In our previous installment, by mapping key events in Revelation 12:4,7 to the book of Daniel, we sought to identify the bounds of the time frame of the events depicted in Revelation 12 as well as the identities of the Woman and the Man Child. As we noted there, the time frame in chapter 12 encompasses everything from the persecution of the Jews by the Little Horn of Daniel 8 “for a time, times, and an half” (Daniel 12:7), to the persecution of the Church by the Little Horn of Daniel 7 for “a time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25). The Woman of Revelation 12 begins as National Israel suffering under Greek persecution as the stars of heaven are cast down (Daniel 8:10, Revelation 12:4), and then under Roman imperial oppression as the serpent attempts to devour the Man Child when He is born (Daniel 12:1, Revelation 12:4). The Man Child is Christ who lived, died, rose and “was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5) during the Roman Empire, by which time the Woman has become Ecclesial Israel who would flee to the wilderness after being persecuted by the devil, only to endure even more persecution by the ungodly empire that would succeed Rome. It is in the context of that transition from National to Ecclesial Israel that Michael “standeth for the children of thy people” (Daniel 12:1) and “fought against” the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:7-10). In this installment we now turn our attention to the timing of the Flight of the Woman and the Flood let loose by the Serpent by evaluating the effects of Michael’s extradition of Satan in the context of Daniel’s prophecies.
As we proceed through a chronological analysis, we will lean heavily on the timeline Daniel provided for us in his visions of Daniel 2 and 7. In a dream, Nebuchadnezzar had seen a succession of empires represented by a series materials in a statue: a head of Gold, chest and arms of Silver, belly and thighs of Bronze, legs of Iron, and feet of Iron mixed with Clay. Because the time frame of Revelation 12 straddles the transition from the Belly and Thighs of Bronze to the Legs of Iron in that statue, we will focus on the latter part of the dream as the Iron Legs then transition to Iron & Clay Feet and finally into Iron & Clay Toes. As Daniel said, by the dream the Lord “maketh known to thee what shall come to pass” (Daniel 2:29). It was intended to reveal the future in chronological succession. As we have shown in our articles, Legs of Iron and The Fifth Empire, Jesus and the apostle John relied on that established chronology in order to depict the coming fulfillment of the final segments of the statue, and by that depiction, we may identify the timing of the Woman’s Flight and the Serpent’s Flood.
Historically there has been very little difficulty establishing the early succession of empires. The Gold referred to Babylon, the Silver to the Medo-Persian empire, the Bronze to the Greek, and the Iron to the early Roman empire. However, beyond that point, eschatologists have struggled to identify the critical transitions from Legs of Iron to Feet of Iron & Clay and finally to Toes. As we have shown in our articles, however, the Iron period may be easily identified by the first seven emperors of the Roman empire (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero and Galba), and the Iron & Clay period can be shown to begin under Galba’s successor, Otho, in 69 A.D., just one year before Jerusalem’s destruction. The period of the Iron & Clay Feet continues all the way through 293 A.D., at which point Diocletian divided the empire into twelve dioceses, heralding the period of the Toes. The Toes of Daniel 2 correspond to the Horns of Daniel 7, and by 373 A.D., the dioceses had been reordered in such a way that there were thirteen. This set the stage for Roman Catholicism to lay claim to three of them—Italy, Egypt and Oriens—and to rise up among the remaining ten, as depicted in Daniel 7. We addressed that particular fulfillment in our articles, A See of One and The Fourteenth Diocese.
Thus is a chronology established for us by Daniel to aid in our recognition of Roman Catholicism as the great antagonist with which so much of apostolic and prophetic eschatological literature is occupied. Small wonder that the Early Church recognized that the Iron period had long since come, and the period of Toes—along with the rise of “that Wicked” one (2 Thessalonians 2:8)—could not be far away. We highlighted the Early Church’s anticipation of his soon arrival in What the Fathers Feared Most. What we find in Revelation 12 is that John has provided to us more than a few chronological signposts to show the elect what to expect as the rise of the Little Horn drew nearer and nearer. He provided those signposts throughout chapter 12 in such a way that we can narrow down the time frame of the Woman’s Flight and the Serpent’s Flood to the period of the Toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, after the Fifth Seal of Revelation 6, but prior to the persecution enacted by the Little Horn of Daniel 7.
