Summary: Satna's attempt at destroying Israel in Revelation 12
Last week, we saw how the Woman (Israel) fled to a "her place" in great haste, fleeing from the Dragon (Satan) at the midpoint of the Tribulation. The word picture of the two wings of a great eagle represented the strength, speed and protection of God. God will supernaturally protect and nourish those of Israel that have accepted Jesus Christ. Saved Israel will be protected in this manner for 3 1/2 years (time, times and half a time). This week, we will wrap up our study by examining verses 15-17.
As we saw last week, there are many passages in Revelation that are not literal but instead are "word pictures" or imagery. This is interpreted using the method of finding other scriptures that help us see what the Apostle John is saying. In other words, "Let Scripture interpret Scripture". For instance, we saw a parallel between verses 13 and 14 and the account of the Israel's departure from Egypt in Exodus (Exodus 19:4, "eagle's wings"). It is possible, though not certain, as we will see, that part of the passage we will study this week is imagery and not literal. In short, we really can't be certain and dogmatic about part of the interpretation.
This being said, buckle up and get ready for the rest of Revelation 12!
But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. Revelation 12:14 (NKJV)
Destination of the Woman
It's important to note that we can't be absolutely certain as to the destination of saved Israel, the Woman. Scripture does not say unequivocally, so we should not be dogmatic or firm in our stance on any opinion. However, of all of the options, it would appear that the ancient city of Petra would seem to fit.
As we saw last week, H. L. Willmington gave three separate scriptures and reasoning for Petra. John MacArthur has a similar view:
Some have suggested the fortresslike city of Petra, carved into the rocky cliffs of Edom between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. Approachable only through a narrow gorge, Petra was easy to defend in ancient times. The term wilderness does not reveal the exact location of Israel's place of refuge, since that term is a general one often used to describe the desolate area east of Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 3:1; Mark 1:4; John 11:54). Jesus' warning to flee to the mountains (Matt. 24:15-16) suggests that the place of refuge will not be in the coastal plain to the west of Jerusalem, or the relatively flat Negev (desert region) to the south. More likely, it will be in the mountainous region east of Jerusalem. Daniel 11:41 provides further evidence for that view: "[Antichrist] will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall; but these will be rescued out of his hand: Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon." Perhaps God will spare Edom, Moab, and Ammon, ancient countries to the east of Israel, to provide a refuge for His people.
There is really no particular reason other than to shelter saved Israel for God to spare Edom, Moab and Ammon. Why? Edom (meaning red) the alternate name for Jacob's brother Esau, was at times friendly with Israel and other times at war. Also, Moab (one of Lot's sons from incestuous relations with his daughter) shares a similar history of friendly and war like relations with Israel. All three of these nations of antiquity are now part of the country of Jordan.
There are a couple of reasons other than the Scriptural basis for Petra being saved Israel's destination. First, there is a history of settlement in Petra. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Israel fled to the mountains east and south east of Jerusalem when Titus sacked and burned Jerusalem in 70 AD; many fled to the fortress of Masada on top of a mountain. Before the Romans breached the defenses of Masada those Jews committed suicide to prevent capture and subsequent torture.
Secondly, Scripture teaches that invading forces of Antichrist will come from "Egypt, Lebanon, Syria or the Mediterranean Sea" (Israel's Escape to Petra, The Mountain Stronghold--Prof. Johana Malan, University of the North, South Africa). Also, Petra is vacant and has many ready-made living places in the cliffs of the mountains, and the only access is as narrow as five foot wide making it a difficult location to access by military forces.
But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. Revelation 12:14-15 (NKJV)