Prepare for Satan’s Attacks
Part 1

John Plunkett

October 11, 2016
Day of Atonement

I know that this is the Day of Atonement; but let’s talk about the Feast of Tabernacles for a few minutes.

One of our church members pointed out, last Sabbath, that there are various symbolisms for the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles and that it is unwise for us to lock ourselves into any one, single symbolism; because, if we do this, we can negatively restrict our understanding.

A common symbol for the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles is that each day of the Feast pictures a thousand years of the age of man.  Thus, seven days represents seven thousand years.

Another one that we quite often talk about at the Feast is that the seven days picture the seventh thousand years which we call "the Millennium."

We will get into this more in Part 2 of this sermon on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles; but for the most part, the Millennium will be a thousand years of peace following the return of Jesus Christ to this war-weary earth.  When we look at today's world news, it is sickening to see the conflicts on earth right now.

As we look out to the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles, let us also look further out – to the Millennium.

The final days of the Millennium have many parallels with our day today; and especially if it is true that we are now entering the very last years of this age.  I am not dogmatic about that; but if that is the case, our day today has a lot in common with the final days of the Millennium.

In the sermon, today, I would like to begin a discussion regarding some of the parallels that exist between the final days of the Millennium and the final days of this age – the six-thousand-year age that we might consider to be the  "age of man."

We in God's church allow Satan his mentions on one day every year.  We don't like to talk about him too much because there is some truth to the old saying, "Speak of the devil and here he comes."  But one day each year, and that day is today – the Day of Atonement, we usually put the main accent on him and especially on him being cast into the bottomless pit, where he will be shut up and sealed for the duration of the Millennium.

On most Days of Atonement, we only usually make a passing mention of the time when Satan will be temporarily released and then permanently imprisoned.  But this year, I want to make some mention of it today and then again we will come back to it in Part 2 on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

During this sermon, I’ll be jumping back and forth between my mentions of the latter days of the Millennium and the latter days of this age – our age – the 6,000-year age of man.

During the Millennium and specifically in its final years, there will be real peace on earth:

Romans 14:17:
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel 34:
24:  And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.
25:  And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.
26:  And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.
27:  And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.
28:  And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid.

Ezekiel 38:
8:  After many days you shall be visited: in the latter years you shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them...
11:  And you shall say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
14:  Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, "Thus says the Lord GOD; 'In that day when my people of Israel dwell safely, shall you not know it?'"

Yes.  During the latter days of the Millennium there is going to be true peace on earth.  During the latter days of this age, today, there will be an appearance of some semblance of peace.  But it will be a deceptive peace.  It will not be a real peace.  Similar to that in Europe in the days that preceded World War II, when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from his talks with Hitler proclaiming, "Peace in our time!"  But it wasn't!  Rather, it was the harbinger of war.  Similarly, the so-called "peace" at the end of this age will not be real peace.  Rather, it will be another of Satan’s counterfeits:

I Thessalonians 5:
1:  But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you.
2:  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
3:  For when they shall say, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Jeremiah 6:14:
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, "Peace, peace!" when there is no peace. 

This verse is identical to Jeremiah 8:11 – word for word – which indicates that there must be some reason that God wanted this repeated.

Ezekiel 13:
10:  Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, "Peace"; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar ...
16:  "To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace," says the Lord GOD.

Let us now go back again to the last days of the Millennium.  As soon as the final days of the Millennium are over, Satan will be released from his thousand-year imprisonment:

Revelation 20:7:
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be loosed out of his prison. 

There is a parallel to that loosing of Satan on earth at the end of our age today.  It is detailed in Revelation 12.  Depending on the timing of this parallel event, God’s children may shortly have to face the set of trials sparked by it.  So, because of this danger, I would like to devote a considerable amount of time today and on the 7th day of the Feast to an examination of these important verses.  There is a great warning here for us all. 

Although the main part of the warning begins in verse 7, I want us to obtain a clear picture of the timing and the background, so let's go all the way back to the beginning of chapter 12:

Revelation 12:1:
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:

This is going back thousands of years, at least.

2:  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

We'll come back to the woman in just a minute; but just for now, let's move on to verse 3:

3:  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.

As we'll soon see, this dragon is Satan the devil.  He is a powerful arch-angel, whose original name was not Lucifer, but Heylel (in the Hebrew language).  He apparently holds the same angelic rank as the archangels Michael and Gabriel. 