Regarding John’s signposts, we notice immediately that the chapter is essentially divided into three parts. The first part (verses 1-6) expresses a summary of events from the travails of the Woman as Israel to the Woman’s stay in the wilderness as the Church. In this part neither the cause nor the effect of her flight are provided. The second part (verses 7-13) provides specific details on the cause of the Woman’s flight, and the third part (verses 14-17) provides specific details on the effect of the Woman’s Flight. We focus this week on the first two parts.
The Woman’s Flight
In the first part, Revelation 12:1-6, the time frame and the main characters are introduced—the Woman, the Serpent and the Man Child. After the ascent of her Son, the Woman is said to take flight to a place where she is fed for a specific length of time:
“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Revelation 12:5-6)
Apart from the few chronological indicators leading up to the birth and ascension of the Man Child, which we identified last week (Revelation 12:3-4), there is very little information about when the flight of the Woman is to take place. This first part ends simply with the duration of her stay in the wilderness.
The Cause of Her Flight
But in the second part, Revelation 12:7-13, much more information is given about why the Woman fled to the wilderness. In this part we are informed that the Woman’s flight takes place after the Serpent is cast out of heaven. John summarizes the extradition in three different ways:
A) When Michael Stands Up: the Serpent was “cast out” by “Michael and his angels” (Revelation 12:7-9);
B) The Coming of the Kingdom and the Testimony of the Martyred Saints: “Now is come … the kingdom of our God, … for the accuser of our brethren is cast down,” and the saints overcame him (12:10-11);
C) Civil Persecution by the Devil: as soon as he was cast down, “he persecuted the woman” (12:12-13).
Each time John tells it, he makes note of key chronological signposts that help narrow down the time frame of the Woman’s Flight.
A. When Michael Stands Up
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
As we noted in our previous installment, the references to Michael in Daniel 12 and Revelation 12 share a similar context: Michael adopts a defensive posture on behalf of God’s people during a time of tribulation. In our article, The Single Frame Hypothesis, we showed that the Greek Period of Daniel’s visions ends at Daniel 11:45, and events that are to take place beginning in the Roman period are described at the beginning of Daniel chapter 12. Michael’s action is the first thing mentioned. Thus, we can at the very least say that Michael’s stance in Daniel 12 occurs under the Roman Empire which immediately follows the Greek. The narrator’s next description of Satan’s extradition provides even more specific information regarding that timing, particularly in regard to the saints “which came out of great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14)
B. The Coming of the Kingdom and the Testimony of the Martyred Saints
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:10-11)
In this part of the narrative, the angel provides two important chronological signposts: the announcement of the kingdom, and the response of the saints to “the accuser of the brethren.”
• The Kingdom
In this version of the extradition, we are particularly interested in the announcement of the arrival of the kingdom, especially in light of the eschatological and historical significance it has played since Daniel’s visions in chapters 2 and 7, as well as John’s and Jesus’ announcement that it was nigh. We covered this in greater detail in our series, Legs of Iron, as well as our series The Fifth Empire and in our article, “The Kingdom of Earth is at Hand.” With regard to Daniel, we observed in The Fifth Empire how he maintained a categorical distinction between a Heavenly and an Earthly Kingdom in chapters 2 and 7.
In the harmonization of those two chapters we find that the saints take possession of a heavenly kingdom in the period of the Fourth Empire, while the Little Horn of Daniel 7 takes dominion over an earthly kingdom in the midst of the remnants of the Fourth Empire. He uses that earthly dominion to wear out the saints who remain in possession of a heavenly kingdom throughout. It is not until Christ’s return much later that the earthly dominion of the Little Horn is taken away, and only then do the saints take possession of an earthly kingdom. Thus we see that when speaking of the Heavenly Kingdom of the Saints, Daniel’s angelic narrator uses terms that refer to heaven and omit references to earth:
“And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay … And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed…” (Daniel 2:43-44)
“These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” (Daniel 7:17-18)
Both refer to a Heavenly Kingdom received by the saints in the period of the Roman Empire, just as John and Jesus had announced (Matthew 3:2, 4:17, John 18:36), and just as Jesus taught His apostles to preach after Him (Matthew 10:17). But when speaking of the saints possessing an Earthly Kingdom, Daniel and his narrator speak of it as a kingdom “under heaven,” and show the saints in possession of it only after the Little Horn has been vanquished:
“…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35)*
“But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Daniel 7:26-27)
Here, both refer to an Earthly Kingdom—i.e., “the whole earth,” and “under the whole heaven”— enjoyed by the saints after the Little Horn’s earthly dominion has been taken away. In sum, the saints take possession of a Heavenly kingdom before the rise of the Little Horn, and take possession of an Earthly kingdom after the Little Horn is destroyed.
