GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 01/18/04
The Wings of the Great Eagle
After studying the reasons for the Jewish holocausts, we now see the deliverance of born-again Jews in the first half of the Tribulation, Revelation 12:14">REV 12:14, "And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman [the woman Israel, who was persecuted], in order that she might 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."
This part of the Tribulation period is a time of great historical disaster. In historical disaster, most people assume that all opportunity is gone, but, for the believer, the opportunity and spiritual impact are even greater during these times. In difficult times we can reveal to others the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not need historical prosperity for Christian blessing. Our stability lies in the One who has everything under control, Isa 33:5-6, "The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He shall be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation or deliverance, a wealth of wisdom, and knowledge; respect for Jehovah is his treasure."
No matter how great the disaster, whether it comes from war, famine, disease, economic depression, or social degeneration, it does not change God's plan for your life. Nor do these problems hinder your opportunity for the fantastic blessing that is waiting for you in the predesigned plan of God.
The deliverance of true Israel at the end of the first half of the Tribulation is the subject of Revelation 12:14">REV 12:14, "And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman" One interpretation of this verse is escape by airplane (citing Isa 40:31). Another interpretation is that the eagle is symbolic of America, which has protected Israel in the past. A third interpretation is that this is angelic protection.
1. Escape by airplane is ruled out on the basis of the rugged mountain terrain to which the Jews are fleeing, making airplane landings impossible. (This also does not line up with MAT 24:15-20.)
2. Protection from the USA is ruled out on the basis of the USA's absence in prophecy. This makes for a popular message, and may get people interested, however, the Rapture precedes the Tribulation, which means many Americans are gone, and this is why the USA is not a significant force in the last days.
3. The idea of angelic protection is certainly compatible with the divine protection of true Israel throughout history. Elect angels have protected Jews many times. In this case, Michael, as the guardian of Israel, would be the great eagle. However, Michael is never described in this way.
In EXO 19:4, God addressed Moses and Israel, and said: "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself." The Jews were not literally picked up on eagles wings and carried to the Lord; this phrase is used symbolically for the Lord's logistical grace protection of the Jews in their Exodus wanderings. "Eagles' wings" represent systems of divine protection, as in DEU 32:9-12, "For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him." God cared for the Jews, even when they did not care for Him. The spiritual training of Israel during those 40 years is likened to an eagle. Divine protection for true (regenerate) Israel in the first half of the Tribulation comes through the spiritual training given by God (as in PSA 144:1).
There will come a great evangelistic push after the Rapture, and 144,000 Jewish evangelists (REV 7:4) will have a phenomenal response to the Gospel. Divine protection is administered through the content of the scriptures, as taught in Mat 24, beginning at verse 15, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation [detestable idol]"This is the image of the dictator of the revived Roman Empire in the Tribulation, who is also the leader of the ecumenical religion. In the middle of the Tribulation, Israel is in serious trouble, surrounded by enemies-the king of the North, which today would be comparable to modern-day Russia, and the king of the East, comparable to China (the Asiatic Communist block), as well as the historical antagonism of the Arabs, called the King of the South.
MAT 24:16 continues, "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains [the high desert country]" The high desert country of REV 12:6 is called Edom, Moab, and Ammon in Dan 11:41, revealing the exact location. MAT 24:20 indicates how swift this attack will be: "Let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house, and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath."This is where the eagle picks up the Jews, as it were; the protection of God is given through divine commands that must be followed in order for the believer to be protected. In Revelation 12:14">REV 12:14, the two wings of the great eagle represent the word of God, which is alive and powerful. The strength and vigor given to the believer who walks with the Lord is compared to that of the eagle. The believer is therefore able to rise above his surroundings and circumstances, Isa 40:31, "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." Under this figure, the Lord describes the ease and joy with which Christians rise out of their distresses and are set free from their surroundings when they look to the Lord for His blessing.
There are two distinct periods of 3½ years each in the Tribulation, and also two distinct categories of Jewish believers. In the first half of the Tribulation, their orders are to flee. This first group (evangelized by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists) is given the two wings of the great eagle to flee to the high desert country (divine protection). The second group (evangelized in the second half of the Tribulation by the two witnesses, probably Moses and Elijah) is commanded to fight, and they will go to battle in the final stage of the Armageddon campaign at the siege of Jerusalem. They rely on a different promise (ZEC 14:1-4); the Lord will fight for them. These Jews must understand doctrinal eschatology and the times in which they live. (Any Jewish believers who decide to stand and fight in the first half of the Tribulation will be wiped out.)
The original Greek gives us some great insight in Revelation 12:14">REV 12:14, "And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman." The Greek verb translated "were given" is the aorist passive indicative form of the verb didomi, and, as always, anything given by God is always a matter of grace; it is not earned or deserved, and therefore this is logistical grace provision. Notice that this verb of grace is in the passive voice, which means that regenerate Israel receives the action; they are being protected, and they cannot protect themselves. The declarative (indicative) mood represents the action as fact and as reality; and the reality is, for the positive believer in time of historical disaster, he is not in any way deterred from the blessings that belong to him in the midst of adversity. God's plan continues with the same blessings and promotions in historical adversity as in historical prosperity.
