Summary: War on Earth
War on Earth
Revelation 12:13-14, “13And when the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the child. 14But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle. This allowed her to fly to a place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time.”
Matthew 24:15-22, “15"The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about: the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place"--reader, pay attention! 16"Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17A person outside the house must not go inside to pack. 18A person in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for mothers nursing their babies in those days. 20And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For that will be a time of greater horror than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again. 22In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.”
As was discussed early the Jews often went to the wilderness which the only logical and fitting place would be Petra the rock city a protected place near Israel where the Jews and Gentiles could fly too be. The imagery is here taking from the Exodus where Israel traveled through the wilderness. So once again John is taking imagery from the Old Testament and here applying it to his prophetic image. In a very real sense we gain insight into John as we understand the nature of this wilderness passage.
The two wings of an eagle is taking from Exodus 19:4, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” Wings in Scripture symbolize strength (Isa 40:31) and speed (2 Sam 22:11; Pss 18:10; 104:3). Most commonly however wings speak of protection. Reference to this is found in Deut 32:9-11, and wings are repeatedly used of wings to describe God’s protection of His people in Psalms 17:8, 36:7, 57:1, 61:4, 63:7, Psalm 91:4.
Eagle translates aetos which can also refer to griffon, or vulture (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37). These large birds with enormous wingspans serve as a fitting symbol for God’s protection and sheltering of Israel. This is not of course ea reference to an actual eagle with literal wings rather it is a picturesque language depicting God’s miraculous assistance of the woman so that she could fly swiftly into the wilderness to her place of shelter and safety.
The location of the place however as we suggested earlier is the fortress like 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 though 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 (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:4; John 11:54). Jesus warned as mentioned above to flee to the mountains that the place of refuge will 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 Petra as we see already because it was easy to defend against all attacks.