This is important to us first because Daniel indicated, and Jesus confirmed, that the Heavenly Kingdom would be taken away from the Jews and transferred to the saints during the Iron & Clay Period of the Fourth Empire, and Jesus made the desolation of Jerusalem the harbinger of that transfer (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 21:44, 22:2-7; Luke 19:14-27, 20:18). Under that rubric, as we discussed in Legs of Iron, the first seven emperors of Rome constituted the Iron Period of Daniel’s vision, and the Iron & Clay period began under Otho, in 69 A.D.. Jerusalem’s destruction came the following year. Our point here is that Daniel and Jesus both placed the transfer of the Heavenly Kingdom within the Iron & Clay Period of the Roman empire.
This is also important to us because when John speaks of earthly and heavenly kingdoms in his Apocalypse, he maintains the same categorical distinctions that Daniel did. Notice for example that in Revelation 11:15, it is not until after the sounding of the final Trumpet that Jesus is said to take possession of an Earthly Kingdom:
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ;” (Revelation 11:15)
We now compare this to the wording of heavenly voice of Revelation 12:10. The voice announces the coming of a kingdom when Satan is cast down to earth. This is a description of the arrival of a Heavenly Kingdom, not an Earthly one:
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10)
And thus, we have yet another chronological signpost to aid us in our understanding of the timing of the flight of the Woman. Her flight is described subsequent to the casting down of Satan, and that extradition takes place within the Iron & Clay Period of the Roman Empire. Thus, the flight of the Woman is to occur not only within the period of the Fourth Empire, but within the Iron & Clay period of the Fourth Empire. To this we will now add the testimony of the martyred saints, which pushes the timing of the Woman’s flight all the way into the period of the Iron & Clay Toes.
• The Testimony of the Martyred Saints
In this rendition of Satan’s extradition, there is a second chronological signpost, and it is in the description of the martyrs and their testimony. They overcame the accuser “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony,” a description that invokes the language of the Fifth Seal of Revelation 6. In the description of that Seal, John relates what he saw under the altar: “the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9). Notably, these martyrs are told to be patient and are given robes (Revelation 6:11) made white by the washing of the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:13-14).
While it is true that all martyrs achieve victory “by the blood of the Lamb” as well as “by the word of their testimony,” John’s language is nevertheless unique here—a description clearly linked to the Fifth Seal. Notably, just at the moment that John is writing about Satan being cast to earth where he persecutes the Woman, he invokes the testimony of the martyrs of the Fifth Seal who had been slain during the Fourth Seal when Hell and Death were granted authority “over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). As we noted in our article, Do Not Weep for Nicomedia, the Fourth Seal refers to the ten year Diocletianic persecution that began in 303 A.D., and the Fifth Seal can be assigned to the brief respite that took place in 308 A.D..
As we also discussed in The Fifth Empire, it was under the crushing effects of the first two Seals that Diocletian was forced to divide the Roman Empire into twelve dioceses (293 A.D.), initiating the period of the Toes of Daniel’s vision in chapter 2. The Stone that strikes the statue during the Iron & Clay period is not Christ in His earthly ministry, but the ascended Savior as He opens the Seals (Revelation 6). The initial strike of the Stone does not destroy the statue but only breaks the Feet into pieces (Daniel 2:34), forming the Toes (Daniel 2:42). Within the century (c. 373 A.D), Diocletian’s successors would be forced by circumstances finally to divide the empire into thirteen dioceses, setting the stage for the rise of the Little Horn of Daniel 7 who would claim three of those dioceses for himself—Italy, Egypt and Oriens. (For further information on this, see our articles, A See of One and The Fourteenth Diocese).