He is prophesied to rule over the Beast and he will be emulated by the Beast.  The Beast even  has a similar prophetic symbolic appearance as that of the dragon – having seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1; 17:3, 7). 

Please notice that this dragon is in heaven, which means that he must have access to heaven.

4a:  His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth...

This, we believe, was Satan's first attempt at taking over God's throne – thousands – or perhaps millions – of years ago.  Satan had deceived one third of the stars of heaven – God's angels (Revelation 1:20) – to follow and support him in his rebellion.  Satan was responsible for these angels being cast out of heaven and down to the earth the first time.

Did they stay on earth?  No, they didn’t.  As we go through the timing here, we will see that they did not stay on earth.

4b: … And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 

Here is the woman again.  Evidently the same woman mention in verse 1. 

Who was this woman?  Was she the Old Covenant "church" of Israel from which nation the human Jesus was born?  Or was she Mary – Jesus' human mother – with the human Jesus in her womb?  I believe that she was both! 

The birth of the Child gives us our time setting.

Satan knew that Jesus was going to be born.  Satan knew who YHVH was while He was still in heaven prior to His human birth.  And Satan also knew God's plan. 

Attempting to thwart that plan, Satan prepared himself so that he could try to destroy Jesus right at the beginning of His human sojourn.  Satan, we know, made two early attempts on Jesus’ life.  His first attack on the human Jesus was a physical one, shortly after the beginning of His human life, through Herod's slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:16-18).  His second attack, was a spiritual attack at the time of the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).

Continuing in Revelation 12:

5: She {the same "woman"} brought forth a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 

Now we know for sure who this "male Child" was and therefore who the "woman" was.  We know that it was Mary; but again I believe that it was more than just Mary; that, in the larger context, it was Old Covenant Israel. 

This verse is an interesting piece of writing, because it goes from Jesus’ human birth, right to His ascension back to heaven in one short phrase.  Actually, not even a whole verse.  This is about the quickest overview of Jesus’ human life that we will ever read!

By means of this human woman, Mary, of the Israelite House of Judah, the national/spiritual woman – the "church" of Israel (Acts 7:38) – brought forth a male child – the First of the firstborn children of God – the human Jesus. 

We know that Jesus was – and still is – destined to rule the whole world with a rod of iron. But the world's present ruler is Satan; and he was, back then – and still is – insanely jealous of the fact that Jesus is going to take his place ruling the whole world with a rod of iron. 

After Jesus’ human life, suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus returned to His Father's throne in heaven, and was warmly welcomed there.  Satan was – and still is – insanely jealous of that fact, too!

God the Father and Jesus, for their own good purpose, continue to coldly allow Satan's visits to heaven; but of course, he (Satan) is not welcome there as he once was, when he was the holy, righteous archangel Heylel. 

Let’s look back at a couple of verses in Job, which give us an idea of the mindset of Satan.  At the point in time being spoke about here, Satan still had access to heaven and was still able to go there and talk to the LORD God:

Job 1:
6:  Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7:  And the LORD said unto Satan, "Where have you come from?"  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."

Job 2:1:
And the LORD said unto Satan, "Where have you come from?"  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."

He is sickeningly disrespectful and hard-faced towards the One who soon will be taking his place of the rulership of the world.  This shows that Satan did have access to heaven at that time and, I believe, still does according to the timing of Revelation 12.

But one day soon, Satan will be ejected from heaven permanently – never to return.  We’ll come back to this later, but for now, let us return to Revelation 12 and continue in verse 6:

6:  Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Forty years after Jesus had returned to His Father's throne, His people – now the New Covenant Israel of God – the church – possibly including Mary – fled into the wilderness. The bible doesn’t tell us where, because the apostles' accounts finish in the mid to late sixties AD.

Historians tell us that this flight of the church occurred just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70AD, as the initial fulfillment of part of Jesus’ Olivet prophecy (Matthew 24:15-16) in which He predicted this flight.  He advised them, if they were in Jerusalem when it became surrounded by armies to "Get out of Dodge!" and flee to the mountains.  We are told that this was likely through the mountains to the town of Pella – and ultimately beyond.  And again this happened just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 AD.

This verse (Revelation 12:6) tells us that God had prepared a place of relative safety for them and that they were to be fed in this place for 1,260 days. 