"And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman." The dative singular indirect object from the Greek noun gunaika, is translated "the woman," referring to Israel, specifically regenerate Israel in the first half of the Tribulation. The advantages of being a believer are great in time of historical adversity, as well as in time of historical prosperity-we can take hold of eternal life in time, GAL 6:8, 1TI 6:6-12, Phi 3:10-11. The next phrase inRevelation 12:14">REV 12:14 reads, "In order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place." The Greek verb for "fly" is the present middle subjunctive form of the verb petomai, which means to fly or to soar above, and emphasizes the assurance of deliverance to those who simply follow instructions. Those who follow Bible doctrine never lose. To the world, they may appear to have lost, on the surface, and they may even lose things for the sake following the Lord Jesus Christ, but they never lose out in the plan of God.
"In order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place." The place of refuge is described three times in eschatological passages. What is this place of deliverance for the Jewish believers in Palestine in the first half of the Tribulation? It is described in DAN 11:31 as the land of Edom, Moab and Ammon (the high desert country), in MAT 24:16 as the mountains, and, in REV 12:6 as the high desert country. The adverb of place, hopou, is translated"where," and it emphasizes the fact that there is only one place to be in the plan of God-the right place to be at the right time, and you arrive there by the using the Bible doctrine you have previously been given by God. God has never left any generation of believers without a place of refuge, without protection. We are all products of our own decisions (not our circumstances), and for the Jews to stray from this place is to be destroyed.
The next phrase in Revelation 12:14">REV 12:14 is very comforting: "Where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." The verb translated "nourished" is the present passive indicative form of the trepho, which means to be sustained. The passive voice shows that these Jews receive the action of the verb in the form of logistical grace provision. The title "the serpent" is used here instead of Satan or Devil because Satan is trying to lure the born-again Jews away from their place of refuge. They are safe as long as they stay in their place of refuge, and they must know and follow passages like MAT 24:21-30, so that they can exercise the faith-rest drill and rely on God's protection. Just as the serpent tempted the woman in the garden, so the serpent will tempt the woman Israel in the place of refuge.
MAT 24:15-31 "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand [let the doctrinal believer make application]), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains [the high desert country]; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great Tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world, until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. [Satan knows the Jews are safe, and that he must entice them out of their place of refuge. They will be tested, and they must be able to refuse to believe what sounds very appealing.] Behold, I have told you in advance or I have communicated in advance. If therefore they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go forth, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms [back in Jerusalem], do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." [Now matter how isolated, every human being on earth will know when the Second Advent occurs in Jerusalem.] Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
But immediately after the Tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken [there will be a blackout throughout the entire world, described in JOE 2:10,30-31; LUK 21:25-27; ISA 13:9-10, ZEC 14:6], and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. [There will be signs seen and heard all over the world, and the Jews must wait for these signs, rather than fall for deceptive the rumors that the Messiah has returned.]"
Satan, the serpent, will do everything he can to draw out the Jews so that he can destroy them. He will employ all his powers of deception to do so.
Each of Satan's titles denotes a particular function in his plan and policy of evil. The title "Satan" (Hebrew Satan, Greek Satanas) emphasizes his role in the angelic conflict; it means an adversary, one who withstands, an opponent, and a prosecutor, 1Ch 21:1, JOB 1:6-12; JOB 2:1-5; ZEC 3:1. "Devil" (Greek diabolos) emphasizes his slander and false accusations as the malignant enemy of God and the Messiah, JOH 8:44. "Dragon" (Greek drakon) speaks of his function as a vicious destroyer, REV 12:4,7,9. The word for "serpent" (as in Revelation 12:14">REV 12:14) is ophis, derived from the hiss of the serpent, as it slithered out of its hole. This title carries the idea of being sly, deceitful, and sneaky.
God addresses Satan in ISA 14:12 as "O star of the morning, son of the dawn!" The word for "star" is heylel (often translated "Lucifer"), and it means "shining one" or "star." The Latin translation "Lucifer" means "light bearer." Satan is the shining one, the translucent one, and the simulating one-he is the greatest creature personality of all time. In the Hebrew Old Testament, two creatures are said to radiate light, making them extremely attractive-heylel (Satan in ISA 14:12) and nachash (the serpent in Gen 3). Satan and the serpent are both shining ones. Satan was attractive to at least one third of all the angels, and the serpent was attractive to the woman. Satan and his servants appear as an "angel of light," 2CO 11:14-15, with a counterfeit Jesus, a counterfeit gospel, and a counterfeit spirit.
Revelation 12:14">REV 12:14 (corrected translation) Nevertheless, the two wings of the great eagle [the divine protection of true Israel as in EXO 19:4, DEU 32:9-12] were given to the woman [logistical grace provision for a regenerate Israel in the first half of the Tribulation], so that she [true Israel] might fly to her place of refuge [Edom, Moab, and Ammon, according to Dan 11:41, the mountains, according to MAT 24:16, or the high desert country, according to REV 12:6; all synonymous descriptions], where in that place, she [regenerate Israel] will be sustained for a time [one year], plus times [two years], plus one half time [3½ years total] from the presence of the serpent [Satan].