Thus, under this chronological signpost we can see that the flight of the Woman takes place not only during the Fourth Empire, and not only during the Iron & Clay period of the Fourth Empire, but under the period of the Toes of the Iron & Clay Period of the Fourth Empire. This places the flight of the Woman after 313 A.D., the end of the Diocletianic persecution. John’s next description of the Devil’s civil persecution provides even more specific information regarding the timing of the Woman’s flight.
C. Civil Persecution by the Devil
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. (Revelation 12:12-13)
As in the previous section, the devil is cast down to earth where he persecutes the Woman. No longer able to accuse the brethren “before our God” (Revelation 12:10), the devil is reduced to accusing them before Cæsar. Thus, during the particular period in view the Devil is depicted with the ability to effect a civil persecution of the elect. When speaking to the saints regarding this persecution, Jesus said it is the devil who will cast them into prison:
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
This is particularly important because during the Fourth Seal, Hell and Death were given power “over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). Thrice therefore in Revelation, either Hell, Death, the Serpent or the Devil are depicted with earthly civil power to imprison and put to death. The significance of this is seen in the sequence of civil persecutions that are prophesied in the Scriptures. The persecutions foreseen for the elect are first imposed by the Jews, then by the Romans, then by the Devil, and then by the Little Horn of Daniel 7, the Sea Beast of Revelation 13. The sequence of civil persecutions can be seen in the following verses:
… by the Jews
“But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues” (Matthew 10:17)
“But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten…” (Mark 13:9a)
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons…” (Luke 21:12a)
“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2)
“Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.” (Acts 26:10)
… by the Romans
“And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:18)
“…and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.” (Mark 13:9b)
“… being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:12b)
“But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison…” (Acts 16:37)
… by the Devil
“behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried” (Revelation 2:10)
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)
“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” (Revelation 12:13)
… by the Little Horn and the Beast
“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them … And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” (Daniel 7:21, 25)
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. … He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” (Revelation 13:7-10)
“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Revelation 13:15)
First the Jews imprisoned Christians and had them put to death. Then the Roman power did so. Then Satan when he was cast down did so. Then “the dragon gave [to the Beast] his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2), and the Little Horn then wielded the civil power against the elect.
When surveying this prophesied sequence of civil persecutions, it becomes clear that the Woman’s flight to the wilderness must have taken place after the Satanic civil persecution when the Devil was cast down to earth—for her flight is subsequent to it—but before the civil persecution when the Beast receives “his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2)—for her flight precedes it. The Woman’s opportunity for flight, and therefore the Serpent’s attempt to stop her, must take place between those two civil persecutions.
Notably, the Roman Catholic religion did not start exercising that civil power of the sword—the power of imprisonment, as well as corporal and capital punishment for “heresy”—until late in the 4th century when the Augustinian Consensus was achieved (c. 395 A.D.). The Flight of the Woman must therefore take place during the Roman Empire, during the period of the Toes of the Iron & Clay, after Satan effected a civil persecution against the elect, but before the end of the 4th century when Roman Catholicism finally donned the mantle of civil power. And because the Serpent “cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman” in flight (Revelation 12:15), then we ought to find both the “flood” and the flight of the Woman sometime between 313 and 395 A.D..
It is during that same period that we see the Rise of Roman Catholicism, its claim of the Three Petrine Sees of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch which were by then the three chief metropoli of the Dioceses of Italy, Egypt and Oriens, the three horns uprooted by the Little Horn of Daniel 7, the three kings subdued by him. Based on Daniel’s depiction of the Feet and Toes of the statue of Daniel 2, there is simply no other period when this could occur. We will not be surprised therefore to find the Serpent’s Flood and the Woman’s Flight in that period too, fraught as it is with eschatological significance, for the martyrs were vanquished, and the elect marked with the seal of God, on August 23, 358 A.D., just as the great apostasy was unfolding and the Little Horn was about to come up and receive its earthly kingdom—the Fifth Empire of John’s and Daniel’s visions, the successor to imperial Rome, the Beast of Revelation 13:2.
We will continue in the next installment with an analysis of the third section of the chapter, Revelation 12:14-17.
* For a discourse on why the “great mountain” cannot fill “the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35) until Jesus smites the Little Horn of Daniel 7 (the Sea Beast of Revelation 13), see our series, The Fifth Empire.