Perhaps they did initially stay at Pella for 1,260 days (three and a half years); but, using the "year-for-a-day" principle frequently used in Bible prophecy, 70 AD plus 1,260 years brings us to 1330 AD.  

What notable event happened in 1330 AD?  What happened in the 14th century?  We have understood this 1,260 days to symbolize the 1,260 years of the Dark and Middle Ages, up to the very beginning of what we call the "Renaissance" period. 

The fourteenth century was notable in that the Waldenses, Wycliffe and others started translating the Bible into their own local languages, resulting in biblical knowledge starting to return to the light of day.  

We might tend to think that there were not very many true believers at that time; but some of Dugger and Dodd's sources have written that were hundreds of thousands of Waldenses, Albigenses and Cathari who, we believe, had retained the truth of God.

But, just as parts of Jesus’ “Olivet prophecy” appear to have had dual fulfillments; for example, the initial 70 AD fulfillment and a future, end-time fulfillment, so, I believe, does this 6th verse of Revelation 12. 

Also, just as Old Covenant Israel is often symbolized by a woman, so is the New Covenant Israel of God, which is the Church of God (Galatians 6:16).

We now fast-forward from the first century to the latter days of this age.  The “woman” of the Church of God will be led by God to flee into a wilderness – somewhere.  We are not, as some are, dogmatic about Petra.  In this wilderness place, she will be "fed" for 1,260 days.  I believe that, in this case, this refers to 1,260 actual days, and not years. 

Again, 1,260 days divided by a 360-day year comes out to three and a half years; and a little less if we divide it by a modern 365-day year.  Hence, three and a half years in what we call “the Place of Safety.”

Another interesting point in verse 6 is that it says, “prepared by God, that they should feed her there.”  

Is this dual (or multiple) reference here referring to Jesus and His angels?  Or, could it possibly be referring to Jesus and His Father? 

Again, I don’t subscribe, as some do, to the idea that Jesus is going to be in the Place of Safety in person.  Otherwise, His subsequent second coming would not be a second coming; but a third coming; and as far as I remember, we have never had a teaching to that effect. 

7:  And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought. 

What is the timing here? 

If it is true that the first fulfillment of verse 6 was 70 AD, was there a war in heaven which occurred shortly after that?   I don’t know of any.  And I think that we can be pretty sure that, if there was a war in heaven right after 70AD, we would probably know about it. 

The only previous war in heaven that we know about is the prehistoric one that is mentioned in Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28. and Jude – the devastating war which bought about the "tohu and bohu" conditions of Genesis 1:2. 

But that war was fought long before the age of man.  And long before the other events of Revelation 12 that we have already mentioned in time order – e.g. the birth, death and ascension of Jesus.  Long before these events that involved human beings. 

Logically then, the war that is mentioned here in verse 7 has to be a future one – likely an end-time one.

At the end of this age, Satan will lead his demons back up to heaven in another last-ditch attempt at taking over God's throne.  Michael – a great archangel who is a great, powerful, angelic prince (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1) – and who may also be considered Christ's angelic general – will lead God's holy and loyal angels into this tremendous end-time battle against Satan and his demons.

As we have recently seen in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq – even in the United States – human conflict is horrific enough.  Can we even imagine what the results of an angelic war are going to be?  We see the results of the previous angelic war out there in the universe – the vast universe in which the only real jewel is this one that God has given us to live on.  The rest of them are just lumps of utter devastation – of ice and rock.

The first angelic battle resulted in the whole of God's beautiful creation becoming "tohu and bohu" – "without form and void" (Genesis 1:2). 

Will this happen again?  Will the destruction only be stopped by Christ's intervention?  Perhaps the incredibly devastating results of the angelic conflict mentioned here might be included in what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 24.  i.e. Not just the human conflicts:

Matthew 24:22:
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 

Atomic bombs and other terrible, humanly-devised weapons are awful; but they are nothing – they are a drop in the bucket – compared with the damage that those angels can do!

Back to Revelation 12 and continuing in the first phrase – an encouraging one – of verse 8:

8a:  And prevailed not.

Satan and his demons prevailed not.  There is so much meaning in this short phrase.  Let’s first look at the English word "prevail", which means:

But Jesus told John to write that Satan will not prevail!  Satan and his demonic forces:

After Jesus' return, they will cease to be in general use (not that they have been of any positive use since their rebellion, except as tools for the purpose of the great God).  And, although they cannot be put to death, they will be of no effect for all eternity.

