Relevant Biblical Passages: Revelation 12
Key Actors in the Struggle Between Good and Evil. Quite aside from the Adventist perspective, Revelation 12 is important for Christian theology, for it is the first chapter in the Bible to clearly identify the serpent as Satan. Thus the chapter vividly presents the key actors in the conflict between good and evil. Does the chapter itself (or the New Testament context) allow for a clear identification of the following:
Note on Michael: Some evangelicals have criticized the Adventist interpretation of Michael as representing Christ, though that is not a uniquely Adventist perspective. An interesting project is to use a concordance and study all the instances of Michael in both OT and NT. It is a helpful project and a manageable one.
Key questions from an “idealist” perspective: Although historicist interpretation places this conflict as a drama continuing on through the medieval period, what is there to suggest such a perspective from the text itself? What are the issues in the conflict as they are reflected in the way by the key players interact in the drama?
War in heaven. The lesson for January 5, 2002 focused on the war in heaven. The PROBE Study Guide for that lesson addresses the key questions. Perhaps most importantly, Revelation 12:7-12 clearly indicates that the climax of the conflict came at the cross, the point at which Satan was ejected from heaven for good. The issue addressed more fully in the January 5 Study Guide is the changing role of Satan when the Old and New Testaments are compared. In the Old Testament “Satan” as a supernatural figure opposed to God is mentioned only in three contexts: Job 1-2, 1 Chronicles 21, and Zechariah 3. In the Old Testament, virtually all violent acts are attributed directly to God. With the coming of Christ, the issues in the conflict are clarified. The climax takes place at the cross.
Note on Historicism in the book of Revelation. Unlike the book of Daniel where a historicist pattern is everywhere present, the book of Revelation does not present itself to the reader in a historicist mode. But by drawing parallels between Daniel and Revelation, a historicist pattern can be imposed on the book. Thus the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 become seven epochs in the history of the church with the last one being Laodicea. The time period of 1260 days in 12:6 is a repeat of the same period in 11:3 and is the equivalent of 42 months in 11:2 and 13:5. The time, times, and half a time in 12:14 echoes the same time period in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7. Martin Kiddle, a preterist commentator, describes the time period as “the conventional period during which evil is allowed free rein” (Revelation [Moffatt Commentary]1940, p. 189).