The Dragon in Pursuit
Since our Lord’s resurrection, the dragon has been enraged. It boggles our minds how a spiritual and highly intelligent creature such as an angel could be so blinded by pride that he would think that he could actually dislodge the Almighty from His throne, or failing that, see to it that all those bearing His image are rightly consigned to hell, thus ruining God’s creation. Satan provides us the quintessential proto-example of how sin darkens the mind and hardens the heart so that our eyes cannot and will not see. Upon his defeat by Christ and the ransoming of those whom Satan thought were his rightful spoil, he has nothing left to call his own. Even the world he had wrecked is to undergo a re-creation in a redeemed state. God would have us living with Him for all eternity free from sin and free to truly love; Satan would have us all in his own belly enslaved to his demonic delight and all to spite his own Creator. Denied his dream, and bereft of repentance, and enslaved forever to blind hatred of God and man, he now “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
So we see here that he pursues the woman who birthed the Christchild. She is given two wings of an eagle to fly into the wilderness where she is nourished “for a time, times, and half a time,” meaning three and one-half years—the same as forty-two months, the same as 1260 days—all of which I take to mean the entire Church age, as the Satan has persecuted the Church from the very beginning as we see plainly throughout the Book of Revelation and Church history.
But the whole passage reminds us of the exodus experience of the children of Israel. The Lord saved them from the Egyptians bearing “them on eagles’ wings” (Exodus 19:4). There God gave them the Law and fed them with manna and quail. He defeated for them Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan (Psalm 135). The wilderness was for the Israelites a place of protection and maturing in the Lord even if in discipline for their sin (Numbers 13-14). That the woman is rescued from the flood reminds us of her rescue through the Red Sea while the Egyptians presuming the same were drowned (Exodus 14). The earth’s opening its mouth to save the woman is reminiscent of the earth’s swallowing up the rebellious men of Korah (Numbers 16).
But short of killing the woman, the dragon made off to make war with her offspring “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus”—a good definition of a Christian combining both faith and works. That the woman flying to the wilderness whom Satan cannot catch, and her offspring whom Satan sets off to destroy, both represent the Church is not to be worried over. Commentaries give different interpretations, perhaps the best being that the “woman” represents the Church in heaven while her “offspring” represents the Church on earth. But do not press the symbols. The Church is nourished and protected by God even when she is persecuted. And we have already seen the reward for those who endure persecution for the cause of Christ.
We are a people in exile, sojourning in the wilderness of this world (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). One day, we shall cross over into the Promised Land. So let us embrace the wilderness understanding of this world and never long for earthly kingdoms.