The English word “prevail” was translated from the Greek word "ischuo" which means:

But at the time that Jesus is telling us of here, through John, 

So again, Satan and his angels prevailed not.  Just in those few words, there is so much meaning. 

Now, let's move on – to the second half of verse 8:

8b:  ... Nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 

Here we see a transition. 

We've been going through this, to the best of our ability according to its time sequence; and we know that this statement cannot be referring to a prehistoric event because, according to the time-sequence, we've seen, back in verse 5, that Jesus has been born, has died, and has ascended to heaven. 

Verse 8 and other scriptures (e.g. Job chapters 1 and 2) strongly indicate that, until the point referred to here, God had never – and certainly not in prehistory – formally or permanently refused Satan and his demons access to heaven.  

It is doubtful, however, that God would have allowed them into the holiest places in His heavenly temple.  I speculate that God may have allowed them into the heavenly equivalent of the Court of the Gentiles.  Whatever may be the case in this regard, after the invasion attempt described here, God will close off that "visiting area" provided for Satan and his demons, thus making any subsequent visits to heaven impossible for them. 

Jesus – through John – then goes into detail about what happened when they were expelled:

9:  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 

The accent here is on the phrase "cast out."  It is included three times, perhaps for greater emphasis and to really grab our attention. 

The English phrase "cast out" is translated from the Greek word "ballo", which can mean to throw out – as one would throw out dung!  Also to strike or to thrust, implying violence.

10a:  Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come." 

There is joy in what is said here.  Satan and his demons will have been cast out of heaven, just like a bag of dung.  Perhaps the loud voice mentioned here is similar to the joyous shout of Jesus and the voice of the archangel mentioned in:

I Thessalonians 4:16: 
For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

With this casting out of Satan and his demon followers comes a time for great rejoicing.  And there is very good reason for such rejoicing.  Verse 10 of Revelation 12 tells us that, once this event has taken place, things really start to move forward in a positive way.  Jesus will begin His return to earth and will bring with Him His power and His Kingdom. 

It also tells us that the time will then have come for the salvation of His brothers and sisters.  Also for everything to be set in motion for the ultimate salvation for the rest of mankind.  

Also for the exercising of God's strength and great power.  As we saw back in verse 8, Satan and his demons will then have lost the superior strength and power which they seem to have on earth right now.  Here we see a confirmation that God the Father and Jesus ultimately possess the superior strength and power.

Back to Revelation 12:

10b:  ... For the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 

When I read the two halves of verse 10 together, I see a possible implication that, at the weakening and casting down of Satan, the strength of the Father and the power of Jesus will be increased – even enhanced. 

Until the time of his casting down, Satan will have spent some – perhaps much – of his time visiting heaven in order to continually accuse God's children – you and me.  This is where the "bad news" part of this verse comes in, as some of Satan's accusations are to some degree valid.  And he knows it!  He knows what God’s laws are and he knows what you and I do, say and think.  We need to remember this. 

On the Day of Atonement, we talk about becoming at one with God; and that is, of course, very important.  But we also need to remember that, to be at one with God, we must cease giving Satan any bona-fide reasons for his accusations.  We must quickly admit our sins, confess them (before God), and repent of them. 

Satan must be continually frustrated when he sees one of us sinning, ; and he hurries himself up to God’s throne; and by the time he obtains an audience with the King of the universe to put in his accusation, the sin has been repented of; and God says to him, "Sorry!  Too late, it has been confessed and repented of.  I have forgiven it and am in process of forgetting it.  As far as I'm concerned, that sin as just as if it was never committed!" 

Nevertheless, confessing our sins and being sorry for committing them are only two parts of a larger process.  We must repent – which means turning around and walking in the opposite direction.  We must put them behind us and continue to be sorry for our sins by striving not to repeat them.

Back in verse 10, the single Greek word used for "cast down" is "kataballo." 

The word "ballo," as used in verse 9, puts the accent on thrusting Satan and his demons out of God's heavenly temple, whereas this word "kataballo" changes the emphasis – to that of forcing them down to the earth.  Perhaps there will be two actions: the first to get them permanently out of God's holy temple in heaven, and the second to force them down to earth! 

What is the time setting here?  When will Satan and his demons be cast out and down? 

