Spiritual warfare in Revelation 12:7
In the prelude of the 70 weeks prophecy, Daniel tells us that he was praying for “the holy mountain of my God.” [Daniel 9:20] The 70 weeks outline the duration of the warfare and desolations of the holy mountain, which in Daniel 2:35 is the kingdom of God. The first two sections of the prophecy, 7 weeks and 62 weeks, and the first half of the final section, are times that apply to the earthly Jerusalem, and the units are earthly units such as years, and leap years, but the last half-week applies to the heavenly city. Jesus is represented by the stone cut without hands in Daniel 2:35. He was cut off, crucified, in the mist of the final week. When he was resurrected and ascended to heaven, the mountain of God’s house was also raised up, as foretold by Isaiah, who wrote, “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” [Isaiah 2:2] The mountain of the Lord’s house, mount Zion, and Jerusalem, were at that time established in heaven, and exulted above the hills. Hebrews 12:22 says, “ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”
The final half of the 70th week applies to the heavenly city, not the earthly Jerusalem, and the units that apply in it are not earth years and leap years, but figurative, and it spans the whole age of the church, completing the week for which Christ confirms his covenant. The statement: “… and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined” applies to the saints, and to their spiritual territory. [Daniel 9:26] The warfare in the final half-week must be the war in heaven mentioned in Revelation 12:7, and 19:11.
Paul said, in Ephesians 2:4-7, “but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Although the saints sit in heavenly places, yet they remain on earth, where their trials continue, but their foes are spiritual. Paul said, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:11-12]
The “prince that shall come” of Daniel 9:26 is not a human individual. Daniel spoke of “the prince of the kingdom of Persia,” [Daniel 10:13] who resisted an angel who appeared to him. He also mentioned “the prince of Grecia.” [Daniel 10:20] Ezekiel wrote of “Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” [Ezekiel 38:2-3] Paul likely alluded to princes such as these in Ephesians 6:11. The prince in Daniel 9:26 may be identified with the little horn of chapter 7, and the “king of fierce countenance” in Daniel 8.
Daniel’s prophecies introduce Michael, the prince of the saints. Daniel’s people are the saints, whose names are written in the book of life. [Daniel 12:1] Some think Michael represents Christ. Michael is the one leading the saints in Revelation 12:7.
Persia is included among the nations in Gog’s confederacy in Ezekiel 38, where the nations named are representative of Gentiles generally, and the prince of Persia must be included in the confederacy of Gog. The hordes of Gog and Magog are Gentiles who trample Jerusalem. Jesus said, “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” [Luke 21:24]
The period Jesus called “the times of the Gentiles” is the time remaining in the 70 weeks. The 70th week, which is seven times, includes the ministry of Jesus. The first half-week was his earthly ministry. The remaining portion of the 70th week is half of seven times, and is represented by Daniel’s expression, “a time, times, and a half,” and by the 42 months of Revelation 11:2. The final half of the 70th week is represented by figurative numbers in prophecy. These numbers become progressively smaller; 1,335 days; 1,290 days; and 1,260 days, a sequence that signifies the time remaining is continually diminishing.
The ministry of the two witnesses is for 1,260 days, and the woman flees to the wilderness where she is nourished for 1,260 days. The beast that ascends from the abyss makes war with the two witnesses; [Revelation 11:7] the abyss is where Satan was cast, when he was bound. [Revelation 20:30] After their ministry of 1,260 days, the two witnesses are overcome and killed; their dead bodies are exposed, unburied, and the world rejoices over them, but after three and a half days, they revive. All are figurative time periods; the numbers are symbolic.
The account of the war in heaven in Revelation 12:7-12 is sandwiched between two accounts of the woman in the wilderness, who represents the church. In the wilderness, she has a place prepared for her by God, and she is nourished. The account of the war in heaven, and the removal of Satan from heaven, is the crux of a chiastic structure, present not only in chapter 12, but in the book of Revelation as a whole. This chiastic structure was discussed here. It emphasizes the significance of the saints overcoming Satan.
A. Prologue (1:1-20) B. Seven Epistles (2:1-3:22) C. Seven seals (4:1-8:1) D. 144,000 saints & seven trumpets (7:1-11:19) E. The two witnesses (11:1-13) F. Woman clothed with the sun (12:1) G. Dragon in heaven (12:4) H. Woman flees to the wilderness (12:6) I. Satan cast out (12:12) H'. Woman flees to the wilderness (12:14) G'. Dragon persecutes woman (12:15) F'. Woman's seed keeps the commandments of God (12:17) E'. The two beasts (13:1-18) D'. 144,000 saints & seven angels (14:1-15:4) C'. Seven bowls (15:1,5-16:21) B'. Seven angels: whore of Babylon vs. New Jerusalem (17:1-22:5) A'. Epilogue (22:6-21)
The war in heaven is described as a conflict between the angels of the dragon, and the angels of Michael. It is not flesh and blood warfare, but spiritual. There is warfare between ideas, interpretations, and theories. The saints are involved in it; Paul said the weapons of the saints’ warfare are not human weapons. Their foes include “arguments,” and “every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NIV
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
In the war of Daniel 9:26, desolations are those of the promised land of the church, and the saints’ spiritual environment, rather than events in the history of the earthly Jerusalem. Preterists who assume the earthly city is meant are blind to the fact that Jerusalem was raised up, with the mountain of the Lord’s house, when Jesus ascended to heaven, as Isaiah foretold.
Spiritual warfare is depicted in Revelation 12:7-12. Michael and his angels war against the dragon, and his angels. The territory that is in dispute is heaven, the “better country,” the spiritual inheritance of the saints, and where, once the saints have overcome him, Satan’s place is nowhere to be found. If their promised land represents the truth, there is no place for Satan’s deceptions in it. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels; And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.” [Revelation 12:7-8]