-17).
  • Bottom line: Satan will be thrown down to this earth; this will happen during a future time of tribulation.
 2) Flashback to Bethlehem + Flash forward to AD70
  • The woman represents heavenly Jerusalem.
  • During the Jewish-Roman War, Roman legions swept through the land like a destructive deluge (Daniel 9:26; Revelation 12:15-16), but believers in Jesus left Jerusalem before the worst of Rome’s wrath (Revelation 12:14-17).
  • Bottom line: Satan was thrown down to earth; this happened in AD70
 3) Victory in Jesus from heaven’s point of view
  • This chapter is seen as an apocalyptic recounting of all that Jesus accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection.
  • The woman is the Virgin Mary (Revelation 12:12, 6).
  • Jesus died, and God the Father raised him to life and enthroned him in the heavens (Revelation 12:5).
  • Satan tried many tactics to disrupt the Messiah’s genealogy and destroy the long promised king (Revelation 12:3-6; see Matthew 2:16-18; 4:1-11; Luke 4:29-30), but Jesus triumphed and crushed the serpent (Revelation 12:9; see Genesis 3:15).
  • Bottom line: Satan was thrown down to earth; this happened through the sacrificial death and the third-day triumph of Jesus.

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

Capital Punishment: Justification for Death Penalties in the Old Testament

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT:

JUSTIFICATION FOR DEATH PENALTIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Joshua Wu[1]

            In his popular book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins boldly claims that, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”[2] Not surprisingly, many people share Dawkins’ views as a result of their deformed view of the Bible and what it states.

The purpose of this paper is to provide two, non-exhaustive, justifications for Old Testament laws which prescribe the death penalty for certain offences. The paper will begin by addressing some preliminary issues before introducing a two prong justification. Moving on from there, we will consider how it all ties in with Christ, before concluding on what our relationship to the Old Testament law is.

 

  1. A) Preliminaries

It is pertinent to be aware of some of the offences for which the death penalty is prescribed. In his Dictionary of the Bible, John McKenzie maintains: “The laws of the Pnt prescribe stoning for the following crimes: idolatry (Dt 13:10; 17:5); blasphemy (Lv 24:14; cf 1 K 21:10; Jn 10:33); child sacrifice (Lv 20:2); divination (Lv 20:27); Sabbath violation (Nm 15:32 ff); adultery (Dt 22:22 f; cf Ezk 16:40; 23:47;  Jn 8:4 f); fornication by an unmarried woman (Dt 22:21); rebellion of children (Dt 21:20 f); and the ox that gores (Ex 21:28).”[3]

There are also other offences, wherein stoning isn’t mentioned but where it is commanded that the perpetrators be “put to death”. These are, being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:5), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), murder (Exodus 21:12), as well as prostitution and rape (Deuteronomy 22:24). John McKenzie argues that “It may be assumed that stoning is the penalty for other crimes in which the manner of execution is not specified.”[4]

What else do we know about stoning? Craig Keener comments that, “Death by stoning was a common mob action throughout the ancient world, but it was a legal form of execution in the Torah …”[5]. Stoning is also the “… most commonly mentioned form of execution in the Bible … it requires all those persons who have been offended to participate. Because it cannot be determined whose individual stone caused the death of the condemned, no one person needed to bear the guilt for the death.”[6]

Interestingly, “Stoning is not mentioned as a form of capital punishment outside the Bible. Ancient Near Eastern law codes list only drowning, burning, impalement, and beheading, and in each case it is an official body, not the community at large, that is charged with carrying out the punishment.”[7] Lastly, Matthew George Easton remarks: “The official Pentateuchal methods of capital punishment were stoning, burning and decapitation by the sword, these being enumerated in their descending order of severity. The Rabbis added a fourth and milder alternative, strangling.”[8]

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