I want to risk "putting a spanner in the works" by referring to Jesus' words in:

John 12:31: 
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 

Somebody might read this verse, compare it with Revelation 12:10 and, quite rightly, think that there might be a contradiction.

The time setting here in John 12 is shortly before Jesus’ arrest and death.  Jesus seems to be saying here Satan's casting out happened around the time of His death.  But again, that timing would be way out of sequence with the narrative of Revelation 12.

The Greek word for "now" is "nun" which can also mean "henceforth" which makes a lot more sense.  i.e. "Henceforth shall the prince of this world be cast out."

May I paraphrase what Jesus seems to be saying here:

"After what is going to be happening here over the next couple of days and weeks; after my death, my resurrection and my ascension, I will have fulfilled what I inspired to be prophesied in the Old Testament.  And once I have done all that, I will have fulfilled all the conditions for Satan to be permanently cast out.  And down!" 

This is supported by what He told John to write as he continues in Revelation 12, in which He tells us how He, His Father and His brethren are going to do this – i.e. by what power they are going to overcome the accuser – Satan.

Revelation 12:11a: 
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

The words "they" and "their" refer here to "our brethren" from verse 10.  So, how do we, the accused brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, overcome our accuser and his accusations? 

First, we overcome our accuser by the blood of the Lamb.  This takes us all the way from the Day of Atonement back to the symbolism of the Passover.  No wonder Satan tried so hard to divert the human Jesus from His wonderful plan and His goal of redemption.  Satan wanted – and still wants – to destroy all of Jesus' brothers and sisters – not just Jesus Himself.

How else does Jesus overcome Satan?  And how else do we, His accused brothers and sisters, overcome the accuser?

The second way is "by the word of their testimony."  Notice "their testimony."   Yes, it' is Jesus’ testimony.  And it is the Father's testimony.  But it is our testimony too. 

Can it really be our testimony?  Yes, it can.  It is the testimony that was given to us by Jesus, through His Word, through His prophets, His apostles, and through His ministers.

But what is our testimony?  It is important for us to know. 

The word "testimony" is one of those words that has been frequently and wrongly misused as having some pseudo-sanctimonious meaning.

Some believe that it is just a statement – perhaps similar to those in Alcoholics Anonymous – where members must stand before the group to give a summary of the details of how he or she came to be converted.  Some brethren sometimes do this less formally, around the table, on the Night to Be Much Remembered.  But some churches require that a new convert must stand up before the group and give their so-called "testimony" as to "what led me to the Lord."  I thing you know the type of thing I'm referring to. 

But that it not what a testimony really is.  As used here in Revelation 12:11, the English word "testimony" comes from the Greek noun "marturia" which simply means a record, a report, a witness or the very best rendition, I believe, evidence given.

I'm sure you have heard the somewhat humorous question: "If you were put on trial for the 'crime' of being a Christian, would your prosecutors have enough evidence to convict you?" 

This is basically what it is meant here.  Of course, we are not to cast God's pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6); but we are to witness to our neighbours by humbly, quietly and peacefully, shining God’s light to them (Matthew 5:16).

The word "marturia" stems from another Greek noun "martus" which means a witness, or a martyr.  This latter meaning fits right in with the final phrase of Revelation 12:11:

11b:  And they did not love their lives to the death. 

As we are shareholders of God’s testimony and of "the blood of the Lamb" – the blood of our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ – we are not allowed the luxury of loving our lives unto the death.

There is a dual meaning to this too.  We know that we are to be actively giving our lives on a daily basis in the service of God and His children. 

But also, in the unpleasant event that it does one day become necessary, we are to be willing to suffer an early "first death" – rather than the alternative, which would be to reject salvation by denying the wonderful truths that God has given us. 

Hopefully, if we are ever faced with such a choice, we will be equipped with all the strength and courage that only God’s Holy Spirit can give (Acts 7:54-60).  God requires His children to put a higher value on our spiritual lives than on our physical lives. 

That is easy for me to stand here and say.  I know that.  But although we hope and pray that this will not be necessary, we must be willing to give up the physical in order to obtain the spiritual. 

I hate to leave you hanging on that somewhat negative point, but we must leave Revelation 12 there for today.  We will come back to it on Day 7 of the Feast of Tabernacles, which is the second day of the sacred year that we allow a discussion regarding Satan, his demons, and their demise.  We will finish our study of this amazing chapter and we will discuss more in the way of good news.

End of Part 1